Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: God and Stephen Hawking by John C. Lennox

SEATTLE - Eminent scientist Stephen Hawking's latest contribution to the so-called New Atheist debate The Grand Design claims that the laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being, rather than God. In this swift and forthright reply, John C. Lennox, Oxford mathematician and author of God's Undertaker, exposes the flaws in Hawking's logic in his latest book, God and Stephen Hawking (Kregel Publishers, September 2011, ISBN: 9780745955490, $5.99).

God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?Science has immense cultural and intellectual authority in our sophisticated modern world. With this kind of cache, it must nevertheless be pointed out that not all statements by scientists are statements of science. Therefore such statements do not carry the authority of authentic science, even though it is often erroneously ascribed to them.

Commonly written off as the inevitable clash between science and religion, the God debate is actually one between theism and atheism, where there are scientists on both sides. With a remarkable surge of interest in God that defies the so-called secularization hypothesis, it could well be that it is precisely the perceived failure of secularization that is driving the God question ever higher on the agenda. Book after book is being published on the subject by prominent scientists, as Francis Collins, Richard Dawkins, Robert Winston, etc. But were Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Maxwell, to name a few, really all wrong on the God question?

With such a lot at stake we surely need to ask Hawking to produce evidence to establish his claim. Do his arguments really stand up to close scrutiny? Has the Grand Master of Physics checkmated the Grand Designer of the Universe?

In lively, layman's terms, Lennox guides us through the key points in Hawking's arguments-with clear explanations of the latest scientific and philosophical methods and theories-and demonstrates that, far from disproving a Creator God, they make His existence seem all the more probable. Lennox's book is a great resource for Christians, churches and those in ministry who seek to educate themselves and open authentic dialog with those who question.

Praise for God and Stephen Hawking:

"A brilliant response to Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design. Make sure you hear both sides of the argument."

-Alister McGrath, author of The Dawkins Delusion
My thoughts on the book:
God and Steven Hawking is a little book, one that can be read in just a few hours and is understandable by the common man (at least mostly understandable!). I gained a lot of food for thought from reading it, even though I didn't grasp all of the scientific language contained within. I think the best way for me to show you what the book is like is for me to share a few of the quotes that helped me the most in comprehending what Hawkings wrote and the arguments against his ideas:
"God does not conflict or compete with the laws of physics as an explanation. God is actually the ground of all explanation, in the sense that he is the cause in the first place of there being a world for the laws of physics to describe." (p. 37)
"Hawking has signally failed to answer the central question: why is there something rather than nothing? He says that the existence of gravity means the creation of the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity come to exist in the first place? What was the creative force behind its birth? Who put it there, with all its properties and potential for mathematical description in terms of law? Similarly, when Hawking argues in support of his theory of spontaneous creation, that it was only necessary for "the blue touch paper" to be lit to "set the universe going", I am tempted to ask: where did this blue touch paper come from? Is it clearly not part of the universe, if it set the universe going. So who lit it, in the sense of ultimate causation, if not God?" (p. 44)
"What is very interesting in all of this is the impression being given to readers of The Grand Design that God is somehow rendered unnecessary, or non-existent, by science. Yet when one examines the arguments one can see that the intellectual cost of doing so is impossibly high, since it involves an attempt to get rid of the Creator by conferring creatorial powers on something that is not in itself capable of doing any creating - an abstract theory."   
"(Hawking says) Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. "
"What does Hawking mean by 'spontaneous creation'? It sounds very much like an uncaused cause, an expression often cited as a paradoxical way of describing God. And even if there were such a thing as spontaneous creation it would scarcely be a reason, would it? A reason would be something that replaced the dots in the statement, 'There is something rather than nothing because...'. Hawking's statement seems to be saying, 'There is something rather than nothing because there is something - and that something comes about spontaneously without any cause or reason except, maybe, that it is possible and just happens.'" (p. 68)
There are a few more resources that I would recommend if you want to go further in your research of this subject: Expelled (DVD), I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler, and Collision (DVD).
I give God and Stephen Hawking 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

(I received this book from LitFuse Publicity for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)

John C. Lennox is Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at the University of Oxford, and author of the bestselling God's Undertaker. He lectures on faith and science at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He has lectured around the world, including in the United States for Ravi Zacharias; in Austria; and in the former Soviet Union. For more about John C. Lennox, please visit


Kate {The Parchment Girl} said...

This sounds like an excellent addition to my collection of apologetics books! I have to admit I'm much more interested in apologetics based on philosophy than apologetics based on scientific argument, but this book interests me because it's a direct answer to an atheist book. I'll definitely be adding this one to my TBR list!

Anonymous said...

Philosophy is dead. Is Logic dead also?

How did the scientists come to know that an entire universe could come out of nothing? Or, how did they come to know that anything at all could come out of nothing? Were they present at that moment when the universe was being born? As that was not the case at all, therefore they did not get that idea being present at the creation event. Rather they got this idea being present here on this very earth. They have created a vacuum artificially, and then they have observed that virtual particles (electron-positron pairs) are still appearing spontaneously out of that vacuum and then disappearing again. From that observation they have first speculated, and then ultimately theorized, that an entire universe could also come out of nothing. But here their entire logic is flawed. These scientists are all born and brought up within the Christian tradition. Maybe they have downright rejected the Christian world-view, but they cannot say that they are all ignorant of that world-view. According to that world-view God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. So as per Christian belief-system, and not only as per Christian belief-system, but as per other belief-systems also, God is everywhere. So when these scientists are saying that the void is a real void, God is already dead and non-existent for them. But these scientists know very well that non-existence of God will not be finally established until and unless it is shown that the origin of the universe can also be explained without invoking God. Creation event is the ultimate event where God will have to be made redundant, and if that can be done successfully then that will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God does not exist. So how have they accomplished that job, the job of making God redundant in case of creation event? These were the steps:
1) God is non-existent, and so, the void is a real void. Without the pre-supposition that God does not exist, it cannot be concluded that the void is a real void.
2) As virtual particles can come out of the void, so also the entire universe. Our universe has actually originated from the void due to a quantum fluctuation in it.
3) This shows that God was not necessary to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going, as because there was no creation event.
4) This further shows that God does not exist.
So here what is to be proved has been proved based on the assumption that it has already been proved. Philosophy is already dead for these scientists. Is it that logic is also dead for them?

Let G. said...

Thank you for your review on this book, you sure have read a lot of books. Have you also read God for God? also by Lennox. Here he provided a logically sound, and profoundly credible arguments, Lennox exposes the flaws of their irrational, unscientific methodology. An excellent read for believers and atheists alike. We have included this book in our collection at, heaps of books can be found here which can be a great tool in helping our friends come to know Jesus Christ.