Friday, July 1, 2011
Book Review: God and Stephen Hawking by John C. Lennox
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 http://johnlennox.org/.