LH asked for clarification on the biblical cosmology of Gerald Schroeder. There was some question of the nature of the redshift and how to relate that to cosmological time dilation.
Physicist Gerald Schroeder has written four books on the relation of biblical wisdom to modern science. His book, The Science of God, explains his biblical cosmology in detail. I’ve created an illustrated slideshow here (see also the “Six Days” tab at the top) that covers the basics of his model. The gist is that Schroeder is able to convincingly reconcile a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 –six 24-hour days of creation –with a universe that is billions of years old by invoking the phenomenon known as time dilation. That’s the slowing down of time in one reference frame as observed from another reference frame. It’s a scientifically sound model, but it’s also a bit difficult for the average scientific layperson to understand, because it involves one of the trickiest concepts in science — the nature of time.
Even scientifically-literate people get tripped up by the effect of time dilation, because the effect can occur for different reasons. So, it’s no surprise that one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of Schroeder’s biblical cosmology is the nature of the time dilation effect that gives us six 24-hour days in one frame of reference and 14 billion years in another. It is not due to gravitational effects or comparing two different physical reference frames within the universe. Rather it arises from the following:
- God’s reference frame existing beyond space and time, which regards the universe as a whole
- the expansion of the universe
- comparison of the flow of time between different moments in cosmological history
Schroeder assumes Genesis 1 is told from God’s perspective. God’s reference frame is not any one place within the universe, but from outside the universe, regarding the universe in its entirety. So, to find something to form the basis of the Genesis clock, Schroeder looked for something that takes into account the three points above. He chose the cosmic background radiation (CBR), because it permeates the entire universe, it has existed virtually since the beginning of the universe, and encoded in its properties are the history of the expansion of the universe.
The time dilation for Genesis 1 is based on the expansion of the universe. This is neither special relativity nor a gravitational effect; it is merely a consequence of the stretching of the CBR light waves as the universe expands. This is a well-established effect in cosmology, and one I have to take into account in my own research on distant quasars. For simplicity, if you think of the CBR light waves as a sine wave, then the frequency of the sine wave represents the beat of the Genesis clock. The higher the frequency, the faster the clock ticks off time. If you think of drawing this sine wave on a piece of stretchable fabric representing the fabric of the universe and then stretching this fabric, the length between the peaks on the sine wave gets longer, and hence the ticks of the clock get longer (i.e. slower). So, what’s happening is that as the universe ages and expands, the frequency of the CBR light decreases, and the ticks of the Genesis clock for each moment in time get slower compared with previous moments in time.
That’s how we can measure, from our earthly perspective looking backward in time, 14 billion years, while God measures, from his perspective regarding the universe as a whole looking forward in time, six 24-hour days.