Improbable Planet Review (*Sigh*)

Note: I'm not here to have a debate about "young earth" vs. "old earth", so please, let's not waste time.  This is just a young earth proponent's perspective on what I did read of this book.

So I'm going to tell you right from the start that I did not "read" this book.  I skimmed.

I saw Impropable Planet up for review and read the brief description, and I thought it sounded like a book that would give scientific facts about how our planet right now is perfectly positioned and equipped to support the wide array of life that we see.  

Then I received the book in the mail and saw the author's name, Hugh Ross, and read the subtitle (which I somehow missed before) "How Earth Became Humanity's Home", and my heart started to sink.  Then I started reading it, and my suspicions were confirmed - this book is really not about the facts of what makes our planet uniquely able to support life, it is about the big bang/evolutionary theory of earth and life's origins, which Ross ascribes to.

I don't buy evolution or the "old earth", millions of years theory, and I find that most people who do believe in this theory tend to claim their theory as fact...instead of the theory it is, and Ross is no exception.  It really bugged me how he would list a known fact about the earth as it is, and then insert part of his theory into the same sentence as if it was also a fact that we know to be true.  There is no scientific way to KNOW how the world and life formed because science is about observation, and no one was there to observe this happening - and the creation of the earth and life is a unrepeatable event, so there will never be a way we can observe it.  We can only form theories as to how everything we see came to be and choose which one we would like to believe.  From a scientific standpoint, there is just as much evidence (more in the opinion of some) for a young earth as there is for an old earth, and for a literal six-day creation as there is for evolution, and many scientists acknowledge this - which is why it is arrogant to explain your theory as if it were fact when it is not based on anything that we can actually repeat or observe.

Most of the chapters in this book cover how Ross and some other scientists think the earth and life formed - which might be interesting to me if I believed in this theory, but I don't.  The main point of the book is how unlikely it is for the earth to have formed using a big bang/evolutionary model (but still the book insists that this is what happened).  Indeed through reading this book it is obvious that scientists working under this theory seem to have to often resort to cataclysmic events in order to explain the universe and earth we see today.  Coming at it from a biblical creationist worldview, this all just reinforced to me how unlikely it seems that the earth could have formed this way, how little actual evidence they seem to have, and how much faith it takes to believe in an old earth, as opposed to just taking the creation account in Scripture at face value.

There were a few facts about the actual earth as it is today and it's unique position to support life, such as how the Milky Way Galaxy is the ideal galaxy to support life, a spiral galaxy, not too big or small, and "exceptionally quiet".  Our solar system too is perfect for life, with a Sun that remains relatively close to the galactic plane keeping our planet's temperature constant, and large gaseous planets nearby to shield us from meteors.  These are the kind of facts that I was looking forward to reading about, but they were few and far between long theoretical explanations of what happened in earth's "distant history".  I ended up skipping around and skimming because this book just wasn't what I was hoping for.

The last chapter was Ross's best, as he recognizes the improbability of the very existence of earth and life without a divine hand, and answers the question of why we are here - to make known the good God who placed us here, redeemed us by Jesus's blood, and is coming back again to take us to "our Father's house".  So he got that part right anyway.

If you want some science resources coming from a young earth/creationist perspective, In Six Days is a book I started and enjoyed before I had to return it to the library, and Ken Ham is always a great resource for further reading.

Note: I received a copy of Improbable Planet for free in exchange for a review, and this is my honest opinion.

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SAM Q said...

Your review reminds me of the Woody Allen joke: "I took a speed-reading course and read 'War and Peace' in 20 minutes. It involved Russia." Hugh Ross may well be wrong about these things, but I have yet to read a negative (or even thoughtfully critical) review of "Improbable Planet" by someone who has actually read it carefully and completely. I am still searching for such a review. (That's how I ended up here.) I'm finding that the vast majority of reviewers who trash the book (atheists and young-earth creationists) appear not to have read it--or have only skimmed it. (*SIGH*)

Callie said...

Thanks for the feedback Sam Q - however, I assure you I read it thoroughly enough to form an opinion on whether I’d recommend it or not. I’m sure you can relate to starting to skim pages when a book starts to frustrate you, and I was frustrated that this book was not at all what I thought it was. Good luck on your review hunt!

Anonymous said...

Bought it today and also thought that it'd would give scientific facts about how our planet right now is perfectly positioned and equipped to support the wide array of life that we see. I only read the back of the book in the store and thought that this book would be interesting but I was sorely disappointed when I read the first chapter and it mentioned 'billions of years'. My heart sunk too especially that I also just attended a 'Answer in Genesis' talk. I just feel like I wanted my money. Quite disappointed that the book promises one think and does not deliver. I think he isn't truthful in the way he presents the book. He doesn't mention what he believes at all (biblical creation or old earth) until he delves into the science 'arguments'. Well one guesses as one reads rather...

nick drt said...

Good news! You can download the AUDIO VERSION of IMPROBABLE PLANET and listen while you drive as I have this week. Its chock full of well-referenced facts that any creationist, or atheist for that matter, can easily confirm. But more than that, listening is easier than reading it. I think it will give you a fuller perspective on these things. God bless.

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