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VINE VOICEon July 8, 2009
I've been a fan of Gerald Schroeder since reading "Genesis and the Big Bang" about three years ago. Immediately after finishing that book, I had to have his other two, and was amazed how much his wisdom, vision and grasp of the issues seemed to grow with each book. This book continues that pattern, and does so in an amazing fashion. However, the approach of this book might not meet the expectations of those expecting another book based largely on science. While this book opens with a scientific analysis, the bulk of the book is devoted to a philosophical and theological treatise on the true nature of God.

While he often touches upon the same "origins" questions in each book, the manner in which he does so reveals a surprisingly sharp uptick in his growing breadth of knowledge. Many scientists seem to fall into a comfortable groove at mid-life, as evidenced in their writings, but Schroeder's understanding seems to be growing in leaps and bounds, and shows little sign of slowing down. This is a good thing...a Very Good thing. I continue to read a number of authors who deal with the harmony of Genesis and Science, and among them, Mr. Schroeder has risen like cream and sits atop the heap. I should note that I'm typically stingy about heaping praise on anyone, if for no other reason that I don't want to contribute to a complacency that might cause them to "coast" a bit, but I don't think that's a possibility here.

As my own understanding of these scientific/theological issues has grown over the years, I have often found myself reluctantly letting go of traditional beliefs I held dear, and embraced new ideas. It's difficult at times, but ultimately rewarding as these new ideas open up a fresh understanding of God and how He operates within this realm. I was therefore very surprised and happy to see him discuss an observation that I had arrived at on my own just a few years ago.

The issue is the parallels between science and the Torah with regards to the birth of the Universe, the arrival of the species and the arrival of self-aware Homo sapiens. All three of these issues are problematic for anyone building a case for a purely natural universe, as they present origin problems that cannot easily be addressed with scientific facts or testable models. These three issues have strikingly clear parallels in Genesis with the creation of the heavens and the earth, the arrival of the first complex life in the oceans, and the arrival of Adamic Man. The Hebrew word "bara," which describes a unique creative act of God, is only used on these three occasions, and nowhere else in the first chapter of Genesis. Coincidence? I think one would have to be willfully self-deceptive to not see the clear parallels. You're free to disagree with Schroeder's conclusions, but it's difficult to ignore the fact that these scientific and Biblical parallels exist.

But by far the most important issue in this book is how it shapes (and hopefully, reshapes) our flawed image of the Almighty. Yes, He is omniscient and omnipresent, but does not interfere, in general, with how things operate. We have far, far more control over the situation than many believers would be comfortable with should they choose to accept this image of God. Once again (and probably why I enjoyed this book so much), I have come to much the same conclusions myself. The God of the Bible and the God of modern western Judeo-Christian civilization just don't seem to be the same God. For the first time, and just in time, it seems, someone has presented an image of God that is completely consistent with His revealed nature found in His word, and not the one that has been cobbled together from idealistic and unrealistic cultural influences.

Lastly, I would like to say that I truly appreciate Schroeder's approach to dealing with Scripture in that he shows an abiding respect for the Christian perspective as well as his own Jewish one by quoting parallel passages from both Old and New Testaments when discussing particular issues. The Old Testament prophets clearly identified the Jewish faith as the faith that would be proclaimed to the Gentiles, and he appears to respect Christianity as being the "Gentile version" of Judaism that was preached to the rest of the world. I wish more Christian writers would make more effort to better understand the Jewishness of their faith, and see it as part of a whole, as opposed to something separate. Some conservative and literalist Christian denominations see the Jews as separate from Christianity, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. The Apostle Paul, a devout Jew if there ever was one, spent the entire 11th chapter of Romans assuring his Gentile readers that God's promises are irrevocable, and that all Israel will be saved after the fullness of God was delivered to all the nations of the earth. I enjoy Schroeder's books precisely because He works so diligently to understand the true nature of God, and wants the rest of us to come to the same knowledge.
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on July 12, 2009
I loved this book in spite of the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting. I've read all Schroeder's other books about the harmony between science and the Bible, and expected this to be yet another take on his increasingly well-honed arguments. The author's insights seem to grow and mature with each book, and although this book opens with the usual discussion on origins, it quickly becomes a book about theology and how we've all incorrectly defined God over the millennia.

For anyone who's been paying attention, there has always been a big gap between the somewhat vague, "feel-good" conceptual God of western culture, and the God we find within the Bible (when we take the time to actually read it in its entirety). In this wonderful book, Schroeder does a beautiful job of repairing this harmful breach of understanding. One of the single most important points he makes is showing that the God who's under attack from "The New Atheists" is this conceptual, cultural God that we've invented, but the God of the Bible is far more consistent with the God we encounter on a daily basis, a God who is capable of omnipotence, but has chosen to give us far more control than many of us are prepared for.

This is a God who never attempts to micro-manage our lives, and who often allows us to do all sorts of horrible things to each other because this is the same God who has given us dominion over the earth, and often lets us stew in our own juices when we foul up. This God, whom we actually find in the Bible, is a far cry from the micro-managing God put forth every day on TV programs and espoused from prosperity gospel pulpits.

It's a healthy and good thing to examine our beliefs, and Schroeder does an excellent job of encouraging us to look beyond our comfort zone so that we might bring reality into alignment with our perceptions. I think it's time that western theologians addressed this issue with much more force, and this book is a great place to begin the argument. This is more than an important is also a very profound book and I hope it reaches a wide audience in the years to come.
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2009
Gerald Schroeder is a biblical scholar and physicist whose trilogy (Genesis and the Big Bang - 1990; The Science of God - 1997; The Hidden Face of God - 2001) explained how the Biblical description of creation in the Book of Genesis could be reconciled with modern scientific knowledge, including the almost 14 billion years age of the universe. His latest work, God According to God, goes one stage further and sets out to show how the God of the entire Old Testament can be reconciled with reality as we understand it today. As ambitious as that prospect might seem, Schroeder achieves it in an articulate and eminently readable fashion with some genuinely innovative insights along the way. I commend this book to anyone who is interested in the relationship between scientific knowledge and faith in God.

Two extracts from the book that capture its main themes are found (1) at page 85: (Moses, having been confronted by God at the burning bush, asks God's name (3:13). In reply, "God said to Moses, 'I will be that which I will be' [ehe'ye (I will be) asher (that which) ehe'ye (I will be)] ... This is My name forever" (3:14-15). This meaning of the Hebrew text is vastly different from the King James rendering of that verse, "I am that I am.") and (2) at page 129: having designed and created our universe with all its magnificence and granted us the freedom of choice, God wants us, expects us, to interact with the Divine about how to run the universe. From these two themes, Schroeder develops his argument that God's intent for the universe was a journey of discovery not only for the created, but for the Creator.

The book has something for the layman and the scientist alike. Moving at a brisk pace more along the lines of a Ludlam novel than an apologetic, it truly is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking books I have read in recent times.
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on December 21, 2013
Note: With all due respect, this is a personal review, not an invitation to debate, or to respond to criticisms. Please keep the snarky comments to yourself. If you disagree with belief in God, my thoughts on this book, or the book itself, then by all means write your own review offering a different perspective, but I would suggest actually reading the book first.

Written by an MIT-trained physicist. so his educational credentials are fairly unimpeachable.

If you are convinced nothing in this book could possibly be true (even if you haven't read it yet) then this review - and the book itself - will likely be a huge waste of your time.

If you believe the Bible teaches a literal six day creation, or that the earth is only 6,000 years old, or if you will never, ever be persuaded there is any evidence whatsoever to believe in a Divine Intelligence, then this book will almost surely be a waste of your time as well.

The author does not argue against science. Far from it.

Rather, he argues that in his view, the available science demonstrates that life as we know it today could not have come about simply by blind random chance, or by the "laws of nature", no matter how many chances over billions of years it had to do so.

For the person of faith, especially the "literal six day" creation view, the author persuasively contends that a correct reading of the first chapters of Genesis allows for - in fact, demands - an interpretation that says evolution did indeed take place, but it did so guided by a divine imperative. Furthermore, this observation is by no means a modern, transparent attempt to deflect scientific criticism, but is, in fact, a view held by Jewish Biblical scholars hundreds of years before anyone ever heard of evolution. This realization will likely anger creationists and evolutionists alike, but the author presents a strong case.

He assembles a convincing argument that those "pure Darwinists" who deny any metaphysical or outside the box reality to this world or our consciousness are - when all the facts are weighed - often as biased in their conclusions and steeped in dogma as they claim Believers are. But again, if you feel you already have all the answers to life's deepest questions then the book is not for you anyway. Go on the lecture circuit or talk radio and make some big money.

Read the book. Judge for yourself. But read it before you judge. That is not too much to ask.
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on August 22, 2014
There is some good science tif info here for about the first third of book. After that it breaks down into a well written, but lengthy sermon. The book is well written of course.

In the beginning he careens into informal logic errors over and over again. He asks us to rely on his or other's impressive education. He blames us,, created creatures, for misunderstanding God and His Plan. He assures us that God’s command for Israel to wreck genocide on the Canaanites was overall justified because the Canaanites deserved it).

Atheistic arguments against God are his straw man. They are of course all naive, foolish, stupid, and contributing nothing to the argument.
God is showing us his love by pulling his fist back from a blow.

“The biblical message is that God is there to help, but steps back, in biblical language hides his face, and insists that we do our part in the job. God has chosen us to be his partners.”.

For the world to become ‘fully perfect.”

We, our perception of God is the problem. : We have a ‘stunted perception” from our childhood.

So Schroeder delves right in with science. He is noe complexity of the universe, its design, the process of how the original energy should be organized to become thinking life. Now we, God and people together, need to get the world to become ‘fully perfect.”

We, our perception of God is the problem. : We have a ‘stunted perception” from our childhood

Schroeder is no help to young earth creationists. He believes in the big bang and evolution. He reinterprets the Bible to support this. He marvels of the complexity of the universe, its design, the process of how the original energy should be organized to become thinking life. He does not help atheists, either. He believes in a God-guided evolution.

Finally, drawing on the Bible verse (Proverbs 8:12 then stretched to 22-24), “I am Wisdom. God acquired me as the beginning of His ways, the first of His works from Old. I was established from everlasting, from the beginning, from before there was an earth. When there were no depths, I was brought forth.” Wisdom, a metaphysical emanation of God, was the big bang, it is the information of life “written on to the fabric of the cosmos.”
Schroder goes on to describe that scientists that infer that our earth is ordinary, “an ordinary planet orbiting an ordinary star, they are completely missing the point. Life is extremely rare. One often hears that surely there must be more planets capable of supporting (and evolving life. There are a 100 billion stars in each of 100 billion galaxies. Even if 10 percent, etc. This is pure sophistry. Even if there are many planets capable of supporting life (Schroeder’s calculations show 10,000 in the entire universe on admittidly sketchy assumptions--but the assumptions by scientists are similarly flawed, the following probability that life and a series of mutations on the planet, also needs to be considered. The book is good, but it is much more a sermon than science.
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on June 22, 2015
Read his first book first, "The Science of God" and then graduate to this book. Schroeder's work is smart, compelling, and credible. He is that very rare person who is both a trained scientist who has served as an MIT professor and on important scientific policy making boards and a theologian who has deeply studied the scriptures, the Kabalists, and can synthesize the science and the scriptures in a most compelling manner. All of his books are page turners for science focused people interested in how the Bible views science, and people interested in religion and science. If you are a seeker of any kind at all, do yourself a favor and get and read these two books.
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on May 15, 2016
A refreshing and realistic view of God. I absolutely loved this book. The first two chapters were full of scientific data and to some may seem a difficult read. The remaining chapters are an easier read. I would highly recommend this book.
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on May 23, 2016
I haven't read all of Gerald Schroeder's books, but I have enjoyed the two (including this one) that I have read. He is an Orthodox Jew, and I am a Bible-Believing Christian, so there are definitely differences between our views of the world. Also, his ideas on how the events in the Genesis creation account are still a bit hard for me to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I think he is a brilliant physicist and scholar of the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. And who knows, maybe he is right about Genesis after all.

This book definitely gives you a lot to think about. I think Schroeder does really tap into aspect's of God's personality that many of us probably haven't noticed. He definitely has a deep, thoughtful, and highly personal relationship with God, and I admire his insights. Definitely pick up a copy of this book. You can always pick it up and reread sections of it after you read through it once (or twice, etc.).
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on January 4, 2015
Excellent description of recent overlap of science and religion from a very credible source. Reason for not giving five stars is that it assumes belief in the reader agreeing to a literal translation of the Bible/Torah/Old Testament. From a personal standpoint, would have preferred referencing more metaphors an a freer translation.
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on July 26, 2015
A great book. Thought provoking about God and the nature of reality and the truth. Gave me the opportunity to do some deep thinking about the things of this world. Reminded me in ways of the depths of thought about reality expressed in The Hiroshima Agenda, another great book about the meaning of life, of God, of reality, and all the schools of intellectual endeavor that explore these ideas.
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