THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

What I like about blogging is that the interaction with others. This interaction forces me to consider point of view of others, and that forces me to think. The challenge and the effort of contemplating a strange idea — actually thinking — reminds me I exist. I am not just a machine going through the motions of eating, breathing, sleeping, reproducing, and dying. I am aware I exist.

Remembering that I exists leads me to once again wonder why. Who made me? Does God care about me? Then I think of his Son, and I know that He does.

Here James Atticus Bowden left the latest comment on this blog. The subject of his comment included Gerald Schroeder. Here is an extract of what Wikipedia has to say about him.

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,[1] who focuses on what he perceives to be an inherent relationship between science and spirituality. (from here)

Schroeder has his own web site, Gerald Schroeder. In addition to descriptions of and excerpts from his books, that website includes some very excellent articles. These most certainly serve as an enticement to order some of his books.

Here is how The Age of the Universe begins.

The Age of the Universe

an article by Gerald Schroeder

One of the most obvious perceived contradictions between Torah and science is the age of the universe. Is it billions of years old, like scientific data, or is it thousands of years, like Biblical data? When we add up the generations of the Bible and then add the secular rulers that followed, we come to fewer than 6000 years. Whereas, data from the Hubbell telescope or from the land based telescopes in Hawaii, indicate the number at 15 billion years plus or minus 10%. In trying to resolve this apparent conflict, I use only ancient biblical commentary because modern commentary already knows modern science, and so it is influenced by what science always.

That commentary includes the text of the Bible itself (3300 years ago), the translation of the Torah into Aramaic by Onkelos (100 CE), the Talmud (redacted about the year 400 CE), and the three major Torah commentators. There are many, many commentators, but at the top of the mountain there are three, accepted by all: Rashi (11th century France), who brings the straight understanding of the text, Maimonides (12th century Egypt), who handles the philosophical concepts, and then Nahmanides (13th century Spain), the most important of the Kabbalists.

These ancient commentaries were finalized hundreds or thousands of years ago, long before Hubbell was a gleam in his great-grandparent’s eye. So there’s no possibility of Hubbell or any other scientific data influencing these concepts. That’s a key component in keeping the following discussion objective.

Universe with a Beginning

In 1959, a survey was taken of leading American scientists. Among the many questions asked was, “What is your estimate of the age of the universe?” Now, in 1959, astronomy was popular, but cosmology – the deep physics of understanding the universe – was just developing. The response to that survey was recently republished in Scientific American – the most widely read science journal in the world. Two-thirds of the scientists gave the same answer. The answer that two-thirds – an overwhelming majority – of the scientists gave was, “Beginning? There was no beginning. Aristotle and Plato taught us 2400 years ago that the universe is eternal. Oh, we know the Bible says ‘In the beginning.’ That’s a nice story; it helps kids go to bed at night. But we sophisticates know better. There was no beginning.”

That was 1959. In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the echo of the Big Bang in the black of the sky at night, and the world paradigm changed from a universe that was eternal to a universe that had a beginning. Science had made an enormous paradigm change in its understanding of the world. Understand the impact. Science said that our universe had a beginning. I can’t overestimate the import of that scientific “discovery.” Evolution, cave men, these are all trivial problems compared to the fact that we now understand that we had a beginning. Exactly as the Bible had claimed for three millennia. (continued here)

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One Response to THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

  1. Russ White says:

    Remember, though, that I already said that the age of the universe has nothing to do with the age of life. It’s only when you assume evolution that the two are tied together.

    Also note that when measuring the age of the universe, you need to remember the wine, the fish, and the bread. :-)

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