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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Schroeder The Science of God Chapter Four

Updated 3/23/2016, 11/23/2016

{I have the 1997 edition. Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. In addition, he may have changed his timelines a bit. Nevertheless, most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition.}

{12/31/2014 addendum - Schroeder's time line dated 10/2013 at is 

1 13.9 Billion years ago to 6.9 Billion years ago
2 6.9 Billion years ago to 3.4 Billion years ago
3 3.4 Billion years ago to 1.6 Billion years ago
4 1.6 Billion years ago to 0.7 Billion years ago
5 0.7 Billion years ago to 0.2 Billion years ago
6 0.2 Billion years ago to 6000 years ago 

Using this new time line will change this post very little if at all.}

For reference here is Genesis 1 

Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. 3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. {P}

6 And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. {P}

9 And God said: 'Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.' And it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas; and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said: 'Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. {P}

14 And God said: 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.' And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. {P}

20 And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.' 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.' 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. {P}

24 And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.' And it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.' 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. 28 And God blessed them; and God said unto them: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.' 29 And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food; 30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, [I have given] every green herb for food.' And it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. {P}

Introduction and Schroeder's Formula 

{1/11/2015 I found some errors in my prior write up on the actual formula. But the conclusions did not change}

For discussion on the most likely translation of Gen1:1 see Kalam proof of god repudiated for theological reasons. For now we will mostly accept creation Ex-Nihilo as per the above translation.

This post will discuss Chapter 4. For others see Chapter 9 ,   Chapter 1 , Chapter 2 , Chapter 3 -section 1, Chapter 3 section 2,

Once again I will focus on our holy texts and how Schroeder uses/abuses them. There will be a limited amount of science.

Schroeder’s formula to shoehorn the billions of years of the big bang into the six days of genesis reduces to:

A=  (Cosmic Background Temperature at quark confinement divided by Cosmic Background Temperature now ) times (½) to the power of T. Dividing  365 turns days it into years.

'A'  is Earth time

T = 0 for  genesis day 1.
T = 1 for  genesis day 2. Etc:

Schroeder informs us Cosmic Background Temperature at quark confinement is 10.9 times (10^12)  Kelvin degrees,  and the Cosmic Background Temperature now is 2.73 Kelvin.

You can see the importance of what temperature is used in the numerator. Schroeder selection of quark confinement results in the duration since the Big Bang is about 15.75 Billion years ago. If he used the temperature say when Helium forms the temperature is cooler by about 1000 times and Schroeder would not be close to 15.7 Billion years. 

Why is Schroeder using a  (½) factor in the formula ? Why didn’t  he use a (1/3) or some other factor ?  Based on my reading he provides virtually no discussion and no sources advocating (½) for this important  factor. 

Schroeder is constrained by the requirement to get the resulting time periods and the activities that occur for each period according to science to match up Genesis activities for each day. 

To do this Schroeder will ignore the inconsistencies of science and genesis, sprinkle in some bizarre and novel ‘translations’ / ‘interpretations’ of Genesis, cherry pick and or misread some of our holy texts, speculate on what Genesis  and our holy commentators really mean, invent a formula to converge Genesis and Science, and ignore some science.  Intellectually honest ? No. Impressive ?  No.

But, how close does the formula correctly allocate the events of genesis to the billions of years of the Big Bang and Science ?

I wrote two posts exploring Genesis and Evolution, Genesis and Big Bang that outlines some of the disparities  between science and  Genesis. Maybe I have added a few more in this post. The obstacles required to overcome the science-genesis conflict in an intellectually honest way are insurmountable. In addition, if even one error is found in Genesis creation story, or in  any part of the Torah, it proves the Torah can not be divine.  I think there are more than one.

Genesis Day One: 15.75 billion years ago to 7.75 billion years ago

1a) Page 65 Schroeder cites Ramban Gen 1:4 the grabbing hold of time - see my discussion in Chapter 3 section 2, and the discussion of Schroeder’s formula above.

I will add another problem.... {ETA 1/10/2015 I deleted a  discussion that  'light' existing prior to  quark  confinement causes problems for Schroeder's time line. It gets complicated because of both the Science (did 'light' exist prior to quark confinement ?)  and interpretation of Torah verses.}

 1b) Page 66 - Genesis 1:2  Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters (מימ )

The Hebrew word מימ - (waters). Schroeder with no source support translates it as the universe. Schroeder  goes on to claim this verse is referring to the one Big Bang rapid inflation period, with no support except that God Hovering is a one time event in the Torah.  Maybe the Torah meant the spirit of God was hovering over the waters, just like it says. Rashi explains it as the throne of glory hovering over the water -  like a dove hovering over it’s nest.

And this brings up yet another conflict between Genesis and Science. Using Schroeder’s time line for day one, Science tells us there was no water in day one, yet Genesis has water on day one.

1c) Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago (wiki earth) putting the Earth within Schroeder’s Day 2 time frame.  But Genesis has Earth existing already on Day 1. A big  problem.

 Alternately Ramban has Earth formed on Day 3 which begins according to Schroeder 3.75 billion years ago. This is no good for Schroeder either.  

Is this one of the reasons for Schroeder’s odd translation of ‘water’ as universe in  Gen 1:2 ? To avoid this problem.

1d)  Page 65 Schroeder cites Ramban on Gen 1:5

Gen 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, day one.

Genesis writes  ‘day one’ as opposed to writing ‘first day’. Schroeder seems to insinuate some mystery to this - that Genesis is looking forward in time.

Ramban  explains it as follows:  The Torah writes  ‘day one’ as opposed to the ‘first day’, because ‘first’  would imply there are other days, which of course did not exist yet. Once day one is complete, The Torah can refer to day 2 as the second day. 

1e) Genesis - Does Genesis have Stars formed in day one ? Depends how it is interpreted. The plain reading Stars at Day 4. Science -  “Most stars are between 1 billion and 10 billion years old. Some stars may even be close to 13.8 billion years old—the observed age of the universe.” Wiki Stars.  So Stars would first appear within Day one per Schroeder time frames. A plain reading of Genesis does not have stars, sun or moon formed on Day one.

For alternate days for stars, moon, sun see discussion Day 4.

Genesis Day Two:  7.75 billion years ago to 3.75 billion years ago 

2a)  Schroeder claims the Genesis’s firmament formation is the formation of most of the stars of the Milky Way disc; and Sun formation.  This would conflict with Ramban’s interpretation of the events  - see day 4 below.

2b) Torah does not seem to have stars or galaxy formation on day one, yet Schroeder’s time line does. For alternate discussion of stars, moon, sun see day 4.

2c) Firmament  - does not appear at all in modern science and is relic of ancient science. See my Genesis and Big Bang post where this is discussed a bit more.

2d) Science says Earth appeared about 4.5 billion years ago, putting it into Schroeder’s Day 2. Depending how to interpret Genesis, Earth perhaps appears on Day one. Ramban has Earth created in Day 3 of Genesis. Not good for Schroeder. 

Genesis  Day Three:  3.75 billion years ago to 1.75 billion years ago 

3a) Genesis 1:11  And God said: 'Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so. 

Schroeder claims Genesis is referring to bacteria and algae. But Genesis has plants sprouting forth from earth , not water. This is inconsistent with evolution theory. Genesis was most likely not referring to microscopic bacteria and algae, but visible plants like grass etc:

3b) Page 67, 68, Schroeder claims the simple reading of Genesis 1:11 implying all types of plants is appeared on day three is wrong . He goes on to claim the Kabbala corrects this misunderstanding , that really plants only start on day 3 , but then develop during the following days, Schroeder  quotes Ramban “there was no special day assigned for this command for vegetation alone since it is not a unique work.”

Lets see what Ramban actually writes.

Ramban on Genesis 2:5 Citing Midrash Rabba 12:4 every herb of the field created on third day did not come forth above the ground but remained just below the surface of the earth  until it rains on the sixth day. 

[There is nothing about Plant creation taking place after day 3. It is just they are underground until day 6. According to science seed bearing plants appear  400 million years ago - within Schroeder’s Day 5 time line. This would be a  problem.]

But Ramban is of the opinion that on the third day the earth did bring forth grass and fruit trees in their full stature and quality. This is in contradiction Schroeder’s time line with plants only starting on day 3. And according to science flowers do not appear until 130 million years ago - Schroeder’s day 6. Kabala /Ramban had it wrong. This is another problem for Schroeder.]

Now onto Ramban on Genesis 1:12 Schroeder’s claimed source. I quote now in full.

Ramban writes “There was no special day assigned for this command for vegetation alone since it is not a unique work. The work of earth, whether it brings forth anything or is salt land is one.”

[Ramban may be teaching that the creation of plants was not a unique work because the earth was involved in it’s creation. He does not mention plants developing after day 3. Ramban even writes fruit trees develop on day 3 - see above. Schroeder’s claim that Ramban intends plants to only start on day 3 but continue after seems at best a poor speculation.]

Moreover, Schroeder is translating that the appearance of photosynthetic algae are included in the Torah’s plants. Yet, the Torah fails to mention the important simple cells (prokaryotes) which pre-date the cyanobacteria performing photosynthesis. The first living things are not plants.]

Genesis  Day Four: 1.75 billion years ago to .75 billion years ago 

4a) Schroeder on Page 69 -  cites Ramban, Talmud Hagigah 12A and Rashi to support the notion stars, Sun, Moon  were created during Day 4 as per Ramban or just became visible on Day 4.

Lets see what the sources actually write.

Talmud Hagigah 12A writes that according to Sages the light created on the first day is identical to the Luminaries which are created on the first day, but not hung up (in the firmament)  until the fourth day.  (Rashi just reiterates Talmud Hagiga 12A as the Luminaries are created on day one, but are suspended in the firmament of day four.)

The Talmud does not say became visible. It says hung up in the firmament. Also, according to the Talmud it maybe the Luminaries are actually created on day one. 

Schroeder claims: formation of the Firmament is Milky Way Disk 
Formation, and Sun formation occurring on Day 2. Then on day 4,  Earth’s atmosphere becomes transparent and so the Sun, Moon, stars become visible. 

Lets look at what Ramban teaches us regarding Genesis 1:14

Ramban explains as follows.  

First Day - light is created.

Second Day - Firmament made, which then blocks light from illuminating the lower elements.

Day Three - Earth is created and it is dark because the Firmament blocks light from reaching it.

Day Four - God desires there be firmament luminaries to light the Earth. God makes the light created on day one become corporeal.           
Do you see the problems for Schroeder ?

 First, the firmament per Ramban blocks light from hitting the Earth. This is not how Schroeder’s definition of the Firmament would behave.

Second, on day 4 Schroeder claims Earths atmosphere clears letting the Sun, Moon, and Stars become visible. This is not at all how  Ramban explains how light is received by Earth. 

Using Schroeder’s time line - Ramban has the Earth created on day three 3.75 billion years ago to 1.75 billion years ago. But Science says Earth appeared about 4.5 billion years ago, putting it into Schroeder’s Day 2.

Genesis  Day Five:  .75 billion years ago to .25 billion years ago 

Day 5  And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl   (עןף -   pronounced oaf )   fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.' 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl (עןף ) after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl (עןף) multiply in the earth.' 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Rashi explains ‘swarms of living creatures’ include flies, beetles, ants, worms, moles, fish  and some others.

 This puts insects in day 5 of Schroeder’s with no problem. But Rashi says it also includes moles. But moles do not appear before 200 million years ago which is in Schroeder’s day 6. See the problem. 

Genesis -  Birds are also created on day 5. But evolution tells us birds evolve 150,000 million years ago putting them in Day 6 of Schroeder’s time line. This is a problem. { ETA 11/23/2016  Correction made to And in Hebrew עןף are birds, not winged insects.  According to the (Zoo Rabbi)Rabbi Slifkin's book the Challenge of Creation on page 188 'every winged עןף' INCLUDES both birds and winged insects.} {ETA 11/23/2106 So the problem still remains even with this correction.}  

Ramban’s commentary on Gen 1:22 - and let the oaf multiply - also uses oaf to mean birds. Ramban explains - fowl are created out of the waters, but their blessing was to be on earth. No fowl lays it’s eggs in the water, but only on earth. [And Ramban is wrong - fowl evolve from land reptiles, not water reptiles.] 

Besides, insects are already included in ‘swarms of living creatures’ according to Rashi, so oaf most likely does not mean flying insects. 

Here are several examples from among many in the Tenach demonstrating oaf means fowl, not winged insects and not other winged animals. 

Levit 11:13 And these ye shall have in detestation among the fowls [oaf]; they shall not be eaten, they are a detestable thing: the great vulture, and the bearded vulture, and the ospray;

Palams 104:12 Beside them dwell the fowl [oaf] of the heaven, from among the branches they sing.

Levit 1:14 And if his offering to the LORD be a burnt-offering of fowls [oaf], then he shall bring his offering of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons.

Ezekial 31:6 All the fowls [oaf] of heaven made their nests in its boughs, and all the beasts of the field did bring forth their young under its branches, and under its shadow dwelt all great nations.

{ ETA 11/23/2016  According to the (Zoo Rabbi) Rabbi Slifkin's book the Challenge of Creation on page 188:  'every winged עןף' INCLUDES both birds and winged insects. Flying insects, when referred to in exclusion of birds are called sheretz ha-עןף. The Rabbi adds, even if you explain  'every winged עןף' as to be exclusively flying insects there is still a problem with Schroeder's time line:  Per Bible terrestrial insects are created on  the sixth day, and flying insects on the fifth day.  But according to science the terrestrial insects preceded the winged insects.}

Genesis  Day Six:  .25 billion years ago to 6000 years ago 

6a) Genesis  fails to mention the catastrophic extinction of 90% of life destroyed occurring within Day 6 of Schroeder’s time line. This occurred prior to the alleged flood during Noah’s time.

6b) Science -for the last 150 million years, birds; for the last 130 million years, flowers; 

These all occur within Schroeder’s Day 6 time frame.

But Genesis has Birds on Day 5 ending 250 million years ago. This is a problem for Schroeder.

Genesis - Flowers on Day 3 (so says Ramban too). Day 3 ends 1.75 billion years ago.  This is a problem for Schroeder.


{ETA 11/23/2016 According to the (Zoo Rabbi) Rabbi Slifkin's book the Challenge of Creation on page 188: Science has birds appearing after terrestrial animals. Genesis has birds on fifth day and animals on the sixth. Genesis has the order is wrong}

{ETA 3/23/2016 Understanding Genesis by Nahum Sarna 1966

He translates Gen 1:1 “ When God began to create the Heaven and Earth..”

Beginning Page 2 Regarding Genesis Creation stories:

“It is obvious” none of the stories are based on human memory, nor are they modern science accounts of the physical world’s origin or nature. The stories are Non Scientific. It is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile Bible creation stories and modern science.  Any correspondences discovered or ingeniously established are nothing more than coincidence.  

The book also provide many points of contact with ancient near east mythology with Genesis creation stories. Beginning page 39 The  Flood story - The Torah used very ancient traditions adapted for it’s own purpose. }

My summary of Schroeder as in the Introduction of this post has been sufficiently demonstrated and moreover Schroeder's claim of the convergence of science and Torah is preposterous. Schroeder is bending and twisting them to converge. This is unbecoming for a Scientist and an Orthodox Jew such as Schroeder. 

I will end my non exhaustive review of Chapter 4 with the following quotes from Schroeder.

Page 70 “ Though the Bible is eerily true and filled with wisdom that would not have been known widely, if at all , when it was written , nowhere does it claim to have all the answers”

Schroeder has provided us with absolutely nothing in the Torah that could not have been known or guessed at in ancient times.  Also see proof of god from secrets in holy texts.

Page 71 “The discoveries of Science have brought forth the measurable indication that our world has an aspect that exceeds the materialistic” 

Does Schroeder means supernatural being(s) ? He has offered no evidence for the claim.

I then began to read Chapter 5. Page 72 “The God an atheist does not believe in is usually not the God of the Bible.

It is the very God of the Bible I do not believe in. Why I do not is one reason for this existence of my blog. Maybe Schroeder should learn about modern academic bible scholarship, ancient near east comparative religion-myth- rituals and  read the Torah with an open objective mind with no apriori religious dogma, such as it is a divine book and that it also has hidden secrets.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Schroeder The Science of God - Chapter 3 - section 2

Updated thru 1/14/2015

This is a continuation of Chapter 3 - section 1 and completes my non exhaustive review of Chapter 3.

Similar to my prior reviews of the book, the focus is mainly on Schroeder's use of our holy texts. {Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. Most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition}

Most of my sources and supporting information is found at the bottom of the post. It would be helpful to at least skim the supporting information before reading this post. 

To keep this post focused, I am going to essentially use Schroeder’s framework and interpretation regarding Ramban’s Cosmology (from Genesis 1:1, 1:2) as summarized by Schroeder on page 56.

Page 56 of the book. According to Schroeder's summary - “Nahmanides, in the year 1250, described the process [Schroeder is referring to Big Bang theory] with uncanny accuracy: the initial creation produced an entity so thin it had no substance to it the ‘entity’ Schroeder is referring to is what Ramban writes the Greeks call Hyle, and Ramban equates Hyle to the Tohu of Genesis 1:2]. It was the only physical creation  ever to occur and was all concentrated within a speck of space that was the entire universe following it’s creation. (This seven-hundred-year-old insight could be a quote from a modern physics text book.) As the universe expanded from the size of that initial minuscule space, the primordial substanceless substance changed into matter as we know it.  Biblical time, he continued, starts (“grabs hold”, in his words) with the appearance of matter."

The above paragraph is an exact quote from the book , except for my comments inside the  [brackets]. 

This post will demonstrate Schroeder misleads us regarding both Ramban’s Cosmology and  Science. He is shoehorning Big Bang theory into Ramban, and is being intellectually dishonest if not engaging in outright deception.

On Ramban's Cosmology

1) The Big Bang starts with an immensely dense substance, not the thin no substance Hyle of Ramban.  This alone raises grave problems when trying to read Big Bang cosmology into Ramban. 

2) Ramban describes Hyle as having the power of potency, fit to assume form and to proceed from potentiality into reality. This can be a quote  straight out of Greek Philosophy ! Moreover, it is not clear at all that Hyle, or Hyle as Ramban understood is something from modern science, as Schroeder intimates. 

3) Ramban does not discuss details how the dot of Hyle becomes Heaven and Earth. Without the crucial steps, it is almost impossible to compare Ramban's Cosmology to the Big Bang. Ramban does write God imposes form on the Hyle to become Earth. This is very similar to Plato. Quoting The Cambridge History of Philosophy page 178 " Plato has a creator god (Demiurge) impose order and form upon already existing matter." Ramban differs from Plato by claiming God creates any initial substance.

Somehow Schroeder must be concluding  that Ramban's claim that God imposing form on the Hyle, is the same as  "....the primordial substanceless substance changed into matter as we know it."  But  is it 'matter' as science knows  it  ? Or is it 'change'  as science knows it ? Or 'primordial substanceless' as science knows it  ? 

A reasonable response is -  it is Hyle and imposition of form, and 'matter' as Ramban understood it thru the lens of Greek Philosophy and his understanding of Genesis. It is a kvetch (stretch) speculation on a Ramban speculation to insinuate this is Big Bang Cosmology/modern science.

3) Ramban may have believed something like an instantaneous process -  poof - dot into heaven and earth. God was involved after all. Or Ramban may have believed a more gradual process. Greek/Hindu Philosophers also discuss the emergence of the Universe from a ‘seed’ or ‘dot’ or ‘point’ and it’s expansion into the Universe. Interestingly some of the Hindu texts have billions of years associated with formation of galaxies (see beginning on  page 133 of Siva Sadhan Bhattacharjee's book).  Some of the Greek accounts are highly suggestive as involving  long periods of time.

Ramban explicitly writes that the first six days of creation are normal 24 hour days and does not hint that they could have been billions of years from any other vantage point.  Although Ramban writes the initial dot will with God’s intervention become the Heaven and Earth,  this  need not be associated with the continuous expansion and slow (billions of years)  of creation associated with the Big  Bang. The Big Bang has energy eventually becoming cosmic dust,  eventually coalescing into galaxies etc: because of gravity. Does that sound like a Creator imposing form on Hyle ? 

4) Now consider the following additional ancient Greek concepts Ramban adopts/adapts as part of his Cosmology. 

a) Heaven and Earth are of distinct and different substances.

b) Earth is at a stand still.

c) Earth and all things on it are  made of four things. Air, Fire, Water, Earth.

d) There are no vacuums.

If Ramban was writing from divine knowledge or secrets in the Torah, why is Ramban’s cosmology apparently similar to the Greeks, even using their exact terminology at times ? Moreover, we sometimes know this Greek cosmology to be inaccurate.

It is because Ramban had no divine secrets or secret insights. Ramban admits speculating on the Torah. He was adopting/adapting the ‘science’ of his times as he understood it and read it into the Torah. Given the volumes of speculative commentary written on the Torah, you are bound to find something that by a kvetch (stretch ), by an elaborate speculation can be shoehorned into one or more of modern scientific theories. 


Genesis 1:4 Quoting Rabbi Chavel’s translation of Ramban “It is further possible that we should say that when the heavens and the earth came forth from nought into existence, as mentioned in the first verse, time came into being, for although our time consisting of minutes and hours is measured in light and darkness, yet from the moment some substance came into existence time was already part of it.”

Page 56 - Schroeder explains Ramban as follows "Biblical time, he [Ramban] continued, starts (“grabs hold”, in his words) with the appearance of matter." 

Schroeder makes the following claims a) and b).

a)  “biblical  time” takes hold with the appearance of  "matter", this based on his own reading of Ramban. Schroeder writes this is an “extraordinary” insight confirmed by modern science.

b) “matter” takes hold at quark confinement, when protons and neutrons form. (also see page 57)

[Mr. Schroeder - 1) modern science does not discuss 'biblical time'. 
2) Ramban discusses just time within the universe. The word 'biblical' added by Schroeder to Ramban's own words is unjustified and the way Schroeder uses it is deceptive. This will be explained below.]

The “extraordinary” insight is not so extraordinary. Either time is independent of matter or it is not, lets ignore other possibilities. There is a 50-50 chance of getting the correct answer. Recall mankind measured duration or time by observing the motion of things seen from or on earth. If there was absolutely nothing existing maybe time would not exist. {eta Kleinman - Page 193 Regarding Plato “Time is not independent of the created world, since it comes into being only with the construction of the cosmos.” }

In addition, I take issue with Schroeder’s claim that modern science says time (biblical or otherwise) takes hold when “matter”  forms. Scientists speak of time periods  prior to the existence of “matter”. Including time periods prior to quark confinement. Some Scientists believe there was no beginning of time at all.

Schroeder claims that “matter” appears for the first time at quark confinement.  Lets plug that definition into Ramban ala Schroeder, but excluding Schroeder's invention of 'biblical time'. We get: According to Ramban - time starts (“grabs hold”) with the formation of protons and neutrons.

Do you see the problem ?  Ramban would now be wrong according to science, since time does exist prior to formation of protons and neutrons. This is why I think Schroeder invents something called 'biblical time' for Ramban and puts words into Ramban's text.  Schroeder can claim Ramban 'really' meant 'biblical time', not time, therefore Ramban is not in error. Schroeder knows time began before quark confinement and knows Ramban did not say 'biblical time' but he needs 'time' to begin at quark confinement, hence the invention of 'biblical time' for Ramban. 

Schroeder’s selection of quark confinement as when "matter" first makes its appearance leads to Ramban being wrong on science. Moreover it is an arbitrary selection of when ‘matter’ first comes into being. We could have selected when quarks first form, or when electrons first form or when Hydrogen/Helium nuclei form, or when Hydrogen/Helium atoms form or when earth like atoms form etc : etc:  {ETA 1/7/2015 See   it says 'energy is converted into 'matter' - quarks and leptons. Which are the basic building blocks of matter.  Schroeder could have used quark formation to start his Biblical time.} Selecting these other starting points would cause Schroeder’s reconciliation of Big Bang time lines with the six days of Genesis to explode into nothingness. 


Genesis 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 Now the earth was Tohu  and Bohu, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.

Page 57 Schroeder tells us a fair translation of Tohu is unformed or chaotic. 

Schroeder fails to mention Ramban writes Tohu is what the Greeks call Hyle - see my previous discussion of Hyle.

Schroeder claims Bohu is translated as ‘filled with the building blocks of matter’. Page 57 footnote 30, 31 he cites Ramban on Genesis 1:1, 2 and Hagigah 12A as support.

I found no support in Hagigah 12A for Schroeder’s translation of Bohu. However, the  Talmud does write Bohu are the slimy stones that are sunk in the deep out of which the water flows.
Levy’s commentary interprets it as being stones sunk in the primal mire, chaos. Are those the building blocks of “matter” ? Stones. I can hear the Apologetics now. It does not mean ‘stones’ what it really means is...

Recall according to Ramban: God gives form to Hyle after which it is Bohu. Ramban elaborates Bohu is a thing that has ‘substance’ in it. It is not at all clear  Ramban’s ‘substance’ is equivalent to the scientific building blocks of matter. But that is what Schroeder insinuates. It is also not clear what we should consider as the building blocks of matter.


In  order to fit Big Bang Cosmology into the first creation story of Genesis 1,  Schroeder cherry picks holy texts, cherry picks science sources, cherry picks from within those same Jewish and science references he cites, and sometimes misreads and misleads with his translations or interpretations. 

Next up is Chapter 4

Some related posts Genesis and the Big Bang , A series on Chapter 9 begun here , Chapter 1 , Chapter 2 , Proof of God from Secrets in Holy Texts 


Sources and support

Jewish Texts

Ramban commentary on Genesis - Translated by Rabbi Chavel 1971.

Talmud Hagigah  - Soncino edition

On Kabbalah; Jewish use of Greek Philosophy

1) From Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006, D. Borchert editor.

Regarding Kabbalah - it's sources are found in Jewish literature and traditions; Persian influences of Parsi and Zoroastrian; Neo-Platonic ; Neo-Pythagorean;  'Christian and Gnostic themes' -these added a bit later;   Muslim sectarianism.

2) Page 32 in Jewish Philosophers 1975 Edited by Stevan Katz.  “Saadiah (Goan) belongs to the school of Mutazilites, but it is evident that he was influenced by Aristolianism, Platonism and Stoicism.”

I will add - It is obvious Rambam and some other Jewish commentators were influenced by Greek Philosophy.

3) From the book History of Jewish Philosophy Editors Frank and Leaman 1997 we read the following:

Page 119 “The large majority of the Mutakallimtied tied the proofs for the createdness of the world Ex-Nihilo to a rather complex theory which they may have derived from both Ancient Greek and Indian philosophies.”

[My point is there was almost certainly a cross pollination of ideas between India and Greece, and others. Some of these ideas were eventually adopted/adapted/modified by people in Islamic territories and Europe. Jews also would become exposed to some of these ideas both in ancient times and while living in Islamic territory or Europe. They to would do the same. Philo and Rambam are good examples.]

Page 171 Neoplatonic motifs can be found in the works of Medieval Kabbalists, Ibn Ezra, Rambam and Gersonides.

Greek Philosophy

1) Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion by William Reese 1996

Under Time - "Time appears through the agency of the Demiurge, embodying forms in the receptacle of space."

Aristotle - time had no beginning.

2) From the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy 1999 Editor Robert Audi

Hyle - Aristotle used it in Philosophy to contrast the term for form. He usually means - “that out of which something has been made.” In Aristolean Philosophy Hyle is sometimes Identified with potentiality and with substrate.

3) Hyle - The stuff of material things. Thought of by Aristotle as needing a form to make up a thing. From Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy - Simon Blackburn 1994.

4) The Greek Cosmologists Volume 1 David Furley 1987

Page 18    “Milesian Theories - Hylozoism - the view of the world having grown to its present form from a kind of seed. The seed a Homogeneous material substance.  (Anaximenes took it for air), ( Thales that it was moist). It was in an undifferentiated state , spontaneously having the capacity for life in it, it grew by stages into Earth, Sea, Sky which then give birth to vegetable and animal life. 

5) Cosmology in Antiquity by M.R. Wright 1995

 Page 23 “Anayagoras was a pioneer in having an indefinitely expanding universe (as the ripples from the vortex ever widen) rather than one which had reached it’s limits in an enclosed system.”

Page 62 Anaximenos and Diogenes - ‘all that exists are modifications of the same thing, and in fact are the same thing.”

Page 83 Anaxagoras - “All things were together at the beginning, and then at some indefinite moment and for no given reason an omnipotent and omniscient mind (nous) causes a vortex to start in the cosmic mixture.”

6) From Understanding the Heavens 2001 - Jean Claude Pecker and S. Kaufman

Page 140 All schools believed in the existence of Hyla.  Aristotle believed Hyla existed for all time. Plato - Basicaly God creates it out of nothing and transforms it into matter as we know it.

Page 50 Empedocles spoke of four elements air, fire,  water, earth as basic to material creation. Aristotle expands on this Idea, but it is also present in Plato’s Timaeus.

7) From The Four Faces of the Universe by Robert Kleinman 2006

Page 193 Regarding Plato “Time is not independent of the created world, since it comes into being only with the construction of the cosmos”

Hindu Philosophy

1) Module  11, page 64: There is not much difference between the Indian Hindu theory of Bindu Vishpot and Big Bang Theory of the West, according to book Hinduism by Dr. S.S. Kapoor 2005.

2) The Hindu Theory of Cosmology by Siva Sadhan Bhattacharjee 1978

Beginning Page 89 “The Kurma Purana says that the first created object was a million times brighter than the sun; so this Hiranya-Garbha is similar to the primordial Atom of Lemaitre and the Ylem of George Gamow’s Big Bang Theory of Creation.”; “The material egg is the Hiranya-Garbha or the budding universe (Brahmanda) so we find here a categorical statement of the expanding nature of the Universe. This also in keeping with the modern view of expanding universe.”

 3) From

“Brahmanda (Cosmic Egg) Universe - The Hindu Rigveda, written in India around the 15th - 12th Century B.C., describes a cyclical or oscillating universe in which a “cosmic egg”, or Brahmanda, containing the whole universe (including the Sun, Moon, planets and all of space) expands out of a single concentrated point called a Bindu before subsequently collapsing again. The universe cycles infinitely between expansion and total collapse.”

4) From

The Bindu (dot) in Shaivism is the Few Millimeter Long Primordial Seed.

The Kashmiri cult of Shaivism is more explicit in its account of creation. The whole universe was at first concentrated at one point or dot (Bindu). It is the Primordial Seed of creation. After a period of germination it undergoes an explosion (Sphota) resulting in the sound (Nada) of creation (OM). (Sound is used in the scriptures for all kinds of vibrations.) All creation (Kala) proceeds from this sound. Thus the doctrine of Nada, Bindu, and Kala is but an implied reference to the Big Bang theory of creation. (Source: Excerpts from The Big Bang and the Bhagavad Gita by R.A.S. Kocha Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Schroeder The Science of God Chapter 3 - section one

Updated Thru 1/14/2015

This post will begin discussing Chapter 3 of Gerald Schroeder’s book the Science of God ,1997 .{Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. Most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition}

Related posts are The Science of God Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and the series of my posts began on Chapter 9.

Like those previous  posts I will mainly focus of Schroeder's  use or misuse of our holy texts. 

Page 43 footnote 4  Schroeder cites Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 1:3 to support the notion the 6 days of Genesis are the normal 24 hour days. Schroeder can find such support in Ramban. Of course, the Universe is billions of years old.  Schroeder will argue that from a certain vantage point the Universe is about 6,000 years old while from another its billions. After all, according to relativity  time is relative right ? The Torah just should have said the universe is billions of years old. Then it would not require the mental gymnastics of Schroeder’s  'creative insight' that part of Genesis is from one vantage point and the other part of Genesis is from a different vantage point. {ETA 12/20/2014 It is clear the Torah text is not teaching us Big Bang Theory.This why Schroeder needed to write his book, to explain to us what the Torah 'really' means.}

Page 43 footnote 5 Schroeder cites Ramban’s commentary on Exodus 21:2 and Leviticus 25:2 to  support the notion that the six 24 hour days of Genesis contain “all the secrets and ages of the Universe.” By secrets Schroeder is suggesting Ramban may have meant  the Big Bang billions of years ago or that the first 6 or 7 days of creation are calibrated differently in the Torah from the days thereafter. Schroeder is guilty of quote mining and it will be demonstrated he has distorted Ramban.

Lets begin with Ramban’s commentary on Levit 25:2:  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the LORD.

Ramban explains the “secrets” as follows. Ramban refers to his own commentary on Genesis 2:3 {And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.} In Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 2: 3 Ramban explains the world will exist for only 6,000 years. [This is not the current scientific view - I wonder how Schroeder could respond in an intellectually honest fashion. Would he invent yet more vantage points ? ] Ramban then cites Genesis  Rabbah 19:14  ‘A day of the holy one, blessed be he, is a thousand years’ and comes up with the following equation. The first two days of the world correspond to the first two thousand years of the world.  The third day of the world correspond to the third thousand year period which begins with Abraham at 48 years old. The fourth day of the world correspond to the fourth thousand year period which begins 72 years after the first Sanctuary was built. The fifth day of the world corresponds to the fifth thousand year period which begins 172 years after the Second Temple is destroyed. Ramban then explains the Messiah will come in the sixth period of the World, specifically 118 years after the completion of five thousand years. [OOPS, turns out Ramban was wrong since  the Messiah has not come.] The seventh day of the world Sabbath, alludes to the World to Come.

Ramban also explains the seven days of the week allude to that which was created in the process of creation,  and the seven years of the Sabbatical cycle refer to what  will occur during the creation of all ‘ the days’ of the world. Ramban then links denial of the law of the Sabbatical year with denial of the work of creation and the World to Come- ‘the land of eternal life’;  and Sabbatical year non observance is punishable by exile. Ramban is teaching theology - the importance of Sabbath and Sabbatical year, not scientific theories of relativity, different vantage points to measure time or cosmic clocks.

Also, regarding Ramban’s claims of hints of secrets,  Rabbi Chavel guides us to Exodus 21:2, which is now discussed.

Exodus 21:2   {If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. }

Ramban discusses seven as a chosen figure as in Sabbath cycles, Sabbatical year cycles and Jubilee cycles and writes they all point the subject the secret of the days of the world from Genesis. My discussion above on Genesis 2:3 discloses what secrets Ramban had in mind. Moreover, Rabbi Chavel cites Weinstock’s  discussion of Cabala that illuminates what other secrets Ramban is referring to -that the Universe has periodic cycles of  seven thousand years. Six thousand years of growth and activity and a seventh of rest - destruction. This process repeats seven times giving 49 thousand years, the 50th the Jubilee when all existence returns to it’s beginnings.  This process applies to planet earth and to the worlds above us. Not only is the Cabala scientifically incorrect, we find once again Schroeder misconstrues our holy texts.

{Side note: Ramban is correct on the importance of seven in the Torah. Seven is ubiquitous in the ancient near east and most likely related to moon cults or to the seven planets. For example from the Sabbatical Cycle or Seasonal Pattern ? Reflections on a New Book  (Kapelrud's Baal in the Ras Shamra 1952) by , C. Gordon in Orientalia Volume 22, 1953 From Ugaritic Literature: Mot's death at the hands of Baal (or Anath) lasted 7 years. "...Seven years may Baal fail, yea 8 the Rider of Clouds; let there be no dew, norain..."
Text 52 deals with the ushering in of a 7 year cycle of plenty.
"Moreover, other texts  such as  'seven years the god is ful' (75:II:45) tie in with this 'cyclicity', regardless who the god may be."
"Seven-year famines result from the  slaying of a hero such as Gilgamesh, Aqhat and probably Saul and Jonathan.
People feared unseasonable drought, locust plagues, blight, ....
When a succession of sterile years occurred life became unbearable. "Such catastrophes were coupled in the minds of the people of Mesopotamia, Ugarit,Israel, Egypt etc. with the seven-motif and therefore it occurs to us that while seasonal pattern is ruled out, Sabbatical Cycle fits the facts. The land is to lie fallow in the seventh year so that the next Sabbatical Cycle will be a fertile one. This suggests original fertility rites in conjunction with the  Sabbatical Cycle. That the institution goes back to pre-Israelite origins is evident from the extrabibilical texts we have cited, especially those from Ugarit."}


 Page 45 Footnote 7, 8, 9 - Schroeder cites Leviticus Rabba 29:1, Jerusalem Talmud Avodah Zarah 1:2, Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 13B, 14A to support the notion the Bible Calendar starts with Genesis 1:27 {And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them }, and not Genesis 1:1 {In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.}

Even if the Bible Calendar starts (whatever that means) with Genesis 1:27 it does not imply that the earlier days are meant to be read from a different vantage point i.e cosmic time. The Bible calendar may have started (whatever that means) with mankind’s creation for theological reasons.

Lets see what the sources say.

Leviticus Rabba 29:1 First it mentions that according to some Rabbis the world was created on the 25th of Elul. The commentators thus conclude that Adam was created on New Years day , the first of Tishri which is the sixth day from the 25th of Elul. 

Jerusalem Talmud Avodah Zarah 1:2 says  according to one the world was created in Nissan.  According to another the world was created in Tishre. The Talmud provides another opinion and explains the world was created on New Years day [ Neusner adds of Tishre]. Jacob Neusner  1992 translation.   

Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 13B, 14A  - I could find nothing related to the matter. Is this another Schroeder phantom citation ?

So we have conflicting dates of when day one occurs and when Adam is created and what actually occurs on New Years Day. It also gives pause to Orthodox Judaism obsession with festival observance at particular times of the year. For example the Sabbath day observed today may not relate sequentially  to the original day seven Sabbath. None of the sources imply the first six days of Genesis differ from any other day. One source starts New Years day on the day Adam is created and this could be why Schroeder claims the Biblical Calendar starts with the creation of Adam. But another source has the creation on New Years day.

Page 46 Quoting Schroeder “The six days are not included in the calendar because within those (six twenty-four hour ) days are all the secrets and ages of the Universe.”   The secrets Schroeder shoehorns into the Torah do not correspond to the secrets in the very sources he cites ! Nor has Schroeder provided any source that the reason the Bible Calendar does not start on Day one is because of secrets. {ETA 12/24/2014 Schroeder has not justified his assertion that the Genesis's first six days are seen from a different vantage point or a different clock than after day six.}

{ETA 1/14/2105 And there is a discussion in Talmud Avodah Zara 9b that also strongly suggests that the first six days are nothing but an Earth reference frame. 

 It is taught: "From the year four thousand two hundred and thirty-one of the Creation of the World onward, if one says unto you. ‘Buy thee a field that is worth a thousand  denar for one denar,’ do not buy it." 

This sentence speaks of 4231 years since the creation, not billions. If there were two different reference frames (one for the first  six days of creation and another reference frame thereafter) the Talmud should have not lumped them together as 4231 years since creation.  It is also an example of the Talmud counting days from the first day of creation and not Adams' creation. And it is a real world application of treating the first six days from an ordinary Human Earth day frame of reference.}


{ETA 12/18/2014 Page 51 Schroeder claims that ‘time’ for the  first 2 days of creation can not be Earth based, because there was no Earth till the third day. Not so Schroeder. First many Bible Scholars including some of our great Jewish commentators including Rashi (see his commentary on Genesis), explain the Earth may have been around on day one - See Kalam Repudiated Based on Theology. Second, assuming God was the author of Genesis he would know how long a day could take from an earth based perspective.}

{ETA 1/10/2015 Anchor Bible Genesis E.A. Speiser 1964 
Page 9 Regarding Gen 1 - The Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elis - is in striking correspondences in both details and order of the events with Genesis 1.  It is clear the Bible approach is closely related to traditional Mesopotamian beliefs. The similarities include and are in the same order and type of creation: A primeval chaos, Light emanation from gods , firmament creation, dry land creation, luminaries creation, man creation, god resting.
Speiser explains Gen 1 has God creating light.  He goes on to write the Babylonians did not copy the Hebrews since cuneiform accounts such as the Enuma antedate in substance the Bible statements on the subject. There is no basis in fact for assuming an unidentified ultimate source for both Hebrew and Babylonian accounts.

JPS Torah Commentary Genesis by Nahum Sarna
Page 7  Verse 4-Light -  The first creation by God's utterance. The notion of light independent of the sun most likely derives from the observation that the sky is illuminated even on cloudy days and that brightness precedes the rising sun. In both situation no sun is visible. Verse 5 God called - According to the conception in  the ancient near east possessing no name was equivalent to non existence. "Name calling was thus associated with creation and by extension, with domination, for the one who gives a name has power over the object."}

{ETA 12/29/2014 And Genesis most likely means day and night can exist independent of the Sun and Moon. Day one - Genesis 1:3 - God creates light and then in Genesis 1:4 God divides light from dark. That is how you have a day independently of Sun and Moon. Then on Day four -  Genesis1:14 The Sun and Moon are created to provide a way to provide signs to measure days, years and seasons.}

This is a good stopping point, and hope to write future posts that  will continue with the rest of Chapter three , and Chapter four.

{Chapter 3 is continued in Schroeder The Science of God Chapter 3  - section two

Ramban - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus -  Translated by Rabbi Chavel 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 2

Like my prior post The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 1 and the series of posts begun here The Science of God Schroeder Part 1 which covers Chapter 9,  this post will mainly discuss his citations of Jewish holy texts.

This post will cover his Chapter Two. {Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. Most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition}

Page 24 Schroeder say "On the fact of time's non existence prior to the creation, theology and science are in complete agreement." 

Schroeder’s statement is inaccurate.

Can Schroeder find version(s) of Cosmology that imply time had a beginning ? I think so, but not all Cosmologist would agree the Universe or time began. For example see Proof of God from Big Bang, Kalam - Premises and Conclusion Repudiated

Can Schroeder find a version of Jewish Philosophy -Theology that claims time had a beginning ? I think so, but it depends on which particular Talmudic or Rabbinic commentator's interpretation. Related discussion is  found in Kalam-Repudiated by Theology

Here are some conflicting examples about when and if time begins.

Talmud - Mas. Shabbath 88b R. Joshua b. Levi also said: When Moses ascended on high, the ministering angels spake before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! What
business has one born of woman amongst us?' ‘He has come to receive the Torah,' answered He to them. Said they to Him, ‘That secret treasure, which has been hidden by Thee for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created...

There were generations before the world was created, suggesting time exists before creation.

Genesis Rabbah 9:2 Said R. Tanhuma:
The world was created when it was due, and the world was not fit to be created earlier.

Earlier than what if there is no time ?

On the other hand the next citation suggests time was created - the measure of day and the measure of night.

Chagigah 12a Rab Judah further said that Rab said: Ten things were created the first day, and they are as follows: heaven and earth, Tohu [chaos], Bohu [desolation], light and darkness, wind and water, the measure of day and the measure of night.

We also find in Greek Philosophy different opinions when and if time begins. For example, there are passages in Plato's Timaeus suggesting that  when the heavens came into being so did time.   Other passages in Timaeus suggest time pre-exists the creation of heavens.  

(Schroeder in  Chapter Three changes his tune saying biblical time takes hold not at creation but at the appearance of matter,  which Schroeder claims is when quark confinement occurs. This allows him to back into time periods that he can reconcile with the Bible, as he interprets it).

Moving on, Schroeder cites two of our holy texts (see below) to support Maddox's notion that the Universe is an effect whose cause cannot be identified or even discussed. 

Page 24 Note 8 I am not sure what motivates Schroeder to cite Talmud Hagiga 12A, because it starts out reiterating the required number of students per Teacher when discussing creation, as discussed in my previous post The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 1.  I could not find anything similar to Maddox's notion. Maybe I missed it. Or maybe Schroeder is equating "cannot be...discussed" with the Talmud's requirement. If so, Schroeder has completely misunderstood the Talmud.

Page 24 Note 9 Schroeder cites Ramban's  Introduction to his commentary on Genesis. I could not find support in that Introduction either. But Schroeder may be referring to Ramban's commentary on Genesis 1:1 "To declare the power of the process of creation to a mortal being is impossible.” Perhaps an argument can be made it is similar to the Maddox comment.

Continued in Chapter 3 - section 1

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 1


My Part One began a discussion of Chapter 9 (origin of Humankind) from Gerald Schroeder's 1997 book the Science of God. After completing Part 5 it became clear Schroeder was not being intellectually honest nor logical and moreover was consistently misinterpreting our holy texts.

{Schroeder has a newer edition - so the page numbers may not match up exactly. Most if not all of my post will probably still apply to his newer edition}

{ETA 1/10/2015 A fellow who has a PHD in Physics has written a sequence of posts on Gerald Schroeder's article on the reconciliation of the Torah and Genesis. Gerald Schroeder's article is found at AISH a Jewish outreach organization.  See  or  I recommend reading at least one those links.}

It is important to check sources. I encourage any reader of my blog to see if I misstate or mislead regarding any of the sources I cite in any of my posts. 

Like my prior posts on Schroeder's Chapter 9, the focus will mainly be Schroeder's citations of Jewish holy texts. I  hope to cover Schroeder's Chapter Two thru Chapter Four in future posts. Schroeder often footnotes Ramban. And Ramban  in his introduction to his commentary on Genesis writes "I will begin to write novel interpretations On the explanation of the Torah."  The same can be said for Schroeder - he writes some novel interpretations on Jewish holy texts.

This post will cover Chapter One.

Page 5 note 3 Schroeder cites  Ramban on Exodus 25:24 to support the notion that consistency of nature is a tenet of  the Bible and that the laws of nature were adequate to channel our universe toward the development of life. 

I am not exactly sure what Schroeder means.  Ramban directly refers to Genesis 1:31 the sixth day after all the fashioning and creating was completed. Ramban is not saying that on day 1 or day 2 or day 3 or day 4 or day 5 or day 6  God's involvement was not necessary. 

Moreover, the Torah allows miracles which are the violation of natural laws according to many commentators. Ramban himself distinguishes between hidden miracles and open miracles. The former can be claimed by a skeptic as part of the natural order while the latter can not be denied as they are clearly an intervention of God. (Notes on Ramban Genesis 17:1)

{ETA 12/13/2014 Ramban on Deut 34:11 "All the prophets wrought miracles through prayer, such as the halting of the Sun for Joshua...";  "So too the halting of the Sun for Joshua was  certainly in view of all Israel, and all the kings of Canaan saw it - Those who fought against him [on that day] as well as the remaining ones. Our Rabbis also mention that people saw it from one end of Earth to the other [Abodah Zarah 25a]. Scripture also lauds it exceedingly, saying And There was no day like that before it or after it, that the Eternal hearkened to the voice of man.[Joshua 10:14]." }

I do agree that with time, the 'laws of nature', natural  environmental impacts such meteors and the changing environments of earth were adequate to channel our universe toward the development of life, without the need of supernatural beings. There is no reason why we should not believe so - see Proof of God from Origin of Life

Page 10 note 8 Schroeder cites Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 11b, 12a to support the notion that the Talmud claims the opening chapter of Genesis is presented in a manner that "conceals information".

The Talmud {more precisely the Mishna} narrates that certain topics require a Teacher and only with a precise  number of students present.  An exception is made for a knowing Sage. The Topics include Forbidden (sexual) relations, Creation, and the 'Chariot' of  Ezekial.

The Talmud 'deduces' the requirement by speculating on various verses in the Bible.

Also, according to the Talmud additional insights can be gleaned from every entry in the Torah, not just Genesis. So why was Genesis singled out by the Talmud ? The Talmud does not tell us. Nor have these Genesis additional insights been recorded. Is Schroeder claiming that he has discovered what these hidden additional insights might be ?

I heard one reason for this requirement was that studying creation may lead to heretical views. 

Schroeder seems to be implying the Genesis additional insights are referring to scientific theories.  Yet the Talmud has not mentioned that reason. 

But Ramban on Genesis 1:1 and Rambam in his introduction to the Guide for the Perplexed do relate the additional insights to science. 

Regarding alleged hidden scientific secrets hidden in the Torah - any of these alleged secrets may be found in other ancient cultures/ Greek/ Hindu philosophy/cosmology or are cases of modern knowledge retrofitted into the Torah or anybody's holy texts. (This has been documented in my prior posts regarding Chapter 9, and  will be documented in relation to other chapters in future posts.)

Jewish apologetics began thousands of years ago to defend the Torah and Judaism against whatever was the science/philosophy of the day. Philo attempts to reconcile Judaism with Greek Philosophy and Rambam with Plato-Aristotle. It continues to this day, witness Schroeder. (We now know the ancient Greek sciences are defective.) 

Page 10 - quoting Schroeder "Literalism is simply not an effective way to extract meaning from the Bible."  I will add nor is speculating or inventing interpretations which is so common in Jewish holy texts, among Rabbis and people like Schroeder. We can only understand the Bible by studying ancient comparative religions, languages and their related texts. This has shown how closely related the Tenach's 'science', laws, rituals, stories, and mythology  are to these other ancient near east cultures. It has also illuminated some of the distinctions.

Continued in Chapter 2


Ramban Genesis, Exodus Translated by Rabbi Chavel 1971, 1973 respectively.
Rambam - Guide for the Perplexed Translated by M. Friedlander, second edition 1904-1951