Tuesday, August 9, 2011

‘God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?’ by John C. Lennox – Book Review

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One of the most important scientists over the last several decades is Stephen Hawking, who recently wrote a book, ‘The Grand Design,’ that has caused a stir. In his book, ‘God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?’ Dr. John Lennox rebuts his arguments.

Here is a synopsis of this book:

“It is a grandiose claim to have banished God. With such a lot at stake we surely need to ask Hawking to produce evidence to establish his claim. Do his arguments really stand up to close scrutiny? I think we have a right to know.”
The Grand Design, by eminent scientist Stephen Hawking, is the latest blockbusting contribution to the “New Atheist” debate, and claims that the laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being, rather than God. In this swift and forthright reply, John Lennon, Oxford mathematician and author of God’s Undertaker, takes a closer look at Hawking’s logic.
In lively, layman’s terms, Lennox guides us through the key points in Hawking’s arguments – with clear explanations of the latest scientific and philosophical methods and theories – and demonstrates that far from disproving a Creator God, they make his existence seem all the more probable.

Here is the biography of this author:

John C. Lennox MA PhD DPhil DSc is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College. He has debated Richard Hawkins and Christopher Hitchens and lectured in many universities around the world.

Here is an interview with Dr. Lennox by Greg Clarke: 

In the Introduction, Dr. Lennox shares how God and science have been converging of late:

God is very much on the agenda these days. Scientist have made sure of it by publishing book after book, with titles like Francis Collins’ The Language of God, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis, Robert Winston’s The Story of God, and so on, and on.
Some of these books have been runaway best-sellers. People obviously want to hear what the scientists have to say. That is not surprising, for science has immense cultural and intellectual authority in our sophisticated modern world. This is, in part, because of its phenomenal success in generating technologies from which all of us benefit, and in part because of its capacity to inspire, by giving us increased insight into the wonders of the universe as communicated by beautifully made television documentaries. (p. 11)

Dr. Lennox explains how many scientists deal with God:

Yet this is essentially what many scientists (and others) do with God. They define the range of questions that science is permitted to ask in such a way that God is excluded from the start; and then they claim that God is unnecessary, or doesn’t exist. They fail to see that their science does not answer the question as to why something exists rather than nothing, for the simple reason that their science cannot answer that question. They also fail to see that by assumption it is their atheist world-view, not science as such, that excludes God.
The scientists did not put the universe there. But neither did their theories, nor the laws of mathematical physics. Yet Hawking seems to think they did. In A Brief History of Time he hinted at this kind of explanation, suggesting that a theory might bring the universe into existence… (p. 39)

I love this point that Dr. Lennox makes to one of Dr. Hawking’s argument:

Hawking has signally failed to answer the central question: why is there something rather than nothing? He says that the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity come to exist in the first place? What was the creative force behind its birth? Who put it there, with all its properties and potential for mathematical description in terms of law? Similarly, when Hawking argues in support of his theory of spontaneous creation, that it was only necessary for “the blue touch paper” to be lit to “set the universe going”, I am tempted to ask: where did this blue touch paper come from? It is clearly not part of the universe, if it set the universe going. So who lit it, in the sense of ultimate causation, if not God? (p. 44)

Dr. Lennox makes this final comment:

Science and history are not the only sources of evidence for the existence of God. Since God is a Person and not a theory, it is to be expected that one of the prime evidences for his existence is personal experience. To develop this important matter, it would take us far beyond the intended scope of this little book. Nevertheless I wish to add my voice to the many millions who can and would testify to the profound and central role that faith in Christ as Lord has on our lives, bringing assurance of peace with God, a new power for living, and a certain hope based on the resurrection of Christ. Such a hope defies both the death barrier and Hawking’s bleak reductionist notion that we are nothing more than a random collection of molecules derived from stars. We shall, in fact, outlast the stars.
Hawking imagines that the potential existence of other life forms in the universe undermines the traditional religious conviction that we are living in a unique, God-created planet. I find it faintly amusing that atheists often argue for the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence beyond earth. They are only too eager to denounce the possibility that there exists a vast, intelligent being “out there,” namely God, who has left his fingerprints all over his creation.
Hawking’s fusillade will not shake the foundations of an intelligent faith that is based on the cumulative evidence of science, history, the biblical narrative, and personal experience. (pp. 94-95)

In the Conclusion, Dr. Lennox shares what he holds happens with this book:

I even dare to hope that, for some of you, this little book may be the start of a journey that will eventually lead to your coming to believe in the God who not only made the universe but also conferred on you the immeasurable dignity of creating you in his image, with the capacity for thought and the intellectual curiosity that got you reading this book in the first place. In turn that could even be, as it was for me, the first step in embarking on what is by definition life’s highest adventure – getting to 
know the Creator through the Son that has revealed him. (p. 96)

I really appreciated this book. Dr. Lennox points out the many flaws in Dr. Hawking’s argument that there is no need for God as Creator of the universe. I am so amazed at the hubris of some of these scientists, and pray that they learn the truth – and gain some humility – before they meet their Maker. I am glad that Dr. Lennox knows the truth.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Lion Books and provided by the LitFuse Publicity Group for review purposes.


Ginny S said...

How can I email you?

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Ginny -
You can click on my Profile below, & then click I'm 'Email.'
Thanks -

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