Out of all the modern Christian apologists, I think I admire Professor John Lennox, a Mathematician at Oxford University, the most. Not just because of his arguments for the existence of God (although they are compelling) but because of his demeanor. He reminds me of a sweet, old grandpa who will give you cookies and spoil you when you come by to visit.
John Lennox is well-known for his gracious take-down of Richard Dawkins in their debate where he gently asks Professor Dawkins, “I presume you have faith in your wife…is there any evidence for that?” (as an aside, I highly recommend watching the entire debate if you haven’t already.)
This book, “God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?” is not a new book. It was published in 2011. It’s a relatively small book, only at 96 pages long, so it’s not heavy reading even though Lennox is tackling scientific questions.
God and Science
Much has been written about the late Stephen Hawking. In fact, our very own Roger Browning wrote a piece on the late, world-renowned and beloved scientist. While Professor Lennox didn’t have any problems with Stephen Hawking’s scientific work, he does address a few points that Lennox believes goes beyond what the science actually suggests.
“Philosophy is dead.”
Hawking wrote, “…philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.” I was honestly happy that Lennox addressed this assertion because it’s an assertion that pops up from time to time.
As Lennox states in his book, “Apart from the unwarranted hubris of this dismissal of philosophy…it constitutes rather disturbing evidence that at least one scientist, Hawking himself, has not even kept up with philosophy sufficiently to realize that he himself is engaging in it throughout his book.
“The very first thing I notice is that Hawking’s statement about philosophy is itself a philosophical statement…Therefore, his statement that philosophy is dead contradicts itself. It’s a classic example of logical incoherence.”
Professor Lennox goes on to say later in the book when addressing Hawkins ascribing creative powers to physical laws:
“If Hawking were not dismissive of philosophy he might have come across the Wittgenstein statement that the ‘deception of modernism’ is the idea that the laws of nature explain the world to us when all they do is describe structural regularities.”
Something from Nothing
Much has been said about the universe’s ability to just pop into existence out of “nothing.” In fact, cosmologist Lawrence Krauss wrote a whole book on the subject. Stephen Hawking’s conclusion in The Grand Design is that “Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.”
Professor Lennox points out that the statement that the “universe can and will create itself from nothing” is a contradiction. He points out that, “…the law of nature (gravity) explains the existence of the universe is…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.” He goes on to say, “What this all goes to show is that nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists.”
Overall, it’s a great book. It’s very easy to read despite the heavily scientific material Professor Lennox covers and makes it quite accessible to anyone interested in the subject. His gracious demeanor comes through each page, aiding in the book’s accessibility to all readers.
Professor John Lennox reflects on the life of Stephen Hawking: