CONFRONTED WITH CRITIQUE, SCHROEDER LOST VOICE
By Mark Perakh
Posted on November 21, 2005
My critique of Gerald Schroeder’s first book, Genesis and the Big Bang (Bantam Books, 1990), and of his second book, The Science of God (The Free Press, 1997), was first posted in April 1999, almost seven years ago. It was updated when Schroeder published his third book, The Hidden Face of God (The Free Press, 2001). My critical remarks can be seen at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/schroeder.cfm or at http://www.talkreason.org/perakm/schroeder.htm. Besides these posts on the internet, my critique of Schroeder was published in vol. 23, No 4 (2003) of Skeptic (Australia). Then, in my book Unintelligent Design, released by Prometheus Books in November of 2003, there is a chapter specifically discussing Schroeder’s three books. There also are references to my critique of Schroeder in various reviews of my book, both online and in print.
Response from Schroeder? A seven year long silence.
Now a reader of Talk Reason by the name of Daniel emailed Schroeder a copy of my post critiquing Schroeder’s output. This time Schroeder finally deigned to reply, probably because Daniel seems to be affiliated with he same religious organization as Schroeder (see http://www.talkreason.org/Forum.cfm?MESSAGEID=627) .
I will not repeat here my critical remarks regarding Schroeder’s output, which can be seen at any of the above mentioned places. Instead I will only address Schroeder’s “reply” to Daniel.
Here is the full text of Schroeder’s reply, as forwarded by Daniel:
“The major error in the critique as I skimmed it is that the author seems to
think I use general or special relativity to match the 6 fays to 15 billion
yrs. I do not as is clear from the text. and In SOG I make it clear that is
is red shifting and blue shifting due to stretching of space. And it is the
Bible's point of view, not God's. That is the one sentence I would change
in G&BB where I state God's view of time. I should have written the Bible's
view. The view form the beginning is set by the Ramban on his commentary on Day One, rather than a first day. Gerry”
In the quoted reply to Daniel, Schroeder (who for unknown reasons is afraid to mention my name) pretends to have not noticed most of my critique. All he offers is a denial of my interpretation of his “explanation” of the “six days of creation,” plus a “correction” to his published text (replacing the word “God” with “the Bible,” as if such a substitution could in any way correct his many factual errors).
He asserts now that he did not use either the special or the general theory of relativity but rather “red shifting and blue shifting due to the stretching of space.” Let us look a little closer at that statement.
In his first book, Genesis and the Big Bang, Schroeder set out to explain how to reconcile the biblical story with scientific data. On page 24 we read: “How can we reconcile the observable facts of paleontology and the laboratory proofs of the equations of Einstein with the very essence of Judeo-Christian faith – the biblical story of the first six days?” (Emphasis added).
Schroeder proceeds to explain how such reconciliation can be achieved. Starting on page 27, a chapter titled “Stretching Time,” which is 28 pages long, is devoted to such an explanation. To rebut Schroeder’s assertion in his reply to Daniel, I’d need to quote all those 28 pages in full. It may suffice, however, to simply list the titles of that chapter’s sections: (1) The Biblical Calendar (page 30); (2) Special and General Relativity (page 34); (3)Time Dilation (page 45); (4) Stretching Time (page 48).
If, as Schroeder now asserts, he did not use special relativity, what are the listed sections, occupying page 27 through 55, doing in his book? Just the titles of the sections I listed (which all, except for the first section, are notions from the special theory of relativity) make Schroeder’s denial of his use of relativity untenable (except that the word “use,” as it relates to Schroeder’s writing, more properly should be replaced with “misuse.”).
In his second book Schroeder changes his tune (without admitting such a change of mind). To “explain” the six days of creation, in this book he refers mostly to the general theory of relativity.
Schroeder seems to be unaware that the concepts of red shifting and expanding space-time, which he refers to in his reply to Daniel, are in fact notions stemming from the general theory of relativity (i.e. from the properties of the metric tensor) so if Schroeder, in his second book, applies these concepts (as he now asserts), it means that my critical remarks correctly pointed to his (mis)use of relativity.
Schroeder, in his reply to Daniel, oddly, denies the obvious fact - that he referred to relativity to substantiate his (faulty) thesis. This shows one more time that Schroeder is confused about the matters he so brazenly endeavored to “explain.” (By the way, the universe’s expansion and red shifting are briefly discussed at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Cooling.cfm).
Furthermore, in his reply to Daniel Schroeder completely avoids even mentioning the multiple errors in his books, which I pointed to in my critique. Perhaps the way he “skimmed” my critique was conveniently chosen to pretend that his errors, showing his rather amazing confusion about many elementary concepts of physics (not just relativity) do not exist. I suggest that Schroeder “skim” my critique once again, then open both the Torah and some introductory course of physics and verify my critical points.
In this respect, I have a few specific questions to Schroeder. To wit:
(1) Does Schroeder admit now that in his first book he provided an incorrect chronology of Cain’s descendants (counting Yuval and Yaval as the father and grandfather of Tuval-Cain while in fact they were, according to the Torah, Tuval-Cain’s half-brothers)? Does he admit that this error led to his erroneous conclusions regarding the time of the Flood?
(2) Does Schroeder admit now the error of his assertion that Tuval-Cain was the inventor of bronze, and that therefore the onset of the bronze age, as per the biblical story, has been miscalculated in his first book? (As is clearly written in the Torah, Tuval-Cain used tools made of iron, which means he must have lived much later than the beginning of the bronze age)
(3) Does Schroeder admit now that his assertions (made several times) about the cooling of the universe, allegedly caused by the heat dilution in ever expanding volume, are contrary to thermodynamics and therefore absurd?
(4) Does Schroeder admit now that his statement asserting than masers emit atoms was preposterously false?
(5) Does Schroeder admit now that his statement asserting that kinetic energy is proportional to velocity was wrong?
(6) Does Schroeder admit now that his statements asserting that mass is the same as weight were absurd?
(7) Does Schroeder admit now that centrifugal force is a fictitious force, contrary to what he wrote in his book?
(8) Does Schroeder admit now that his description of the photoelectric effect was faulty (as explained in my critical comments)?
(9) Does Schroeder admit now that the equation on page 38 of his third book is absurd, as it equates a constant to a variable (as explained in my critical comments)?
(10) Does Schroeder admit now that his explanation of “zero time interval” (in his second book) in a frame of reference attached to photons is meaningless because there is no such frame of reference wherein photons are at rest? (Photons, according to the special theory of relativity, move in vacuum with the same speed in all inertial frames of reference).
I could add more questions, but I’d be glad to hear Schroeder’s answers just to the above 10 questions. If he admits his errors, then why does he not say so frankly, as would suit a scientist? If he continues to stick to his assertions, why does he not try rebutting my critique?
Until Schroeder provides some reasonable answers to my critique, my assertions regarding his errors, amazing for a PhD in physics, remain in force and Schroeder’s output, for all its popularity among gullible readers, has to be construed as pseudo-scientific piffle.