Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Bang! (I)


Big, that is. My logical mind is convinced that there was a Big Bang that marked the origin of life and the origin of man. My logical mind is also convinced of an eternal realm beyond time and space and matter. God exists. I read how some religious writers interpret the first chapter of Genesis, and it is not satisfying, let alone compelling. On the other hand, what some scientists say or imply about the Creation story is equally suspect, partly because my scientific education didn’t fully ‘take.’ I don’t find their assertions all that compelling.

Is it possible to reconcile our faith in science with a belief that the Bible is the Truth?

Cover - The Science of GodThis little book is a remarkable approach to this question. If there is such a thing as a perfect background to adequately address the question, author Schroeder may come very close. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences. He emigrated to Israel and was employed as a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His Doctorate was in two science fields, earth sciences and physics. He is an orthodox Jew and a theologian.

He may be one of the few who actually understands Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and he uses it to make sense of the 6 days of creation in a way that that is consistent with rigorous science and traditional belief.

this book accepts neither Bible nor science as being individually sufficient for a hungry mind seeking explanations of and purpose in life. In that sense, it is for skeptics and religious believers alike. These seemingly disparate sources of knowledge are combined as a single data base from which generalized conclusions are drawn. What appear to be diametrically opposed biblical and scientific descriptions of the creation of the universe, of the start of life on Earth, and of our human origins are actually identical realities but viewed from vastly different perspectives. Once these perspectives are identified, they coexist comfortably with all the rigorous science and traditional belief anyone could demand.

I was a little put off at first when I realized that the Bible for him was the Torah and the Talmud, that is, the first 5 books of my Bible and Jewish commentary. I hope to find time to compare his quotations from Genesis in the Torah to my English Standard Version of the same texts. I have no reason to think that the meaning Schroeder draws from those texts would not be supported in the ESV (or any other modern translation).

Albert Einstein developed a series of equations in 1917 based on his laws of general relativity to describe the condition of the universe. His equations confirmed previous beliefs dating back to Aristotle that the universe is eternal. Problem is, for many people, the Bible says no. Time went on, and scientists kept uncovering evidence that the universe was constantly expanding. In fact, Einstein’s equations described a dynamic universe that would allow for expansion. Einstein had a problem.

Unbelievably, Einstein fudged his equation so it described a static universe, and it became the famous cosmological equation. The problem would not go away. Data was accumulating to the contrary. The universe was in fact expanding. Einstein later wrote that his denial of his own theory was the “biggest blunder of my life.”

Why the biggest blunder? Einstein realized that if day by day the universe was expanding, getting ever larger, then what about yesterday, a year ago, a millennium ago, and ever backwards until billions of years ago there was only a point, a point that marked the beginning. …And he blew it. He could not give up his opinion in favor of his facts.

Schroeder claims that the fact of an expanding universe is a really big deal.

This shift in scientific opinion, after millennia of opposition, represents the most significant change science can ever make toward biblcal philosophy. Evolution, dinosaurs, cavemen are all trivial controversies when compared to the concept of a beginning. While a beginning does not confirm the existence of a Beginner, it does open the way for that possibility.

I’m fortunate that I could almost follow the scientific explanations as the author describes the basis for his thesis of convergence of science and faith. At one point he says, “I urge the scientifically disinclined reader to suffer through or skip over the bit of mathematics that follows and continue on to the day-by-day comparison of science with Genesis 1.”

I recommend this book as a reasonable and fair treatment of a difficult subject.

Dave, expanding a bit himself.

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