Worldviews impact our observations. Biases, which we all have, should always be stated upfront in every scientific study or historical work. Give credit to John C. Lennox for stating his bias and his worldview in the Preface and Introduction sections of "God and Stephen Hawking: Whose design is it anyway?" Lennox a mathematician points out that he is not a scientist but he also warns his readers that "not all statements by scientist are statements of science." If only Stephen Hawking's, the brilliant physicist had admitted as much in his work, "The Grand Design".
In Hawking's book, he and co-author Leonard Mlodinow made what John Lennox believes is an absurd and unscientific claim that the universe was not created by God and that laws of physics were sufficient for creation to occur without a creator. Lennox claims this smacks of "scientism" in which only science and therefore scientists hold the only way to truth. John Lennox systematically lays out his argument that Hawking and Mlodinow's book dismisses philosophy while at the same time dealing with philosophical arguments as old as civilizations themselves.
How we understand the world, how the universe behaves, what is the nature of reality, and where did all "this" come from are part and partial of two list that Hawking dealt with in "The Grand Design." Only one of the above questions are scientific in nature: How the Universe behaves. Can the law of gravity create? Well as Lennox notes the laws of addition and subtraction cannot create money in your bank account, they merely provide the rules under which we determine the wealth we created to put into that bank account. Arithmetic can explain how a $1000 and a $1000 put $2000 into your bank account, but it will never create the $2000 out of nothing!
I found Lennox's example of a how a jet engine works using physics as a brilliant example of what science can explain but not what the laws of physics can create. Someone had to make that jet engine, the creator if you will. The laws of physics that explain a jet engine have been around since creation but it took a creator, Frank Whittle to make a working jet engine; and Whittle had help, because the laws of physics didn't create the materials needed to make the engine! As Lennox states: "Matter may be humble stuff, but laws cannot create it."
Lennox stated: "The world of strict naturalism, in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe and life into existence, is pure (science) fiction." Hawking may believe that science and religion cannot live in harmony but Lennox and I believe that as Christian believers the beauty of scientific laws "reinforces my faith in an intelligent, divine Creator."
The great mind of John C. Lennox puts all these heavy philosophical and scientific laws into a book, a short 96 pages, that an individual with logic and some scientific teaching can understand; and do so fluently. Grab yourself a pen or hi-liter and mark this book up as you read. I absolutely enjoyed Lennox examples and logic. You may also.
There is an aura of brilliance surrounding Stephen Hawking. Little that comes out of his mouth is comprehensible to the average human mind. What a magnificent creation of God! How much more magnificent it would be if he were to credit God with his genius.
Alas, he has instead steered his intellectual powers toward attempting to prove that his genius is but a freak of nature - that we all are a cosmic accident. This venture into metaphysics is called "M-Theory" as described in his recent book, The Grand Design. In it he concludes that the laws of nature are responsible for nature's very existence in our little corner of the "multiverse."
Thankfully, there are other human geniuses who have not discounted the supernatural, have rationally examined the evidence for God and found Him compelling. One of these is Oxford professor John C. Lennox.
In this short read, Lennox picks apart the most glaring philosophical errors in Hawking's arguments without delving into formulae or equations. The five short chapters must be read methodically, but they are readily accessible to the scientific neophyte. My only wish - that the book was longer.
"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20, ESV)
The new atheists, like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, are ever in the public spotlight these days, or so it seems. The idea that brilliant physicists and scientists can make sense of this world without a God appeals to many. Certainly the conclusions reached in books such as Hawking's latest book, The Grand Design Ã¢â¬â that there is no God and no ultimate point to the universe Ã¢â¬â are conclusions many atheists and secularists are all too eager to affirm. Since everything does fit so nicely together, however, should we wonder if the case made is really as air tight as claimed? If the conclusions are made to order, we might have warrant to carefully scrutinize the claims of these New Atheist authors.
John Lennox, author of God's Undertaker, and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford in his own right, takes on Stephen Hawking's arguments in a forthcoming book published by Lion Books and distributed in the US by Kregel Publications (available July 15). In God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?, Lennox exposes the circular reasoing and non sequitors that abound in Hawking's The Grand Design. Lennox begins by framing the scope of what science can really address as it attempts to examine metaphysical questions. He then points out both Hawking's dismissal of philosophy and his misunderstanding of Christian theism. God is not merely a "god of the gaps", an explanation for the world as we know it. The Christian understanding of God has Him outside the boundaries of creation as Lord over all of it, not some explanation for unknown phenomena. As for philosophy, after rejecting it as "dead", Hawking jumps in and tries his own hand at several metaphysical questions that philosophy has long addressed. Hawking's attempt at doing philosophy is all the poorer for his outright rejection of it.
Lennox then takes Hawking to task for claiming that the theory of gravity, or scientific laws in general, can operate as a "creator" in a sense, and be the ultimate cause for our universe. He clarifies what a law or rule of nature really "is", and illustrates how Hawking makes more of such laws than can really be claimed. He then goes on to show how Hawking's "M" theory of the "Multiverse" conveniently sidesteps objections by positing the existence of infinite universes. Still the question remains, why are there any universes instead of no universe? Lennox reveals that other major physicists have their own doubts as to the ability that M theory really has for being an explanation of everything.
Lennox also addresses head on the claim that miracles cannot happen because the laws of science would be invalidated. He pries open the layers from this question and shows the irrationality of claiming that science strictly forbids the existence of exceptions or miracles.
By the end of this short book (it's only 100 pages long), Lennox has made a convincing case for theism and demonstrated that reasonable scientists continue to affirm the divine. Lennox's book is accessible and clear, even as it interacts with quite complicated elements from Hawking's writing. The book doesn't own the six-day, young earth Creationist view, but it doesn't rule it out either. Lennox argues that often the new atheists assume that to believe in God is to believe in a young earth view, and he shows this is not true. Lennox marshals arguments from science (the very idea of the big bang supports the Bible's claim that the world has a beginning - something science has only admitted in the last hundred years), philosophy, history and the realm of human experience. The resulting case is convincing and should serve to bolster the faith of any troubled by the new atheism. At the least, it offers avenues of further exploration available in grappling with these issues.
Before closing my review, I should excerpt a small section from this book which captures some of Lennox's craft in action. This excerpt will illustrate his style and the way he can cut to the heart of an issue with incisive logic.
"Suppose, to make matters clearer, we replace the universe by a jet engine and then are asked to explain it. Shall we account for it by mentioning the personal agency of its inventor, Sir Frank Whittle? Or shall we follow Hawking: dismiss personal agency, and explain the jet engine by saying that it arose naturally from physical law_. It is not a question of either/or. It is self-evident that we need both levels of explanation in order to give a complete description. It is also obvious that the scientific explanation neither conflicts nor competes with the agent explanation: they complement one another. It is the same with explanations of the universe: god does not conflict or compete with the laws of physics as an explanation. God is actually the ground of all explanation, in the sense that he is the cause in the first place of there being a world for the laws of physics to describe."
To this I add my "amen". I encourage you to pick up this little book as it offers an excellent primer on how to deal with the claims of the new atheism. Even if you differ with Lennox on a point or two, his clear style and succinct arguments will equip you in thinking through these issues on your own.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Kregel Publications via Litfuse Publicity Group. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Either we believe the words of Almighty God or we believe the words of a fallible man; those words which we take into our minds determines our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions and, indeed, even our destiny. Mathematician John Lennox has perhaps made the choice easier for some by writing God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?, a small but very thorough refutation of Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design. Mr. Lennox writes in layman's terms and his arguments are both compelling and easy to understand. He breaks down the varied fallacies so prevalent in Mr. Hawking's book and provides us with a foundation for seeking out, and understanding, truth. The result is a book that is logical, readable and thought-provoking.
I highly recommend God and Stephen Hawking to churches, ministers, homeschooling families, public school families and to anyone preparing to attend or presently attending college.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway? from Litfuse for purposes of review. I was not required to give a positive review, only a fair and honest one. My opinions are my own.