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God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? Paperback – January 21, 2011
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"[God and Stephen Hawking] certainly deserves to win the 'Award of Merit' in the '2012 Christianity Today Books Awards.'" —Arn.org
About the Author
John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College. He lectures on Faith and Science for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He has lectured in many universities around the world, including Austria and the former Soviet Union. He is particularly interested in the interface of Science, Philosophy and Theology. Lennox has been part of numerous public debates defending the Christian faith. He debated Richard Dawkins on "The God Delusion" in the University of Alabama (2007) and on "Has Science buried God?" in the Oxford Museum of Natural History (2008). He has also debated Christopher Hitchens on the New Atheism (Edinburgh Festival, 2008) and the question of "Is God Great?" (Samford University, 2010), as well as Peter Singer on the topic of "Is there a God?" (Melbourne, 2011). John is the author of a number of books on the relations of science, religion and ethics. He and his wife Sally live near Oxford.
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He wrote in the Preface to this 2011 response to Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design, "I have written this short book in the hope that it will assist my readers to understand some of the most important issues that lie at the heart of the contemporary debate about God and science."
Later, he explains, "In this book I wish to engage in the main not with Hawking's science but with what he deduces from it regarding the existence, or rather the non-existence, of God. Although Hawking's argument, that science shows God is unnecessary, has been hailed as ground-breaking, it is hardly new... Indeed, it is difficult at first glance to see quite how this new book adds much to what Hawking wrote in `A Brief History of Time.'" (Pg. 17)
He observes about Hawking's "philosophy is dead" assertion, "it constitutes rather disturbing evidence that... Hawking himself, has not even kept up with philosophy sufficiently to realize that he himself is engaging in it throughout his book... Hawking's statement about philosophy is itself a philosophical statement. It is manifestly not a statement of science: it is a metaphysical statement about science... It is a classic example of logical incoherence." (Pg. 18)
He comments on Hawking's statement "the universe can and will create itself from nothing": "It is seldom that one finds in a single statement two distinct levels of contradiction, but Hawking appears to have constructed such a statement. He says the universe comes from a nothing that turns out to be a something (self-contradiction number one), and then he says the universe creates itself (self-contradiction number two)... His notion that a law of nature (gravity) explains the existence of the universe is also self-contradictory, since a law of nature, by definition, surely depends for its own existence on the prior existence of the nature it purports to describe." (Pg. 31)
He suggests, "Science, according to many scientists, concentrates essentially on material causation. It asks the `how' questions: how does the jet engine work? It also asks the `why' question regarding function: why is this pipe here? But it does not ask the `why' question of purpose: why was the jet engine built?" (Pg. 38)
He observes, "belief in God seems to be a much more rational option, if the alternative is to believe that every other universe that can possibly exist does exist: including one in which Richard Dawkins is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Christopher Hitchens the Pope, and Billy Graham has just been voted the atheist of the year!" (Pg. 50-51)
He points out, "even if it is true, M-theory [multiple-universe theory] itself doesn't create a single one of those universes. What Hawking says is: `The laws of M-theory allow for different universes with different apparent laws.' `Allow for' is one thing, `create' is something completely different. A theory that allows for many universes is not the same as an agent who designed them, or a mechanism that produces them." (Pg. 51-52) Later, he adds, "Accounting for the fine-tuning of the cosmos by postulating one intelligent Creator seems much more elegant and economical than postulating ... [nearly infinite] universes that are unobservable by us, and is surely a much better `model.'" (Pg. 56)
Of Hawking's observation, "the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God," he says, "by Hawking's own argument the question has merely been deflected to: who created the law of gravity? And this is a question that he does not answer. Hawking ... serves only to reveal the inadequacy of his concept of God. To ask the question who CREATED God logically presupposes that God is a created entity. That is certainly not the Christian... concept of God. God is eternal... To ask who created him is to show that one does not understand the nature of his being." (Pg. 68) Later, he adds, "is it not rather odd that Hawking believes in the multiverse and rejects miracles? Isn't the whole point about multiverses to have enough universes around to ensure that ANYTHING can happen?" (Pg. 92)
He concludes, "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... 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... 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 the stars. We shall, in fact, outlast the stars." (Pg. 94)
Lennox's book was cited in the recent movie God's Not Dead. It isn't likely to convince many of Hawking's supporters, and the Christian focus of many of his arguments will likewise not move many with a more "deistic" orientation toward God. But his brief book is an excellent and thought-provoking critique of many of the excesses of Hawking's own book.
John Lennox dashes these hopes with *real* science, sorry hawking. And also sorry dawkins whose screeching has reached a crescendo, but it is just that: "screeching". No science, so: sorry dawkins as well.
Very well done and very well written. Short and always to the point, John C. Lennox is fast becoming my new favorite author on this topic.
Any of the curious should go and see John's debate videos on youtube, he leaves no doubt and I do enjoy his Irish accent and sweet demeanor.
Lennox makes a compelling case for design…having the mathematics credentials as a professor in mathematics at Oxford…and two other PhD’s in philosophy and science…to be able to take apart the theories of Hawking on an equal standing as a scientist.
A very readable book accessible to the general public, while still tackling the most difficult issues in this critically important cultural, social, scientific, and theological question.
ALL arguments for the existence of a god necessarily involve logical fallacies. The most common ones are:
- Argument from ignorance. One claims that since he does not know how some phenomenon happened naturally, thus some god must have been involved. There are two errors in this proposition: (a) The argument does not obviate the possibility that the phenomenon was some natural process --including one which may not now be known. (b) The argument is basically circular.
- Argument from authority -- particularly the bible. The bible is a work of fiction.