Book Review: Improbable Planet, by Dr. Hugh Ross

Disclaimer: Although I am affiliated with Reasons To Believe as a member and Chapter officer, I purchased this book on my own and did not receive it as a review copy.

One form of the design argument for God’s existence says,

1. The design in nature is the product of chance, necessity, or design.

2. It is not the product of chance or necessity.

Therefore, it is the product of design.

In his newest book, Dr. Hugh Ross, founder and president of Reasons To Believe, suggests, “We don’t seem to be amazed and astonished by Earth’s beauty and treasures, its capacity to support more than 7 billion people and even more billions of other creatures.” However, in Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home, Dr. Ross allows us to express such amazement and challenges the notion that this is the result of coincidence and must the handiwork of a Creator and, as such, are imbued with purpose.


In Improbable Planet, Dr. Ross explores the 4.5 billion year history of planet Earth, from the origin our solar system to the advent of an advanced global civilization. Each detail of what makes up our Earth must fall into a specific range for life to exist and thrive. At each stage, Dr. Ross uses the latest scientific studies to make his case. The endnotes are well-stocked with peer-reviewed scientific articles and papers to answer the question of how Earth became fit for life. He makes understandable such factors and processes as Earth’s position in the solar system, the composition of our atmosphere, and the cycle of appearance and extinction of group of animals throughout our history. In many cases, Dr. Ross uses words and phrases such as “just right” and “amazingly arranged features” to describe how the features of Earth came together and answer long-standing questions, such as:

· Our moon formed from an impact event with the primordial Earth, changing our atmosphere, mineral and element composition, and rotation rate. Our Earth-moon system is unique in our solar system and vital for life.

· Why have fossilized sea life been found at high elevations such as the Himalayas? The Himalayan mountain chain is the result of the movement of the Indian sub-continent and its collision with the Eurasian plate in southern Asia. This resulted in the upward pushed up the mountains to become the highest on Earth. Such movements of continents and the formation of continental shelves due to plate tectonics delivered vital nutrients for ecosystems in order to sustain a diverse biomass.

Why do we have such bountiful resources at this precise time in history? Is there a purpose for all of this as the design argument suggests? In the last chapter, Hugh Ross concludes that the God of the Bible is responsible for preparing Earth for humanity’s home and that is the best explanation for the data from our observations of the physical world and humanity. Dr. Ross affirms that humanity is alienated from God because of our sins and in need of redemption. The ultimate reason creation exists is to provide an opportunity for the redemption of sinful humanity. “All of God’s works of creation are in the context of his greater works of redemption,” Ross says. In this light, the purpose for humanity and our increasingly advanced civilization becomes apparent as well: “to present his offer of redemption to every single people group that resides on Earth…”

Improbable Planet is written with both clarity and detail to highlight God’s creative work, both in the Earth and its inhabitants. I highly recommend this work for both the scientifically minded and the layman alike.

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