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March 8, 2006

Dear Concerned Citizen,

by Dr. Gerald Schroeder and Kelly Walker
side bar side bar side bar side bar Verses 6-8: Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

God used light to form stars and galaxies, in greater numbers than we can imagine! A great cloud of gases and stardust from ancient stars that had exploded eons and eons ago formed our star, the sun, all the materials for the earth and moon, and all the planets in our solar system. Great wisdom was at work as the earth was being formed perfectly for life. Recall that the word waters in these early days relates to the building blocks of the universe.

The moon's gravity would keep the earth from tilting too much, and would help control ocean tides, mixing the waters of the earth. The tilt in the earth's axis makes the seasons: summer when we tilt toward the sun, and winter when we tilt away from the sun. This helps spread the sun's heat over both the northern and southern hemispheres. The other outer planets such as massive Jupiter and Saturn would shield the earth by "catching" destructive comets and asteroids. The earth itself was just the right distance from the sun; not close enough to be too hot, but not so far to be too cold. Just the right distance so that water could be liquid and not solid ice or gaseous steam. God knew that to have life, we need liquid water. Truly, the world is filled with wisdom.

The earth and the solar system have a long list of items that allow life to form. Among them are:

  • being just the right distance from our star, the sun, for having liquid water
  • being in a part of our galaxy, the milky way, where there is a high abundance of the elements needed for life, such as carbon and oxygen
  • having the earth's gravity just strong enough to hold an atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen so we and all animals and even plants can breathe
  • having a rotation of 24 hours so that the sun shines over all the earth's surface frequently, so that the temperature is well distributed (unlike planet Venus where the same surface almost always faces the sun and its back is always in the shade)
  • having enough water to form oceans but not so much that the entire surface of the earth would be flooded (having dry land lets technology develop. Notice that even smart aquatic animals such as dolphins or whales have never developed a technology)
  • having enough oxygen in the atmosphere to allow for controlled fire (a crucial factor for the use of fuel for energy) but not so much oxygen that there are continual uncontrolled fires.

The list goes on and on. Just think of the other needs that the wonderful planet earth provides. What does the earth's magnetic field do to help us live? And what causes that magnetic field to form?

Clarifying translation: God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters [the matter of the universe], and let it separate between water and water." So God made the firmament, and separated between the waters which were beneath the expanse and the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. God called the firmament: "Heaven [The carpet of stars we see at night in the sky]." And there was evening [Erev: chaos] and there was morning [Boker: order, clarity], a second day.

Notice that the day is numbered a second day and not day two. This is a change in form of the numbering from cardinal or absolute, day one, to ordinal or comparative, a second day. When we get to discuss the age of our universe this change in number form will be very, very important.

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Responses to Rethinking the "Genesis Project - Day 1":

Thank you for undertaking the series on Genesis One. It promises to be very interesting. I hope that you don't miss the climax of creation, and from the sidebar on your first installment I fear that this will happen. As I see it "The Seventh Day" is the climax, the day when God rested from his work of creation spending it in communion with His new creation. Thus He showed us that relationships is what it is all about. Human/human relationships continue day by day but the divine/human relationship was especially the focus of the 7th day! To look at the six days without considering the 7th is to miss the point of the Genesis account. - Norman Moll

I found this a fascinating exercise--part of the growing movement of intelligent design. I am sure Dr. Schroeder has heard of Dr. Hugh Ross, author of The Creator and the Cosmos and the website: www.reasons.org I think they could have some instructive and mutually beneficial conversations to help promote their common views. - Jon Ruthven, PhD

It sounds as though the author of this article has a problem with reading scripture at face value. I wonder if he changes his interpretive ways once he reaches gen. 11 Most big bang people do. It changes from allegorical and spiritualization to face value reading. - B. V.

Why is day 7 left out of the Genesis Project? It is just as much part of creation as the 6 other days (that is if you believe that God has the power to create a new heart within you). - J. A. H.

Your wrote: "And then in a giant burst of energy, something like super powerful beams of light but gazillions of times brighter than anything our eyes can see, God created our universe. Scientists call this event the Big Bang...." But aren't you confusing two things? According to the theory, the Big Bang is not the beginning of matter and energy, it is just a massive transition point from the (very dense) stuff of before the bang to the (much less dense) stuff after the bang. But the Genesis account gives a creation from nothing. Also, the timetables are wrong. The Genesis account describes something that happen about a dozen thousand years ago (more or less), but the Big Bang theory describes something that happened a long time before that - a really long time before that. These rather considerable differences make the issues of the Synoptic Problem in the Gospels look like very tiny variations! What if God in His wisdom decided to create a universe with apparent age. That is, what if He decided to make an Adam that looked like he was born 30 years ago, in a garden with trees that looked like they sprouted up 80 years ago, with volcanoes that looked like they started forming 8000 years ago, and stars that looked like they all came from one point in space about 80000000... years ago? Then, in order to help mankind to understand that they were created at that point in time, He told them all about it Himself. Wouldn't that explain all the data, including "the echo of light beams, the energy of the Big Bang Creation"? As an interesting side discussion, I would ask how would it look like if it was done any other way?! Just what does a newly created man, in a newly created garden, in a newly created world, in a newly created universe look like anyway? We only know what men look like from minus 9 months to plus 120 years of age. We don't know what a man "should" look like if he was just recently created, but somehow didn't have any apparent age. And we don't know that about trees, or, actually, universes. - Dave Hagelberg

Please take me off your subscription list. You are correct science does confirm God's Word, and yes God can create with the illusion of time, however pandering to progressive creationists is nothing more than Biblical compromise. I want no part of your publication. - D. T.

how do humans come to the universe according to science? - D. M.

Thanks for delving into a most interesting and necessary discussion. I need to re-read it at least 3 or 4 times more before comments from the ‘peanut gallery’ would even be allowed. At this point, I would like to ask, “Where did the ‘grape seed’ sized stuff come from?” The Buddhists have no problem saying that in aeons past, the universe, now expanding, was regressing into that ‘grape seed’ and then exploded to start the process all over again. Was God’s first act of creation to pack the universe as we barely (!) comprehend it into that tiny spot of universe? Thanks for pricking our minds once again. - Jerry Perrill

You have sent not only a wonderful written article but a comprehensive approach to the "beginning of days". Are you thinking on translating the article to Spanish? In Spanish this kind of article would travel thousands of kilometers bringing "boker" to many. - J. Wilson Herrera

I just finished reading your article on Creationism and was well pleased. Some years ago I was asked to create a course at the Bible College on Biblical Creationism. Not because I knew so much about science, but that I could work in the Hebrew language. They wanted to know what the Book had to say...and was it scientifically applicable, so to speak. One of the things I liked about the article was the reference back to the Hebrew words and what their root meanings allowed which lends itself to being scientifically accurate, at least as much as we understand, even though the translators worked with what they understood from its useage elswhere, not taking into account of what the Hebrew root might allow. Thus I was interested in what was said about the Hebrew words: erev and boker. Very interesting. I then wondered why the author did not do the same with eretz and shamayim? In the beginning certainly deals with time, which a Timeless One would not have; therefore, time was needed. Next, this Timeless One determined to create a world and had no place to put it; therefore, He created Space, which shamayim allows, and Webster defines as 'a place to put something'. Then, appropriately, He created eretz, which may be translated as matter, which Webster defines so eloquently as, that which occupies space. I was so impressed with the compacted matter, the size of a seed...which I wondered how he determined the size...but no matter, brilliant his comparison to the black hole of space. Great. The input of energy into the equation or 'seed matter' is again a lovely Hebrew picture of an eagle sitting on her nest egg, which he did not mention. I await with bated breath for the next articles and what he will do with the Latin term firmament, or Hebrew raqiya from raqa which can be translated 'pounded out plane', as it refers to the fabric of the universe. Thanks for letting me interact with this the first study I have perused which takes into account the allowance of Hebrew word definitions which give great insight into what we know from science. Thanks heaps. - Dr Earl Parvin

Responses to other tothesource articles:

Baptists have been persecuted by state-sponsored Christianity in Europe and by colonial-sponsored Christianity in America. Baptists (and other evangelical, Bible-believing Christians) also have a history of church split after church split in the name of truth. Bible-believing Christians can be as mean-spirited, controlling and as abusive of power as any secularists. Which is worse? Having one’s faith opposed by secularists – or being attacked by Christian believers having a different moral or political vision or a different interpretation of a certain Scripture or doctrine? Paul appealed to Caesar rather than be tried by religionists. Throughout most of church history, there has been greater freedom to practice religious faith in accordance with one’s conscience under secularists than under religionists. I believe authentic Christian faith can flourish under a government that is neutral or even slightly oppositional to Christianity more than under a government that favors a particular brand of Christianity. Conservative Christians may say they are simply advocating for those Christian values that we all hold in common; history shows that it never stops there once religious people gain political power. Once in power, they begin imposing their distinctive beliefs and convictions – even to the point of persecuting other Christians who disagree with the particulars of their faith. Christians who care about truth have never been very good at tolerating different points of view – even among brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s bad enough when dogmatic Christians have ecclesiastical power to impose their will on other church members; it’s really scary to see what dogmatic Christians have done when they have also had political power to impose their will on all citizens. Both church and state -- and the cause of the Gospel -- suffer when Christians wield too much political power. As a Baptist, I don’t need the government defending or promoting my faith. The Gospel is powerful enough to transform lives and cultures without government assistance. The problem in the USA is not that the government is too secular; the problem in America is that the church is too impotent and worldly to be salt and light. Lowering the divorce rate in the church would have as much or more positive moral influence in our society as passing legislation banning same-sex marriage. If Christians were exercising more effective influence in the fields of education, law, science, media, entertainment, and government service, we wouldn’t need to depend so heavily on political power to save our society from moral collapse. The problem is the not the separation of church and state; the problem is the ineffectiveness of the church in society. The solution is not for the state to support the church and its agenda; the solution is for the church to be the church so that its light will penetrate and push back the darkness. - Scott E. Pearson Senior Pastor Cornerstone Baptist Church

Dear friend. I have written on early American Methodism and the social movement dynamics of evangelicalism. In my research, I have come to the same conclusions as you regarding secularism and the establishment of a state religion. As one who teaches world religions, cultural anthropology and missions, I know that modern secularism functions like a religion and that it has become the religion of the secular state. Secularism is a social myth that was created by those who want to produce a new social order. From the perspectives of worldview, epistemology, and philosophy, modern secularism, to include its many manifestations in the sciences and politics, is very suspect. - William Payne, Ph.D. Ashland Theological Seminary

I have found your emailed articles on secularism to be of some interest. As an atheist, an adherent of secular scientific ethics, and a homosexual, I feel I must remain aware of the forces within my country that appear to want to stand secularists like me up against a wall and shoot us. Hyperbole? No, I think this is an entirely realistic concern. In the twenty-first century, we still live in a world in which an Iranian homosexual is in danger of being deported from The Netherlands back to Iran, where his fate would most likely be to be hanged, as others have been, simply for being a homosexual. And, more than 60 years after the "defeat" of Christian fascism in Europe, an Italian judge who refused to serve in his capacity as a judge in a courtroom with a crucifix hanging on the wall has been sentenced to seven months in prison for his failure to respect a fascist-era directive and a treaty with the Vatican signed by Benito Mussolini, even though both conflict with the 1947 post-war Italian constitution. Here in the USA, it took until June 26, 2003 before the Supreme Court of the United States finally recognized homosexuals as human beings with the same right to privacy as other citizens -- but with two newly appointed Catholic justices, it may be only a matter of time before that is reversed. Now, as you, and so many others in America, appear to be ready to repudiate secularism, science, rational ethics, and the progress of civilization (with, for example, South Dakota's new "rapists' rights" anti- abortion law), I just want to know if you champions of this new American Christian fascist theocracy understand and are ready to accept the consequences. What can we expect for the future: Public hangings of homosexuals? The imprisonment of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for backing Michael Newdow's lawsuit against "under God" in the pledge? Religious civil wars between various states and municipalities that have established different religions? At what point should I and other scientists, the vast majority of whom do not believe in any God (Ref. 5), prepare to flee this country? I just want to know, so I can be ready. - Norman Hall, Ph.D. (Biology, U.C. San Diego, 1973)

Response to Responses: I thoroughly enjoy reading the articles I receive from To the Source. Many have become added material for a class I am teaching at our church this spring on the Bible’s view on a variety of topics. I feel I must respond to many of the critics of Dr. Wiker’s article by sharing my own recent pilgrimage on this topic of separation. For a long time, I have been a follower of the teachings of David Barton and others who have unearthed and shared the rich “Christian” history of our nation. However, what is often not shared is that, although it is definitely a “Christian” history, it was by no means tolerant or free to all. Several of the letters in response to Dr. Wiker criticized him for not pointing out the tolerance of true Christians in certain states or certain denominations (Pennsylvania & Rhode Island were mentioned, as well as Baptists named in letters as particularly tolerant groups). Well, this just wasn’t the case. Although Pennsylvania and other states and towns had various “Edicts of Toleration” it was limited in its scope to Protestant, King James Bible only groups. In fact, in 1844 the bloodiest account of religious intolerance coming to a head took place in the very town that ironically one of the readers, K.W., is so proud to announce as supremely tolerant...Philadelphia (see Feldberg’s The Philadelphia Riots of 1844, publ. 1975). Although laws or ordinances were passed that to us appear to accept various views, we must accurately interpret them from their proper historical context, including the events of the day, and not from our current context looking back through glasses clouded by our own presuppositions and lack of information. Whereas there was not a single denomination as a state or national church, Protestantism, in general, could easily be called the national church of the time. This is especially obvious in the Protestant persecution and exclusion of Jewish and Catholic immigrants early in our nation’s history, (Intolerance was especially evident in public schools.). It is our heart’s desire to look back at our early national history and talk of how it was such a time of unity and tolerance, an almost utopian society, but the truth is that it was really an unsettled period in our history with a great deal of separatism, state and local loyalty and relatively little cooperation a national level. My recent study on this subject has been mind-changing and I would encourage many of you to take time to do the same. As a very conservative, Baptist, I would have thrived in a nation such as ours in its earliest years, but I know that is not what exists today. Whether we like it or not, “separation” between church and state is what we have today. With that wall in place, I would recommend that what we need not is not more Christianity in our society or to press the Christian agenda; but we need the presence of Christian individuals in positions of influence. Jesus Christ did not come to change the politics of the day. He did not come to be a political King. He came to change the hearts of people. If you change the hearts of the people, the society will automatically change. - Bob Johnson Associate Pastor of Education/Administration

Several words come to mind come to my mind as we consider my relationship to Jesus Christ and how I am allowed or suppressed from sharing that in public. I agree that no one should be forced to embrace anything that he / she does not want to embrace. I also am convinced no one should silenced to share with any one an opportunity to explain something that he /she has found very satisfactory. Of course that person should have the opportunity to ignore and refuse to listen. If the above would be followed it would create the answer to all the discussion. I find myself refusing to listen to many things in the public place that I find very repulsive. I do not try to forcefully restrain. There is a place for the proper person to restrain some one who does harm to someone else. Let us each check ourselves as to why we respond to the situation at hand and let us check ourselves from saying and doing any thing maliciously - D. G.

“Americans, lagging a bit behind, began experiencing the first cracks in the late 19th century, and ever widening fissures during all of the 20th century. Today, in America we are caught in that very struggle that bubbled up in the French Revolution between Christians and radical Secularists. The common moral ground has dropped out, and hence we are torn, as a nation, between those who hold to the moral world of Christianity and those who hold to the moral world of Secularism.” “And that is why we are divided about sexuality, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, genetic research, and on and on. We no longer have, as we did at the founding, common moral ground. Without that common moral ground, the notion of a separation of church and state, understood as some kind of cosmic wall keeping religion from entering the public square, simply means the victory of Secularism as the new established national religion.” Dr. Wiker hits on a very hot issue here. Arguably, he hits on the biggest dividing point in the history of our country. - Blake Levrets Hoffmantown Church

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We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

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Gerald Schroeder   Gerald Schroeder
BSc, MSc, and PhD all earned at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD in two fields: Earth and Planetary Sciences; and, Nuclear Physics. Formal theological training includes fifteen years of study under the late Rabbi Herman Pollack, Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

Seven years on the staff of the M.I.T. Physics Department prior to moving to Israel and joining the staff of the Weizmann Institute of Science and then the Volcani Research Institute and the Hebrew University Isotope Separation Mass Spectrometer facility. Currently teaches at the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish studies in Jerusalem.

Author of GENESIS AND THE BIG BANG THE SCIENCE OF GOD and THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD. In the first full year of its publication, The Science Of God was on the Barnes & Noble list of non-fiction best sellers and was Amazon.com’s best selling book in the field of physics/cosmology for that entire year. Dr. Schroeder has approximately 60 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 5 children.
Kelly Walker   Kelly Walker
Kelly Walker, M.S. has been a writer and editor for the past 18 years. Walker studied environmental science at New Mexico State University after receiving his bachelor's degree in English and theology. Walker taught for a year at Waterfield Institute in Sri Lanka, where he created the reading curricula for five levels of students, aged 17-23.

He was a bilingual elementary teacher in El Paso, Texas before stepping into the environmental sciences field where he worked as a conservation professional for seven years. Walker, father of two young boys, currently works for Sublime Design, a creative agency in Bend, Oregon that he and his wife own.

Kelly enjoys teaching, writing and “dressing and keeping the garden.” He continues to write, teach and advocate good stewardship of natural resources.
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