112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2001
I will not attempt to add fuel to the debate as to whether or not Dr. Schroeder has a valid arguement by reason of proofs. He has done that quite well himself. This was one of the best books I have read in recent years and having read it after "The Science of God" I found it to be much more basic. In fact, I feel this work to be a wonderful starting point for the layperson being introduced to the possible truth that 6 days and 15 billion years are both the correct timing for the creation of the universe.
One great aspect of Dr. Schroeder's works is his "silent encouragement" for readers to seek out the truth. The fact that he doesn't just pick up any Bible and attempt to glean his hypothesis from present translations but rather has a deep understanding of the Hebrew and Greek languages it was written in is refreshing. One thing science tends to do is dismiss religion in general and Christianity in particular without studying it as deeply as it would, for example a rock formation or new bacteria. This is rather hypocritical. Religion on the same token is no better. I often hear educated men with doctorates stand behind a pulpit and chop science to bits without any real knowledge of what they are discussing. Religious leaders who dismiss science away as God's way of sending confusion into the world, but at the same time find it easy to believe the words of their doctor (medicine is a science) or their computer technician (computer science) are rather hypocritical themselves. People from all walks of life and with all types of beliefs tend to "pick and choose" their own version of the truth and perpetuate it as long as possible. Until everyone puts down their stereotypes and digs deeper into the "truth" as a whole, we will forever wage this complex if not childish battle between science and religion.
105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2000
Schroeder's insight helps to bridge the gap between science and the bible (particularly Genesis). After the first days of creation, the bible very much follows the geological and historical record, so why is Genesis so seemingly out of alignment? (for me, this has always been a tough nut to crack) This book presents a viable explanation of the reconciliation of the two opposing viewpoints, utilizing astrophysics, the Theory of Relativity, and the theory of the Big Bang to hypothesize a secular model that might overlay on the traditional theistic belief of the six days of creation. I urge people to weigh the reviews here carefully because there are several negative reviews here that might have caused me to skip over this book. Some seem to suggest incompetence on the part of the author and/or mistakes, but none offers any substantial explanation. I am not a Ph.D., but I have a decent background in physics and while this book may be based on principals and equations that are not for the layman, Schroeder does an excellent job of presenting the case for a marriage of the secular and theistic viewpoints that anyone can easily grasp. He is also an unquestionable authority in his field, with an impeccable reputation.
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2001
It's pretty good. I don't agree with everything he says, but I don't agree with everything I say.
The best thing about his book is that he relies only on the best and most reputable scientists and theologians (albeit almost exclusively Jewish). He never quotes crackpots or weirdoes or makes outlandish claims.
The worst thing about his book is that he says "Maimonides says" and "Nahmonides says" (two important Jewish commentators) but he rarely quotes the guys. We're just supposed to take his word on it.
But if what he claims is true, I want to read Maimonides' commentary and Genesis and his "Guide to the Perplexed." Supposedly (back in the 10th century, I'm pretty sure) Maimonides said, based only on his exegesis of Genesis, that there were man-like creatures before Adam, that the entire universe was created from something smaller than a mustard seed, that the six days are not comprehensible according to our time-scale (which makes sense, since how can you have a day before you have a sun?), and a whole list of other things that are remarkably consistent with modern scientific views.
Anyway, there's a lot there and it's fairly interesting. It also provides a pretty good overview of the history and development of the universe.
He has three big points.
+ Secularists have to quit kidding themselves. The physical constants and properties of the universe are so carefully fine-tuned to create the conditions necessary for life that it speaks of design, and that the sudden appearance of life on earth -- basically as soon as conditions would permit -- is so horribly improbable as to be impossible.
+ Biblical fundamentalists have to quit kidding themselves. (He says he wrote this book for his son who was taught in Hebrew school that the world was made in six days no matter what those scientists say.) The evidence for an old earth, pre-Adam hominids, change in species over time, etc., is unquestionable. He doesn't really address the flood and he says the punctuated model of evolution is the only reasonable one -- and again he says the driving force behind these "punctuations" can't be chance. He seems to favor the view that living systems are designed with an inherent ability to adapt and change, and that these spurts in evolution are kinda already there (as far as information potential is concerned), waiting for the right circumstance to make them happen.
It seems reasonable to me to say that living systems have an innate ability to change (in their descendants, anyway) to survive in changing conditions, and that this innate ability is the stuff that natural selection works on. IOW, the design of living systems deals with the fact that environments aren't stable, so they are pre-programmed to adapt.
It seems absolutely impossible to me to say that this ability to change is not designed. There's simply too much information and intelligence there. And I suspect that we've only scratched the surface of the complexity of life. Just as with elementary particles, the deeper we dig into the stuff of life, the more complex and amazing it will become.
His third point is that ...
+ All of this is consistent with a traditional reading of Genesis -- that the "sages" (as he calls them) had hints and glimmers of this before science discovered any of it.
I'd like to learn more about that last point, but from several things I've read recently (see, e.g., Genesis Unbound by Sailhamer -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0880708689/gregkrehbishomep) it seems that the modern approach to Genesis is atypical in the history of Christian and Jewish thought, and may be more of a knee-jerk reaction to Darwinism than anything else. I suppose that's why the RCC has made accommodating statements about evolution. The traditional interpretation of Genesis (so these guys say) really doesn't say that it was six, 24-hour days, etc.
One funny thing about the book is that the author says it really is six, 24-hour days, but from God's frame of reference. He says that it's silly to talk about an absolute age of the universe because time has no absolute meaning -- it all depends on your frame of reference.
It's pretty interesting stuff. In the very end he makes some weird theological points, but I'm not that familiar with the ins and outs of contemporary Jewish theology, so maybe it's normal Jewish thought.
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2000
When Torah and natural science seem to conflict, one or the other is being incorrectly interpreted. That's the principle Gerald Schroeder propounds and defends in this remarkable volume. And I can only think that Moses Maimonides would have been delighted.
What Schroeder argues, basically, is that the biblical account of creation in six days can be read as taking place over six _literal_ days -- and that not only does this reading fail to conflict with modern science, indeed science itself supports that reading. The solution? The six days are "God's time," reckoned from within one frame of reference, and the millions of years with which science deals are "earth time," reckoned from within another. The two are reconciled by the theory of relativity. Moreover, this reading is firmly grounded in traditional Jewish texts that predated the theory of relativity by one or two thousand years.
I'll let Schroeder fill you in on the details. But whether those details are sound or not, his _approach_ is refreshingly sane.
On the one hand, we have various sorts of Bible-thumper insisting that all our knowledge must come from the Word of God and nothing else -- an insistence that turns easily into anti-intellectual ranting against science. On the other, we have various sorts of scientistic yahoo insisting that religion is bunk and science is the royal road to truth.
Rubbish, on both counts. The Torah does indeed bear signs that it is a Divine communication, and people who believe this are being entirely reasonable. (See, e.g., Lawrence Kelemen's _Permission To Receive_ for a defense of this view.) However, the Bible itself insists that human beings are made in the Divine image, that rationality is that very image, and that the "natural" universe provides abundant evidence of the workings of the Divine. And it is _this_ view, in one form or another, which -- as a matter of history and logic -- gave rise to modern science in the first place; without the "substrate" of rationalism implied by the view that the entire universe is the creation of a single rational Mind, "empirical" science can't even get started. There's no need to decide between the Bible and science; they can't really be separated anyway.
So it may be that some of Schroeder's details require revision (and I understand that some of them are in fact revised in his next book, _The Science of God_). Nevertheless the lesson to learn from this book is still sound: that whenever science and Torah seem to be at odds with one another, the proper procedure is to suspend final judgment, think, and wait. Further information may provide unexpected resolutions.
(And by the way, the review below picks on Schroeder for an absolutely ridiculous "error." The big, round figures used in those calculations aren't anywhere near precise enough to locate us in the "middle of the fifth day" as opposed to the sixth, and Schroeder doesn't say they are.)
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 1998
Dr. Schroeders book explains that the Biblical story of creation and the scientific theory of the Big Bang are in agreement; the world was created in 6 days AND 15 billion years, simultaneously. Using relativity, experimental and theoretical science, physics and the Jewish sages, he shows how science and religion are compatible. It is easier to read if you have a basic background in physics and math, but I think he has done a wonderful job of simplifying the theories to a level that someone without this knowledge can still easily read and understand this book. Highly recommended!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2005
This is an absolutely fascinating book. We have seen so many "Science/Religion" books from a Christian perspective (and almost always an evangelical Christian perspective); Schroeder's Jewish perspective is just stunningly fresh, relying as he does on Maimonides and the Talmud (among other sources). By the time I finished this book, I had fallen in love with Maimonides - very down-to-earth, very all-truth-is-God's-truth.
Schroeder's Jewish perspective on the Scriptures is worth the price of the book all by itself. His comments on the "evening-morning" sequence of the creation story, taken from Nahmanides, were beautiful. "Evening" in Hebrew is related to "confusion, disorder", whereas "morning" is related to "clarity, order". Thus the "evening-morning" sequence, while it seems intuitively backwards, is actually making a huge point about creation, and how God brought order out of disorder. Just wonderful.
And his use of relativistic time-dilation as a means to harmonize the biblical six days with cosmology's 15 billion years was sharp (although I'd have liked to have seen at least some sort of thumbnail calculation, even just as a footnote); I hadn't seen anything like that before.
As a working physicist, Schroeder can certainly be trusted to know what he's talking about; he's not speaking out of ignorance, but out of real, deep understanding of the physical realities he discusses. This is certainly one of the better books of its type I've come across.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2000
Schroeder's idea is fascinating and challenging. I find that the argument is plausible.
I am inclined to say that some of the previous reviews do not reflect a serious attitude on the part of the reviewers. For one thing, our universe is expanding, and that's why the recent trend is towards believing that there is a beginning.
Then, the book's argument is that IN THE BEGINNING, just after the big bang, the universe was expanding at a very fast rate, so that the passage of time would appear to be much slower that our present situation. This is how we arrive at the 6 days to 16 billion years correspondence.
It is well known that our universe is ever expanding, yet the rate of expansion keeps on decreasing. And I don't see that the author is wrong in this respect.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2000
This is definately a book worth reading and particularly comparing to the books by Hugh Ross. I found some of the arguments to be unique and well thought out. WARNINGS: if you would like to better undertand the theory of relativity, Hawking does the best job of explaining it, so it may be a good idea to read 'A Brief History of Time' in order to fully understand what Schroeder is proposing. ALSO: check out his theological statements with a good concordance handy, and if you are a Christian, understand that some of the traditional Jewish methods of understanding scripture are not used by serious Christian Theologians. Overall this book is good, it has some new interesting ideas, and if read with the above in mind, is very enjoyable, and is a book worth reading.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2001
This book brings intuitive notions into full view. The beauty of Schroeder's idea is how simple and harmonious the connection between observed reality and biblical revelation can be. That the two seemingly incongruent viewpoints of faith in science and faith in god can be reconciled seamlessly is a worthy investigation even for the most skeptical among us (including the author himself). Highly recommended for those who find themselves on either side of the debate.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2008
Can you be a creationist and an evolutionist?
Gerald Schroeder's answer, validated through the use of einstein's special and general relativity, fossil records, trends in biological organizations, and of course biblical statements and commentaries, is an astounding YES.
How is it possible?
The bible says the world was created in 6 days and in one day he rested.
The answer is time dilation. What might be perceived as 6 24 hour days might actually have been reflective of a much longer timespan (15 billion years).
And how do we explain the Neanderthal man or Homo erectus, when the bible tells us Adam and Eve were created 5768 years ago?
The answer is Neshamah ("soul" in hebrew). God gave Adam and Eve soul, something that was not given to the earlier forms of man-like creatures.
This book is filled with more interesting insight showing the mutual agreements between the biblical explanation for the creation of life, and the modern perspectives on origins of life as researched by modern physicists, chemists, and biologists.
I highly recommend this book for those interested in origins of life and religion.