Science & Faith
2/28/13 at 03:04 PM 0 Comments

John Lennox's "Seven Days That Divide the World" and his Response to Atheist Stephen Hawking

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John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford

How could this Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford possibly interest you? Listen to him for five minutes and you will understand just how interesting and provocative he is. I first met the man before he became famous. I was studying in a summer program for college professors at Oxford University in 2001 and spent an afternoon with him along with another American science professor. Now is your opportunity to meet this gracious, humble, and very smart human.

Christians interested in the meaning of Genesis would surely wish to hear this interview about his book Seven Days That Divide the World. In his book, Lennox delves into controversial issues surrounding science and faith, answering common questions regarding apparent tensions between scripture and scientific evidence. Thoughfully consider Professor Lennox's view of how science and faith are indeed compatible.

Atheists open to frank conversations about God in the light of modern cosmology and philosophy would be challenged to doubt some things Stephen Hawking has written if they would take a few moments to listen to this engaging interview (about another book Lennox published). Lennox reflects on this statement from Hawking: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Lennox explains just how unreasonable this claim is. Part of the problem hinges on the meaning of “nothing.” But there is much more to the story.

Professor Lennox has written about the interface between science, philosophy and theology. Books on these fields of knowledge include "God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?" (2009), "God and Stephen Hawking" [a response to Hawking's co-authored book "The Grand Design" (2011)], "Gunning for God", which is on the new atheism (2011), and "Seven Days that Divide the World", which is about Genesis 1 (2011).

After listening to the interviews of Lennox, you may be inclined to register for the 2013 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith to hear John Lennox and others address the question: How did it all begin? Early-bird registration ends Friday, March 1. Save some money by acting before midnight March 1.

On this episode of ID the Future, Dr. Jay Richards talks with John Lennox about his book God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?. In this book, Prof. Lennox counters Stephen Hawking's argument in The Grand Design that "the universe can and will create itself from nothing." Is philosophy dead, as Hawking claims? Is the so-called M-theory the "only viable candidate" for a complete 'theory of everything'? Tune in and find out!

I'm using Lennox's short book God & Stephen Hawking this semester in one of my science courses at The College at Southwestern. Here is the study guide I wrote for my students. If these questions interest you then you ought to purchase the book. At least listen to the interview about the book.

  1. Hawking says scientists are now taking over the questions traditionally addressed in philosophy because that field didn’t keep up with science and therefore is “dead.” Hawking ends up doing philosophy himself, but poorly. Explain how by addressing Hawking’s “scientism” and his failure to distinguish between scientific and philosophical questions (p. 17-22).
  2. How does Hawking confuse the distinction between gods and God? How does Christianity avoid the failed “god of the gaps” approach to science and religion (p. 22-28)?
  3. “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” What’s unreasonable about this central claim of Hawking’s book? Discuss the meaning of “nothing,” X creates Y, self-caused, law of nature (such as gravity), and self-contradiction (p. 29-35).
  4. What is mistaken about the “more science, therefore less God” slogan of atheism? Is “natural law vs. personal agency” often a false dichotomy? Illustrate with a jet engine’s origin (p. 36-40).
  5. Can natural laws cause anything? Illustrate with a bank account (p. 40-44).
  6. How does the multiverse fail to support atheism (p. 47-50)?
  7. What is M-theory and why does it fail to falsify God as creator of all (p. 51-56)?
  8. How does Hawking’s final chapter contradict his earlier assertion about science and “why” questions? How is “who created the laws of nature?” a different question than “who created God?” (p. 67-69).
  9. How does an analogical argument from Conway’s “Game of Life” to “natural laws created us” fail (p. 69-72)?
  10. “The very existence of the capacity for rational thought is surely a pointer: not downwards to chance and necessity, but upwards to an intelligent source of that capacity." Explain (p. 73-75).
  11. How does the inductive support for Kepler’s laws of planetary motion give us far more confidence in their truth than the attempt to justify M-theory as an “inference to the best explanation” (p. 76-78)?
  12. Hawking’s scientific determinism implies that human free will is an illusion. How so (p. 79)?
  13. How does Lennox support the reasonableness of miracles (p. 79-96)?
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