In reference to: Testimony of Former Young Earth Creationist
That is a long and thoughtful intellectual trip, more effort expended than I had anticipated when Ed introduced himself to the group. On that occasion I sent to him (direct) a short note, but to date I have had no response.
Edward: “To date” (from the posting of my “intellectual journey” to your reply above) is less than 27 hours. Time must rush by at a furious pace for you. I can imagine you standing on your porch waiting for a reply the day after you mailed someone a letter (in ye old snail-mail days). Well, Iʼm here now, and you may ask me anything either in this forum or at my home or work email. My work email is ed.babinski@ and I may be contacted there 9:30AM-6:00PM M-F, but again, with work, there are no promises how soon I can reply.
I duplicate it for CED(below) and trust that he has completed all the research necessary for a reply.
Edward: You “trust” that I have “completed all the research necessary for a reply.” Not very trustful it would seem. Thatʼs understandable. I hope that you have read as widely as I have, and examined each question in as many ways and from as many angles as I have, though I lack absolute “trust” that that is so. Itʼs not really a matter of trust at this early point of discussion, but of the trickiness inherent in all communication about complex, wide ranging, deeply believed, controversial subjects. On the topics of biological origins and the Bible much has been written, and I doubt both of us have read exactly the same articles, books. So, right from the start our ideas about certain subjects are not going to coincide. Perhaps agreement about many of those subjects will prove impossible without a fairly large number of books, articles, sources of information, that we both hold in common. Even so…the chorus goes, what “ELSE” have you read about this, that, and the other? (In the end, life is short and so is time for study. And for those two reasons I cannot imagine a “God” who condemns people to hell after they have been blown to and fro in this world for a mere couple of decades in a raging sea of ideas and emotions.)
I also think knowing more about you might aid future communications. (Your e-name isnʼt a cover for “Phil” Johnson is it?). What has your “intellectual journey” been like? I find most peopleʼs stories interesting, having read many testimonies of people who have entered and/or exited various religions/philosophies.
Dear Ed, Welcome.
Edward: Thanks! Happy to be here…Happy to be anywhere in fact.
You seem to have developed a strong preference for a position.
Edward: I have a strong preference for asking questions (and researching questions. My research projects led to a job at a university library — no I am not a full librarian). I have found various attempts at “concordance” questionable. I found the Bibleʼs creation story(s) questionable. And Iʼve found I.D. hypotheses also questionable. At the moment my question for I.D.ers is simply this, “If there is a Designer, what can we learn about their level of say, competency, by examining various aspects of nature and natureʼs history? A Divine Tinkerer perhaps?” Personally, I am open to theism, even a personal God, personal beings of light, etc. But I do not have any proof, mainly anecdotes, like NDEs. And the Bible no longer constitutes proof of anything to me concerning its cosmology and cosmogony. The way I presently see things, it is relatively easy to explain the origins of ancient Hebrew creation stories and motifs, while an explanation for how things evolved is more difficult.
So, let me start with two questions. 1) What do you think is important about Darwinism,
Edward: I donʼt think in those terms. I have explained my position in my “intellectual journey” and above.
and 2) what type of evidence do you consider most important in validating Darwinʼs theory?
Edward: I have no sacredly held theories of my own, neither Darwinism nor I.D. I have questions. I have read atheists/naturalists and what they have said about nature. I have read I.D. hypotheses and critiques of those hypotheses. I have read young-earth creationism and critques of young-earth creaitonism. I have read old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists. I have read concordist and non-concordist arguments. I have studied and compared ancient near eastern cosmologies and cosmogonies, and also read attempts to make Genesis (chapters 1 -3) appear to be the first and last word on origins.
For concordance of Bible and Science I suggest books by scientist Gerald L. Schroeder(our library has three).
Edward: I find Schroederʼs “concordances” more of a demonstration of Schroederʼs agility of mind than “proof” of the truth of the Bible. In fact, Schroederʼs central concordance, that both the Bible and modern science agree there was a “beginning,” ignores the fact that other creation stories agree there was a “beginning” and also agree with Genesis concerning many “less than scientific” matters that Schroeder ignores or attempts to interpret away.
Schroederʼs claim about how much genetic change it would take to create human beings is wrong. According to the latest data, “The difference between human and chimp genomes is only about 1.23%, rather than 1.4% as originally thought.”
Even more importantly, modern day chimps and man diverged so the differences that accumulated in each of their TWO genomes over time is greater than the differences between either ONE of them and their common ancestor, which would be less than 1.4% In fact even the present day differences between human and chimp genomes are less than that between the genomes of near identical sibling species of fruit flies. And there is even evidence INSIDE human chromosome #2 that points to it being the result of the fusion of two chromosomes that very closely resemble those found in the chimp which line up band for band to those in manʼs chromosome #2.
Here are some reviews of Schroederʼs books I found on the web that reflect my own questions. I sorted the reviews so they would begin with simpler criticisms and build to more elaborate ones by professors of zoology and physics. It is apparent that Schroederʼs “Kabbalistic” concordance hypothesis pleases neither young nor old-earth creationists and their readings of Genesis:
A young-earth creationist Amazon reviewer of The Science of God:
“I find many of his interpretations manipulated to his own cause, e.g. Gen. 1:12 which he interprets: “and the earth brought forth life.” A more reliable interpretation of the text renders: “and the earth(or land) brought forth vegetation.” Further, he cites no credible Hebrew scholar who agrees with his interpretation of day for order and night for chaos. He relies much more for his case on the mystical kabbalah, especially Nahmanides, which can only be explained at best as “opinion.” This leaves him in positions which do not square with all of inspired Scripture…For the exact opposite view of Schroederʼs key thesis: clocks ticking faster at the center and slow at the edge of the cosmos— see young-earth creationist, D. Russell Humphreysʼs book “Starlight and Time.”
Old earth creationist Hugh Ross reviews Schroederʼs Genesis And The Big Bang:
“One problem with his view is that it clashes with the scientific data on the timing of Earthʼs origin. Since the earth already exists on the first creation day of Genesis 1, Schroederʼs model would say that Earth began at least 12 billion years ago. Scientific measurements, however, show that it is only 4.6 billion years old.
Our view is that Genesis 1:2 establishes the frame of reference for the creation events: “The Spirit of God was brooding (or hovering) over the surface of the waters.” In other words, Godʼs time and space frame in describing creation is the earthʼs surface, a frame in common with all readers of the account. The text gives no hint of Schroederʼs relativistically time-extended creation days. If one seeks Jewish support for a day-age interpretation of Genesis 1, Nathan Aviezer, another Jewish physicist, offers it in a book entitled In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 1990). Aviezer acknowledges that the six creation days of Genesis 1 must refer to long time periods.”
Amazon Reviewer of The Science of God: seapapa from Los Angeles
“Schroederʼs thesis is that the author of Genesis is describing a 15 billion year history of the universe and life, even though that was never his understanding or his intention. The true meaning Genesis 1 went undetected until it was discovered by the cabalist author Nahmanides in the 11th Century AD. It was lost again until Schroeder rediscovered it.
“Even accepting the dubious proposition that people can write things that actually mean the exact opposite of what they intend, the match between the Genesis timeline and the scientifically proposed history of the universe makes an ill fit. Schroeder tries to reconcile the two by focusing minutely on certain words in Genesis that could be interpreted to allow for longer time periods, while totally ignoring the text read in its entirety. For example, day three of creation supposedly lasts 1.6-3.6 billion years ago. Genesis said “let the land produce vegetation”. Success, proclaims Schroeder, that matches the plant life on the planet, which is found only in the… water! He conveniently ignores the rest of the verse which calls for fruit-bearing trees and seed-bearing plants. There was nothing but protozoa and plankton back then. This is typical of the book.
“The most absurd argument is that, if properly interpreted, the 6 creation days correspond to 6 actual 24 hour days on earth AND 15 billion cosmic years. How so? Einsteinʼs relativity of time! Schroeder makes such an effort to preserve the 6 days of creation and the order of creation.
“This book is ultimately a polemic. Although brilliant and articulate, one gets the feeling that Schroeder cannot bear to have Genesis undermined. That compromises his scientific judgment.”
A Reviewer of The Science of God (at amazon.com):
“contains a few good passages, but also some egregious errors, which are puzzling when made by a PhD in Physics. For example, G. Schroeder completely misinterprets the experiments with particles moving through openings, invents some odd concept of heat diluting in enlarged volumes, misrepresents the story of photoelectric effect, etc. One striking feature of this book is that Schroeder suggests in it the chronological data , which completely contradict his own data on the same subject, given in his first book, without a word of explanation why he changed those data. A useless book.”
A Reviewer of The Science of God (at amazon.com) wrote:
“His time dilation calculations are totally at fault. The factor of one million million he uses is totally arbitrary (nothing really special happened at z=1 million million). His redshift/blueshift calculations are also wrong: The background temperature (and the redshift) changed by less than 10% in the last billion years. Nowhere near the rate needed to slow down from a 500 million year per day (Day 5, according to Schroeder) to 24 hours per day.
“Another serious mistake appears in his coverage of evolution: He says the the evolution from chimpanzees to humans requires a million point mutations because the difference in the active DNA between human and chimps is 1,000,000 bases.
“This is simply false. Schroeder himself says that the number of changes needed is no more than 70,000. In most cases a single point mutation is enough to complete a change.
“It would have been better if Schroeder, as a nuclear physicist, asked an expert biologist before writing his chapters about evolution…”
Frank Sonleitner,Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman OK 73019 reviews Schroederʼs The Science of God:
“This book is essentially an elaboration and update of Schroederʼs 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 doesnʼt 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 Schroederʼs 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 earthʼs 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 didnʼt produce those lethal rays but “they would not be natural” and would offer absolute testimony of the Creatorʼs 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 earthʼs 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.”
Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and the author of Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe (Prometheus Books, 1988), Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses (Prometheus Books, 1990), The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (Prometheus Books, 1995) and Timeless Reality : Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (Prometheus Books, 2000), Review of Schroederʼs The Science of God.
“How can both the Bible and science be right? Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder says he can show us how. Letʼs start with cosmology. The Bible says God created the universe in six days and indicates the passage of only about 6,000 years since then. Science currently estimates the visible universe to be about 13 billion years old, give or take a few billion. Schroeder reconciles the two, explaining that the six days of the Bible refer to a different measure of time. He explains: “there is no possible way for those first six days to have an Earth-based perspective simply because for the first two of those six days there was no Earth” (51).
“Instead, time during this six day period was measured on a cosmic clock. And what else could be used for that clock but the vibrations of light (electromagnetic waves)? Today the light from creation appears as the cosmic microwave background. This is now redshifted by a factor of a trillion (1012) from the period of “quark confinement” when matter as we know it first began to form. Thus the cosmic clock at that epoch ran off a trillion days for each of our modern days.
The six cosmic days of creation thus took about 15 billion years earth time, give or take a few billion. So, according to the author, Genesis is not only consistent with cosmology, it gives the correct age of the universe!
“Each of the six days in Schroederʼs Genesis actually takes a different length of earth time. The duration D, in earth days, of each cosmic day t is calculated from the formula D = (Ao/L)exp(-Lt), where Ao = 4x1012 (the ratio of the frequencies of the cosmic microwave background at quark confinement compared to now) and L = 0.693 (natural log of 2). More simply, cosmic day one is 8 billion earth years long and you divide by two to get the duration of each succeeding cosmic day.
“Cosmic day one starts 15.75 billion earth years ago and covers the creation of the universe, the “breaking free” of light as electrons bind to atomic nuclei, and the beginning of galaxy formation. This is described in Gen. 1:1-5 as the creation followed by light separating from the darkness.
“Cosmic day two starts 7.75 billion earth years ago and lasts four billion earth years. During this period the stars and galaxies are born. This corresponds to Gen. 1:6-8, the formation of the heavenly firmament.
“Cosmic day three starts 3.75 billion earth years ago. During two billion earth years, the earth cools, water appears, and the first life forms appear. In Gen. 1:9-13, vegetation first appears during the third day.
“Cosmic day four starts 1.75 billion earth years ago and lasts a billion earth years. The earthʼs atmosphere becomes transparent and photosynthesis produces an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Schroeder says that this corresponds to Gen. 1:14-19 when “the Sun, Moon, and stars become visible in the heavens” (67).
“Cosmic day five starts 750 million earth years ago and lasts 500 million earth years. During this period, the first multicellular animals appear and the oceans swarm with life. Gen. 1:20-23 says the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and “birds fly above the earth” (94).
“Cosmic day six starts 250 million years ago and ends at the time of Adam. During this period we have a massive extinction in which 90 percent of life is destroyed and then repopulated with humanoids and humans. This, Schroeder says, corresponds to what is described in Gen. 1:24-31.
“Technically, Schroederʼs formula gives the present as the end of the sixth day. However, it could just as well have ended a few thousand years ago and not affect the rest of the calculation where things are rounded off at hundreds of millions of years. Schroeder argues that after the six cosmic days of creation, Genesis switches its focus over to humanity and starts measuring time in human terms. The rest of the Bible concerns itself with the 6,000 earth years since Adam and Eve, estimated from the Bible in Bishop Ussher fashion.
“Schroeder does not deny the existence of hominid creatures before Adam. He talks about Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, and accepts that they had developed tools, pottery, and many human-like qualities. In Lev. 11:33 the Bible talks about pottery. But, Schroeder argues that since it never mentions the invention of pottery, that event must have pre-dated Adam (130).
“According to the author, the Bible has no interest in these pre-Adam hominids because they were not yet fully human and had no souls. Thus they are never mentioned. Adam represents the quantitative change to a large brain, but more important, the qualitative change that makes us different from all other forms of life: “our soul of human spirituality” (133). God breathed this into Adam, the first real human, 6,000 years ago.
“Schroederʼs attempt to connect 31 lines of Genesis to big-bang cosmology and earth paleontology makes entertaining reading, but will convince no one who is not already convinced or totally lacking of critical facilities.
“Let us return to the beginning. Schroederʼs use of quark confinement as the defining moment for his cosmic time scale is completely arbitrary. He seems to have chosen it for no better reason than it gives the answer he wants. The redshift from quark confinement to the present is of the order of 1012. Multiplying this by six days gives 15 billion years, which is consistent with our current estimate for the age of the universe.
“Alternatively, Schroeder might have chosen the moment in the early universe called “decoupling,” which represents the point where radiation separates from matter. Indeed, he relates this event to the separation of the “light from the darkness” described in Genesis day one. But the redshift from decoupling to the present is only of the order of 1,000, which would give an earth time interval of only fifteen years for the six cosmic days of creation. If he had chosen some other moment, he would have obtained yet a different time scale.
“Furthermore, by Schroederʼs own formula the universe creation corresponds to the time of quark confinement. Blueshifting back from that point rather than redshifting ahead, the events prior to quark confinement would recede infinitely into the past, in earth time, and we would have no creation at all.
“Schroederʼs use of an exponential function to give different earth periods for each cosmic day is not justified by his argument that earth time is simply redshifted cosmic time. While an exponential relationship would apply for the inflationary epoch in the early universe, that has ended by the time of quark confinement. Afterwards we have the almost linear Hubble expansion in which the redshift varies as a power law with time, not exponentially. By having each cosmic day half as long as the preceding one in earth years, again a completely arbitrary, unjustified procedure, Schroeder is able to vaguely relate events known from cosmology to those described in Genesis.
“In cosmic day two the “firmament” is created. Note that Schroeder excludes from the “firmament” all galaxies more than 7.75 billion light years away, of which there are many. Furthermore, he sees no problem with calling the expanding universe a “firmament.” Like all apologists, he selects his data carefully, accepting only those which agree with his hypotheses and discarding those which do not.
“Primitive life first appears in cosmic day three. Here again it takes some mighty stretching to associate what is described in the Bible for the third day, including fruit trees, with the primitive life described by paleontology for that epoch.
“Schroeder has the sun, moon, and stars becoming visible in cosmic day four. In fact, Genesis seems to say the that sun, moon, and stars are created at that time - well after the earth was created.
“Cosmic day five has the waters teeming with life. But the biblical verses imply birds as well. Schroeder says that “birds” is a mistranslation and that the Bible here is referring to water insects instead. Translation is so easy when you know what you want a passage to say.
“Cosmic day six contains the mass extinctions of life that occurred 65 million years ago. The biblical verses referenced make no mention of mass extinction. The Biblical Flood occurs well after Adam, but Schroeder needs to end the six days of creation with Adam for other purposes. This is one event he simply cannot make fit, although he is not honest enough to say so and leaves the impression that everything is consistent.
“At times you get the impression that this book is a parody, with quite a few good chuckles when read in that context. However, the sections on evolution soon convince you that no parody is intended. They are just too unfunny, too dull. Schroeder trots out all the old, tiresome arguments about why “life could not have stared by chance” and how the simplest forms, even viruses, are “far too complex to have originated without there being an inherent chemical property of molecular self-organization and/or reaction enhancing catalysts at every step of their development” (85). He applies the usual creationist deception of calculating chance probabilities as if chance is the only operative mechanism, and then saying this “proves” that God intervenes along the way when they come out very low. And, of course, the “staccato aspect of the fossil record” refutes classical evolution. “These rapid changes cannot be explained by purely random mutations at the molecular-genetic level” (87).
“Notice how often theists tell us that something cannot be explained except by God? They never seem to learn from history.”
Revised Title: The Delusions of Gerald Schroeder, December 5, 1997
Reviewer: from St. Louis, Missouri
I was intrigued by the title, but agitated by the contents. The entire book is filled with completely preposterous assumptions and conclusions. After reading such a book, I begin to question why someone, such as Gerald Schroeder, view themselves as scientists.
For an improved perspective on the contributions from Paleontology I repeat what I sent recently to DM: Henry Gee, Editor of Nature, in his “Deep Time”, recognizes all Paleo is ‘scenario elaboration’ synthesized from fragments and the proponentʼs worldview, beyond the reach of experimentation, not encumbered by the testable predictions on which science depends. Phil(a scientist)
Edward: What level of “elaboration” was the editor of Nature speaking about?