John Lennox on science and faith

Just watched John Lennox lecturing on science and faith.

“Science has buried God, but atheism is on its way to bury science, because it undermines the very rationality that we need to do science”.

Science is something our brains do when looking at the world, and so if our brain is the product of random mutation then why should we (whoever that is) trust it? I guess one answer would be that its development/survival necessitated a linked between it’s representation of reality and the way things really are. To be totally wrong about reality, would seem to be detrimental to survival. Could a deluded brain be the fittest organism? Could a brain that saw a cube and thought a sphere survive for very long? To be wrong about the truthfulness of inference and deduction would not be very advantageous to reproduction.

But I think the argument is saying how can we trust “our conscious thoughts”, rather than whether the representation of the world in the synaptic connections of our brain is right. And that question is hard to answer because we don’t know what our consciousness actually is, at least in material terms.

In any case, as he says, any scientist must “believe” that the universe is rationally intelligent before they can get started.

I love the point he makes about contrasting two world views.

  • Mater and energy is fundamental (or nothing is fundamental, or a quantum vacuum is fundamental) ie everything is made of and comes from and is reducible to these things.
  • The word (information, meaning, morality etc in a person) is fundamental (and I would add “with” is also fundamental. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God”).

It makes so much more sense having a personal relational being behind everything than nothing, or mater or any sort of vacuum, quantum or otherwise.

Now, some Q&A:

Q: “Doesn’t our knowledge of the laws of nature make belief in miracles impossible.”

A: “NO…this is one of the biggest issues [of our time?]”

Miracle = “something to be wondered at”

CS Lewis gave a helpful example here : “if I put a hundred dollars in the draw of my hotel bedroom and then after dinner come back up and find it has gone, do I conclude that the laws of arithmetic have been broken or that the laws of Texas have been broken”. I’ve heard that before but I’m still not quite sure what it means…I think it’s just saying that natural laws are very different from government laws. You can’t break a natural law as it’s just a description. The fact that the money is gone means that someone from outside the system (the draw) entered it and took it out. Jesus rose form the dead because God reached into the world he created and exerted a massive amount of energy (and information etc). The laws are not being broken because they describe what normally happens.

In fact we wouldn’t know that it was a thief unless we knew the laws of arithmetic… “the only way you can recognise the supernatural is by knowing the natural laws”.

Joseph was not a gullible fool. When he found out that Mary was pregnant he was going to divorce her. He knew where babies came from. It took a massive supernatural phenomena to convince him that a miracle had taken place. Same with the blind man. “since the beginning of the world it has never been known that  a man born blind has got his eyesight back”. He knew the law. Jesus was not raised from the dead by natural processes. It was an injection into the system of colossal power. A hand reaching into our world and raised him from the dead . The natural laws were not being broken. An outside influences was being exerted.

Antony Flew who was (according to Lennox) the world’s greatest interpreter of Hume (Mr Anti-Miracles), towards the end of his life, converted to deism. When John Lennox asked him about his books on Hume he said

“I was wrong about Hume. I’d love to write those books again. I will never be able to do it though. I was simply wrong”.


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