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«God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God? By: John C. Lennox Preface  Why is there something rather than nothing? Why, in particular, does the ...»

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God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?

By: John C. Lennox

Preface

 Why is there something rather than nothing? Why, in particular, does the

universe exist? Where did it come from and where, if anywhere, is it

heading? Is it itself the ultimate reality behind which there is nothing or is

there something ‘beyond’ it? Can we ask with Richard Feynman: ‘What is

the meaning of it all?’ Or was Bertrand Russell right when he said that ‘The

universe is just there, and that’s all’? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker:

Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 7]  Is human life ultimately only one, admittedly improbable, but nevertheless fortuitous, arrangement of atoms among many? In any case, how could we be in any sense special since we now know that we inhabit a tiny planet orbiting a fairly undistinguished star far out in an arm of a spiral galaxy containing billions of similar stars, a galaxy that is only one of billions distributed throughout the vastness of space? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 7]  Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University, while acknowledging the religious element in the history of the genesis of science, defends this view with characteristic vigour: ‘Science, the system of belief founded securely on publicly shared reproducible knowledge, emerged from religion. As science discarded its chrysalis to become its present butterfly, it took over the heath. There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence. Only the religious – among whom I include not only the prejudiced but the underinformed – hope there is a dark corner of the physical universe, or of the universe of experience, that science can never hope to illuminate. But science has never encountered a barrier, and the only grounds for supposing that reductionism will fail are pessimism on the part of scientists and fear in the minds of the religious.’ [‘The Limitless ]1[ Power of Science’ in Nature’s Imagination – The Frontiers of Scientific Vision, Ed. John Cornwell, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995 p. 125] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 8]  So, is naturalism actually demanded by science? Or is it just conceivable that naturalism is a philosophy that is brought to science, more than something that is entailed by science? Could it even be, dare one ask, more like an expression of faith, akin to religious faith? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 9]  Why are they now so convinced that atheism is the only intellectually tenable position? Is it really true that everything in science points towards atheism?

Are science and atheism such natural bedfellows? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 10]  Suppose we were to ask the parallel questions: Is theism science? Is atheism science? Most people would give a negative answer. But if we were now to say that what we are really interested in is whether there is any scientific evidence for theism (or for atheism), then we are likely to be faced with the

reply: Why, then, did you not say so? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker:

Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 12]  Is there any scientific evidence for design? If this is how the question should be understood, then it should be expressed accordingly in order to avoid the kind of misunderstanding exhibited by the statement made in the Dover trial ‘that ID is an interesting theological argument, but that it is not science.’ [Kitzmiller, 400 F.Supp.2d 707, 746.] [John C.

Lennox: God’s Undertaker:

Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 12]  In a fascinating article, ‘Public Education and Intelligent Design’ [Philosophy & Public Affairs, Wiley InterScience, Vol. 36, Issue 2, 2008], Thomas Nagel of New York, a prominent atheist professor of philosophy, writes: ‘The purposes and intentions of God, if there is a god, and the nature of his will, are not possible subjects of a scientific theory or scientific explanation. But that does not imply that there cannot be scientific evidence for or against the intervention of such a non-law-governed cause in the natural order.’ [op. cit.

p. 190.]... ‘ID is very different from creation science.’ [op. cit. p. 196.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc ]2[ 2009, Page 12]  The question that is central to this book turns out to be in essence a worldview question: which worldview sits most comfortably with science – theism or atheism? Has science buried God or not? Let us see where the evidence leads.

[John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 14]

1. War of the Worldviews  Oxford Chemistry Professor Peter Atkins writes: ‘Humanity should accept that science has eliminated the justification for believing in cosmic purpose, and that any survival of purpose is inspired only by sentiment.’ [‘Will science ever fail?’ New Scientist, 8 Aug 1992, pp. 32–35.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 15]  Richard Dawkins goes a step further. He regards faith in God as an evil to be eliminated: ‘It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, “mad cow” disease and many others, but I think that a case can be made that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.’ [‘Is science a religion?’ The Humanist, Jan/Feb 1997, pp. 26–39.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 15, 16]  Dawkins: ‘scientific belief is based upon publicly checkable evidence, religious faith not only lacks evidence; its independence from evidence is its joy, shouted from the rooftops’. [Daily Telegraph Science Extra, Sept 11, 1989.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 16]  Francis Collins says of Dawkins’ definition that it ‘certainly does not describe the faith of most serious believers in history, nor of most of those in my personal acquaintance’. [The Language of God, New York, Free Press, 2006 p. 164.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 17]  As John Haught says: ‘Even one white crow is enough to show that not all crows are black, so surely the existence of countless believers who reject the new atheists’ simplistic definition of faith is enough to place in question the applicability of their critiques to a significant section of the religious ]3[ population.’ [God and the New Atheists, Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, p.62.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 17]  Dawkins: ‘Next time that somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: “What kind of evidence is there for that?” And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say’? [A Devil’s Chaplain, London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2003, p. 248] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 17]  In this vein Peter Atkins writes: ‘Science and religion cannot be reconciled, and humanity should begin to appreciate the power of its child, and to beat off all attempts at compromise. Religion has failed, and its failures should stand exposed. Science, with its currently successful pursuit of universal competence through the identification of the minimal, the supreme delight of the intellect, should be acknowledged king.’ [Nature’s Imagination – The Frontiers of Scientific Vision, Ed. John Cornwell, Oxford Oxford University Press, 1995 p. 132.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 19]  Sir John Houghton FRS writes: ‘Our science is God’s science. He holds the responsibility for the whole scientific story… The remarkable order, consistency, reliability and fascinating complexity found in the scientific description of the universe are reflections of the order, consistency, reliability and complexity of God’s activity.’ [The Search for God – Can Science Help?, Oxford, Lion, 1995 p.59.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 19]  Sir Ghillean Prance FRS, gives equally clear expression to his faith: ‘For many years I have believed that God is the great designer behind all nature… All my studies in science since then have confirmed my faith. I regard the Bible as my principal source of authority.’ [God and the Scientists, compiled by Mike Poole, CPO 1997.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 19, 20]  The statements just listed are not statements of science either, but statements of personal belief. [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 20] ]4[  In particular, which, if any, of these two diametrically opposing worldviews of theism and atheism does science support? [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 20]  At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly.

Without this deep conviction science would not be possible. So we are

entitled to ask: Where does the conviction come from? [John C. Lennox:

God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 20]  Melvin Calvin, Nobel Prize-winner in biochemistry, seems in little doubt about its provenance: ‘As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to find it in a basic notion discovered 2,000 or 3,000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws.

This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation for modern science.’ [Chemical Evolution, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1969, p. 258] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 20]  Whitehead asked the obvious question: How could such an explosion of

knowledge have happened in such a relatively short time? His answer:

‘modern science must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God… My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.’ [Science and the Modern World, London, Macmillan, 1925, p. 19.] [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 21]  ‘Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.’ [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 21]  Men such as Galileo (1564–1642), Kepler (1571–1630), Pascal (1623–62), Boyle (1627–91), Newton (1642–1727), Faraday (1791–1867), Babbage (1791–1871), Mendel (1822–84), Pasteur (1822–95), Kelvin (1824–1907) and Clerk Maxwell (1831–79) were theists; most of them, in fact, were Christians. [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, ]5[ Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 21]  Johannes Kepler described his motivation thus: ‘The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.’ [Cited in Morris Kline, Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, (Oxford University Press, New York, 1980, p. 31.] [John C.

Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 21]  What we are suggesting is that the doctrine of a unique Creator God who is responsible for the existence and order of the universe has played an important role. [John C. Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has Science buried God?, Lion Hudson plc 2009, Page 22]  John Brooke, Oxford’s first Professor of Science and Religion, is more cautious than Torrance: ‘In the past religious beliefs have served as a presupposition of the scientific enterprise insofar as they have underwritten that uniformity… a doctrine of creation could give coherence to scientific endeavour insofar as it implied a dependable order behind the flux of nature.



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