By Scott Giger
A thousand-plus students gathering for an event really is not a big deal at the University of Michigan. Around twenty thousand students attend football games. Four thousand students cheer on Wolverine Men’s Basketball. Some freshman general education classes enroll five hundred.
However, when 1200 people attend a talk given at U-M by a prominent Christian, that is something noteworthy. Add to that number another 300 or so that could not get in and had to be turned away and you know that something special was occurring.
The something special was a talk by Dr. John C. Lennox of Oxford University. The Veritas Forum (of which the University Lutheran Chapel is a sponsor) invited Dr. Lennox in to speak on the topic of God and science. This is a broad topic to be sure, and it was only further complicated by the title for his talk, “Does science need God? This Oxford Professor says, ‘Yes.’”
Speaking in question-and-answer format moderated by Dr. John Ciociori of the U-M, Dr. Lennox did not disappoint, countering some of the arguments commonly supported by atheistic scientists and philosophers including Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Christopher Hitchens.
Far from merely trying to score a verbal “smack down” of those who differ in worldview, Lennox sought to give a theistic basis for a much broader worldview, one in which God and science are in concert rather than competition. “I do science because I am a believer,” Lennox explained, “There is a thesis to which I adhere. [People] became scientific because they believed in the law of nature and they believed in the law of nature because they believed in a law giver.”
I do science because I am a believer.
This fundamental presupposition lies at the foundation of true academic endeavors to understand both the laws of nature and their effects. This is the pursuit of science. The Bible not only supports scientific pursuit, it insists upon it.
He contrasts this view with that of the current zeitgeist of naturalism. Within the naturalist framework, or worldview, the human mind is the source of all knowing, and all knowing about knowing, creating logical fallacies and incoherencies that must be addressed.
The Bible not only supports scientific pursuit, it insists upon it.
Lennox cited Ann Arbor-born Dr. Alvin Plantinga, “If Dawkins is right and we are the product of mindless, unguided, natural processes then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce, including Dawkins’ own science and his atheism.”
He added, “[Atheistic] biology and belief in naturalism would appear to be at war with each other in a conflict that has nothing to do with [belief in] god.” There is a logic problem that must be resolved before naturalism even enters the arena of debate. Lennox would go on to assert, “Naturalism shoots itself not in the foot, but in the head.”
Following his presentation, there was an opportunity for some audience members to ask questions. Ranging from softballs to antagonism, he addressed them with the same wit, personality and intelligence as the questions from the moderator.
He concluded with a question about other gods and universal salvation. “Religion centered around all other gods is in opposition to the Christian belief because of one simple fact: They are merit based. The Christian God doesn’t love me because I followed him. He loves me and I am free to follow him. He loves me and I am free to be a scientist…well, as much as a pure mathematician is allowed to be called a scientist.”
He loves me and I am free to follow him. He loves me and I am free to be a scientist.
It isn’t hard to see why the over-capacity crowd left satisfied and yet more curious than ever.