Genesis 1 – Reconciliation of Biblical and Scientific Views

Over the past several hundred years constituting the scientific era in the West, there have been numerous attempts to reconcile the proclamations of science with the view of the natural world described in the Bible. Among the most common areas of contention has been the description of the beginnings described in Genesis 1.

By the time of the 20th century there was essentially a drastic disconnect, with the Bible stating that there was a beginning, and that it took 6 days to create the universe including the world, and ultimately mankind. In the early part of that century, the scientific consensus was that the universe was essentially eternal, and that the world was several billion years old.

Seemingly irreconcilable.

However, the first suggestions of the Big Bang came as early as 1927. By the mid-1960s there was essentially consensus that the universe expanded from the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago.

Thus, one of the two problems between science and the Bible was solved: the universe had a beginning. As the Bible states in Genesis 1:

“In the beginning……”.

However the second problem remained: science said 13.8 billion years, and the Bible said, 6 days. Within the Judeo-Christian community there has been essentially two camps of thinking: the “Young Earth” people, who take the days in Genesis 1 as seven 24-hour days, and the “Old Earth” people, who take the days as metaphorical rather than literal, even though the Hebrew word “Yom” elsewhere in the Bible is used to refer to a literal, 24-hour day.

Into this dilemma among Jews and Christians came Othodox Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder, who posited that the 6 days of creation in Genesis are indeed literal 24-hour days, but from the origin of the Big Bang, rather than the perspective of the earth. Once that scenario is established, then due to Einstein’s relativity theory of time warping as the universe expands, what looks like 6 days from the origin of thr Big Bang looking forward in time, looks like 13.8 years from earth, looking back in time.

And not only that, Dr. Schroeder posits that if one considers the bondaries of each of the six days, the activities that Genesis 1 describes taking place in that day fit into the scientific “evidence” quite well.

Dr. Schroeder notes one translation problem from the original Hebrew to the Septuagint in the fifth day: the “Great Whales” in the English translation would better be translated “Great lizards”, or essentially, dinosaurs.

Here is some background on Dr. Schreoder, extracted from Wikipedia:

Gerald Lawrence Schroeder is an Orthodox Jewish physicist, author, lecturer and teacher at College of Jewish Studies Aish HaTorah’s Discovery Seminar, Essentials and Fellowships programs and Executive Learning Center, who focuses on what he perceives to be an inherent relationship between science and spirituality.

Schroeder received his BSc in 1959, his MSc in 1961, and his PhD in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences in 1965, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He worked five years on the staff of the MIT physics department. He was a member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

After emigrating to Israel in 1971, Schroeder was employed as a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Volcani Research Institute, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He currently teaches at Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies.

His works frequently cite Talmudic, Midrashic and medieval commentaries on Biblical creation accounts, such as commentaries written by the Jewish philosopher Nachmanides. Among other things, Schroeder attempts to reconcile a six-day creation as described in Genesis with the scientific evidence that the world is billions of years old using the idea that the perceived flow of time for a given event in an expanding universe varies with the observer’s perspective of that event. He attempts to reconcile the two perspectives numerically, calculating the effect of the stretching of space-time, based on Einstein’s general relativity.

Given below are several videos in which Dr. Schreoder provides his views on Genesis 1 from a combination of scientific and Talmudic perspectives.

Further elaboration of his thinking and writing can be found on his website.

Reconciliation of Biblical and Scientific Views of Genesis 1 Timing

Gerald Schroeder, Big Bang, Genesis, Age of the Universe 1 5 (10:24)

Gerald Schroeder, Big Bang, Genesis, Age of the Universe 2 5 (10:24)

Gerald Schroeder, Big Bang, Genesis, Age of the Universe 3 5 (09:20)

Gerald Schroeder, Big Bang, Genesis, Age of the Universe 4 5 (10:24)

Gerald Schroeder, Big Bang, Genesis, Age of the Universe 5 5 (09:00)

Gerald Schroeder has a PhD from MIT in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences, and is also a Talmudic and Midrashic scholar. He combines his understanding of cosmology with his in-depth understanding of Hebrew to provide a reconciliation of Genesis 1 with a correct understanding of the expansion of the universe.

Reconciliation of Biblical and Scientific Views of Genesis 1 Activity

Dr Schroeder 6 days of Creation (31:16)

Dr. Gerald Schroeder provides a more detailed discussion of reconciling the 6 days of creation with the 15 billion years of existence of the universe.

Extra Credit

Included here are links to two additional Gerald Schroeder videos dealing with Hebraic views on the Genesis scriptures.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder – The Secret within the First Word of the Bible (41:04)

Ancient Jewish Hebraic Commentaries on Genesis – Dr. Gerald Schroeder (54:24)