This weekend was the clash of the titans… Science vs Religion, acted out in a single Shabbos dinner. The setting was an unassuming house just a few blocks from Mayanot, at the home of Dr. Gerald Schroeder and his wife Barbara. While much of the battle was acted out in books that filled his shelves (and mine as well), it was one of the only places in the world where you will hear an observant Jew speak about dinosaurs and evolution at the Shabbos table.
Dr. Schroeder is a personal hero of mine, and if I can follow in his footsteps even a little bit, that would be the culmination of my entire life up until this point. He has his PhD in physics from MIT and has studied Torah for decades, but most impressively he managed to combine the two into a series of books that transforms any preconceived notions about both science and religion of anyone with an open mind.
As an engineer and a born-and-bred scientist, the most difficult part of becoming observant was figuring out what to do with my 18 years of education in the laws of nature. After much bashing of my own ego and humbling of my own intellect, I was able to understand that with our all powerful G-d, anything is truly possible. This doesn’t mean that I resorted to the literally biblical translation of Genesis, with no big-bang, no dinosaurs, and no cavemen. I did have a huge paradigm shift though, and it wasn’t long before I was searching for ways that G-d’s biblical creation and His scientific creation told the same story…
The answers lie in quantum physics.
For anyone unfamiliar with the scientific concepts, I can’t currently explain exactly how it works. But Dr. Schroeder has done a good job of expounding on those same thoughts for those with at least a preliminary understanding of both general relativity and the biblical account of creation. If you’re interested, I encourage you to read at least this article on his website, and if it’s your speed then please by all means, by one of his books 🙂
The fact that I was able to spend a Shabbos dinner with Dr. Schroeder was unreal. Add to that the fact that he was one of the cutest grandfatherly men I have ever met, and that his wife cooks amazing food, and it made for quite the enjoyable evening. On top of that, his son-in-law is the best Jazz composer in Israel (Daniel Zamir), and his wife is the public face of Hadassah International. We were dining in the presence of greatness!
Unfortunately the environment of the meal wasn’t conducive to intellectual conversations… There was a group of about 15 kids right out of high school that were visiting for the Young Judea Year-Course program, so it was never really quiet enough to speak of anything too serious. Dr. Schroeder did however speak a little bit about Carl Sagan and the Cosmos, as well as the verse in creation that speaks of pterodactyls… Yes, you read correctly 😉
I did manage to stop Dr. Schroeder on our way out the door to thank him for having us (myself, Irina my roomie, and Ariela, the other engineer at Mayanot) over for dinner. I also told him that I would really like to keep in touch with I’d like! I can’t wait… as soon as I finish reading his books, you can bet that I will be right back over!