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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Genesis and the Big Bang, by Gerald L. Schroeder

At the suggestion of Tap, I recently read parts of Gerald L. Schroeder's Genesis and the Big Bang. (New York: Bantam, 1990). Other people have mentioned the book from time to time.

Schroeder is clearly intelligent, and a good writer. I found some parts of particular interest.

Schroeder is a working scientist, and therefore writes with some authority. He appears, throughout, to be attempting a reconciliation of the Bible with the findings of modern science, a laudable goal, indeed, as both of them are part of God's revelation to us.

One way that he tries to do this is by using relativistic time. Einstein did not see time as constant, but flexible, depending on the physical system. Schroeder points out that God is outside of time, and that observed time depends on the motion of the observer and the observed, and that the apparent duration of an event won't be the same for two observers who are moving relative to one another. All this (which he explains at some length, with diagrams) leads him to conclude that the six days of Genesis might be the same as the billions of years that modern scientists believe is the age of the universe.

That's an interesting conclusion. However, no matter how good his science, I have trouble believing that this will be acceptable to young-earth creationists. I have trouble accepting it, myself, because it seems too complex and convoluted to me. Also, there is another question. Does Genesis really describe the creation of the earth, the solar system, or the universe, or all three?

Thanks, Tap. I believe Schroeder's heart is in the right place, and he may even be correct about creation week -- God may have observed the same events as a single week, and we (speaking of a hypothetical observer -- there were no humans in existence at the beginning) as billions of years, or the reverse. But I think he's working too hard here.

Maybe my problem is that, like almost all of us, I really think of time as a universal, constant, flow, no matter what Einstein said.

Thanks for reading.


Rob Rumfelt said...

Glad to see you finally read one of Schroeder's books. For a non-scientist like myself he was a difficult read, but he writes with such obvious passion that I can't stop reading. I recently read his "Science of God" which was even more difficult for me, but just as rewarding.

All the best!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Rob!

Tap said...

I just saw this post and I have no idea what you're talking about. I think you must have me confused with someone else who suggested this book—I've never even heard of it before!

About the time theory: I have heard that the "And then there was evening, and then there was morning" wording in Genesis 1 is suggestive of some time period other than a solar day.

Martin LaBar said...

Sorry, Tap.

This isn't the first time I've been confused, and it won't be the last.

B Nettles said...

I haven't read this book but will add it to my list. Have you read Redeeming Science by Vern Poythress or Genesis 1-4 by C. John Collins? Both give interesting perspectives at resolving Earth age "data" with the language of Scripture.

I just started A Biblical Case for an Old Earth__Baker Books, 2006 by David Snoke. Should be interesting.

I just found your site off a link you left at Quintessence of Dust. I really have enjoyed the posts.

Martin LaBar said...

June 27, 08. Thanks, B. Nettles.

I have read some Poythress, and an article or two by Snoke, but I don't recall reading any of those books. I'll check them out.