Science cannot bury God, as some atheists claim, but it can bury atheism, according to an emeritus professor at Oxford University with a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Gathered before hundreds at the Museum of the Bible Thursday for a Socrates in the City event hosted by author Eric Metaxas in the lead-up to Colson Center’s annual Wilberforce Weekend, Irish mathematician John Lennox engaged the question: Has science buried God?
Atheism, theism, pantheism have been around for millennia, Lennox said, when asked by Metaxas about when the idea crept into to mainstream Western thought that science and Christian faith were at odds.
Isaac Newton “laid out the universe beautifully in terms of mathematics and discovered that mathematics gave 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, it seems to run very well on its own and we are able to research it without referring to any concept of someone who set it going.’ So the idea of God setting it going started to recede into the past,” he said.
By the 18th century, deism — the belief that God exists but He is largely uninvolved in the affairs of humanity — was prevalent and subsequently followed by the Enlightenment, where the thinkers of the day replaced God with human reason.
“The social situation in England was such that when you got to the time of [Charles] Darwin and [Aldous] Huxley it was more to it than simply using science to bury God. Huxley, who was very famous, he was furious at the existence of amateur scientists, some of them were very brilliant … who challenged him.”
Huxley’s idea was to have the church scientific and change churches into where they would worship “Sophia,” the goddess of wisdom, Lennox continued.
But the shift away from a God-centered view of the cosmos at that time in the West was compounded by a professing Christian church that had no reality and was compromised morally, he went on to say.
“And that turned the tables very rapidly, I think,” he said.
The thinking then became that God was fine for a while but He is no longer necessary, Lennox explained, as Steven Hawking asserted in his book The Grand Design.
The notion that as science increases God decreases is inadequate, he said, and that results in the “God of the gaps” fallacy, which is intellectually lazy: “I can’t explain it, therefore, God did it.”
“And that is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of explanation. Explaining explanation is a very important thing,” Lennox said.
“The mistake that is made, and [atheist author] Richard Dawkins pushed this, is that God and science compete as explanations, so you have to choose between them.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter