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July 4, 2006

Dear Concerned Citizen,

by Dr. Gerald Schroeder and Kelly Walker
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Verses 20-23: Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let winged creatures fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens." And God created great reptiles (in the original Hebrew, the big ta’ni’neem) and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged animal according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let winged animals multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Once earth’s atmosphere was ready, strange new creatures appeared quite quickly in the water, and later ventured into the air, and still later onto the land. Scientists call this sudden appearance of animals the “Cambrian Explosion,” or the “Big Bang” of animal life. These first animals were models for of all the animals to come after them. If you saw these strange creatures, you might think they were aliens from another planet, but they were earth’s first animals.

In His wisdom, God gave these animals the ability to change with their surroundings. Though some changed into new forms, such as fish, insects and dinosaurs, they retained their original models. The scientific name for a general model is phylum.

Note that in the entire Creation chapter there is only one animal that has an adjective of size, the “great reptiles.” And in the fossil record, the largest of animals just happens to be the dinosaurs, which were reptiles. Again the wisdom of the Bible is matched by the recent discoveries of science. Whether the big ta’ni’neem actually refers to dinosaurs is not certain. But it is intriguing that the one animal the Bible tells us was big is the reptile, and fossils agree. The meaning of ta’ni’neem as reptile is learned from a comparison of the Hebrew words for snake and reptile as they are used in The Book of Exodus chapters four and seven. Those are the chapters in which Moses is told by God to confront Pharaoh and have his shepherd’s staff first turn into a snake (na’hash in Hebrew), chapter four,  and then into a reptile (ta’ni’neem) chapter seven.

For generations a debate has centered on whether all living creatures were created complete within a few days’ time, or whether they evolved gradually over long periods of time. The fossil record and the Bible suggest that neither view is entirely correct. There is, again, no contradiction between Torah and Teva, only between inaccurate interpretations of the evidence and the text.

At least three events throughout the history of life defy scientific explanation, about which evolutionists can only speculate. These events in the history of life  point to direct action by the Creator, rather than being caused by His natural laws alone.

1) The appearance of the first life, microscopic single-celled organisms soon after the earth’s crust hardened (the oldest evidence of life dates to about 3.6 to 3.8 billion years ago, found in ancient rocks in Greenland). From the first evidence of liquid water on the earth, also some 3.8 billion years ago, to the advent of life there was not enough time for life to have arisen by chance from non-living chemicals (if, indeed, this is even possible given infinite time).

2) The relatively sudden appearance of complex animal life, called the “Cambrian Explosion,” about 530 million years ago. The fossil record shows single-celled organisms before the Cambrian, and then with essentially no hint in the underlying fossils, all the body plans, or phyla, that exist today appear at the Cambrian, with no complex ancestors from which to evolve. Two problems make gradual evolution from single cells to these complex life forms very unlikely: the absence of transitional forms and inadequate time for evolution by mutation and natural selection to occur. The late paleontologist, Harvard Professor Stephan J.Gould, an avid agnostic, wrote that this is one of the great trade secrets of paleontologists. The fossil record does not confirm the gradualism of Darwinian evolution. Niles Eldredge, former curator at the American Museum of Natural history in New York City, the gold standard of naturalism, wrote “The pattern we were told to find in the fossil record does not exist.” Unfortunately, its non-existence has not hampered school text books from teaching that it does exist.

3) The appearance of consciousness, language and complex thought in humans.

Once a person examines the evidence, they must then decide if the mind-boggling complexities of life, the universe, and natural laws (including adaptive evolution) came about by blind natural forces, or were creative processes overseen and guided in wisdom by the Source of all life, God. Since science cannot definitively prove whether God exists or does not exist, and there is no evidence showing a transition from non-living matter (rocks and water and few simple chemicals) to life, either decision comes down to a matter of personal decision and faith.

Perhaps it is time to move past the cliches of the creationist vs. evolutionist debate. The real conflict is between materialist/naturalistic evolution, which attributes remarkable changes to earthbound explanations alone, and a theistic view, which sees in the history of evolution a remarkably intelligent and purposeful progression from simple to complex, from erev to boker. For some, the major obstacle is the matter of time–6,000 years vs. millions of years–but we will approach this topic later. Time need not be a sticking point.

The late British writer and Journalist G.K. Chesterton said:

It is really far more logical to start by saying… ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process. For God is by its nature a name of mystery... But this notion of something smooth and slow, like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogicality as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as [unbelievable] as a swift one…. There runs though all… history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided, or even mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay... The question here is the false atmosphere of facility and ease given by the mere suggestion of going slow.

These are insightful words, and ahead of their time, considering that they were written in 1925. Even if the Creation occurred over billions of years from our perspective looking back (which actually does equal six days from a perspective looking forward, as we will see), a miracle is a miracle, no matter how much time it takes!

Clarifying translation: God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures [Hebrew  nefesh hi’yah], and winged creatures [The Hebrew word here is oaf which means in biblical Hebrew any animal with wings as we learn from its use in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus (Exodus 7:14; Leviticus 11:20)] that fly about over the earth across the expanse of heavens.” [At this stage in the development of life on earth, the winged creatures would be flying, insect-like animals. This matches exactly the fossil record. Once again the wisdom of the ancient Bible is matched by the modern discoveries of science.] And God created the great reptiles [The Hebrew word is ta’ni’neem. This word appears later in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 4:3; 7:10, 15) where by comparing its use there we see that ta’ni’neem means reptiles] and every living being that creeps, with which the waters teemed after their kinds; and all winged creatures of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the seas; and the winged creatures shall increase on the earth. And there was evening [Erev: chaos] and there was morning [Boker: order, clarity], a fifth day. Again a climb in the level of order of life on earth, erev giving way to boker.

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Responses to Discrimination Against Religion:

Your title, "Discrimination Against Religion", on the Mount Soledad cross case is simply wrong. Requiring the removal of a cross is not discrimination against religion (generic), but against public support of a particular religion, in this case, Christianity. There is a long and well-established legal case history on this point. The Supreme Court has upheld public support for religion when it is non- specific or pluralistic. Thus public displays of Christmas creches are OK when included with symbols of other faiths (eg. a menorah) or non-faith (eg. Santa Claus). The voters of Eugene, Oregon (my home) voted to declare a 51-foot cross overlooking the city a "war memorial" when its presence on public property was challenged. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court ruled that the cross was without a doubt still a symbol of a particular faith and therefore would be seen as a symbol of support by the government for that faith. The Supreme Court let that decision stand. The cross was removed and now resides quite appropriately overlooking the campus of Eugene Bible College. D'Souza totally misses the point of the Ten Commandments case as well. If you actually read the decision, you can clearly see that the issue was not whether the display was religious or not, as D'Souza claims. In fact, the decision specifically says, "Nor do we have occasion here to hold that a sacred text can never be integrated constitutionally into a government display..." such as found in the frieze with Moses along with 17 other lawgivers overlooking the Supreme Court itself. Rather the Court established a new legal standard of religious intent. Where the intent of a public display is to favor one religion over others, it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Court found this to be the case in the Kentucky example but not so in Texas. The dissenting opinion advocated that the First Amendment does not preclude government from endorsing monotheism, only endorsement of a particular belief. Such a practice however would mean that our government would then favor Christianity over Hinduism, Islam over Buddhism. Is that what we want? Justice Souter, writing for the majority, stated that such a dissenting view "means that government should be free to approve the core beliefs of a favored religion over the tenets of others, a view that should trouble anyone who prizes religious liberty." The Court upheld religious neutrality. We should be thankful that it did, otherwise battles over religious preference will become no different that battles over gerrymandering of congressional districts. Finally, we Christians would do well to remember that crosses on hillsides were originally symbols of government oppression. It does not serve us well to use them again as symbols of our domination over others. Let them symbolize humility, servanthood, sacrifice and God's love, not Christian superiority. (For a more detailed analysis on this topic, please see the following article, Good God, Bad Government: When the Use of Religion Becomes the Abuse of Power. http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2005/05/26/ coverstory.html) - Dan Bryant Senior Minister

I am deeply disturbed, by the tone of some of your readers on the far right that have no respect for their Christian brothers and sisters. Their responses share a view that if you don’t avow a Christian perspective exactly like theirs that you are not a Christian at all. We all have our “lenses” that we view scripture through. A powerful witness to the Gospel is being ignored when one assumes that they have a complete understanding of scripture to the exclusion of those who don’t use the exact same lens as them. I believe the Bible is a dangerous book if it is viewed simply as an instruction book for moral living. I believe too many Christians today are bordering dangerously close to this view of scripture. Using this lens we minimize Christ and his gift of Grace through his death and resurrection, and we begin to worship the Bible itself. It is all to comforting to worship the Bible instead of God because in this manner we become the interpreters of right and wrong, not God. We hold the power, not God. I find people holding this particular view of scripture particularly difficult to dialogue with because they hold an interpretation of scripture that cannot be questioned. I am comforted by the fact that Christ himself dealt with some of these same people in his day. They were called the Pharisees. - Pastor Michael Stadtmueller

Responses to other tothesource articles:

Editor, I received today’s issue of to the source and have been shocked by the vitriolic responses sent to you regarding “Ann Coulter’s Boo Boo.” I have often struggled with being seen as a liberal by conservatives and a conservative by liberals. That used to bother me until God made it clear that nobody has a monopoly on Him. I can be anti-abortion and anti-death penalty; for personal responsibility and for aid to the oppressed and still be Christian. God calls us to transcend human devices and labels. Your publication does that, and I appreciate it. Hold fast to what is true. Accountability stings some people at first, but it’s the right thing. Christ himself had to struggle with forces from both poles of the political and theological spectrum. Shalom, - Rev. Jim Hering

In Dr. Gerald Schroeder's article, "The Age of the Universe," he makes the statement, "This miniscule moment of time before the biblical clock begins lasted about 1/100,000 second." I believe Dr. Schroeder is wrong in assuming that there was no time prior to that moment. In fact, if there were no time before that moment then how could there be something happening 1/100,000 second before the supposed beginning. If you have a before and an after then there is a period between the two and that must be time. If there were no time, then there would be no before and no after. For example, God apparently created angels before he created the universe. Therefore, some time must have passed between the two creations. - Joey Cranston

In the letter above there seems to be a misunderstanding of my intent. The 1/100,000 of a second is the passage of time between the creation of the universe and the beginning of the biblical clock. That bit of time actually passed but is not included in the six days of Genesis. Whether time as we understand time in human terms existed before the big bang creation of our physical universe is up for debate. Either way, the time between the physical creation of the universe and the beginning of the biblical clock is 1/100,000 of a second. If time existed before the universe's creation, that time is outside the consideration here. What is meant by the claim that God created the angels before the universe or the Talmudic statement that 2,000 years before creating the universe God looked into the Bible and used it to plan and create the universe are statements that fall outside the realm of our conventional understanding of time since God according to the Bible is not bound by time.

Gerald Schroeder

Dear tothesource Editors: Thanks for your thoughtful, honest and fair article on Ann Coulter’s book and its misuse of the term “liberal.” It correct to distinguish between liberalism and secularism and to acknowledge that many liberals—past and present—were and are operating out of religious beliefs, be they Christian, Jewish and others. I am an example. I am a Christian, practice regular spiritual disciplines (including prayer and scripture reading), and am committed to spiritual growth in the image of Christ. I take the Bible seriously (seeking to read it in context and as a whole rather than selectively or in isolation), even when it challenges some of my own believes and behaviors, because I think that is what it means to be faithful as a follower of Jesus. I consider myself a liberal on most issues, although on some I am moderate and on financial issues tend to be more conservative. I am also offended by the extremes of liberalism that is sometimes as rigid, authoritarian and venomous as ultra-conservatives. I believe I have come to most of my views out of my faith. I find the Bible has much more to say about economic and social justice and about God’s concern for the poor than about sexuality. Christians can certainly disagree on what the best methods for achieving justice and showing concern for the poverty, but it would be hard for any to say that these are of no concern to God. I would also agree that the proper and faithful expression of God’s gift of our sexuality is an important subject, both in the Bible and certainly for modern society, where there are a many idolatrous and destructive uses of sexuality as at any point in either ancient Israel or the Greco-Roman world of the New Testament. As a Christian and as a citizen I think we should be concerned both about economic justice and about sexual issues, although I think government plays a much bigger and more direct role in the issues of social justice than it does in the area of sexual expression. Jimmy Carter and Jim Wallis have both pointed out that that media, popular culture, and political partisans of both extremes (including Ann Coulter) often characterize the present divide as between the Religious Right and the Secular Left—and imply that everyone is one or the other of these. Not so!—as you acknowledge, too. I am not a secularist and am not for either the establishment of any religion or discrimination against religious expression. There are serious people of faith who may be on the left in many issues. And there are secular folks who may be on the right. It is not helpful to misuse the terms or draw lines that try to limit the debate. In a very divided and divisive time we need much more open, honest, thoughtful discussion of issues that is respectful of all participants. Your article helps toward that. I read your articles most of the time. More than half the time I may disagree with at least a significant part of the article, but I find them generally thoughtful and challenging. I believe it is important to read thoughtful folks with whom I may disagree, so my beliefs are tested and I have the opportunity to grow and sometimes change my mind. You do a good job of that. - Joseph N. Easley, Pastor, Central United Methodist Church

This article gets it very wrong primarily due to a profound confusion of the term "classical liberalism" and "liberalism" as used in the modern American sense. Classical liberalism bears little to no similarities to modern American liberalism, yet the article appeared to make no distinction between the two and seemed to confuse the two entirely. While it is true that there are Leftist Christians who would call themselves liberal, they are by no means classical liberals. Quite the opposite! Examples of classical liberals would include the likes of Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, and Adam Smith. The political/economic views of these clash starkly with those of modern American "liberals". Consider some examples of classical liberal positions on various issues: free markets, individual rights, true equality before the law, the protection of private property rights, low taxes, etc. Contrast these with modern American "liberal" positions: government-controlled and regulated markets, "human rights" (which amount to rights *to* things like jobs, food, education, healthcare, etc.), "affirmative action" and quota programs which constitute real inequality and racial favoritism, the subjugation of private property rights to "public interests", high taxes to pay for social programs, etc. As you can see, the contrast is striking. Indeed, the term "liberal" still retains most of its classical meaning in Europe, but in the US the term is essentially the reverse of its meaning abroad as well as the reverse of its classical meaning. It is this latter American meaning which Ms. Coulter is using, and which the vast majority of her readers will understand. Again, it is true that there are "liberals" (in the modern American sense) who are Christians. But they are in the vast minority in political circles, and even within this small minority I would estimate that the majority of them are Christians in name only. Many such "Christians" are more like adherents to "Liberation Theology" -- a Marxist spin-off of Christianity that is first and foremost a framework of socio-political dogma first and a religion a distant second. And to many of these sorts of people, their idea of "religion" and "Christianity" is merely social attitudes and has very little, if anything, to do with doctrine, creeds, or tenets. In other words, a lot to do with themselves and how they feel about their fellow man, and very little to do with God and how He feels about them. i.e. Godless religion. Thank you for your time. - B. W.

I think where you’re wrong is splitting hairs over the word “liberal”. I’m very sure Ann was not referring to the classical liberal philosophers, those who equated “liberal” with “liberty”. She was referring to modern socialists or “progressives”, who loathe everything about religion, especially the Judeo- Christian one, and masquerade under the label liberal. They are truly Godless. Sincerely, - Janice Littlepage

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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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that features informed opinion on current cultural issues.
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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