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  #1  
Old 09-20-2011, 10:19 PM
sjh sjh is offline
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The Science of God - Gerald Schroeder

I'm reading a book titled, The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder. Schroeder is a PhD graduate of MIT who has been teaching in Israel for 30 years. I'm not a bio-science guy, my background is physical sciences, and specifically analytical methodologies. But what I've read here on evolution is fascinating. Someone like botnst can jump in and correct my errors. Here's what I've just read.

1. Water formed on the earth about 3.8 billion years ago.

2. Live started in the ocean about 3.5 billion years ago.

3. The formation of live within a few hundred million years cannot be explained by the classical 'chance combination' model that you and I were taught as kids. Prior to the discovery of life 3.5 billion years ago scientists believed that live originated in the atmosphere (lighting creating amino acids) and then 2 billion years of chance occurrences produced life. That is now known to be false.

4. Once life started 3.5 billion years ago it basically remained unchanged until 650 million years ago. Then, in a remarkably short period of time 90 to 95% of life died off and whole new species, with no records of intermediates appeared. Some of these creatures seem to have evolved over literally thousands (not millions) of years.

5. The 5 phylla of creatures with eyes in the world all have the same genetic coding responsible for vision yet the only common genetic link they share was back during the sponge-like or protozoa phase (creatures without eyes). To create the genetic code in anyone of these phylla involves 20 different amino acids and 130 different possible binding locations. That is a total of 20^130 which is ~10^170. So each one of these separate creatures went through ~10^170 different random variations and then, in each case, came up with the exact same structure. Or their common ancestor (a sponge without eyes) had this pattern and passed it on (with no known evolutionary advantage) to its descendants.

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Old 09-20-2011, 11:19 PM
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And?
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:37 PM
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http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/review-s.html


That's a very thorough review. Based on the content of that review, it appears to me that Schroeder's view of an ancient book is magical. He thinks that a book written a couple of thousand years ago contains information which has been only recently learned in very specific disciplines which have only been in existence for a few hundred years. How is that possible? Certainly the original authors of the book couldn't have known in advance all these things and would have had no ability to put into writing concepts which were completely absent from their own culture. The only way it could happen would be if some magic was going on. The authors of the text weren't the real authors of the text but some being capable of knowing the future and the relative state of cosmology in the late 20th century and tailoring the book to that state of cosmology which will almost certainly be superceded by alternative cosmologies in the future. I find such a view incredible.
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Last edited by kerry; 09-20-2011 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:45 PM
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So since science does not know all the answers are we going to go with the 'god made everything theory? As if that makes so much more sense.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by kerry View Post
And?
It's an attempt to start a dialog kerry. The explanation we (I believe our ages are close enough for this to be correct) were taught about chance-induced evolution as youngsters no longer works. I'd think different folks would bring various perspectives to the table.

Regarding your book review below all you've done is gone to an atheist website where they'll attack any book that doesn't fit into their world-view.

I prefer either listing the whole range of reviews (which are not well represented by your single example) or using Amazon where we get the input from (in this case) 142 readers. They gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Here's the Amazon review - Amazon Review

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Old 09-20-2011, 11:57 PM
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So since science does not know all the answers are we going to go with the 'god made everything theory? As if that makes so much more sense.
David,

I'm suggesting a dialog. MANY, MANY scientists today speak of life on the planet as having been deliberately seeded because our observations are pointing out how amazingly unique life truly is.

It's just a conversation. I hope to learn as well as share.

BTW - Anthony Flew, a very famous atheist, stated (paraphrasing) that recent scientific developments have caused him to shift from atheism to deism. Here's a link for that - Link for Flew

Anyway. I'd like intelligent, civil discourse.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by sjh View Post
Regarding your book review below all you've done is gone to an atheist website where they'll attack any book that doesn't fit into their world-view.
The review was not published by an atheist website. The article is currently posted on infidels.org but was initially published in a respected journal and written by a well qualified academic.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:01 AM
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Anyway. I'd like intelligent, civil discourse.
Here we go again. You want to be the arbiter of what counts as intelligent and civil. What was unintelligible and uncivil about David's reply? It was a clear and succinct response to the general line of argument being followed by Schroeder and a critique made of Flew's most recent position--that the lack of a naturalistic account of events, is not in itself evidence for a supernaturalistic explanation.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by kerry View Post
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/review-s.html


That's a very thorough review. Based on the content of that review, it appears to me that Schroeder's view of an ancient book is magical. He thinks that a book written a couple of thousand years ago contains information which has been only recently learned in very specific disciplines which have only been in existence for a few hundred years. How is that possible? Certainly the original authors of the book couldn't have known in advance all these things and would have had no ability to put into writing concepts which were completely absent from their own culture. The only way it could happen would be if some magic was going on. The authors of the text weren't the real authors of the text but some being capable of knowing the future and the relative state of cosmology in the late 20th century and tailoring the book to that state of cosmology which will almost certainly be superceded by alternative cosmologies in the future. I find such a view incredible.
Schroeder's book covers many areas. I have chosen to discuss one that I believe is the least speculative and most amenable to discourse with people from differing backgrounds.

One (by all means not all) of Schroeder's ideas is derived from Jewish mysticism. It is NOT what I have discussed on this thread. I am uncertain what I think about it. Since I believe in God and His divine revelation to Abraham it could be. But it is not, at all, what I have chosen to discuss here.

The mysteries of evolution are what I have written. I was quite surprised but what I have read.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:06 AM
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Here we go again. You want to be the arbiter of what counts as intelligent and civil. What was unintelligible and uncivil about David's reply? It was a clear and succinct response to the general line of argument being followed by Schroeder.
Not at all. I have ZERO problem with David's response. I thought he basically asked me why I posted and I answered.

I have NO problem with anything anyone has said on this thread.

Accuse me of my faults (there are plenty). Don't make up new ones.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:12 AM
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The review was not published by an atheist website. The article is currently posted on infidels.org but was initially published in a respected journal and written by a well qualified academic.
The website is named INFIDELS.ORG. Further upon visiting the site the large banner on top states The Secular Web. Doesn't sound very balanced and even-handed to me.

Further it is not representative of the majority of reviews, whether in the professional realm nor the general public.

Here's a youtube of the man on this book - Schroeder Video
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:19 AM
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The website is named INFIDELS.ORG. Further upon visiting the site the large banner on top states The Secular Web. Doesn't sound very balanced and even-handed to me.

Further it is not representative of the majority of reviews, whether in the professional realm nor the general public.

Here's a youtube of the man on this book - Schroeder Video

Since when is a good book review required to be balanced, even handed, and representative of the majority? As I pointed out, the review was published in a respectable journal.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:27 AM
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Here's a youtube of the man on this book - Schroeder Video
His statements in that video indicate the extreme narrowness of his position. He says there are two sources for knowledge of God--revelation and creation. Revelation he then describes as the Bible. Why? There are obviously numerous religious texts which claim to be revelations about God including lots of Hindu texts, Buddhist texts, Muslim texts etc. Why isn't he including those sources of revelation? Unless his book is filled with detailed analyses of why the Upanishads fail to model recent scientific knowledge and the Hebrew Bible does, the answer appears to be that he is wearing a set of cultural blinders set in the super-narrow position. No scientist would ever imagine excluding the content of biology for instance from science, so why is it ok for Schroeder to exclude all the content of non-Jewish religions right from the start of his argument?

A similar criticism could be made of Graham Oppy , the author of the review I linked, and I think the criticism applies to most analytic philosophers of religion. The call themselves philosophers of religion but they aren't really philosophers of religion. They are philosophers of Christian theism for the most part with occasional divergences into Jewish or Muslim theism when it suites the topic of Christian theism. Religion is far broader than Christian theism. It includes pre-literate animisms, polytheisms, pantheisms, and religious atheisms like buddhism and new religions like wicca. They all deserve the same consideration as jewish or christian theism and I can see no reason to dismiss them out of hand apart from cultural prejudice.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:36 AM
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His statements in that video indicate the extreme narrowness of his position. He says there are two sources for knowledge of God--revelation and creation. Revelation he then describes as the Bible. Why? There are obviously numerous religious texts which claim to be revelations about God including lots of Hindu texts, Buddhist texts, Muslim texts etc. Why isn't he including those sources of revelation? Unless his book is filled with detailed analyses of why the Upanishads fail to model recent scientific knowledge and the Hebrew Bible does, the answer appears to be that he is wearing a set of cultural blinders set in the super-narrow position. No scientist would ever imagine excluding the content of biology for instance from science, so why is it ok for Schroeder to exclude all the content of non-Jewish religions right from the start of his argument?
Which is why I have chosen to discuss his comments on evolution which are neither based upon his view of Jewish mysticism or any religious views at all actually.

We could discuss Jewish mysticism but I am not the best person to do that. Schroeder's views on reconciling creationism and science are only one component of his work (and so far the least interesting to me).

I see that I err'd in the title I chose for the thread and in mentioning Schroeder's name since it the evolution and biological complexities that are what intrigued me.

My mistake.

FWIW - Schroeder self-identifies himself as an applied theologian and not a philosopher of religion. You know that I make no claims about myself as a philosopher either.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:44 AM
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Having re-read your link I notice that it was reviewed in a professional journal on philosophy. Understandable given your background but it also explains why it is so different than what I read elsewhere; the folks I was reading were scientists.

Since the crux of my interest and knowledge is more scientific than philosophical I more understand where we differ.

I woke up thinking I had a good understanding of basic evolutionary theory and by the end of the day learned I was wrong. Somewhat of a shock.

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