John Lennox Has Science Buried God

when I started reading John Lennox's books and half of my books are you know stolen from friends like John Lennox I thought it's just madness that we've haven't had him at Socrates in the city but he played hard to get because if you know John he does them I had to go all the way to France with my my wife who hates French people by the way it just go talk to her just talk to she hates the French I hate the Dutch I'm sorry Heidi I apologize anybody Dutch people from Grand Rapids here I hate you in your theology so I had to go to France and the fact of the matter is that we've never done this before we did an outdoor Socrates in the city and it was we only got about 20 people in the audience you know and but I thought it's about the filming I want to film this this is John Lennox and it made me furious that we didn't have him and I wanted to interview him so we did it and we we have no advertising budget okay did I ask are there any billionaires in the room anybody if remind me asked that every 15 minutes but I said we have no budget but there's such a dramatic desire for this kind of information that the the first video that I did we did two hour long videos with John Lennox and he's so wonderful and the hunger for this kind of stuff it's such that I checked today it's had eighty-seven thousand views you know this is how many people are interested in high level science but I say that because I just want to let you all know there's a hunger in America for truth there's a hunger in America people who aren't even aware of the hunger are nonetheless hungry but they don't even they have forgotten that maybe there is some food out there for them and I'd like to think that what the Colson Center does what John does every day and what I try to do is to try to to feed that hunger but you need distribution right and so that's why we film things because you want to get this out there so I want to ask you please whenever this video comes out or any of the Socrates videos send it to your friends because they don't even know it's possible that a genius like John Lennox could be a Christian it's not possible well let me tell you it is possible some of you know John Lennox in case you don't he is to keep it simple a professor of mathematics at Oxford University this is the real Oxford Mississippi Oxford and he studied at Cambridge and that's the real Cambridge not the Harvard Cambridge he is Irish as you'll tell from his manner of speech which is annoyingly charming if he if he didn't have the the the accent I really don't know how he would come across but it make no matter what he says even if he insults you viciously you'll hate you have to laugh because it's so wonderful he is let me say this as far as I'm concerned a treasure to the church he has debated Richard Dawkins twice in public and here's the weird thing he was so good at both those debates that in fact he has defeated him three times do do that do the math he's also debated Christopher Hitchens and defeated him 1.5 times and anyway he's a mathematician I thought I'd throw in some low-level math math jokes but John Lennox has a secret weapon it's called the truth when you actually when you actually have the truth it does give you some advantage you'd figure right so his books speak for themselves he's internationally renowned in all the right circles but wouldn't it be wonderful if he were internationally renowned in all circles period I have to say that when I first interviewed him he I think he he wasn't sure what he was in for he just figures I'm a I'm an unserious jerk Joker who knows nothing about science but I I quickly disabuse them of that notion I used words like molality I think I referenced Avogadro's number now by the way I know you think I don't know science I have a god Rose number a lot of people saying oh I don't know what that is let me tell you something I had a I know of a God Rose number I actually well I had have a God Rose number I lost it and I can't call him and you know what Avogadro's it's a bad rap but but we were friends we still stay in touch on Facebook and and so my point is I'm smarter than you think and and I'd like to think that I'm up to a conversation with the great John Lennox I assure you I'm not but as the case with John Stonestreet I'm going to rely on the Lord to make it work how about a warm Socrates in the city round of applause for the truly great dr. John Lennox hi my goodness I know all right I can tell I can tell by the look on your face you've really had enough of my joking already dr. Lennox I apologize I won't it I won't do it anymore anything you'd like to say before you storm off I I think you should keep doing it because it keeps some of us less comical individuals moderately sane I think if I understood that correctly that was a compliment I thank you for that hey thank you for that my current wife is in the front row so don't say anything too nasty and she said don't say that current wife joke anymore and I've already failed I already failed she also told told me not to joke that she knew before I met her she was 400 pounds and I she told me not to tell that joke anymore and I will not tell that joke tonight John you let me call you John you were dr. Lennox you should be Sir John as far as I'm concerned but if you've written so much on the subject of faith and science that in the time that we have I would just like to wander around on this subject but the big question or the the question will throw out it's a rhetorical question is has science buried God you have written a tremendous amount of really wonderful readable books on issues touching that that subject so why don't we just start there if somebody asks you that question bluntly how do you answer well I answer it equally bluntly I say no it's gonna be a tough interview can you expand on that sir yes [Applause] hey know what that was brilliant well no that's not that simply clear that logic is not your strong point you see you see what happens when you joke around yeah this kind of stuff happens but the point is that there's a myth in our culture and it's a very dangerous myth the first part of it is to say that science is the only way to truth and that has had immense effect particularly in young people but not only because some very powerful voices of public intellectuals who are highly qualified scientists are urging for that position and it's actually very easy to see that that position is logically incoherent I love logic as eric has discovered but you see the statement science is the only way to truth is not a statement of science it's a statement about science so if it is true it is false and you need to think that out at this time tonight hang on me you know you got to let that one sink in a big part of doing my radio show is just hitting the pause button when somebody says something like that so that we can take it in if it's true it's false you know in other words yeah shall we say you know there were other words if you take the view that science is the only way to truth that statement cannot be true because it's not given to us by science and I think it's important to grasp some of the simpler arguments in this area the really great scientists have seen that science cannot possibly be the only way to truth that I mean the Natural Sciences for the simple reason as Sir Peter Medawar put it in his Nobel prize-winner science cannot answer the simple questions of a child where do I come from why am I here and where am I going and he says these are questions that can only be answered in terms of literature theology and philosophy and think about it if science were the only way to truth you'd have to close half the faculties in all the universities in the world you'd have no history you know economics you'd have no linguistics you'd have no languages you'd have very little no classics no philosophy no theology so it is nonsense but unfortunately people like Richard Dawkins believed it Hitchens believed it and more important still the late Stephen Hawking believed it now you ask me the question has science bury God I say absolutely not but I think and you may want to quiz me deeper in this later I think science can bury 80 ISM now that's a slightly different perspective because you see historically and history is immensely important where do we sit we sit in a period where we've had the exponential growth of science since the 16th and 17th centuries and we think of the Pioneers Galileo Kepler Newton Clark Maxwell Babbage Faraday and so on all of them believed in God and you see this is important because it's factual and people who think about these things like to say well is there any connection between the science they did and their faith in God the answer is of course there is because Christianity its view of the universe as created by an intelligence is at the bedrock of the development of modern science so far from science burying God it was belief in God that was the motor that drove the rise science and that's an immensely important thing that people forget I remember many years ago I gave the first lecture in 75 years in novice a bearskin Russia and that was an amazing situation they'd never allowed lectured the University before unchristian things but because I was a mathematician they thought I was dangerous right yes yeah so I was talking about this and I told the audience big audience packed full of people like tonight five six hundred of them all scientists from a very famous University and I could Jim go to doc in Siberia sorry goodsoon hey Robert the University of where akkad Jamie Goro doc little academic city just outside Novosibirsk and I told them this and I saw people getting really angry in the front row and I don't like angry people in my audiences and I'm sure Eric doesn't either but I stopped and there was a fairly hefty looking professor in the front row and I said excuse me sir I see you're angry what's the matter and he stood up and said you have told us that Newton believed in God Keppler believed in God Galileo believed in God why were we never told this is the first time my life I've ever heard that and I said can't you guess why you were never told I mean it was quite astonishing and they were furious at ignorant of history but there are many people in this country and in the UK who've no idea that science as culture those are vast debt to the Christian faith for a very simple reason in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth they are an intelligent product and because they're an intelligent product people believe that science could be done because it would be thinking God's thoughts after him so that's where I would begin it's not where I'd end but it's where I begin was nowhere I would begin here we are well tell me where you think I of course it's where I would begin if I were as bright as you but let me let me ask you when you say that I mean most of us are generally familiar with this idea that somehow today we live in a culture that would assume science has buried God and on and on and on it's why most of the people here more familiar with that by far then your you know average person out there because this is the Colson center and the Wilberforce weekend but maybe the question I can ask you is when did that idea creep into the West in other words if if Kepler and Galileo and Newton and on and on and on and on were all Christians when did this idea creep into the West that somehow science and Christian faith were at odds I wish I was a better historian because that's a very complicated question for the simple reason that these streams in culture a theistic stream the theistic stream and if you want to add in the pantheistic stream have been there for millennia you go back to the ancient Greeks from whom a great deal of wisdom comes to us and you had roughly the big division that exists in the Western Academy you had those that felt the universe was Roo was ruled by an iron fate the Stoics that there were gods they might be distant but there was something behind the universe there might be a divine logos and then there were the Epicureans who believed in doctrines of chance and that comes barreling up to us through history into the 21st century except John for many many centuries those ideas were really absent from the West yes they had been effectively abolished by Christianity by Christianity so when I mean I don't want to dwell on this but at some point they they found their way back I guess is it a combination of enlightenment thinking and then Darwin I mean I'm just whether certainly I think probably people analyze these things differently but you take Newton and Newton was a genius of the first order and he laid out the universe beautifully in terms of mathematics and discovered that mathematics gave us a brilliant description of how things work and it led to the idea that the universe was essentially a mechanical artifact and then people began to think well you know it seems to run very well on its own and we are able to research it without referring to any concept of someone who said it going so the idea of God setting it going started to recede into the past so you ended up in the 18th century with a lot of deism there is a God a way out there but he's not interested in the world and then of course you got the Enlightenment and the social situation in England was such that when you got the time of Darwin and Huxley there was more to it than simply using science to bury God Huxley who's famous he was furious at the existence of amateur scientists some of them were very brilliant like Bishop Wilberforce who challenged him and his idea was to have the church scientific and to change churches into spaces where they'd worship Sophia the goddess of wisdom and that was helped on by the French enlightenment because there they discovered that the best way to kill other people's ideas was to remove their heads and you had that move away which was compounded and you know more about this than I do yes by I'll say one more thing was compounded by a professing Christian Church that had no reality and was compromised morally and that turned the tables very rapidly I think and then you had people saying okay God was okay for a while as Stephen Hawking took this view but now we don't need to God anymore so the question I find myself addressing a lot these days is why was Hawking wrong when he said we don't need God anymore that's his famous book the grand design well that brings me to something that I wrote as a result of reading your books and I did want to mention it because it's great to record me please do oh thank you it's pretty pretty cheeky that's I have to say seriously after reading your books you know this this this passion I have for communicating things I thought to myself most of the Christians that I know now there are much fewer of them in a room like this but generally speaking when I talked to was that a joke and get this actually I mean that right because this is the Wilberforce weekend and these are the kind of folks who tend to be interested in that stuff but most people that I know who say they're Christians I would say have you ever heard of John Lennox no and I thought wow that is bad news because apart from his books and the books of one or two others we don't have much out there you really how can you not be familiar with this and so it was reading your books and the books of Hugh Ross and some others that led me when I wrote my miracles book to say the greatest miracle without a doubt is the fine-tuned universe but I got that from your books and when I when the book was published the publisher of course says can you you know can you write an op-ed boil it down into an op-ed so I wrote an op-ed with the title is science leading us to God because and this is a sense where you were going is is the strange thing is that up until fairly recently you could have made the case and they did make the case and it's still with us in the culture that the more science we know the less we need God which is just what you have said but in fact in the last 50 or so years the more science we know particularly about the fine-tuned universe the more horrified materialistic atheistic scientists are because the evidence seems overwhelmingly to point toward the thesis that there's a God so when you said that about whether we need God or not what did you mean well I think you've had two very important things there it's always interesting to hear people bring the fine-tuning argument I was challenged by one of Oxford's leading atheist philosophers he said I got about 70 students and we got a special dinner next week and I want you to come and allow them to grill you and you can see I look like toast but anyway he said I hope you're going to use your best argument against atheism how I said do you think there is a best argument against atheism and he said absolutely and I hope you're going to use it so naturally I said what is it he said if ever I was going to become a Christian the first thing I would go to are the remarkable evidences of fine tuning in our universe that make it hospitable to carbon-based life so I said thank you I'll do exactly that and I did but coming to the other half of your question which is the notion that is science increases God decreases and what you get there is technically called a God of the gaps which is regarded rightly as being intellectually lazy I can't explain it therefore God did it and that is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of explanation and explaining explanation is a very important thing and I've dedicated my last as a book on science history and everything explained to that because the mistake that's made and Richard Dawkins pushed this is that God and science compete as explanations so you have to choose between them and Hawking pushes that even further and I could never understand that why do you offer people a choice you either believe in God or science but not both and then it occurred to me that they're making two profound mistakes the first one is that they've got the wrong concept of God now that didn't strike me for many years you see when I was young which is a very long time ago and I used the word God in public in Ireland everybody knew I was talking about the Creator God of the Bible who sustains the universe but not now people like Stephen Hawking when I use the word God they think of something like a Greek deity or Zeus or something like this and they automatically assume that you're thinking of a God of the gaps I can explain lightning so I invent a God when you do some atmospheric physics that God disappears and the most important thing to realize that the God of the Bible is not a God of the gaps I don't know whether you've ever noticed the first sentence in the Bible in the beginning God created the bits of the universe we don't yet understand no in the beginning God created the heavens of the earth and that linguistically is a mere ISM it means everything the bits we do understand and the bits we don't understand now come back to Newton why did he write in the preface to preach appear mathematic of the most famous book in the history of science I hope this book persuades thinking people to believe in the deity because the more he understood of how it worked the more he admired the genius of the God that did it that way that's the way your mind works if you studied engineering you can understand a turbofan jet much better than I can if you understand art you can follow the details of a Rembrandt painting better than I can the more you understand the more you admire the genius and that is just so important so Newton's faith and my faith indeed in God increases because the heavens are constantly and increasingly in detail declaring his glory that's actually the way it works but then there's the other side and that is this the God explanation is not the same as the science explanation let me illustrate it very briefly if I may why is the water boiling well because heat energy from the gas burner is being conducted through the base of the kettle agitating the molecules and it's boiling okay it's actually boiling by the same desperate for a cup of tea now you're laughing now what does your laughter tell me you see it's a false opposition because both explanations are correct now think about that this is very simple I find kids can understand it but many professors cannot and I explain that in a moment you see the scientific explanation is telling you how it works but I have also given a personal explanation in terms of human volition I want a cup of tea and I think about it which is the more important of those two well people have been enjoying tea for thousands of years before they knew about equations wait isn't that so those explanations don't conflict they don't compete they complement and I sometimes put it to people and say look Dodd no more competes with real science as an explanation of the universe then Henry Ford competes with the basic laws of physics and the law of internal combustion as an explanation for the motorcar you need both and that is such a simple idea whether you're scientists or not you can point out explanation comes at different levels but some of these people will explicitly say the why question is not valid I've heard or consider publicly well we do ask it still and it's a very important question and I think if we begin to grasp that it takes the heat out of a lot of things can you repeat that about the heat do you know you you you said a little bit ago that the question has science buried god no but science may well burry atheism yes I I want to write a very popular a level book about that in general because just science from what I know I mean I'm convinced that if a fair-minded person reads those chapters just in my book of miracles they've got to be convinced that the only rational explanation for anything is that there is a God I'm convinced of it we can't prove it but when you say well not in the mathematical sense you can't but you can prove it in the ordinary sense of giving strong evidence for it okay but what I meant was obviously not in the mathematical sense because you're that you're the mathematician so what I mean is that if you are serious about determining whether there is a God if anything it does seem to me that science can either take the farthest science can take you is to in the direction of atheism is I don't know in other words pure science can only take you to agnosticism it can never take you to to atheism it's not possible I think that's correct the very interesting thing you you frame the question that I ought to attempt to answer it why do I think that science can bury eight years of them it's because science can be done that may seem a very simple statement to you but it is an amazing thing how is it that a mathematician thinking in her head in here and comes up with equations and they appear to apply to the universe out there how does that work now I gained vig norm one Nobel Prize for Physics and he talks about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics we don't deserve it it's a miracle well he's wrong it's only unreasonable if you start by believing atheism but if you start by believing that there's a rational intelligence behind the universe then doing science is reasonable what am I saying I'm saying that the Christian has a rationale for doing science which brings me back to the rise of science but let me come now to the eighth position and I am fortunate to have many atheist friends and I raise these questions with them and they sometimes say to me why are you not an atheist and they expect me to say because I'm a Christian I sometimes do you say that because it's part of the reason but if they're scientists I say because I'm a scientist if you'll allow a mathematician to be a scientist and they say how is that possible well tell me I say what do you do science width and I point up here to make it fairly obvious and most of them say well I do it with my and they're about to say mind when they realize it's not politically correct to believe in the mind there's only the brain that is a common view you are your brain so I let that sit for a minute I say okay you do science with your brain tell me about your brain with which you do science what do you really believe about it give me a short history of the brain oh they say that's relatively easy because the brain is the end product of the minds of some guided process and I look at them and I sometimes smile and I say and you trust it be honest with me if you knew that the computer you use every day in your lab was the end product of a mindless unguided process would you trust it and I always force an answer and I've asked dozens of world famous scientists and every single one of them had said no I see you have a problem then here you're doing science and I'm asking you for a rational justification of your faith this is hugely important and you may want to unpack this we've been miss educated by atheists to think there's science there and there's faith here now faith is a dangerous word in that context because it is two meanings one is the Christian faith that you faith and so on the other is your subjective faith and so the impression the culture get is science doesn't involve faith Christianity does that is very dangerously wrong science involves faith simply you don't do science unless you believe it can be done more precisely you don't do it unless you believe the universe is at least in part rationally intelligible you've got to believe that in order to do science but neither deep and important question is why do you believe that as an atheist if the thing you're doing science with is something you wouldn't trust in other words what I'm suggesting to you is very simple it's that atheism followed to its logical conclusion destroys rationality and they look at me sometimes and they say where did you get that argument from I said you'll never guess where did you get it from I say Charles Darwin actually what yes I say he wrote a letter once where he said I'm troubled by the awful thought that the mind which I believe are the brain has come together by natural processes what would there be in a monkey's mind if you can even talk about it and Lewis saw this years ago brilliantly in his book of miracles he said no argument can be valid that undermines rationality and if we believe that rationality is simply the end product of mindless unguided natural processes that is the end not only of science but of all meaning that is what I mean when I say that atheism in the end unravels rationality now we have watched it happen in our code not yet in science what we've seen it in morality because it all ended up being relative and subjective and it's simply anybody's opinion good and bad are disappearing so I think there's a huge issue here so I'm very happy to say to people follow the argument now there are two people worth reading on this one is Alvin Plantinga brilliant American philosopher and a Christian but the other is Thomas Nagel who lives in the same cities you do have you met him I have not I'd love to interview him for Socrates in the city and if you have any way to connect us at it well I would love to meet him because he has written a fascinating book called mind and cosmos now that's innocuous but it's a subtitle it's a revolutionary he's a hard a theist he has in print he does not want there to be a God but he says there's a problem with the naturalistic philosophy because it seems that if you follow it down the road it dissolves rationality and that simply can't be true and he's desperate to get a way out without introducing God as Alvin Plantinga said once he really ought to be a Christian if he follows his argument but he hasn't got there yet so I'm very interested in these cultural developments when atheists are beginning to admit there's a huge problem now it's even bigger than that because it has to do with the nature of information as being a non material thing but we might come onto that at some stage are you going to talk about the chicken on the menu oh I can do you want me to tell you what you just said made me think of that it's like we're an old vaudeville team they just say well let me let me ask you I want to give you some food so it's very good example of course it is it's your example and I remembered it but before you before you get to that because that's deep stuff I want to just backtrack a little bit and ask you about the idea that when you say to somebody with what do you do science and they point and they say the brain you say tell me about the brain how did it how did the brain get there random mutations over time so on and so forth wouldn't I'm surprised that none of these people you've asked has said because I believe in the survival of the fittest I believe that that my brain though produced by random mutations has has selected for the best and it's only rational to think that that brain which is most rational would be selected so I it would lean me in the direction of thinking though I can't prove it that I can trust random evolution to produce a brain mm-hmm a real problem there I think is one step back if you whatever evolution does or doesn't do that's a subject at its own right and it's more for the biologists and for the mathematicians but the one very obvious thing that Richard Dawkins missed for years is that evolution by definition cannot explain life itself for the simple reason that whatever evolution does or doesn't do it requires life in existence before it can start so it cannot and this is so important because Dawkins famous book world famous book the blind watchmaker have you heard of that book in the middle of it his main thesis is the blind unguided mechanism of natural selection which Darwin discovered is the explanation for I quote the existence and the variation of all of life it's only relatively recently in the last few years that it admitted that the first half of that statement is completely false prebiotic evolution said the famous theodosius dobzhansky a biologist is a contradiction in terms so you have to get life going that that's the problem well and if you want to follow that one of the most interesting people on the planet discussing origin of life questions as scientists is James tour of Rice University I just wrote the word a B of Genesis on the page because this morning was reading about James Tor talking about that and I was just gonna say no one ever talks about that and I'm thrilled you brought it up because let's say we believe in evolution I don't but if you do you believe in random unguided evolution blind Darwinism you do have to ask the question and people you realize that people have kind of fudged it in others they act as though the primordial soups creation of life is part of a continuum into evolution beyond single cells and so on and so forth but you have to say wait a second and you've just said this that effectively wait a minute there is no life to go from no life to life without this idea of the survival of the fittest there's nothing James Torres probably correctly from wrong maybe the greatest nano chemist in the world oh yes well many people think he should have the Nobel Prize he's an absolute genius yeah well he well worth watching he is I've not yet I've interviewed him on my radio program but not yet at Socrates in the in the city but when he talks about the idea and he says well okay I create I create molecules in the lab I'm the world expert on creating molecules and I can promise you as the world expert on creating molecules not life but just molecules that there's no way that they can create themselves no and I yeah I'd like you to talk a little bit about that because we hardly ever think about that we're always arguing about evolution but this is well let's step back from it because most of the biggest difficulties occur before evolution whatever does and it has at least five different meanings they whatever it does it's the existence of life that is the big issue and life is at least in part has got a very very clear programmable dimension the longest word we've ever discovered is the DNA molecule three point four five billion letters long in a four-letter chemical alphabet with all those letters in the right place unless there's some sort of genetic defect it's a word and you see words you look up at that screen there you see words the moment you see words you know there's a lot of electronics represented up there and a lot of high-powered technology but you can tell instantly that there's a mind behind what's up there can't you it's an instant intuition upwards not downwards to mindless unguided processes and that's the point of my menu illustration should I bring that in I was just gonna say you've practically already brought it in because it's the same idea I was referring to it with Suzanne today that we've got to talk about the roast chicken on the menu so now is the time well very good and this has happened several times in my college with nice dinners and this particular occasion our seating plan is arranged and there was a very famous biochemist actually from Oxford and he was sitting beside me and he made the mistake of asking me what I did and I said I'm a pure mathematician and his face grew very solemn and he said how dreadfully boring so I not to be outdone I said well yes I understand my subject is not all that's socially acceptable but I tried to make up for it by being interested in the really big questions he said what big questions well I said questions of for mathematic fits of the science where it fits into the big story is there a big story oh he said it's far worse than I thought listen he said I'm an atheist I'm a reductionist we've nothing to talk about and we're going to have a really miserable evening so I said are we I said you just had a spark with me reductionism is fascinating I said I know at least three kinds what kind are you well I'm a kind Irishman I had to help him a little bit I said you know I'm a reductionist too most of us are in the sense that if we got a complex problem we'll try and split it into simpler problems solve those and then get insight on the big problem he says I do that well I said we have something to talk about but he said you know I don't mean that I said I know exactly what you mean you're an ontological reductionist from the Greek word on toss meaning being everything you can reduce to physics and chemistry he said exactly so I said why don't we do an experiment then he said what at the dinner table I said sure this is Oxford so I pick up the menu a short term and he reads roast chicken he said what's the problem I said none for me but how did you work that out well it says it how do you know that well I've learned that these marks they represent letters of the English alphabet and in that form and in that order they have a meaning okay said your reductionist yes everything in terms of physics chemistry yes okay explain to me the way those marks carry meaning in terms of the physics and chemistry of the paper I think silence and his wife who was sitting beside him very nicely said get out of that if you can but now this is the honest bet he didn't try he said I can't he said you know for 40 years I've gone into my lab and here in Oxford believing that can be done and he said I can't can it I said well you're telling me he said of course it can you can't do it without a mind I said no you can't I said what do you study in your research DNA he said I said what about that you've looked at four letters ro ast five letters and you've come to the conclusion there's a mind behind them on the menu what about the 3.5 billion letters you study oh he said that's chance of necessity I said pardon chance of the laws of nature he says there's no alternative I said of course there's an alternative and it's the same one that you recognized by five letters I said you have a real problem and our culture has a real problem because now we come to the deeper question how do you define science because for many people it's off-limits to introduce a mind as a source for information you see this is the key thing that makes all the difference for many years unfortunately misled by a certain physicist many people have believed that information is a physical quantity it isn't it's an abstract quantity and you see for me that's the end of materialism because no amount of material processes can generate abstract information like words but the biblical revelation now comes in and turns it all upside down and says in the beginning was the word this is a word based universe and life i beliee required god who created the whole thing to do something special and you see that is revolutionary today it's ruled out in principle by many people but they've no scientific reason for ruling it out the evidence is so strong that people cannot see it so that's a little bit moving in that direction there's not more that one can say but it seems to me that what the bible is doing is putting its finger on something utterly profound John at the very beginning of his gospel says in the beginning was the word that's an existence statement the word already was the word is eternal all things well many versions unfortunately say we're made by him that's true but that's not what it says what it says is all things came to be through him that is the universe is word-based now the current views of the astrophysicists are that the universe came from nothing and it created itself so now our culture is faced with the raw choice between God and nothing I never thought we'd reach that but nothing is a very interesting topic and I'm tempted to say something about it but since there's nothing I won't I have a I have a question for you and it's funny John I'm only asking this because you're here and I thought what a great opportunity when we talk about a bo Genesis we talked about there's this moment when stuff becomes what we call life what would you say what do you say if somebody asks you okay what is life what is it that we have here and at what moment does it become this other thing here we call life does anyone know no nobody can answer that question the basic questions like that are unanswerable they're unanswerable certainly in scientific terms that's where tor does a work of genius on this but even if you bring God into it asking the question what is life in terms of what is the difference between a dead body lying there the living person they were two minutes ago these are hugely profound things but I'm not embarrassed by them for the simple reason we don't know what energy is we can use it but we don't know what it is we don't really know what gravity is does anyone claim to know I mean it seems to me at some point where a lot of this is philosophy oh it's more than it is science and are there any is there anybody who claims for example to know what energy is I mean when I go son some people do but when I first heard you say you were I guess was in our conversation in France you said we don't know what energy is and you had asked some scientists what is energy and it's a fascinating thing to suddenly stop and to realize my goodness we don't even know what energy is we talk about it we put it in equations and we don't even know what it is but that's the interesting thing you see that brings me back to another very important aspect of the nature of explanation the current culture says if you've got a scientific explanation that's it it's not it you see take gravity we got a law of gravity but even Newton realize when he discovered it that it didn't tell him what gravity is so the law of gravity in physics doesn't tell you what gravity is nobody knows what it is what it does give you is a brilliant mathematical way of calculating say the movement of two heavy bodies relative to one another in different orbits but it doesn't tell you what gravity is and here's the profound mistake that even within science scientific explanations are usually only the tip of the iceberg and Newton very famously saw he says non Fingal who put AZ in his book I do not make hypothesis that is I cannot tell you I can't explain what gravity is but I give you this wonderful mathematical equation we need to be a lot more humble about what we know and what we do not know it's wonderful researching these things I would love to see a replay and I hope I do one day off the beginnings of the universe and of life and all this kind of thing but what guides me in my thinking and science cannot fault it falsify it it supports it is that a certain discrete intervals through Earth's history God did something special and God said that's the exact opposite of a bind less unguided process and it's not often said that's the interesting thing but it is said at the intersection of non-life and life and the intersection between animals and human beings almost as if the writer of genesis anticipated a huge debate so the idea of God speaking is such a powerful one because when physicists and I start talking about information and that we need to treat it as a separate quantity here's the Bible has been talking about it for millennia it's put its finger on the key issue and you know we need to spread these ideas I that's why I'm so pleased of the opportunity of chatting with Eric and with you about them well John let me ask you would you you want to just continue this conversation or very happy to whatever you like you're the boss roast chicken let me ask you one one question what you just said about Newton discovering the law of gravity and but then you're telling me that 350 some years after Newton discovers the law of gravity we still don't know what it is no not that any absolute sense we talk about warps and space-time and all this kind of thing but what is it exactly and I'm not quoting myself as a humble pure mathematician I including richard fineman it was one of the brightest physicists in the world American Nobel Prize winner and absolute genius at Caltech when they say that kind of thing and no one knows who don't let people kid you he said no one knows what energy is these really bright people are humble and I find that very impressive there's a great deal of ignorance out there but there's enough evidence to say which way things are pointing and I like to go for the big issues you see we can talk about the results of science we've done very little of that tonight except for them fine-tuning it's the nature and philosophy of science that I find very convincing when it comes to the god question and what is so interesting and it just picks up something you said a moment or two nobody can get rid of the idea of creation so you reject God and you end up with a self creating universe and that's a contradiction in terms and one of the things I've tried to do and I've written a little book about it called God and Stephen Hawking is to show how the attempt by these people to avoid God leads them to nonsense strictly speaking nonsense and you see it's interesting Newton discovered gravity and for him it was a reason to glorify God Stephen Hawking studied gravity and for him it was his reason for rejecting God and I compared those two in my book how do you move and it's partly your question from Newton to Hawking and the heart of Hawking's argument is this because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing and when I first read that I thought what because there is a law like gravity that is because there is something the universe will create itself from nothing that is a flat contradiction and the universe creating itself is sheer nonsense I won't go into that it ought to be obvious and it bothers me when very high-powered intellectuals like Hawking and he was a genius I remember him at Cambridge and brain part light-years ahead of me but it was very interesting that Lord Reese our astronomer royal made this point he said I know Stephen well he'd written quite a number of scientific papers of Stephen Hawking and he says he knows little philosophy and no theology and we shouldn't listen to a single thing he says on those topics and that was a very brave thing to put into public space around the time of his death but you see ladies and gentlemen here's a little principle that you might find useful not every statement by a scientist is the statement of science but the trouble is when a scientist of note says it the authority of science gets conferred on that statement so when Carl Sagan begins his famous television series cosmos the universe is all that was is or ever shall be that isn't a statement of science it's a statement of his atheistic beliefs and therefore you got asked what is your evidence for that you see ladies and gentlemen it is a mistake to think that only Christians are people of faith I was asked by the BBC some time ago what did I think of faith schools and I said which kind do you mean the ordinary state secular kind that's pumping atheism into the minds of children and getting them to believe and then I said what did you say I said you heard me every school in our country as a faith school so which are you talking about they do not realize that their belief system their atheism is a matter of belief shall I tell them a little story about that or is it to NATO all right who wants a story about that I debated Peter Singer who's a very famous American professor but he's from Australia in Melbourne on his home turf it was absolutely packed to Town Hall and I all that my parents are believers and so on and when he stood up to speak he said well there goes that's it that's my chief objection to religion everybody believes remains in the faith with which they grow up and I thought this is going to be very interesting so when I got the chance to speak I said Peter I told them about my parents what about yours were they atheists yes he said they were Oh I said how interesting um so you stayed in the faith that you grew up in all but he said that isn't a faith I said Peter I'm so sorry I thought you believed it yeah this this kind of stuff is very in scientific you realize it is but there was one of the world's top rated philosophers who didn't realize his atheism was a belief system and this is the trouble in our culture the people that are trying to silence you are silencing you in tolerantly because of what they believe and Dawkins writes in a book atheists have no faith and then writes 400 pages about what he believes and we need to see how ridiculous this is because it frightens me that people are buying into it we are people who believe in Christ and if people say why do you do that we need to have answers and we've every right to expect atheists agnostics and everybody else to answer the question why do you believe what you believe well nowhere to go this is I want to I just feel I have to indulge myself when you said earlier this has nothing to do with anything except my curiosity when you said earlier that we don't know what gravity is in the 350 years since it was the theory was discovered by Newton has anyone put forward any reasonable ideas in other words the idea that this vast mass called the Sun has an effect on the earth and all the other planets I guess the question is has anyone ever put forward an idea and maybe I just don't know about this because I'm not a scientist of what it might be are there particles that somebody has postulated that carry gravity and all this kind of thing yes all kinds of things have been possible that sounds very abstract it is very abstract and you see I mentioned just briefly that people say it's a warp in space-time but not have a problem what is time and you know what now what is time what it's yes what is time can we what do you say about that I mean that's a great another one of these great philosophical questions but from a scientist who will you said I don't know we don't know I don't know and you get intriguing insights in scripture that show us that it's very complicated before Abraham was I am unpack that you see these questions what is time what is consciousness and so on we studied them and they're fascinating to work out whatever we can in terms of processes that we can observe but where I feel the missing factor is is expressed by the late Antony flew there was a brilliant philosopher as a theist for most of his life and then he suddenly was told about DNA and at language and all this kind of thing and he was brave enough as an elderly man to put on the record that he come to say that this language structure could not possibly have arisen from material processes and he was asked where did he how did he get there and he said I followed the evidence where it leads and that's all I plead for the public I am resolved as a younger person at Cambridge that I wanted to expose my faith in Christ and in God and open it up to questions spent my entire life for friending people that have a different worldview so to put into the public space and that's why I had so much admire your work or the work of the Colson Institute and the CS Lewis Institute and Sewer put into the public space so that people will say there's a credible alternative to what they're being taught and we need to have a lot of courage to do that otherwise we all be silenced I could go on asking questions forever we don't have a lot of time here's what I'd like to do John said he does not like questions sequentially that sounds very confusing yes I explained it yeah just tell me hey we're three and we look at them but here's what I'd like to do I know that there's a microphone someplace but if you can't get to it if you can shout your question this is very important we're gonna take three questions that's it so they better be good if you raise your hand and you blow it a lot of people looking at you so the question we may have to hand that microphone around that we may have to hand that around to the guy in the front row there since he's brave enough to this guy and then we need a Latina female just to keep it even if you don't mind we want to have biodiversity in the group so what we're going to do now is we're gonna ask let me let me set the rules here I'm gonna be strict about this first of all you must you must I will shut you off you must please put your question in the form of a question okay and you must limit it to 100 syllables okay and I say this because it's dr. Lennox preference that we take three brief questions the kind that you could just write down in a sentence and then he will respond to all three as he pleases in the remaining time yes sir we speak a lot about science true the next question what about mathematics is there evidence within pure mathematics itself is there evidence within mathematics itself for God's hand very well done sir would you carry that microphone to someone who has an equally terse question that gentleman right there in the middle row we're ready so I just want to know I think it's predictable to hear all kinds of questions whatever you go but I just curious I would like to know what would you if anything say to the Lord when you meet him face to face - the what - the Lord Jesus Christ so the Christian God's Jesus of Nazareth thank you and won't you sign my book we use Sunday to the Lord you're gonna get thrown out watch it what would you say to the Lord when you when you meet him okay and then the third and final question we need some kind of an ethnic female it's not funny - are you ethnic you sure we also if you don't mind we need you to be diverse are you diverse do you think that our acceptance of abortion forces us to believe in nothing instead of God does abortion does our acceptance of abortion great question does our acceptance of abortion force us to think to believe to believe in nothing rather than God okay Wow alright John I have them written down if you don't and if you do I still have them written down yes is there evidence within mathematics itself well if you are talking about the results of mathematics all of this kind of evidence is indirect and the point I tried to make so I'll make it again is the very fact that there seems to be a correlation between mathematics and physics and what goes on in the universe out there that the universe is mathematically describable is perfectly consistent with the idea that there is a designing creator now I say it's perfectly consistent with it doesn't prove that that word fleetly flitted in the night of our conversation proof in the rigorous sense only occurs in pure mathematics it doesn't occur in any other intellectual discipline not even physics chemistry or anything else what happens there is the kind of thing the lawyers talk about when they say prove it beyond reasonable doubt that is there are pointers there's evidence that doesn't mean it's weak I cannot prove mathematically that my wife to have been married for 50 odd years loves me but I've risked my life on it in other words there's enough evidence to do that and it's the same within the Christian faith but it's the fact that mathematics works that I find is the most impressive thing like many of those pioneer people say God has revealed to us how the universe works in the language of mathematics and it's the most compressed language there is and because language for me points inexorably to mind then the most complex languages point to the most complex mind that's how it answer your question but it's not that you can come up with an algebraic equation X plus y equals there therefore God equals exists it's not like that at all so the second thing well I'm going to take question three next what is the acceptance of abortion say now this is a hugely sensitive question for many people but what it tells us is largely about worldview I remember having a session with a famous Oxford ethicist who was a student of Peter Singer and Peter Singer as you may know argues in print that parents ought of a license after birth to put to death the children especially disabled children that is a logical outcome of his atheism and when I debated him I had some horrible letters in advance telling me to crucify him to go for the jugular and they were violent with awful likely or probably reformed theology people well they they were Christian people sadly only I wondered what to do because everybody in the audience knew about these utterly radical views and ethics so I started and you can see it on the web I started by saying Peter singers famous for his use of ethics but we're here tonight to debate the question of God and I would just like to say I disagree wholeheartedly with some of his views and ethics but what I observe is they flow from his atheistic worldview now I remember speaking to a very brilliant person who's involved with in vitro fertilization and we were talking about the status of the embryo and in fact just to let you know I take these questions so seriously that I took time out five years ago to do a master's degree in bioethics because the ethical questions are very important indeed and this person said to me look what's your problem early on in life that's just undifferentiated cells and they start to differentiate but it's just a blob a complex of cells I said that's your philosophy coming through try and see it from my perspective that is life but what kind of life it's not plant life it's not fish life it's not animal life it's human life and if you allow that life to develop without interfering you get a human being made of the image of God and I just quietly said tell me by what authority you can interfere with that now you see it depends on your worldview and what the world is very slowly waking up to is that concepts of right and wrong are actually worldview determined to a very large extent Richard Dawkins actually denies that they exist which is very odd for a person who thinks that Christianity is evil Jonathan let me jump in from Yemen because isn't it true that unless you believe in the God of the Bible in fact they don't exist they can't exist they are utterly subjective that's absolutely true Dostoyevsky I'm very interested in Russian literature and Dostoyevsky once said yes li bogan yet - he oppas volume which means if God does not exist everything is permissible he didn't mean atheist can't behave of course they can they're made in the image of God but he meant there's no rational basis for morality if there isn't a God now we haven't touched in this argument tonight but for me it's immensely powerful there's the scientific kind of arguments but there are also rational arguments that have to do with the origin of morality does morality simply come horizontally and the answer is no if you trace the origin of morality and scripture you'll find God to find it at the beginning and that is staggeringly important don't eat that tree you can eat of everything else but the day you do you'll surely die and the mess our world is in is the result of that grasping at human autonomy that I have the right to define what is right and what is wrong that is where it all started and we need to see a very big picture here now tonight is not the place to go into all the moral dilemmas that people bring up on the quest of abortion what I think is very important to begin with is to try to understand what the central issue is and for me the dignity that you have is conferred by the statement that you are made in the image of God have you ever thought what that means the universe is glorious I love watching Andromeda galaxies through my telescope but you know I know it's there it doesn't know I'm here it shows God's glory it is not made in His image you are and that gives you an infinite dignity and what the battle is about is about human dignity and there are all kinds of very important arguments of a personhood and all this kind of stuff but basically I go back again and again and again to the book of Genesis because it is so enormous ly important not just a word on the third question what will I say when eternity dawns I've often thought of that question and I think I shall be pretty speechless to start with and I'll tell you what I might think I've often thought this when my wife and I and we hope we grew together and eternity breaks upon us I might just say this do you know dear if I had known that it was going to be like this I would have invested far more in it ladies and gentlemen we are all on a big journey how tragic it would be not to do what CS Lewis did and open that eternal world so that it's even more real in our expectation in this world but to be forced by an unintelligent atheism to believe that we're in a closed a universe of cause and effect and there's no nothing transcendent I'd say that there is another world I came down from heaven said Jesus and he's going to come back and I think the other thing I'll do is fall flat at his fate and say thank you thank you ladies and gentlemen [Applause]