4 out of 4 stars
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How did the earth come to be? Is that a question for a scientist or a priest?
As soon as scientific and religious knowledge became separate subdivisions in the quest for truth, champions of each began fighting to prove their dominance and superiority over the other. Men of reason and men of faith have been in an embittered stalemate for quite some time. Maybe you believe one side has already come out victorious, exposing the other as utter nonsense. But are they really destined to always be on opposite sides of this never-ending war? What if creationism and modern scientific understanding are not so contradictory after all? What if science and religion could be reconciled? That’s the premise behind The Biblical Clock by Daniel Friedmann and Dania Sheldon.
Written in nonfiction narrative, this book takes you from 1290 Israel to 2009 Canada and back again uncovering puzzle pieces to seal the gap between ancient and modern understandings of our world.
We follow Daniel Friedmann’s investigation into the intersection of secular cosmology and ancient scripture. As an engineer and CEO of a space tech company and a lifelong student of religion (Jewish scripture in particular), this is a convergence that he’s uniquely qualified to explore, and a perspective that offers particular insight.
In Part One we follow one ancient thinker’s revelation from before its inception until it is written down, kept preserved through two world wars and a revolution, all the way to its translation and reemergence in the late ‘70s until Daniel discovers it for himself. That text, together with the help of a great many additional sources, launches a kabbalistic mathematical journey that incredibly lines up with the age of the universe as calculated by Hubble’s constant. Speaking of which, this is all happening while Daniel’s company is working on a project to repair the Hubble Telescope — the other extremely disparate method of coming up with the same numbers.
Part Two of the book looks at recorded history in the context of scriptural patterns in order to extrapolate a possible future, and Part Three briefly ties together loose threads, bringing science and scripture into a symbiotic resonance while reflecting on the purpose of life.
Compiling and connecting religious and scientific fact can get very dicey very quickly. What put my mind at ease and allowed me to trust this book was its own self-awareness and acknowledgments of its limitations. The author concedes personal bias upfront and outright. This text is not purporting to be the one and only truth to prove everyone else wrong. It is one man's journey of discovery, sharing how he found harmony in his secular and religious life. If you go into this book with the immutable opinion that religion is idiocy or a conviction that the Big Bang is blasphemous, you will become extremely frustrated. This book is about unifying scripture and modern astrophysical findings. If you’re unwilling to or uninterested in entertaining that marriage, then this is absolutely not the book for you.
That being said, anyone with a genuine interest in scholastic and religious perspectives on the creation of the world will find this an interesting and wonderfully informative read. No preexisting background knowledge is required (although it will certainly enrich the experience). The text is written in an academic style beautifully simplified into an easily digestible narrative form. There are also a number of aids for the lay reader including an extensive glossary (linked in the text of the ebook), maps of pertinent areas, and even pictures to help make archaic history more tangibly comprehensive and relatable.
The book is incredibly well-written and takes care to beautifully contextualize each of its points. Whether or not you will agree with anything in this book, I think it is an enlightening endeavor if read with an open mind.
If I had to make any criticism of the book, it would be that it is written from such a specific viewpoint. Although it is relevant to many other religious leanings, it is only peripherally so as the text only ever considers Judaism in its many facts and figures. That’s a bit of a weak criticism, however, since it was established from the beginning to be one man’s experience questioning the compatibility of faith and fact. One can hardly expect any one man to have multiple religious perspectives. Even so, some readers may find Chapter 10 (which is the only chapter that deals in hypothetical fiction rather than historical commentary) to be politically distasteful since Israel is depicted as the righteous Messiah and Russia, together with her allies, are the incarnation of evil. Again, it is presented as a possibility and not as fact, but I can assume it would be offensive to a Christian Russian reader.
I gave this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because it gives a comprehensive and immersive experience of its thesis in an easily understandable and charismatic form. Even though I did not agree with all of the ideas put forth, I came out of this reading feeling enlightened, enriched, and with a better understanding of my own beliefs both similar and dissimilar to the ones presented.
The Biblical Clock
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