Mark Perakh posted Entry 1699 on November 21, 2005 11:15 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1694

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 here or here. 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 here).

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 here).

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.

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Comment #59131

Posted by steve s on November 21, 2005 12:14 PM (e)

Witness David Heddle talking about the Cosmological Constant. Physicists can be delusional like any other person. I think they’re just less likely to be.

When I hear a physicist promoting some nutcases idea, it always reminds me of Brian Josephson.

Comment #59134

Posted by BWE on November 21, 2005 12:41 PM (e)

The thing is that research in physics can lead to pretty far out there stuff. If you are always dealing with things that defy reason yet turn out to be sort of provable (Particle physics frinstance) then really stretching your mind to imagine, Hey maybe there is some grand illusion that is put there by an intelligent entity to try to lead us astray from faith, maybe that’s not so much of a stretch. There’s a guy out there who believes that all physics can be proved with an expanding universe theory. I mean everything getting bigger. Gravity is really just the force of the earth growing, us growing, etc. It’s at: www.TheFinalTheory.com

THe idea is really cool at first but5 a little math dealing with orbits causes it to fungle up and crash the computer. But the guy really worked on it. (A year or two ago I followed an email discussion that some guy posted about it with the author )

So, although physicist tend to be less delusional about science than many, they have possibly greater potential to be really whacky.

Does that make sense? It seems like it’s always a physicist who comes up with the freaky wierd stuff.

Comment #59135

Posted by Jason on November 21, 2005 12:46 PM (e)

OT

But did anyone catch Washington Journal this morning on C-Span?
They had a few speakers talkiong about intelligent design and evolution.
One was Michael Behe and another was the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, Matthew Chapman. It was all very interesting, especially the call in comments and questions.

I suggest going to the website and watching the entire program.
http://www.c-span.org/homepage.asp?Cat=Series&Code=WJE&ShowVidNum=6&Rot_Cat_CD=WJ&Rot_HT=205&Rot_WD=

It’s the show on (11/21/05).

Comment #59136

Posted by frank schmidt on November 21, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

Mark, I have always respected Polkingthorne as one of the more scientifically accomplished of the “reconcilers.” Can you give a discussion of his ideas re the “fine-tuning” argument sometime? Are they any better than Gonzalez’, Schroeder’s or others? Or is he just trying to say “Look! It fits!” like all the others?

Comment #59142

Posted by RBH on November 21, 2005 1:36 PM (e)

The ID part starts around 1:34 into the program. Behe is around 2:03.

RBH

Comment #59153

Posted by Mark Perakh on November 21, 2005 2:29 PM (e)

Frank Schmidt (comment 59136): I agree that Polkinghorne is one of the most sophisticated defenders of the compatibility of faith with science. Unlike Schroeder, Polkinghorne certainly knows what he is writing about and his essays do not contain any egregious errors like those in Schroeder’s output (sadly, Schroeder’s books are much more popular among the general audience than Polkinghorne’s writing). In 2003 I started reviewing the collection of articles edited by Henrik Gregersen (tiled From Complexity to Life). It contains an essay by Polkinghorne. I wrote reviews of three articles in that collection (those by Davis, Stewart, and Bennett) which all can be seen on Talk Reason, but other activities made me postpone reviewing the rest of that collection, so Polkinghorne’s essay’s turn did not yet materialize. Perhaps I’ll review it at some later date. I have some notes prepared for such a future review. MP

Comment #59156

Posted by carol clouser on November 21, 2005 2:33 PM (e)

Some of the very basic errors in physics could very well have resulted from incompetent editorial work and poor oversight. I just cannot believe that an MIT Physics Ph.D. does not know that kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the velocity!? That just doesn’t make any sense. Had I been the editor on those books these errors would never have passed through my hands uncorrected.

In any event, Dr. Perakh, should you ever critique any one of Judah Landa’s works I promise you a prompt and effective response.

Comment #59166

Posted by Apesnake on November 21, 2005 2:58 PM (e)

Gerald Schroeder has a PhD in Physics? What school was that from? Have they changed the standards since he was there?

Comment #59182

Posted by Mark Perakh on November 21, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

If anybody has any doubts regarding the egregious elementary errors in the ouput of the MIT-graduated PhD Schroeder, can simply look up my posts about Schroeder where all those errors are referred to with quotations and pointing to specific pages where they occurred, and then look up Schroeder’s books to check if such errors are indeed there. Perhaps editors of Schroeder’s books were inept, but the responsibility for those laughable statements is Schroeder’s. Sadly, there are some reviews of Schroeder’s book where no mention of the errors can be found, and some reviews are rave acclaims of Schroeder’s great achievements. He was an honored speaker at “Torah and Science” conferences in Miami a few years ago, however, this year his submission seems to have been rejected by the conference organizers as they seem to have realized that his presence on the podium would mean embarrassment. Critique sometimes helps.

Comment #59188

Posted by Don on November 21, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

“Some of the very basic errors in physics could very well have resulted from incompetent editorial work and poor oversight.”

Yeah, I wonder if Schroeder’s editor(s) ever posted anonymous reader reviews of his work all over the internet?

Comment #59335

Posted by Renier on November 22, 2005 4:52 AM (e)

Peddling the Judah Landa’s book again Carol? You work for the publisher, right, or ARE you the publisher? The book is dedicated to you, RIGHT? Stop spamming this blog with trying to push the book down everyone’s throat. I KNOW fundies don’t have a problem forcing people, but really Carol, this is getting out of hand and is in bad taste. How many times must different people tell you to PLEASE stop this behaviour? This is not a flea-market. Do you understand this, or must I draw you some pictures?

Comment #59531

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 23, 2005 8:29 AM (e)

re Jasons Washington Journal reference -

I especially like the bit when a caller asks if there are any textbooks or curricula that teach Inteligent Design? (7 mins in)
Behe basically responds that his interest is in the idea, not education, and states that “I don’t know if there are any texts yet available”.

- seems to me that he has been taking tips from Buckingham. Someone should remind him what that trial in Dover was about.

Comment #96657

Posted by Ben Powers on April 15, 2006 1:28 PM (e)

Does any of this critique actually dela with the heart of the matter, with the basic assertion of Schroeder’s argument - that there is a different sence of time in the 6 days of creation than there are in time following the creation of the neshama?