Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lennox verses Dawkins

I am watching the debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins (both professors in Oxford).  I thought that I would post some thoughts.

1. John Lennox states that, 'What divides us is not science, what divides is is particular worldviews.'  I realise that among Bible-believing Christians there exists a variety of ways of engaging with science.  However, it is ill-informed of atheists to imagine that Christians simply run from science.  Indeed there are some notable scientists who are Christians.  For example, Francis Collins, of the Human Genome Project.  As Dawkins admits, 'it has to be admitted that science grew out of a religious tradition.'

2.  Richard Dawkins admits, 'There are still gaps in our understanding.  We don't know how the cosmos came into existence in the first place.'  Now Christians need to be careful in using such a statement.  The fact that science has to admit its limitations in current understanding is significant.  Nevertheless, if Christians base their arguments on those things that science has not yet figured out their case will be weakened every time science claims a breakthrough in understanding.

3.  John Lennox says, 'Some faith is blind, and blind faith is very dangerous.'  'Faith in the Christian sense is not blind.'  'My faith in God and Christ as the Son of God is no delusion.  It is rational and evidence-based.  Part of the evidence is objective, some of it comes from science, some comes from history; and, some is subjective, coming from experience.'  At the end of the debate he points to the resurrection of Christ as the main objective evidence for his Christian belief.

4.  We must not simply equate rationality with science as if every field of study that is not science is not rational.

5.  Lennox accuses Dawkins of confusing mechanism and agency.  As if finding out how something works does away with the need for something behind the mechanism.

6.  Lennox quotes Whitehead's thesis, 'that human beings become scientific because they expected law in nature; and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.'

7.  It is clear that Dawkins and Lennox have a different understanding of the nature of faith.  Lennox says that Dawkins has been too influenced by Kant in his understanding of 'faith.'  For Dawkin's faith is something that is not based on evidence, for Lennox faith is something that is based on evidence.

8.  Lennox appeals to the fine tuning of the universe.  The fact that the Bible had claimed that there was a beginning before evidence existed of a beginning (put forward in the 1960's).  Aristotlian thought had hypothesised an eternal cosmos.  However, Dawkins points out that this is not too impressive given that there were only two options.

9.  In the God Delusion Dawkins claims that 'the whole argument turns on the question "who made God?"'  This is a weak argumentt.  For the Bible is clear that God is uncreated.  The atheist has the more difficult question to deal with, 'where did original matter come from?'

10.  In the God Delusion Dawkins makes reference to Northern Ireland among his references to the evils of religion.  I don't think that the conflict in Northern Ireland was primarily religiously driven, it was a ore basic tribalism.  In fact coming to a genuine Christian faith made many people move away from terrorism.  We could also point to the evils perpetuated by atheistic regimes like that of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

I don't claim that atheism on its own led to such oppression.  I think something within the human heart did.  Dawkins says that the problem with Stalin was something within him.  The question is whether this 'something' exists, to some extent, in all of us.  It would seem to me that there is both something moral within humankind and something twisted.  The accords with the Biblical view that we are created in the image of God and yet we are corrupted by a sinful nature.  Lennox says that 'the very fact that human beings all around the world show a common core of morality is evidence for the biblical claim that we are moral beings made in the image of God.'

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