1 out of 4 stars
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Daniel Friedmann’s book The Biblical Clock: The Untold Secrets Linking the Universe and Humanity with God’s Plan, attempts to reconcile science and religion. Specifically, he tries to link Jewish Kabbalism to scientific theories about the origins of the Earth and the universe, while also predicting the timeline to the End of Days. It’s clear that the author is an extremely intelligent and well-read man. He is both an established religious scholar and talented engineer. The entire book is faithfully annotated and scattered with pictures, figures, and charts. This is clearly a labor of love and intellectual study. But does it actually succeed in convincing the reader? It doesn’t. Not really.
Throughout The Biblical Clock, Friedmann seems to desperately want it both ways. He attempts to drag you through the complicated logic behind his interpretation of scripture and natural history, picking and choosing obscure religious figures and texts to get where he needs to go. And once the conclusion is reached, he expects you to just accept it and take his word for it, despite at times blithely chucking aside the scientific discoveries he claims to want to reconcile and sticking to religious texts.
Friedmann’s logic, in turn, jumps around depending on what religious text he’s using to make his point. Worse, he agonizingly covers the instances where spiritual theories were adopted and dropped and adopted again without truly clarifying what theory he actually ascribes to. At one point, the author even contradicts himself on the very same page regarding the time of day God worked during the days of Genesis. Eventually he does have to lean on philosophical conjecture that can’t be proven by science in any way whatsoever, such as the creation of free will, to make his statements palatable. And at certain points, the author uses numerology to prove his points, elevating them to the same level as scientific fact.
Even the composition of the book as a whole is questionably arranged. Friedmann claims The Biblical Clock is divided into two parts: the origins of the universe and the End of Days. But in reality he jumps back and forth; from origins, to end times predictions and right back to origins again, like nothing happened. How can this possibly help his argument? On top of this, I still noticed formatting and typographical errors despite the painstaking effort put into it.
Despite these flaws, there were parts of the book I enjoyed reading. Friedmann’s snapshots into several points in history felt genuinely engaging. He truly excels at explaining Biblical history as an interconnected timeline of major events. I found myself accidentally learning more about the Bible...but as soon as it came back to him relating it to the natural world, I wanted to stop reading. Even the moments where he framed the explanations as part of a discussion were more enjoyable; I found myself wishing the entire book was written along these narrative lines. But that wasn’t the true focus of the book, and each time Friedmann reminded me of this I wanted to stop.
I enjoyed this book primarily for the Jewish history detailed within. If that were the whole of the book, I would’ve rated it so much higher. As it is, however, I have to rate it one out of four stars. Adherents to scripture will likely find it an interesting read, but for anyone else, it’s a frustrating misuse of science. In essence, this book is a thinly veiled sales pitch for Judaism--a last-ditch effort to convince science-minded people that religion really is for them after all. Knowing this, I can’t recommend this book.
The Biblical Clock
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