Gerald Schroeder and his new variation on the “day-age” theory: Part 1

1 August 2000

Several months ago, Dr Gerald Schroeder was a two-time guest on the Zola Levitt TV program. The titles of the programs were: “In the Beginning” and “The Days of Creation.” Because we received a number of inquiries about these programs, We obtained and viewed the videos.

Dr Schroeder is a physicist from MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S.) who has resided in Israel for the past twenty years. Although he claims to believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, including six literal twenty-four hour days, it becomes clear that he is using a bizarrely non-literal meaning of the word “literal”. Rather, it turns out that his theory is nothing more than a new variation on the tired old “day-age” theory. That is because, like the older “day-age” theories, his theory asserts that the world really is the same age as evolutionists claim it is (currently perhaps 15 billion years old), but that we can arbitrarily divide that period into six age-long periods of time which he chooses to call “days.” Like more recent proponents of the “day-age” theory, he believes that God used the big bang, and that it started the “first day.” (See also What are some of the problems with the big bang theory? in our Q&A: Astronomy/Astrophysics section.)

According to Dr Schroeder, since the universe started in such a very tiny volume, the first twenty-four hour day was a time period of 8 billion years. As the universe continued to expand, the second day was only 4 billion years, the third day was 2 billion years, the fourth day was 1 billion years, the fifth day was 1/2 billion years and the sixth day was 1/4 billion years for a grand total of 15 3/4 billion years. He does not rest this choice of variable “day” lengths on any discernible scientific reasoning, nor does he offer any biblical basis for such a division. We are merely supposed to accept his re-definition of the word “day” and ignore all the biblical evidence (such as Genesis 1:5 and Exodus 20:8–11) that each creation day was essentially the same length of time as an ordinary day of the week today.

Moreover, Dr Schroeder’s arbitrary numbers are not consistent with each other. He chooses to divide the 15 billion years by the degree of expansion of the universe, which he defines as a million million (1,000,000,000,000), and then multiplying that by 365 for the number of days in a year. He states that the answer is approximately 6, proving his theory. However, the actual answer is 5.475, meaning that we have not yet completed the sixth day. Therefore, according to his theory, animals and humans should not be around.

Dr. Schroeder continues by saying that because we are in the “sixth day” of creation, the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of rest, has not yet occurred. However, Genesis 2:1–2 clearly states that God “ended his work”, “he rested”, and “he blessed it and sanctified it because in it he rested.” All of these statements are made in the past tense. How could this be if we are still in the sixth day as Dr. Schroeder claims?

Dr. Schroeder also states that the basic Hebrew root word for “evening” is “chaos” and the basic Hebrew root word for “morning” is “order.” He cites no Hebrew scholar supporting his view, which appears to many scholars to be without foundation. The Hebrew word for “evening” is ('ereb); it appears to have no relation to the word most scholars would expect for “chaos” (tohu). Similarly, the word for “morning” (boqer) has no discernible connection to the word we would expect for “order” (seder). Since Dr Schroeder offers no details supporting his alleged Hebrew word relationships, readers should not take him seriously on this point. (In any case, even if there were a root word relationship, there are logical fallacies and dangers involved in using word roots to interpret the Bible, which have led people astray on many issues. For a study of the Hebrew word tohu, see The alleged biblical evidence for a gap.)

Proceeding with this argument nonetheless, Dr. Schroeder asserts that this shows the universe started with the chaos of the big bang and was later ordered by God. Does this then mean that each “day” started with chaos and ended with order? Did things go through a six “day” cycle of chaos-to-order-to-chaos-to-order?

In Dr Schroeder’s creation scenario, the sun was actually created on Day Two. However, since the atmosphere was merely translucent, it could not be visibly discerned from the earth until the atmosphere became transparent on Day Four. In contrast, Genesis 1:14–19 clearly states that the sun and moon were made on Day Four and placed in the firmament. This is another standard claim of the old “day-age” theory, a claim which evaporates upon examination of the passages involved. For example, the biblical account does not use the Hebrew word for “appear” to say the sun and moon “appeared” on the fourth day. Instead, Genesis 1:16 says he “made” them then. [See the discussion in The sun: our special star, Note 1.

Read part 2 of this article.

CMI thanks Dr Russell Humphreys and Ron Samec for their contributions to this article.

For more information on “gap” and “day-age” theories, and the Genesis account, please go to Q&A: Compromise.

Published: 15 February 2006