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MIT Technology Review

Gerald Schroeder '59, SM '61, PhD '65

Nuclear scientist sees no God-science conflict

September 8, 2006

Nuclear scientist Gerald Schroeder ‘59, SM ‘61, PhD ‘65, sees no conflict between religion and science. On the contrary, he sees them as linked. He’s explored that link in several books, including Genesis and the Big Bang and The Science of God, and writes about the Bible and science for many prominent journals.

Gerald Schroeder ‘59, SM ‘61, PhD ‘65

“For years, I never considered the relationship,” Schroeder says. “Then, as our kids asked questions, I started to study biblical philosophy. The deeper I dug, the more amazing the confluence between ancient biblical commentary and modern scientific discoveries–with no bending of either the Bible or the science.”

Schroeder also sees little conflict between Judeo-Christian religion and the possession of nuclear weapons for national defense: “Unilateral nuclear disarmament is a path to global war,” he says. “Don’t just pray for peace. Work for peace.”

A chance meeting in 1962 with physics professor Robley Evans, a nuclear-medicine pioneer, led to
Schroeder’s thesis work on radioactivity. That research, in turn, led him to a role working with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission on disarmament and radiation control in the 1960s. Schroeder, who was also the first foreigner to serve as a science advisor for the People’s Republic of China after the Cultural Revolution, continues to consult with the governments of several nations. In addition, he lectures worldwide and teaches classes on science and the Bible at the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

Schroeder, who has lived in Israel since 1971, bicycles to work through old Jerusalem. The country “is a pressure cooker,” he says, but has a “fantastic emphasis on family and kids.” Schroeder and his wife, author Barbara Sofer, have five grown children.

His move to Israel–where he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science and then the Volcani Research Institute at the Hebrew University–followed seven years on MIT’s faculty, where he worked in the physics department’s radioactivity center.

“MIT opened every door,” Schroeder says. “It may have even convinced Barbara to marry me. I am fully beholden to MIT. Not the facts that we learned in the classes, but the approach to being willing to confront seemingly impossible problems.”