Summary of Gerald Schroeder event

As previously announced here, acclaimed scientist and theologian, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, presented a lecture last evening in Austin on the origins of humankind from a scientific and biblical perspective. By my count, over 150 people attended the lecture, with the audience skewing very young. Dr. Robb Wilson of The Scholar Redeemer audio-recorded the lecture, and we should have a podcast of sorts available here within the next few days. In the meantime, here is a brief summary of the event.

Dr. Schroeder began with his explanation for reconciling the biblical calendar with the scientifically-calculated age of the universe of 14 billion years using the well-studied phenomenon of time dilation that arises from the expansion of the universe. His explanation hinges on an ancient interpretation of Genesis 1, which says that the first six days are distinct and separate from the rest of the biblical calendar. He argued that these six days actually contain billions of years if looked at properly. Genesis time stops partway through the sixth day with a special event — the creation of Adam — at which point the conventional biblical calendar starts. Dr. Schroeder then segued into the main topic by announcing that Adam had parents. I suspect some people were rather shocked by this notion, but Dr. Schroeder laid out the overwhelming scientific evidence for pre-Adam hominids as well as evidence from the Bible itself. The key point was that the creation of Adam was a spiritual creation, not a physical one. Human-like beings existed prior to Adam, but they were not human because they lacked the neshama (which we may be tempted to call the “soul,” but it’s more than that). Neshama is Hebrew for “communicating spirit,” and this tells us that the defining quality of Adam as a human being, what separated him from his predecessors, was the ability to communicate with God.

The lecture ran slightly long, which unfortunately only left time for half a dozen questions from the audience. But they were all good, substantive questions; one in particular (which I can’t remember, but will hopefully be audible on the recording) was of particular interest to Dr. Schroeder. Several young people approached Dr. Schroeder after the lecture with more questions and comments and requests for book signings. I noticed that several of them were also taking photos of the diagrams he made on the whiteboard during his talk. For any of our readers who were present at the lecture and would like to know more about the information in those diagrams, I strongly encourage you to read his best-selling book, The Science of God.

Update: Due to some unforeseen difficulties posting the audio recording, there will be no podcast of the lecture. Sorry.

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7 thoughts on “Summary of Gerald Schroeder event

  1. Sounds like it was very interesting!

    Gen 2:7 (KJV) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    I’ve wondered about what it was meant by “dust”, if that referred to just dust, or a whole natural process to create human forms, then breathe the breath of life.

    Though “parents” is rather a strong term, I don’t think pre-breath of life hominids would have the same thing as parents in the human sense.

  2. The medieval Jewish scholar Nahmanides indicates that the dust may refer to a whole natural process to create human forms. The breath of life breathed into Adam was the neshama, the human soul.

    Gen 2:7 properly translated from Hebrew:

    “… and [God] breathed into his nostrils the neshama of life and the adam became to a living soul.”

    There are two things to note here. 1) It’s the adam, not adam. Adam comes from the Hebrew word adama, which means earth. There were other adams before the adam. 2) Nahmanides commented that the seemingly superfluous “to” had significance. As Schroeder writes in The Science of God:

    [The word “to,” Nahmanides] noted, indicates a change in form and may have been placed there to describe mankind as progressing through stages of mineral, plant, fish, and animal. Finally, upon receiving the neshama, that creature which had already been formed became a human. He concludes his extensive commentary on the implications of this [“to”] as: “Or it may be that the verse is stating that [prior to receiving the neshama] it was a completely living being and [by the neshama] it was transformed into another man.”

    Compare this to 1 Corinthians 15:46-47: The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. Interesting, eh?

  3. Yes, they sure seem to.

    One of my colleagues pointed out that YECs are not consistent. They will expend great thought and effort to interpret the Sermon on the Mount to find out what Christ really meant, but when it comes to Genesis 1, IT MUST BE THE LITERAL MEANING WITH NO INTERPRETATION.

    Schroeder points out that Genesis 1 is actually meant to be taken literally, but there are also deeper meanings to the text. Most people haven’t looked at the subtleties in the Hebrew, the commentaries, and the context, to understand what the literal interpretation is telling us on a deeper level. Schroeder uses an analogy by Solomon to make the point. Solomon once said that a word well spoken is like apples of gold in a bowl of silver. The bowl of silver is the literal, face-value meaning of the words. The golden apples are the deeper, more valuable pieces of information that the words are conveying.

    The primitive, uneducated people who were the original audience for Genesis could not have possibly known about particle physics and relativity, so the story had to be conveyed on their level — but since the Bible is supposed to be timeless and meant for everyone, it must also contain meaning that would be relevant to, oh, say … people who would know about big bang cosmology!

    YECs and literalists focus on the dish of silver and completely ignore the golden apples. I understand and applaud their sense of duty and devotion to their faith, but it’s so unnecessary for them to blind themselves to the reality of our material world when it’s beautifully confirmed in the Bible.

  4. Agreed.

    Also, the apples contain seeds, which when planted and tended to, produce more apples.

    Silver bowls don’t grow into more silver bowls.

  5. Ms. Salviander,
    The lecture by Dr. Schroeder at UT earlier this week was very interesting and thought provoking. I’ve read through chapters Three and Four of The Science of God in which Dr. Schroeder elaborates on The Age of the Universe: Six Days and Fifteen Billion Years and The Six Days of Genesis.
    Dr. Schroeder’s suggests that the Six Days of Genesis appear to us on Earth as 15 billion years because we are looking backward in time. Dr. Schroeder asserts that due to time dilation, the ‘cosmic clock’ which looks forward in time runs a million millionfold slower from our perspective right here on Earth. The time dilation is a result of the cooling of the universe as determined by the precisely measured 2.7K temperature of the Cosmic Background Radiation. The original temperature of the universe at quark confinement (10 us after the bang) was a “million million times hotter than the present 3K.” The cooling of the universe during the rapid expansion phase after the Big Bang has resulted in a million millionfold stretching of all radiation. We see that cooling as a red shift (z) of “10 to the power 12.” Hence for the Six Days of Creation, Day One from our perspective lasted from 15.7 BYA to 7.75 BYA, the Second Day from 7.75 BYA to 3.75 BYA… the Sixth Day from 250 MYA to 6000 years ago.
    Do you agree with Dr. Schroeder’s methodology to arrive at this conclusion?
    Has the red shift (z) been measured at 10 to the power 12?
    How well does Dr. Schroeder’s explanation of the degree of the stretching of space agree with accepted cosmology?
    Regards, Ed L.

  6. Ed,

    I’m glad you were able to attend the lecture and that you are reading Dr. Schroeder’s book.

    I agree with his methodology. In fact, if you read my Bio you’ll see that Dr. Schroeder’s work was instrumental in my conversion from atheism to Christianity.

    The redshift at 1012 cannot be directly measured, because at a certain point in cosmological history, about 400,000 after the big bang, there is an obscuring “fog” of ionized gas that prevents us from observing what was happening. However, we can extrapolate what the stretch factor must have been given the physics.

    Dr. Schroeder’s explanation of the stretching of space agrees very well with accepted cosmology. One thing that has impressed me the most about his work is that he scrupulously presents the science as-is with no retrofitting or fudging.

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