Monday, June 13, 2011

God and Stephen Hawking by John C. Lennox

Lennox has written this short book (96 pages) to help readers “understand some of the most important issues that lie at the heart of the contemporary debate about God and science.” (9) He avoids technicality and concentrates on the logic of the arguments.
Science has provided us with many technological advances so science has immense authority in our world. Many turn to science for answers to the big questions about God and our existence. Lennox says the real question is: “Does science point towards God, away from God, or is it neutral on the issue?” (12)
A powerful scientific voice is Stephen Hawking. Hawking says physics leaves no room for God. (13) “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing...” (16)
Lennox takes issue, not with Hawking's science, but with what he deduces from it. Lennox notes that many scientists realize that science cannot answer every kind of question. The issue of morality is one of them.
Lennox proceeds to critique Hawking's (and Mlodivow's) The Grand Design. Hawking says philosophy is dead and then engages in it. Hawking says the universe will create itself out of “nothing” because there is a law of gravity. Lennox counters that Hawking assuming the existence of the law of gravity (and necessarily gravity itself) means there is not “nothing.” (30)
Lennox also notes the violation of the rules of logic by Hawking. Saying “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is a self-contradictory assertion. (30) (Saying the universe will create itself is assuming the universe exists already so it can create itself!)
With similar intensity Lennox goes on to point out additional errors made by Hawking, including his serious misunderstanding regarding the nature and capacity of scientific laws. “...[O]n their own, the theories and laws cannot even cause anything, let alone create it.” (40)
Lennox argues that the choice, God or science, is a false one. God does not compete with the laws of physics but is the ground for a place where such laws exist.
Lennox likens solving the mystery of the origin of the universe to solving a murder mystery. Even Poirot cannot rerun the murder in order to solve it. One can deduce from clues but one cannot rerun the event. Because there cannot be experimental proof regarding the universe's origin, an explanation like M-theory is speculative. It does not carry the same authority as laws that can be experimentally proven (such as Newton's or Kepler's).
Lennox lastly takes on the possibility of miracles, something Hawking says are impossible because of the laws of nature. Lennox suggests, “the laws of nature predict what is bound to happen if God does not intervene.” (87) “...Christians do not believe the universe is a closed system of cause and effect. They believe it is open to the causal activity of its Creator God.” (88)
Hawking would say nature is absolutely uniform: the laws of nature know no exceptions. This is unjustified, Lennox argues. The only way Hawking could know nature is absolutely uniform would be to have access to every event in the universe at all times and places. (89)
Lennox also notes it is odd that Hawking rejects miracles yet believes in the multiverse, the whole point of which is to have enough universes so that anything can happen. (92)
Lennox says, “The more I understand science the more I believe in God, because of my wonder at the breadth, sophistication, and integrity of his creation.” (73)

Lennox is a mathematician, not a scientist. But he does understand science and the principles of good science. He argues not from scientific proof but from the logic (or lack of it) of the arguments by Hawking within the framework of science.
As a person with a science background (B. S. Physics) who has taught logic to high school students, I found Lennox's book very readable. His understanding of the laws of nature, what they can prove and what they cannot, is right on. If one cannot create an experiment to prove the theory, one's thoughts will only be speculation, or theory. Such is the case for scientists regarding past events such as the universe's origin.
And Hawking saying there cannot be miracles is like trying to prove there is no gold buried in Texas. Digging up every square inch of land in Texas might be a daunting task but not as impossible as being every place at every time in all of the universe to make sure there was no miracle taking place.
This is a great book for those who have read The Grand Design and think Hawking and others have proven there is no God, no Creator of the universe. Lennox's little book shows Hawking has failed scientifically and logically to prove that point.

John C. Lennox is Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at the University of Oxford, and author of the bestselling God's Undertaker. He lectures on faith and science at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He has lectured around the world, including in the United States for Ravi Zacharias; in Austria; and in the former Soviet Union. For more about John C. Lennox, please visit http://johnlennox.org

This book was published in the UK in 2010 and being released in the U.S. in summer 2011.

I received a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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