Book review: The Science of God

by Gerald L. Schroeder


This book has sold a lot of copies and generated a lot of discussion since its publication in 1997, but it really just didn’t do it for me. Schroeder’s premise is that Bible thumpers and secular scientists need to put their heads together, compromise a little here and there, and realize that the Bible story goes hand-in-hand with 20th-century scientific discovery.

That means the seven-day creation story is true (Einstein’s theory of relativity helped us out a little on this topic) by measuring time from God’s perspective. The cosmic clock of Genesis is based on the characteristics of cosmic background radiation. The dinosaurs were created on day five, a day that lasted roughly a half billion years. The flood really happened when the Bible says it did, but it wasn’t a universal event. Before the flood, people lived extraordinarily long lives, because the climate was less demanding. You get the idea.

I agree with Schroeder that the conditions of our universe and our own little world are incredibly fine-tuned, and thus a bit difficult to explain. Schroeder quotes Weinberg’s famous calculation that if the energy of the big bang fifteen billion years ago were different by one part out of 10 to the 120th power, there would be no life anywhere in the universe. It’s as if the universe is tuned for life from its inception. There have been a number of thought-provoking responses to Weinberg’s conclusion, but it’s still difficult for me to put out of my mind the idea that something really special has happened for our benefit … something quite carefully planned.

It’s a puzzle without easy explanation, alright. I just don’t get why anyone would choose the Bible’s myths as the foundation for their explanation. As carefully as Schroeder has put his theory together, it still just feels contrived and overly complex to me. If Schroeder wants believers and scientists to hold hands and sing Kum Ba Yah, he’s going to need to write down to the non-scientist level. But why bother? Don’t the earliest Bible stories make a whole lot more sense as theological or political or moral treatises than as history books? Why not let religion be religion and science be science?

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