Dr. Gerald Schroeder is a fascinating figure, almost a contradiction in terms:
- He is a brilliant nuclear physicist who communicates with elegant simplicity.
- He is an Orthodox Jew who is happy to interact with Christians.
- He was schooled at MIT, one of the great bastions of modern science, yet uses that science to confirm ancient faith.
Dr. Schroeder employs current science to “illuminate” the moment of “Let there be light.” This has got him quite a hearing. He made a short video on this: “Believe in God in 5 minutes (scientific proof).” It went viral with over 3 million views.
Schroeder greatly affected at least one leading modern secular thinker. As he puts it:
“… when the world’s most influential atheist philosopher, Antony Flew, read this analysis of complexity and several analyses related to the complexity of life brought in my third book, The Hidden Face of God… he abandoned his errant belief in a Godless world and publically apologized for leading so many persons astray for the decades that his atheistic thoughts held sway.” [emphasis added]
However, Dr. Schroeder himself was not always a believer in the God of the Bible. Here’s how he describes the turning point in his journey.
Suddenly confronted with the power that made the universe
As Dr. Schroeder relates:
“For me, there was science for certain. And the Bible had stories. Then, on a clear autumn morning in the Nevada desert, that was about to change.
“My doctoral studies at MIT were an unusual combination of earth sciences and nuclear physics. That mix led me to witness a series of nuclear explosions: the testing of atomic bombs. On that morning, I was sitting on the roof of a Department of Defense pickup truck atop the Rainier Mesa, in the United States’ Nevada Test Site…
“It’s about an hour and a half by car out of Vegas. I was part of a team to test what was predicted to be a moderately low yield tactical nuclear weapon designed with a new configuration of the uranium core. The weapon was buried deep within the mesa. I was one of a handful of scientists allowed to be on the mesa. The others were miles away, below on Yucca Flat. My colleagues whose job it was to estimate the energy release assured us that yield would be so low that they would be willing to stand at the epicenter atop the mesa and merely bend their knees to absorb the shock. I was 5 football fields back from the epicenter. Calculating the potential power of a nuclear weapon is a mix of science and speculation. Today we were to discover the speculation can be way off base.
“It was a bright, windless day and the stillness was as intense as the desert heat. I finished my bagged breakfast, and waited. Five seconds to detonation, high-speed movie cameras started to whir. Four flashbulbs fired, marking the moment of detonation on the film. At first, it seemed as if that was the end, for aside from the noise of the cameras, the desert remained silent.
“Then it arrived.
“My truck started to rock as if I was in a storm at sea. The mesa turned into a bowl of shaking Jell-O. The face of the mesa fell away to the alluvial flat below, a millennium of erosion in an instant. A sort of time warp in the jargon of relativistic physics.
“The access road, the only exit we knew, was gone. The Geiger counters were clicking. A radioactive cloud was coming towards us. We retreated, bouncing over the rough desert terrain. A few grams of uranium 235 were to have been converted into a modest burst of exquisitely hot energy. As Einstein would say…. E = m C squared.
“We like to think humans are in control, but at that moment I knew we weren’t.
“Two hours later I was still trying to calm my nerves with a whiskey sour by the hotel pool in Las Vegas. It did not help. My life had changed. I found myself writing a letter to the only person of spirit whom I knew—and that barely—the MIT campus Rabbi.
“That energy that blew the face of the mesa apart may have come from our tinkering with nature. But the bang it produced was intimately related to the ‘big bang’ of creation. I had literally felt the Power behind the power… But the problem was, I wasn’t sure what that Power was. That began a journey of exploration for me.”
Dr. Schroeder’s journey of exploration led him to move to Israel in 1971 and take on Orthodox Jewish observance. In Israel he continued his physics, including a stint at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Dr. Schroeder speaks with Israel Today
Israel Today: What correlation do you see between Eternity and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?
Dr. Schroeder: Once you are outside of time, in a sense you are in eternity. According to Einsteinian relativity, if you could travel at the speed of light, time would not exist. Not “tic-toc” and not even “tic.” Therefore all light that we see, including the light I am seeing outside right now reflecting off trees is an example, in the physical world, of eternity. If you could ride on a light beam you would have an example of being outside of time. However science can’t speak directly to what happens after death, other than the testimony of those who have had “out-of-body” and “near death” experiences.
Most of the world is not physical anyway. Even a solid rock is well over 99% empty space [between the nucleus and electrons of each atom]. A rock is almost totally empty “force fields” which induce the feeling of solidity.
What message would you like to convey to Christian Zionists?
Remember that in the Gospels Jesus said Moses wrote the Torah (under divine inspiration). It is the basis of the Gospels. Start from Genesis, not Matthew. I highly recommend you learn Hebrew to better understand the Bible. But if that is not possible, use no less than 5 translations [to compare them and gain more of the richness and breadth of meaning of the original text]. Each word is loaded with layers of meaning.
Science in tune with biblical account
In Dr. Schroeder’s opinion, the latest scientific consensus of the genesis of the universe is increasingly in tune with the biblical account found in Genesis:
“…the big bang theory is good news for God and the truth of the Bible. Until the mid-1960s, the overwhelming opinion of the scientific community was that the universe was eternal, never had a creation. This is in direct contradiction to the opening sentence of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. Then two scientists at Bell Labs in New Jersey, USA, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, while scanning the heavens with a special antenna, detected a weak radiation filling all of space… this ubiquitous radiation was identified as the residual energy of the big bang creation. It is now known as the cosmic microwave radiation background. Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery, and rightly so. Their discovery changed humanity’s understanding of our universe. There was a creation, a beginning to our universe. The Bible got it right and 3000 years later science confirmed the fact. As we say, better late than never. The big bang theory does not specify what caused the creation. That is under intense scientific debate.”
In addition to being an avid student of science and of the Hebrew scriptures, Dr. Schroeder has also studied the rabbinic writings relevant to science. He quotes the 12th century rabbinic sage and physician Maimonides (Rambam):
“Study the science of nature [in Hebrew: madah teva] if you want to comprehend the science of God [madah Elokoot].”
For more insight into the connections between science and Torah go to his website:
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