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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Science of God - III

This is the 3rd post regarding Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s book on The Science of God, but if you haven’t read any of the others, please note that this is not an intention to proselytize.

I have to begin at the outset of this section with a disclaimer of sorts. As I was writing these thoughts, I began to kind of question the substance of their truth as well. Since I certainly can’t speak as an expert on quantum physics or the theory of relativity, I began to consider if I could be perhaps being somewhat persuaded and impressed not only by Schroeder’s thoughts but also his presentation of complex math. I consequently spent some time with Google and found that indeed, there are many web-pages which discuss these same topics – all running the gambit as to which viewpoint they espouse. There was one however, which reasoned from a similar mathematical viewpoint. I have included the link below. I encourage all interested to read that author’s response – he/she does not does not discount the that science can be used to discuss the existence of God, however, does attempt to discount the particular points of reason as presented by Dr. Schroeder.

Nonetheless, as I have quoted before, Medieval philosopher Maimonides: “A superficial understanding of astronomy and physics leads to a superficial understanding of God’s management of it.”

In this section of the book, I was particularly interested in Dr. Schroeder’s discussion on the well known six-day creation story – specifically that it may not actually be six days as you and I might think of them. This argument rests on the understanding that those debated six days are not in fact written from an Earth based perspective of time – that is, the perspective which we share with each other. This difference has many implications.

According to Schroeder, if the ‘time’ described by one of these ‘days’ is written from the perception of the singularity at which the creation of the universe was occurring, time would be moving at a much more rapid pace. Moreover, based on laboratory data recorded by scientists in the present day, the rate of radiation taking place during this “creation period” is in fact 1012 times faster than the radiation waves of today – this would in effect result in time passing at a rate of million-million x faster than the current concept of time. Thus, one minute to us would be million-million minutes from this cosmic perspective, the Dinosaurs presence on the Earth for 120 million years would have only been about 1 hour. What is doubly interesting is that according to Schroeder, if you divide the 15 billion years of the universe’s history by the cosmic quotient of million-million, you get an age of about 6 days.

What is the Biblical basis for such an understanding? In the book of Genesis, Dr. Schroeder points out the clue which says that before this six day period, “the Earth was unformed.” This makes it plausible to reason that it would be difficult to base and understanding of time from our human Earth based perspective if in fact during this six ‘day’ period there were no real one location from which to reference time.

The other Biblical support for such a viewpoint is surrounded by much more controversy – the understanding of the length of time intended to describe when the original authors used the word ‘day.’ To get the true meaning, one must go to the source - the original Hebrew text as it was written (before anything may have been lost in translation). I can’t read Hebrew, so I have to rely on the work of others. Upon reading the most accurate translation I could find, it does seem like Genesis presents the day as the 24 hour cycle.

As a Catholic Christian, I was curious as to what the Church’s response was to such possibility. I found this quote from Pope Pious XII:

- "What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East" (Divino Afflante Spiritu 35–36).

I have basically come to the conclusion after much thought that there is ambiguity surrounding this point of contention and much more room for research and introspection – like so many other things though, it will probably still come down to a matter of faith.

Either way you go, thanks for reading at least… that’s all I got for now.

:-) AMDG

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty wild that the million-million thing makes it around 6 days. Also, I've never thought of it in terms of what a "day" actually means. To us it means that the earth has rotated completely around its axis one time, and that takes approximately 24 hours. But before the earth began, what was a "day"? That makes the interpretation of "day" even more expansive than the current literalistic Christians tend to believe. I've always been of the thought that a "day" in the Genesis sense could be billions of years in our 24 hour sense of time. I think the Church believes that as well.