The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics

Here are some highlights of John Lennox’s this talk given at Harvard university. He is basically making the point that we should not take the fact that we can understand the universe for granted.  Just because we can understand so much should not distract our attention from asking why we can understand so much. Why is so much of the universe described so well by the abstract and ordered laws of mathematics? Is there any basis for thinking our understanding of the world relates in any way to reality? Chekc out these quotes and my notes of his talk:

Einstein said “the only incomprehensible things about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” How come our minds come up with equations that describe the universe?

Lennox references “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” where in 1961 Eugene Wigner wrote:

 “the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it” Eugene Wigner

“certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.”Eugene Wigner.

Apparently Charles Darwin wrote:

“With me the horrid doubt always arises, weather the convictions of mans mind which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkeys mind if there are any convictions in such a mind?” Darwin

Why should beliefs produced by physiology be mostly true?

“It is not irrational to believe in super nature but it is irrational to believe solely in nature. The boot is entirely on the other foot. Atheistic reductionism undermines the foundations of the very natural of the rationality need to construct its arguments, or any argument of any kind whatsoever. ” Lennox

“Only if we assume a God who is morally our like can truth and the search for truth be at all something meaningful and promising of success. This God left aside the question is permitted is weather being deceived is not one of the conditions of life.” Nietzsche

You cannot explain semiotics, says Lennox, (the meanings of a few marks on a piece of paper, or a menu, for example) bottom up from the chemistry and biology. You have to do it from top down postulating a mind.

Turning to miracles John talks about Flew and Hume:

I was wrong about Hume…so all my books would need to be rewritten because he did not believe in cause and effect. Antony Flew

God who set the regularities in place can cause an event. Our universe is not a closed system.

Singular events are by definition improbable but not impossible. No matter how many graves you watch were people do not rise it can never prove that someone will never rise.

He puts the resurrection under the microscope of Hume’s criteria in his book “gunning for God.” which I have just bought.


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