The author is an MIT physicist and Torah expert, living in Jerusalem; he also wrote Genesis and the Big Bang (1990). The present book is blurbed by Michael J. Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box, and was published by the Free Press in 2007. An important overarching point here is that Schroeder is a respected scientist who doesn’t just take the Bible seriously: I’d say he really wants to take it literally. “[We should] read the Bible, as Moses insisted three times on the day of his death, as a poem, as a text having within it a subtext harboring multiple meanings (Deut. 31:19, 30; 32:44).” (11) I’ll admit that a lot of it was too dense for me to follow easily. Here are some notes on this extremely impressive book.
- “… [M]iracles … now have a scientific basis. … Not only are miracles theoretically possible according to [quantum mechanics], they are observed regularly in physics labs.” (74)
- “Of all the ancient accounts of creation, only that of Genesis has warranted a second reading by the scientific community. It alone records a sequence of events that approaches the scientific account of our cosmic origins.” (80) Likewise, the author stresses how different the Hebrew God is from the pagan gods (81-82).
- He makes a point of the connection between God and light (that is, physics-sense light); he could probably do more of this if he were a Christian (165). Speaking of which, he cites the New Testament twice (82, 178), and he’s not at all hostile to Christians.
- Why do we have historical/factual genres along with prophetic/legal genres in the Bible? He says that the (demonstrable) veracity of the former makes a good case for the (harder to demonstrate) veracity of the latter. (201-02, “C”)
- Here’s an interesting fact (158): “[I]f one of a pair of identical twins is homosexual, there is only a 50 percent chance that the other will also be homosexual.”
- And I found it “kind of neat” that, on page 196 (I think this is the close of the book), the author sees Isaiah (35:5, 9:1) presaging Plato’s shadows-on-the-cave-wall.
But the most remarkable aspect of the book is this physicist’s argument about the veracity of Genesis and creation. Thus (70),
The Bible relates in thirty-one verses, in a few hundred words, events spanning sixteen billion years. These are events about which scientists have written literally millions of words. The entire development of animal life is summarized in eight biblical sentences. Considering the brevity of the biblical narrative, the match between the statements and timing in Genesis 1 and the discoveries of modern science is phenomenal, especially when we realize that all biblical interpretation used here was recorded centuries, even millennia, in the past and so was not in any way influenced by the discoveries of modern science. It is modern science that has come to match the biblical account of our genesis.
This fits in with his table a few pages earlier, “The Six Days of Genesis” (67), which you can see here [link: https://books.google.com/books?id=J_iOFzYE6ycC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=%22big+bang+marks+the+creation+of+the+universe%22+%22light+literally+breaks+free+as+electrons+bond%22&source=bl&ots=vrGZn3w5Ec&sig=o-3kNTYu7Fu_pqwnJb41EIh3_bM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixuq_h8r7YAhUhct8KHaFKCi4Q6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22big%20bang%20marks%20the%20creation%20of%20the%20universe%22%20%22light%20literally%20breaks%20free%20as%20electrons%20bond%22&f=false ]. He believes the Genesis six-day account of creation is literally correct. Here’s a useful summary from the Wikipedia entry on Gerald Schroeder:
Among other things, Schroeder attempts to reconcile a six-day creation as described in Genesis with the scientific evidence that the world is billions of years old using the idea that the perceived flow of time for a given event in an expanding universe varies with the observer’s perspective of that event. He attempts to reconcile the two perspectives numerically, calculating the effect of the stretching of space-time, based on Einstein‘s general relativity.
Namely, that from the perspective of the point of origin of the Big Bang, according to Einstein’s equations of the ‘stretching factor’, time dilates by a factor of roughly 1,000,000,000,000, meaning one trillion days on earth would appear to pass as one day from that point, due to the stretching of space. When applied to the estimated age of the universe at 13.8 billion years, from the perspective of the point of origin, the universe today would appear to have just begun its sixth day of existence, or if the universe is 15 billion years old from the perspective of earth, it would appear to have just completed its sixth day. Antony Flew, an academic philosopher who promoted atheism for most of his adult life indicated that the arguments of Gerald Schroeder had influenced his decision to become a deist.
And then there’s “Figure 4. Two concepts of evolution” (88), the point of which is that there is an inexplicable explosion of phyla (“Evolutionary bush”) rather than a slow evolution of different phyla (“Evolutionary tree”): You can see Figure 4 here [link: https://books.google.com/books?id=J_iOFzYE6ycC&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=%22the+understanding+of+the+development+of+animal+life%22&source=bl&ots=vrGZn3tbK3&sig=xWnQzETtC6tuiCr840H6qAdwsP8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC9puB6r7YAhUkT98KHabqCqIQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22the%20understanding%20of%20the%20development%20of%20animal%20life%22&f=false ]. Here’s the author’s annotation of Figure 4 (emphasis added):
Until the mid-1980s the understanding of the development of animal life was that it had followed the logical path of gradual evolution with more simple phyla over eons leading to more complex phyla. With the rediscovery of fossils held quietly in the drawers of the Smithsonian Institution since 1909, this concept underwent a drastic revision. These fossils in conjunction with other discoveries indicate that all animal phyla appeared almost simultaneously 530 million years ago in the Cambrian period. All further development was confined to variations within each phylum. One of the great mysteries of animal evolution is why no new phyla have appeared since that Cambrian explosion of life.
And he makes the related point that, as soon as there were conditions on earth amenable to life, BAM! — life appeared. There was no long period of unsuccessful “attempts” at life, as an atheist evolutionist would have predicted.