Hebrew Voices #21 – A Physicist on the Nature of God (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of Hebrew VoicesA Physicist on the Nature of God, Nehemia Gordon explores the connection between science and the Bible with orthodox Jewish physicist Dr. Gerald Schroeder. According to Schroeder, there is no conflict between Torah and “teva” (nature), as the two complete one another. Schroeder explains the tradition that Moses was given only part of the Torah, the other part being hidden in nature, an idea introduced in the 12th century by Maimonides in “Guide to the Perplexed.”

We learn from Dr. Schroeder that some current scientists have accepted that the universe does appear to have a creator, but not one who cares. Schroeder and Gordon discuss how the flow of social history speaks to the necessity of a creator and that the Jews serve as a marker for a Creator who cares not just about them, but about all nations.  And we learn a coded phrase in the Tanakh revealing that God cares so much for his free-willed creatures that he has multiple plans for dealing with them.

And (but of course) Gordon and Schroeder discuss the name of God given in the Hebrew text and how centuries of translations have weakened the understanding of it, but how the nuances of ancient Hebrew reveal Yehovah to be an unlimited, dynamic God who cares, plans, reveals himself, and at times hides.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Download A Physicist on the Nature of God


Hebrew Voices #21 - A Physicist on the Nature of God

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Benjamin Netanyahu: Le ma’an Zion lo ekhesheh, u’l’ma’an Yerushalayim lo eshkot. (For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest. Isaiah 62:1)

Nehemia: Shalom, this is Nehemia Gordon. I am here in Jerusalem for the latest episode of Hebrew Voices with Dr. Gerald Schroeder. He has lived in Israel since 1971, emigrated, made aliya from the United States. He has a PhD, a doctorate that he got in 1965, a dual topic of nuclear physics and earth and planetary science.

He is a prominent author and teacher today on the topic of God and Science. In fact, one of his books here that I’m looking at right now is called The Science of God. He has another one called The Hidden Face of God. And this the one I hope we can spend the most time on. It’s called, God According to God, that’s really exiting.

His first book, though, was called Genesis and the Big Bang, and it was really revolutionary at the time. It was the first book on science and the Bible every published by a major, really secular publishing house, back in 1990, or something like that.

Gerald: Something like that, yeah. Around that time, yeah.

Nehemia: Wow. That’s really significant, because there were books like that, but they were always published by religious publishing houses, and this was published by a secular publishing house, a regular publishing house. And it’s still in print today, you told me.

Gerald: Yeah.

Nehemia: Which is unbelievable. I’m an author as well, and I know that for most publishing setups, the book is sold for 18 months, and then it becomes what they call a “back lister”, and it’s in the discount pile. Your book is still being sold and still being read by people, more importantly, after…

Gerald: 25 years.

Nehemia: …25 years, wow.

Gerald: It’s amazing.

Nehemia: That’s amazing.

Gerald: When I brought it to the publisher, they said the reason they’re buying it, because it was a big deal at that time, it was a gamble. He said, “If you come to me as Rabbi Schroeder, we wouldn’t have looked at the book.”

Nehemia: So, why did they do it?

Gerald: If you come to me as Professor Dr. Gerald Schroeder from MIT, we’re going to look at the book.

Nehemia: You got your PhD from MIT?

Gerald: Bachelors, Master’s and PhD.

Nehemia: Then when you moved to Israel, you worked at some really prestigious institutions. You worked at the Weitzman Institute, which has produced quite a number of Nobel Prize winners, a very prestigious institute. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which I maintain is the best university in the world – because that’s my alma mater. But definitely, in science and Biblical Studies, of course, what I learned. I studied there, it’s the best in the world. Today, you teach at Aish HaTorah, the College of Jewish Studies in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Gerald: Yeah.

Nehemia: What do you teach there?

Gerald: I teach there, I also give lectures in different places around the world. I teach there this integration. The Hebrew word is “shiluv”, the shiluv, the integration, the flowing together of science and Bible. In Hebrew it works nicely, Torah vateva. Torah being the Hebrew word for Bible, and teva being the word for nature.

Nehemia: People know the word “teva” because there’s a major pharmaceutical company that’s called in English “Teeva”, but it’s really “Teva”, which ironically means “nature”, even though they make pharmaceuticals. So, Torah and teva means “Torah, instruction”, which some people translate as “law”, and nature.

Gerald: The two come together.

Nehemia: Oh, nice – Torah and teva.

Gerald: It’s not a conflict. It’s not what does the Bible say versus what the science says. It’s what they both say. They’re two sources of information. They’re complimentary, they complete one another. Nehemia, it’s interesting, there’s a tradition that when the Bible was given to Moses on Sinai, he only got part of it. Part came down somehow - we have no idea how it was written, but it got imprinted in his brain, somehow - but the other part was hidden in nature. We’re not talking about the Oral Law. We’re not talking about this now.

Nehemia: Part of the Torah was hidden in nature? Wow.

Gerald: Yeah. That only when we understand the part of God that’s expressed in nature in the deepest sense in nature, can we understand the entire Bible. Maimonides says it straight out.

Nehemia: Really? I’ve never heard that. It’s very interesting. Okay, so that’s the teaching of Maimonides.

Gerald: Yeah, in 1190.

Nehemia: 1190, it’s in Maimonides famous book, Guide to the Perplexed, Moreh Nevuchim. You were telling me some interesting things about that that I hope we have time to get to.

I want to start with the video you have. It’s a five-minute video, and we’re going to share a link to it. We’re going to post it on the website, nehemiaswall.com. It’s a video called, Proof of God in Five Minutes, or something like that. It’s had like three million views. I was looking at the video. It’s shared on all kinds of Christian websites, Jewish websites, and all kinds of websites that aren’t Orthodox Jewish people from the Old City. What is the Proof of God in Five Minutes? You don’t have to give us the whole five-minute version. What is this proof of God? As we say in Hebrew, “Standing on one leg.”

Gerald: Yeah, standing on one... First of all, that’s three million, about a million are Jewish sites and two million are Christian sites. It’s really interesting, this interest… People are thirsty, I think, really thirsty. Proof of God in Five Minutes, is, I take data, totally, only and completely, data from the NASA website – NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Authority. They have a diagram of the flow of time of the universe from its creation through time. But I only deal with - because you’re talking about proof of God - the very great creation of the universe. I say in the video that the whole question of does science and Bible match is a non-starter because right in that diagram from NASA…

Nehemia: There’s proof of God.

Gerald: What it shows is that a force of nature creates the universe from absolute nothing. What’s interesting, if you take that in general terms, first of all, if a force of nature creates the universe from absolute nothing, that means this Force – now with a capital F – has to predate the universe, because it’s creating the universe from nothing.

So you’ve got a Force that creates the universe from nothing. The Force isn’t physical… the forces of nature - gravity may pull one rock towards another or keep us on our seat, but gravity itself is not physical.

You have a Force that predates the universe, which means it predates how we understand time, which means it’s outside of time. It’s not physical. It creates the universe from absolute nothing.

I’ll just say that in one sentence. A Force that is not physical, that’s outside of time, creates the universe from absolute nothing. If you haven’t noticed it, that’s the Bible’s definition of God.

Nehemia: So basically, on the NASA official diagram of how they understand the universe, they don’t say God, of course.

Gerald: God-forbid. [laughing]

Nehemia: But what they describe is what we call “God” in the Jewish tradition, and probably also in the Christian tradition.

Gerald: Absolutely. I’ve discussed this with so many multireligious groups. Yeah, it’s interesting. But I think most interesting is that I discussed this with “secular scientists”. They’ll say, “Okay, so it matches it. If you want to call that ‘God’ call it God.” Then they have another half of the sentence.

Nehemia: But…

Gerald: “But it wouldn’t be a God that would be interested in how the universe works after the creation. It would be a God, a deius God who creates the universe and then he goes off and has lunch, and watches the universe roll itself out.” Some people say, “That’s not enough.” Realize what it’s saying. That cup is half-full for the first time, the big-time secular, the names you know, the big-time secular scientists are willing to say, “The creation of the universe matches in general terms, the biblical creation of the universe.” Now the only question is the second half of the cup. But the cup is now half-full. It’s not half-empty, it’s half-full.

Nehemia: So the second half of the cup is, what is the nature of that God? But basically, there’s some kind of creative entity…

Gerald: Force.

Nehemia: A creative Force. It’s interesting, the way you’re describing it, because in my Jewish education we heard about how the philosophers, like from the story of the Kuzari, that the philosopher came before the King of the Khazars and he said, “Yeah, there’s a God but He doesn’t care. He’s done. He retired.”

The ancient Canaanites had a similar doctrine, as well. I don’t know if you know anything about that, we don’t have time to go into that. Basically, they had this doctorate that there was a creative being that created the universe, and then he went and retired on the mountain of the north and he left it to his son to rule the world, to Baal.

The Torah comes along and says, “No, the Creator of the universe cares about you individually, you the slave woman who’s hiding out in the desert, who’s praying to God. “Yishmael”, God hears. What you’re saying is they’re willing to stipulate part of it, but not for the other part, the actual nature of God. That we learn about from Scripture, right?

Gerald: Yeah.

Nehemia: Is that what you would say?

Gerald: I would say look around the world and see if it seems that it’s just random, or it looks like it’s a flow. Moses, in Deuteronomy chapter 32 verse 7 says essentially, “If you want to figure out if there’s a God in this world or not, “Zechor yemot olam, bino shnot dor vador.” “Zechor yemot olam,” “remember the days of old.” That’s the creation, the six days of Genesis. “Remember the days of old.” “Bino shnot dor vador,” or “look at the flow of social history.”

So Moses gives two keys about God active in the world, not the creation now, we’ve got the creation, that’s satisfied. “Remember the six days.” Genesis chapter 1 describes the flow of the universe. Does that make sense?

Or if you don’t know enough science, then look at “bino shnot dor vador,” then look at the flow of social history. Does it look like, to you, that the flow of social history makes sense? As a Jew, I’ll use my own example right now.

Nehemia: Please, yeah.

Gerald: The position of this miniscule people, when you look at the population of China, there’s a population of… who knows, 10 billion, plus or minus 300 million. In that plus or minus you’ve got 10 times the amount than you’ve got Jews in the world. [laughing]

Nehemia: It’s actually, the population of the US - their margin of error.

Gerald: [laughing] Exactly, there margin of error. As a Jew, remember “chosen” or “holy” doesn’t mean special, it means visible. And the Jews, I think, are a marker in the world that God is… God cares about all nations. It’s very clear right from the beginning, there’s no question. We see that constantly. Nehemia, when I get carried away with this, I just…

Nehemia: Get carried away. Go on. This is the program, Hebrew Voices, about hearing authentic things that people have to say, and share it.

Gerald: This idea that people have that, “Oh, the Bible really just says that the Jews think only of the Jews.” That’s completely not biblical. I’ll give you two examples. We come out of Egypt in the Exodus, and then being the nudniks sometimes that we are, God-forbid…

Nehemia: That’s a nag in English.

Gerald: Yeah, we built a golden calf. For 40 days, realize, it’s 40 days after all the miracles, we’re building golden calves already. God hits the roof and says to Moses, “I’m going to wipe them out.” But God says something interesting. He says to Moses, “Hanicha li,” “Leave Me alone so I can wipe them out.” Now, God has to ask Moses to leave Him alone? Obviously not. But then, Moses – and I hope this doesn’t sound like heresy – Moses reads to God the facts of life. Moses says the following thing to God:

“You know, God? You’re certainly powerful enough to wipe them out. But if you wipe them out, the Egyptians will say that You took them out of the desert just to kill them.” Well, that’s a rather strange argument. Who cares about the Egyptians? You know who cares about the Egyptians? God. God backs down. You take the text as it’s written, that’s according to what God has to say, God actually backs down and says, “You’re right. I’m going to destroy the people that prayed to the calf, the others not.”

The exact same thing, Nehemia, happens several months later, then it leads to the 40 years in the desert. The Israelites are about to go into the land. The 12 spies come back and 10 of them say, “It’s a great land, but they’re all giants. Let’s go back to Egypt.” There’s a nuance there, also. Only the men say, “Go back.” The women don’t. None of the women died in the desert except Miriam. All the women survived. You can look at the wording. We don’t have time for all this, it’s so beautiful, this stuff.

Anyway, God says to Moses, “This time I’m going to wipe out the entire congregation. I’m going to build you another congregation that’s better.”

Nehemia: Better for Moshe, for Moses?

Gerald: Yes, for Moses. Moses again says the facts of life. “God, You have the power to do that, but it’s not in Your best interests, because if You wipe us out now, the nations of the world…” Get this, Nehemia. “The nations of the world will say, ‘You wiped them out because You weren’t strong enough to bring them into Canaan to defeat the Canaanites.’” God says, “You’re right.”

Nehemia: Is all this to say that God’s interaction in history with the people of Israel is for the world to see? Meaning, that’s the whole purpose of it, or a major purpose of it.

Gerald: For the world to see, because God is interested in the world knowing there’s a God. Why would God care about the nations saying… God takes the argument of Moses that nations will say, “You’re a wimp.” And God doesn’t want to be seen as a wimp. So, God says, “Okay, those that said to go back to Egypt, they’re going to be gone, but everybody else is going to come in.”

So consistently, the argument, the trump card as it were, that Moses pulls out of the deck each time to save the people is, “The nations of the world will say…” Who cares about the nations of the world? God cares a lot. The Jews may be markers, I think. I hope I’m not offending anyone…

Nehemia: What do you mean by “markers”? It’s a scientific term? What’s that in plain English?

Gerald: We stand out. We stand out. I hate to say it, maybe I shouldn’t even say it, so I won’t. But there are some phenomenally wonderful people that happen to be Jewish, like Einstein, Michaelson, Morley, Salk, and Sabin, and all those things, and Nobel Prize winners. There are also some cruddy ones, also. But they all stand out.

Nehemia: We won’t name those. [laughing]

Gerald: I don’t want to name them. [laughing] I could name them, but I don’t want to name them.

Nehemia: We won’t do that, go on.

Gerald: I’m just saying, because that’s the statement. In Deuteronomy 32:7, “Remember the days of old…” Social history is one of the markers. You don’t have to know science to see the full story.

Nehemia: And by social history, in this case, you mean the history of the Jewish people and God’s interaction with the people of Israel in history, is that what you’re saying?

Gerald: Yes. For a Christian they might see…

Nehemia: For anybody who’s listening… We’re two Jews sitting here. From our perspective… I would say this. I don’t know if you’re saying this. People ask, “Why do you believe in God?” One of the reasons for me is, I look at the history of my people and I read about it in Deuteronomy and the blessing and the curse, and in the Prophets, how we can be a light to the nations, or we can be a “mashal ushininah”, a proverb and a byword. If we’re bad, then we’re going to be punished, and the whole world will look at us, and it’ll be an example of God’s judgement.

Both have been seen in history, even in modern history. For me, I think that’s what you’re saying – or at least that’s what I take from it is– what you’re calling “social history” – as opposed to scientific history, I guess, or natural history – the history of the people of Israel is proof of God’s existence in the world, according to Moses even, you’re saying in Deuteronomy 32? Is that fair to say?

Gerald: Yeah.

Nehemia: You talk about this more in the book, God According to God. We’ll have a link for this on the website, nehemiaswall.com. The subtitle is, A Scientist Discovers We’ve Been Wrong About God All Along.

Gerald: We changed it to another subtitle. [laughing]

Nehemia: You changed the subtitle. You added a second subtitle. What the Bible Really Tells Us About God. [laughing] We’ve been wrong about God all along. That’s controversial, but it’s probably true.

You made a statement to me about that book, which I have to quote. You said, “I don’t want to learn what my rabbis or theologians say about God.” I hope everybody listening to that agrees at least about the theologian part. “I want to know what the Bible says about God.” I have this Christian friend who hears something like this and he’ll always say, “Amen!”

Gerald: Amen.

Nehemia: I’m going to say, “Amen ve’Amen.” What you said is it matches the world, such as accidents, and we’re going to get to the six days of creation. We must get to that.

But first, I want to talk about this. I see on your wall here it says, “Toll in the Asian tsunami continues to swell.” You brought the tsunami in 2004 as an example of how when you look at what the Bible really says about God, it matches what we see in the world, such as accidents and tsunamis. Tell us about that. What is that?

Gerald: First of all, we see this famous crucial statement in Exodus chapter 3 verse 14, “Eheyeh asher eheyeh, I will be that which I will be.” When Moses asks God’s name, God says, “I will be that which I will be.” Not, “I am that I am.” Compare the sentences in the Bible.

Nehemia: In the English Bibles it usually says, “I am that which I am.” In the Hebrew it says, “Eheyeh asher eheyeh.” And you were telling me about an experience you had at a Papal…

Gerald: Conference.

Nehemia: A Papal conference. Tell us about that. It’s amazing. [laughing]

Gerald: The Pope was not present. It was about six or seven years ago.

Nehemia: But he sponsored it, or something.

Gerald: Yeah. It was in Rome, and a scholar from an English-speaking country – I don’t like to even degrade the country. Okay, it wasn’t the United States. [laughing] He’s from one of the major universities, and he says the key statement. He’s the representative of this. The key statement about God and the entire Bible is Exodus chapter 3 verse 14. My mind is grinding, grinding. I don’t remember what it was. Then he says, “I am that I am.” I almost fell off my chair when he said that, because…

In any event, the irony of this is, the Hebrew, as Nehemia just said, “Eheyeh asher eheyeh,” the question is, is it “I am that I am” or “I will be that which I will be”? Because the Bible says, “I will be that I which I will be.” Now, the “I am that I am” comes from the Septuagint, 2,200 years ago. The Septuagint comes from the Hebrew into the Greek, then the Greek went into the Latin, Augustine, and then the Latin went into the English, 1611, the King James. You’ve got like a telephone here, things that you…

Nehemia: So this guy’s speaking in English, he’s basing it on the Septuagint translated from Hebrew into Greek. Then Jerome translating the Septuagint from Greek into Latin, the Vulgate, and now the Vulgate is translated into English. So he ends up with, “I am that which I am” instead of “Eheyeh asher eheyeh,” which is a pretty important statement. You’re saying it means, “I will be that which I will be.”

Gerald: The irony is, that’s Exodus chapter 3 verse 12. In Exodus chapter 3…

Nehemia: That’s 14. You were saying in 12 it says…?

Gerald: I beg your pardon, Exodus chapter 3 verse 14. Go back two sentences. We just did this in class a few hours ago. Even if you don’t know Hebrew, if you get a Hebrew text you can look at the shapes of the letters. Even if you don’t know the letters, you will notice that the same word “Eheyeh” appears in Exodus chapter 3 verse 12 two sentences earlier. “I will be with you.” Nehemia, you were quoting this phrase is…

Nehemia: It’s actually a theme throughout the entire Bible, “Eheyeh imach,” or “Eheyeh imachem, I will be with you.”

Gerald: And what is it always? “I will be.”

Nehemia: I will be, right.

Gerald: Always the future, “I will be, Eheyeh.” And so two sentences earlier of the “I am that I am,” the identical I am is translated as, “I will be,” because that’s what it means. The text says, “I will be that which I will be.”

Nehemia: What’s the difference between “I am” and “I will be?”

Gerald: I am is a picture of a whole God. It’s fixed. We don’t like that kind of…

Nehemia: He’s a static God. I am that which I am.

Gerald: Yeah, it’s static. We don’t want it…

Nehemia: Then what’s “Eheyeh asher eheyeh?”

Gerald: It’s a dynamic God. God sometimes hides God’s face. God can pull back.

Nehemia: What does it mean, for those who don’t know, “God hides His face?”

Gerald: God is always present. But God’s manifestation sometimes is hidden. So we can say, “How could God let that happen?”

Nehemia: If somebody says, “Where was God in the tsunami?” the answer is, “God hid His face”? What’s the answer?

Gerald: That accidents happen in this world, and God lets them happen, and things sometimes step in, one way or the other. I think it was one of these major talk programs, Dennis Prager or one of the talk programs. What we concluded was that although God can cause floods, not all floods are caused by God.

Nehemia: Okay.

Gerald: Nature is also active in the world. Even the ancient commentaries, like 1,800 years ago, the Talmud, this commentary on the Bible, talks about “accidents happening”. And God just doesn’t always micromanage the universe. I know there are persons that hold by that, but that’s not the biblical God. I’m sorry, you can see it very clearly. 10 generations from Adam to Noah, people are living to 900 years.

Please, anyone listening, don’t get hung up. Could it be 900? Just let it all be a metaphor, but it’s in there to teach. People were living to 900 years, at which point in Chapter 6 verse 7 of Exodus, right before Noah, God says in Yiddish, “Oy, vey.”

Nehemia: [laughing] No, He doesn’t say, “Oy, vey”! What does He say?

Gerald: He says, “nachamti”, “I regret.” Now, nachamti has three English…

Nehemia: That’s the source of my name, Nehemia. Okay, go on. I’m regretful, but… [laughing]

Gerald: Regret, repent, or reconsider. That’s not the average child’s picture of God. But God says, “nachamti,” “I regret or I reconsider. I see this situation differently now. 900-year-old people were a bad idea.” And God brings on the flood. Again, let it be a metaphor. We don’t have time to get into it, I don’t think it is.

Nehemia: So you believe it’s literally 900-whatever years, 969 years?

Gerald: Yeah, for sure.

Nehemia: I do, too.

Gerald: Otherwise, the calendar wouldn’t work. Anthropology, which shows the Bronze Age predates the flood, and you can add up those years, those 900 years, and it matches these. Tubulcain, one of Cain’s progeny, invents these sophisticated casting of metals, it says it point blank. And it matches, when you add up the years by looking at parallel ages, it matches the Bronze Age that the archeologists… They don’t call them archaeologists, what do they call them? People that dig up…

Nehemia: Anthropologists.

Gerald: Anthropologists, right.

Nehemia: Anthropologists dig up bones of pre-humans, what they call “pre-humans”. It’s what they call “pre-humans”.

Gerald: Okay, well this is way before…

Nehemia: Archaeologists dig up human remains.

Gerald: Forget it, it’s nothing. In any event, the Bronze Age matches Tubulcain, when you look at this. That’s pre-flood.

Nehemia: So God says, “nichamti”, which by the way, also can me, “I comfort”, but not in this context.

Gerald: Yeah, how do we know? Because nichamti is also used in the first Book of Samuel. God chooses Saul to be king and Samuel anoints him, anoints Saul. Saul is the first king of Israel. Saul messes up and God says “nachamti”. “I regret having chosen…”

Nehemia: So does it mean God changed His mind? What does it mean?

Gerald: I think what it means is – and there are a few key words in the Bible that point to this, and one of them is, “Vayehi acharei hadevarim haeilu,” “and it came to pass after these things.” What things? It’s like a code word, a code phrase, that God has set up several possible choices, and we humans choose which of those choices. So God has Plan A – 900-year-old people, it wouldn’t be bad to live 900 years.

Nehemia: We’ll try that. [laughing]

Gerald: Yeah, we tried that one. Okay, that plan didn’t work, so now God goes to Plan B, 90 or 100-year-old people. God presses the reset button, so go to Plan B.

Nehemia: What does “nichamti” mean in this context? What do you think?

Gerald: Nachamti means in this context – which I hope the speakers don’t explode at this point – “nachamti” means, “I am a dynamic God. I pulled back. I let the system run. We tried to see how it would work. It didn’t work. I regret having this system. I will reconsider having this 900-year-old system.”

Then the flood comes. The conditions around the world change. There was the debate whether it was diet, whether it was climate, whatever – conditions around the world change. Look at the data. In my books, I plot the data. My son, Joshie, plotted them for me.

Nehemia: Which book is this in?

Gerald: In The Science of God.

Nehemia: The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder.

Gerald: It shows gradually that the age spans drop, not bingo, but they drop.

Nehemia: So this is God saying, “We tried plan A.” Nichamti means, “Now I’m a dynamic God. Now, I’m going to try Plan B.”

Gerald: Yeah, look this is it. This is 10 generations from Noah to Abraham, 10 generations. This is Noah’s lifespan.

Nehemia: This is on page 16 of the book, The Science of God, this graph.

Gerald: In this print, whatever print, whatever print that you have.

Nehemia: Oh, these are different printings.

Gerald: But notice gradually, the lifespan has dropped from a very large number down to numbers we know today. So what? So it isn’t like God changed God’s mind, if you want to put it that way. It’s that there are several plans set up. We choose the road and then God says, “Okay, Plan B, if that’s the plan you want okay, we’ll take that plan. You don’t like that, we’ll try Plan A. If that doesn’t work, who knows?” God-forbid, maybe there’s a Plan C up the road, we don’t know what about yet. But with disagreements, with politics going on, there may be a Plan C.

Nehemia: So basically, you’re saying this idea of nichamti in Genesis is God as a dynamic God, as opposed to the Greek idea. The reason that’s interesting to me is that when I studied Jewish philosophy, really it was the idea of God as static. And because God’s static, He can’t really experience love the way we experience love. He can’t experience anger, because that would mean a second before He wasn’t angry, and therefore He was incomplete.

Greek philosophy really does describe God in the static way. I used to ascribe to that, but I’ve come to the conclusion of exactly what you say, without reading it. Now, I need to go read your book, because God is a dynamic God. And I think that’s the God we see in the Tanakh, and what we try to do, what my tradition tries to do, is to try to force God into this Greek philosophical paradigm which comes across in the Septuagint as, “I am that which I am. This is what I am. There’s nothing more to it.”

In the Hebrew it’s “Eheyeh asher Eheyeh, I will be that which I will be.” My background is in Biblical studies, and one of the things I learned is that in Biblical Hebrew you don’t have past, present and future the way you do in modern Hebrew. For any verb you have what’s called “perfect and imperfect”, and Eheyeh is the imperfect, which is what they call a “continual verb”. So the better translation, maybe more accurate translation of “Eheyeh” is “I am now and I will continue to be in the future”, which is difficult to translate into English and modern Hebrew.

But boy, does that express that God is a dynamic God. So I really love that you shared that. I do want to point out, the verse that you were talking about was Genesis 5:6 through 8, and there it says twice, once it says, “vayinachem Hashem ki asa et ha’aadam,” “and God, the Lord, regretted that He made man,” or this word “nichem”, which as I mentioned, is related to my name. And it could mean, “He was comforted.” But you’re saying it means “regret” or…

Gerald: Right, before the flood.

Nehemia: That’s right. Then it says again in verse…

Gerald: Chapter 6 verse 7.

Nehemia: Yeah, in verse 7.

Gerald: Chapter 6 verse 7.

Nehemia: Oh, I’m sorry, 6:5 through 8, so this is verse 7. It says, “ki nichamti, ki asitim, for I regret,” or maybe, “I am comforted.”

Gerald: It’s a direct statement. It’s not a parenthetical statement. It’s God speaking.

Nehemia: God’s speaking. When He says “nichmati”, what does He mean? Of course, this is a bigger topic that we can possibly get into. But people, for their homework, should go look at Numbers 23 verse 19, where it says about God that He is a not a man that He should lie, and not the son of man that He should “itnacham”, that He should change His mind. And the context there is that when God says He’s going to do something, He’s going to do it. I guess, here the issue is, He didn’t say He was going to do it. He said, “I’m going to try this.” When it didn’t work He says, “I’m going to try something else.”

Gerald: It’s a totally dynamic…

Nehemia: Yeah. But you would agree, if God says something, He says, “This is forever,” then it’s really going to be forever.

Gerald: Yes. “Ze shmi le’olam,” “this is My name forever.” But remember, “le’olam” has three meanings, and that’s, I bring…

Nehemia: Is that in the book? Which book is that in?

Gerald: I don’t remember, I haven’t read my books in a while.

Nehemia: There’s a book called The Hidden Face of God.

Gerald: It might be in there.

Nehemia: The Science of God. Another book called God According to God, which I’ve got to read, and Genesis and the Big Bang.

Gerald:Zeh shemi le’olam,” “This is shmi, My name, le’olam, forever.” Olam has three meanings – forever. Le’olam…

Nehemia: In the universe.

Gerald: The universe.

Nehemia: And hidden.

Gerald: And hidden. “This is My name forever, hidden in the universe,” in one word. “This is My name forever.” It says that sentence, it says, “This is My name forever hidden, in other words held within the universe, and if you want to know Me, find out how the universe works.”

Nehemia: So you’re actually saying it’s a Torah imperative to study science in order to understand the nature of God, is that what you’re saying?

Gerald: Maimonides, the introduction to the Guide for the Perplexed, you remember people burned his books.

Nehemia: Let me stop you there. This was a rabbi who wrote a book in 1190, and other Jews burned his books because they were so controversial.

Gerald: They were controversial because they didn’t have this pigeonhole idea of God. But they misunderstood. When Maimonides said, “The only way you can know God is to know science,” he makes a point-blank statement. But he didn’t say, “To be a good human being you have to know God.” To be a good human being, just do what the Torah says, “Don’t do this, do that. Don’t do this, do that.”

Nehemia: But you might not know God.

Gerald: Yeah, but you still could be a good human being. But if you want to know God, that was the mistake. That was your mistake. He thought to be a good human being, you had to know about God. Because Moshes Maimonides was a physician and a philosopher. He was the physician to the head of Egypt, to the king of Egypt at the time, which was a dangerous position to have, because if the king gets sick and you’re his doctor, you’ve got a problem…

Nehemia: You kill the doctor. [laughing]

Gerald: Yeah. In any event, he says, “We all want to understand God, but to do that you have to know ‘madah Elokut,’ the science of God.”

Nehemia: The science of divinity, really, or knowledge of divinity.

Gerald: If you want to know madah Elokut, the first thing you have to do is to know madah teva, those were his words, madah teva, the science of nature.

Nehemia: So you’re saying in Exodus 3:15, the very next verse, when it says, “This is My name le’olam,” it means, “This is My name forever hidden in the universe,” and basically that’s a Torah commandment, in a sense, or a statement, that if you really want to know God and the essence of His name, you have to study science. Wow.

Gerald: Absolutely. Look at the...

Nehemia: I don’t know that I agree with it, but it’s profound. [laughing]

Gerald: It’s right here on my shelf, there are a couple of cups. I actually got that from some series I did with a Christian group in Texas, they have a group called The Bottom of the Cup. It’s worth looking into. On these coffee mugs here, it’s a quote from Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Laureate, 1932, quantum physics, the first of the major…

Nehemia: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

Gerald: Yeah. Your iPhone works because of Heisenberg and Schrodinger, Planck and Einstein. Otherwise, you don’t have an iPhone.

Nehemia: I have a Samsung Galaxy.

Gerald: That’s what I have, also.
Nehemia: Does that work without it?

Gerald: No, that doesn’t work without it either. It’s all of high tech. Heisenberg writes the following: “The first swallow from the cup of the natural sciences makes atheists. But at the bottom of the cup, God is waiting.”

Nehemia: [laughing] Wow! That’s awesome. I think on that note we’re going to end this part. People will not forgive me if we don’t come back and talk in the second part, and there’s going to be a follow-up - we’re going to sit here and continue to record, but they’re going to hear it at a future time - we have to talk about The Six Days of Creation, which was your first book.

But, wow, this has been an amazing discussion. I’m really thankful. Thank you, Dr. Schroeder. How can people… if they’re in Jerusalem is there any way they can come and hear you teach? Is that a possibility?

Gerald: Classes are wide open for my sessions. All you’d have to do is to ask for Aish HaTorah, it means “the Fire of Torah”. Jews, Christians, Muslims…

Nehemia: So, aish.com they can go to and find out about your classes?

Gerald: Yeah, right.

Nehemia: Or they can call Aish? Jews, Christians and Muslims can come? You don’t have to be an Orthodox Jew, wearing a kippa?

Gerald: No.

Nehemia: Anybody can come?

Gerald: Come dressed however you are. You ask for where the Essentials program is.

Nehemia: The Essentials program.

Gerald: The Essentials program, and they’ll let you come in.

Nehemia: Wow, that’s awesome.

Gerald: While you’re there, you want to go up and see it from the roof of the building. It’s got the best view of Jerusalem.

Nehemia: Also, come to nehemiaswall.com. I’m going to have links to his numerous books and to his video, The Five-Minute Proof of God, or whatever it’s called. Guys, we’re going to be back and we’re going to do another episode. Then we’re going to talk about in the next episode, [laughing] what I wanted to talk about from the very beginning, which is the six days of creation and how that fits with science. Until then, shalom from Jerusalem with Hebrew Voices.

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Show Notes:

Dr. Gerald Schroeder earned his PhD degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in two fields: Earth Sciences and Physics. Schroeder served for five years on the staff of the MIT Department of Physics. In 1971, he moved to Israel where he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Volcani Research Institute, while also having a laboratory at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to his current work in radiation control, he teaches at Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies, is the author of five bestselling books, and he lectures on the extraordinary confluence of modern science and ancient Biblical commentary.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder's Books:
Genesis and the Big Bang
God according to God
The Hidden Face of God
The Science of God
Genesis One

Verses Mentioned:
Deuteronomy 32:7
Genesis 1
Exodus 32:7-14
Exodus 3:14-15
Exodus 3:12
Genesis 5:27
Genesis 4:22
1 Samuel 15:11
Genesis 6:5-8
Numbers 23:19

  • Margo Moore says:

    Fantastic interview. My math teacher niece and my chemistry teacher niece really need this info. B & N, here I come!

    Nehemiah, could you provide a translation of something in your musical lead-in? A man with a lovely fruity baritone voice says something like this:
    “Mann Tsion Leute schoen. Ouleh maneh ou Shalayim leuscht gut.” Sounds like Yiddish because it resembles German, which I have studied a little. I know Tsion is Zion, Leute is people, gut is good. Can’t recall what Shallayim is, and the rest I just don’t know. And the man—all men should have such a voice!
    I hope you can bring some clarity. Thanks!

  • Josef Lindholm says:

    All of this is not based on anything, sad to say.

  • jb smith says:

    The Young Earth believers are strictly literal when it comes to the first six days of creation. Each of the first six days is a literal 24-hour earth day, they say. Thus they believe that the heavens and the earth and all that are in them were created in the first six revolutions of the earth itself.

    To Old Earth believers the term “day” is not literal but figurative, like in the “day of the dinosaur”. So six figurative days could equate to the literal billions of years that science tells us have elapsed since creation began.

    My own belief is that the creation story is written from God’s point of view, so the first six days are six of His days, six heavenly days. Each heavenly day begins in darkness and chaos and ends in light and order. Each heavenly day goes from something not existing to something existing in the universe for the first time.

    None of the first heavenly days was observed by man, only by God. God, being external to our earthly realm, is not constrained by the length of our “days”.

    • Yeshayah says:

      Given the context, history and language, six literal erev vevokerim are just that. Any person that tries to mix evolutionary long time periods with the Tanakh has to betray one side or the other. Evolutionary theists would be hard pressed to actually define their “six periods of time” with something tangible, and can only offer a vague and unconvincing explination to fit their premise. As far as the dinosaurs are concerned, and other larger scale examples of currently existing animals ie. giant dragonflies, they were covered during the flood which covered the earth for over a year. The earth was one land mass, with a relatively flat terrain (which was easier to flood). Most of the water came from underneath the ground which had the effect of seperating continents and creating enormous mountains, all of which bear fossilized remains of marine life to this day. Certain effects of the flood included the layers we see today along with massive canyons in which water drained quickly. This did not take millions of years, and a recent example of these processes in action occurred during the Mt. St. Helens eruption. Radiometric dating of Uranium, Thorium, Potassium, and Argon include several assumptions and presume long ages, a closed system free from contaminants, and a fabricated knowledge of the beginning amount of unstable isotopes. And were a person to use Carbon dating on organic material, such as dinosaur bones, they will constantly and repeatably obtain results that declare thousands, not milluons of years. When dinosuar bones are dissolved, they reveal intact cells and nuclei, and are just as elastic as something that died recently. Not to mention thousands of years of firsthand written accounts of these creatures and sculptures, mosaics, carvings, and drawings. And the irreconcilable kicker: the clear statement of the sun, moon and stars being created 4 days after the earth. So…what science are you referring to and more importantly, what bible?

      • daniel says:

        Ditto, and well said! Might I add that on the sixth day YHVH saw that everything he made was ‘very good’, as Death had not yet entered Creation. So, if I’m to believe a thousand years equals a creation-day, there were thousand-year-old birds and fish all over the place before Adam was created? No, my God is powerful enough to do it all just the way it’s recorded.

  • Judith says:

    Wow!! I see that Yehovah has knitted together Torah and Nature. Separate them and you open the door for Evolutionists who deny the 10 words to have science creation as a false god who is worldwide worshiped. But Yehovah is the mighty thin voice of action faithfully releasing to expose the evolution fantasy to all who have a heart to seek him. Oh that Yehovah may open the eyes of the children so that they may find the love of Abba Father which can never be found without our Spirit Creator.
    Emet!!!!!!! We are so blessed in this time of great knowledge of our Yehovah Elohim. Thankyou Nehemiah and Dr Schroeder for your faithfulness to Yehovah!!!!!

  • Sarah says:

    I loved this interview! Cannot wait to dive into his books!

  • Krys says:

    Thank you Nehemia, for having Dr. Schroeder on your program. I’ve been reading his books for years, way before I knew about you or the Messianic movement. He is awesome, and so are you for presenting his work. As always, Shalom Brother!

  • Walter Schwenk says:

    A transcript for this interview would be really nice. Dr Schroeder is a flood of knowledge and understanding, but it comes so fast it is hard to catch.

  • Walter Schwenk says:

    Thanks again Nehemia, for posting this interview again. Soon after, I ordered all four of Dr Schroeder’s books, used, from abebooks. Total cost less the 19$, first one came today, “god according to god”. Going to go read some of it soon!

    • Walter Schwenk says:

      Double thanks! Schroeder’s material is the best thing (after Yah’s mercies) ever happened to this ex-atheist. Reading his books day and night!

  • Catherine says:

    This was profound!!! Thank you for this interview!!!

  • Paulette Gray says:

    God does not mislead us – we can misunderstand and God talks to us in our language when He wants us to understand and by asking us to look at nature He expects us to be able to understand.