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Review: The Science of God

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Volume: 
18
Year: 
1998
Issue: 
2
Date: 
March–April
Page(s): 
33
Reviewer: 
Frank Sonleitner
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Work under Review
Title: 
The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom
Author(s): 
Gerald L. Schroeder
New York: Broadway Books, 1998. 240 pages.
This book is essentially an elaboration and update of Schroeder's earlier book Genesis and the Big Bang published in 1990. Schroeder is an Israeli physicist who has also extensively studied biblical interpretation. He uses the arguments of the Anthropic principle (the Big Bang and the fine-tuning of the universal constants) as evidence for God; but he also insists that the Bible and science agree. Genesis is not to be taken literally nor dismissed as poetry but must be interpreted correctly following the lead of talmudic scholars such as Nahmanides and Maimonides. Although his interpretation twists, stretches, and sometimes directly contradicts the literal meaning of Genesis, it confirms all the findings of modern cosmology and geology.

Using a universal time clock based on the stretching of the wavelengths of light as the universe expands, he concludes that the universe is 15.75 billion years old. The six days of Genesis consist of a nonlinear day-age description of the history; day 1 covers the first 8 billion years, and day 6 only the last 1/4 billion.

Schroeder accepts the standard geologic and paleontologic history of the earth but he balks at evolution (although he admits some sort of genetic continuity as suggested by the evidence of comparative anatomy, biochemistry and embryonic recapitulation). He rejects all transitional forms among higher categories such as classes and phyla, but later admits that there might be transitional forms within classes. (He does discuss the recently discovered intermediate forms of whales.)

Schroeder rejects evolution because he considers its mechanism to rest solely on pure chance. There is no discussion of natural selection; it doesn't appear in the index although the term is used in passing while discussing Dawkins. His "proof" that it is impossible for convergent evolution to produce similar eyes in taxa which did not inherit these structures from a common ancestor uses a mathematical calculation based on two assumptions - (1) evolution is pure chance; and (2) the taxa have no genes in common except those "inherited" from the protozoa. Yet in other places he seems to be aware of the recent evidence that the phyla have many genes in common; he discusses the Hox genes that determine body plans and the Pax genes that are involved in eye formation!

Schroeder admits that there were "pre-Adamites" (Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals) living for 40 000 years prior to Adam, but questions the existence of earlier hominid species because of the fragmentary nature of their fossils. Again he uses a mathematical model to show that the evolution of humans from an ape ancestor is impossible. This model also assumes that (1) evolution would occur by pure chance and (2) one million mutations would be necessary to produce the ape-human transition!

It takes more than the Big Bang and the fine tuning of universal constants to demonstrate that the creator is the kind, loving, personal God worshipped by Christians. And there Schroeder's arguments fall apart. For example, he argues that quantum mechanics provides the basis of free will and that the determinacy of our genes does not prevent our exercising free will, yet later he says that randomness in nature (including random mutations) is necessary for free will! And natural disasters are necessary. We must suffer earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that result from plate tectonics made possible by the earth's molten core because the latter is necessary to generate a magnetic field to protect us from the high energy radiation produced by the life-giving sun. But then he says that the biblical Creator could have made stars that didn't produce those lethal rays but "they would not be natural" and would offer absolute testimony of the Creator's existence! And still later he contradicts this principle (that the universe is organized "naturally" to hide the existence of the Creator) by saying that the earth is at an "unnatural" distance from the sun and hints that this may be miraculous! (According to Schroeder some exponential law determines the distance of the planets, and the earth's distance does not fit the pattern.)

Evolutionists will justifiably criticize Schroeder for his simplistic and inconsistent treatment of evolution while the real creationists will reject him for his theology which includes rejection of the literal reading of Genesis, acceptance of the Big Bang, an old age for the earth, existence of pre-Adamites, a local flood, and ignoring Christ, Christianity and the New Testament.