Reviews: Beyond Opinion and God’s Undertaker 1

 Beyond Opinion: Living The Faith We Defend   by Ravi Zacharias   Thames Nelson 2007  360 pages

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?  By John Lennox    Lion Hudson 2007 192 pages

 

The Christians whose essays make up the collection in Beyond Opinion maintain that they are in possession of truth. The mystical triune God of Christianity is true. The (patched-together and internally contradictory) New Testament is true. The intention of their ‘apologetics’ in this volume is to explain how best to proselytize – or evangelize, as they prefer to call it – among certain specified non-Christians. In particular they frame arguments to be used in persuading ‘postmodernists’ (using their opaque jargon) , atheists, ‘youth’, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and devotees of the New Age Movement (which is to say, neo-Marxists). The evangelists insist, not surprisingly, that arguments should be tailored to fit the target group, and provide the arguments they think will do the trick in each case. But nothing they say proves the truth of their own belief.

Repeatedly they allege that people who oppose them do so in anger.  Atheists in particular are described as angry. The implication is that the Christian message is rejected because of some emotional block rather than for good reason.  Any arguments that non-believers are quoted as uttering are neatly and conclusively countered, but in the case of atheism the swiftly demolished arguments are not of a sort that an intelligent atheist would actually put forward.  They are straw men – easily, as straw men always are, blown down.  They speak of atheism as ‘a movement’ and ‘a belief system’; descriptions that indicate how little they understand it.

The case for atheism can be simply made.  If A tells B that something exists which is not manifest, A must prove it. It is not for B to prove that the something does not exist. Has God been proved to exist? No. Without that proof, God remains an opinion, and an opinion is not a truth however many people hold it, and however passionately it is held. 

The only essay interesting to me is Challenges from Science by John Lennox. It is a précis of his book, God’s Undertaker, which contains the arguments some scientists make for ‘intelligent design’ – aka God.

Lennox is a fellow in the philosophy of science at Green College, Oxford, and a Cambridge-qualified mathematician. Some of his arguments are indeed challenging, especially the one – very detailed in the book – about the complexity of DNA. I’ll not try to summarize it, nor to answer it.  A very good answer may be found at www.talkorigins.org.

All I will say about it here is that once again, as a proof of the existence of God, it fails.  But even if for some it succeeds, the only God it  ‘proves’ is a Mind that started up the world, made it out of nothing, and with the most complicated ‘design’ imaginable, launched life on this planet.  This sort of belief in a God who started everything and then did nothing more about it is called ‘deism’. But John Lennox is not a deist. He is a Christian and accepts wholeheartedly the theology of Christianity.  For this he requires no scientific proof. One cannot but suspect that John Lennox finds the hand of God in DNA because he looked at it through the eyes of one who already believed in the Christian Deity.

Essentially Lennox’s argument for maintaining that science fits better with theism than with atheism, is that the universe has been rationally constructed, so a rational being must have constructed it. 

There was a time, hundreds of years long, when the philosophers of the ancient world had a real secret to keep. Pythagoras is thought by some to be the first discoverer of the secret, but there may have been others before him who knew it.  He knew it for sure, and kept it. Plato knew it and kept it, and so did all the other wise men. We all know it now. It’s the simple fact that the square root of 2 is an irrational number. The ancient philosophers feared that if ordinary men, who surely believed that the world was rationally made, found this out, they would go mad.  Of course we know perfectly well that ordinary men wouldn’t have stirred a hair if that terrible truth had been revealed to them. It was only the brave philosophers themselves who were disturbed by it. They were the ones who wanted to believe that the universe is rational.  But they knew that it isn’t.   

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Thursday, July 3, 2008

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