Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Case for God: John Lennox, Professor of Maths at Oxford University

We attended St Nicholas, Sevenoaks, Kent to hear a presentation by Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, John Lennox, at the launch of the nationwide fight-back against the serious challenge to Christianity presented by Richard Dawkins and other humanist scientists. He and other eminent scientists are running events across the country to launch three professional videos examining Creation, Evolution and Consciousness (and their study guides). See link here. Their quality is top rate and copies can be bought for personal and church use. We would recommend buying them, studying them and sharing them with friends.

I made some notes of Professor Lennox’s talk which I reproduce here. Professor Lennox has often debated with Richard Dawkins, and other leading atheist scientists. He claims that he knows "how they think". He made the following observations about what he calls ‘militant atheism’. He said:

  • militant atheism presents a serious challenge to Christianity because these views now dominate the mainstream and media; 
  • 70% of Christians who go to university now lose their faith while they are there; 
  • a recent survey suggests that the faith of about 55% of believers feel obstructed in their faith or sharing it, either by Richard Dawkins or “scientific questions” to which they feel inequipped to respond; 
  • parents are not giving their children evidence for the Christian view of science, so they are assuming that science does disprove God which is not the truth at all. A whole generation of believers in God are being “lost”. 
Therefore leading Christian scientists and media producers are launching this video initiative to start to challenge and reverse this process, by presenting the views of a wide range of scientists who ‘see in the Universe the imprint of God’. The videos even interview Dawkins.

Professor Lennox says that militant atheism is making 'false claims'. For example, it is claiming, falsely, that science is “on its side” and that “the authority of science” is on its side, in spite of leading scientists disagreeing with atheism. It pushes stark choices such as “Reason v Revelation” and “Science v Creation” - when people like the genius Newton, who was a Christian, saw faith and science as entirely compatible. On the basis of these false assumptions, society is now "pouring scorn" on Christians and Christian scientists, telling them they are wasting their time “being wrong”. "The scientific evidence is on the side of God"- but this message is simply not getting through due to all this "noise" from atheists.

Professor Lennox sees the conflict as not between science and faith but two worldviews, one of which is true and one of which is false. Many atheists base arguments on assertions which need taking apart. For a start, some Christians are also top scientists: there may be top atheist scientists, like Stephen Hawking, but there are also Christian Nobel scientists - like Bill Phillips.

Professor Lennox’s view is that militant atheists have not engaged with all the evidence and therefore their views are ‘not balanced’. They do not grasp that their “worldview” and theories, which they deem facts, represent a faith too. Faith is “believing in something without visible evidence”.

Highly respected scientists readily admit that “nothing is 100% certain, except 2+2=4” - but these scientists forcefully suppress any doubts, weaknesses and flaws in their arguments. They also cast off not God but “God of the gaps”. Prof Lennox does “not believe in the God that Dawkins does not believe in” - that is “the God of the gaps”. Instead, he believes that God is the overarching explanation and Creator of everything.

Christians should be asking “Is atheism true?”. Atheists state that "science now shows Creation is godless", but this is just one opinion among one camp of scientists.

A key weakness in the argument of Dawkins and others is that they take the laws of physics for granted without examining how they could exist or prevail within their theories of “mindless chance”. They assume them, without seeing the need to explain them all.

The Universe is also extremely finely tuned. There are over 30 vanishingly small probabilities that need to co-exist to permit conditions for life. Any one could have “gone wrong” but these things are all perfectly tuned and balanced.

The Universe is incredibly 'disciplined' by Laws that are so immutable that perfect predictions are possible, using them. Where do such laws come from?

Gravity is a mysterious force, so strong that it holds galaxies together but weak enough to allow us to pick up our feet and to walk. Where does such a force come from? And yet at the atomic level, the force between atoms is immensely strong.

The Universe is also beautifully ordered: it is 'pure maths', pure reason and rationality. Yet Dawkins claims it all just chance. If so, his brain is merely the result of “mindless processes”, chance and irrationality and in that sense, rationality is undermined by his own arguments. How can he therefore know anything for sure and assert it as the truth?

Many atheists cannot distinguish different kinds of 'agency'. Some atheists foolishly propose that “maths created the Universe” - but mathematics is not “an agent”. Another weakness is not “separating agencies”. Professor Lennox asks people: “In making a motor engine into reality, which was the most important, the apparatus, or Henry Ford?”. The answer is “You need both”, the materials and enabler - the materials in the Universe and its Enabler to create what is visible and works. Some atheist scientists cannot separate one agent from the other.

Yet most atheists are astonished by the mathematics of the Universe. Even so their minds cannot move from the laws of physics to the Lawgiver. The Universe is mathematically rational, but they insist it is “mindless chaos” - in spite of all the clear evidence pointing the other way.

The human DNA code which creates human life is 3.5 billion letters long, yet every letter is sequenced in the right order. Why are these letters not in chaos, if they were created by chance? Only a super-computer could achieve that order, or a Supreme Intelligence.

The arguments of atheists are riddled with non-sequiturs and inner contradictions. Also some are mishandling words, trying to say the Universe came from “nothing”, but then clearly assuming that “nothing” is something!

Summing up, Professor Lennox said atheist scientists are making assumptions which are “total rubbish”. Therefore, he sees their scientific case for atheism as "weak”. 

The videos are issued via “The God Question TV” website
See videos and website here
(The videos may not currently be operating but there are lots of reading and webs resources which are worth looking at on the website)

Notes by A Bailey Castellina, 3 September 2013

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