Upon finishing the Preface to God’s Undertaker I can’t shake the feeling that Lennox’s beef isn’t so much with atheism as New Atheism, and in particular the poster children of it. He really can’t be concerned with atheism as a demographic; a generous estimate would be 3% worldwide. Even if those who profess ‘no religion’ are added it still brings the worst case scenario as far as Lennox’s theism is concerned to around the 15% mark. Hardly numbers that are going to worry the faithful that the war of the worldviews is going to be lost to the barbarians. Besides, Lennox has god on his side, so that’s got to be worth a couple more percent.
Rather Lennox is concerned that atheism has found its voice. Worse still is that it’s a voice that uses science as its language. And the big problem with countering superstition with science is that while Christianity can boast well over a third of the population of the world as believers, science is up around 100%. Show me someone who says that they don’t believe in science and I’ll show you a hypocrite. Look around the room you’re sitting in now and try to find something that hasn’t come to you via science. If you really don’t believe that science produces results, then leave it behind and go into the wild and see how long you last without it. We know all that we know about the perceivable universe because of science.
Now that’s not to say that science has all the answers. But it certainly has a track record that inspires confidence. It’s a track record so good that while Lennox believes that science can’t answer the ‘why’ questions well (it can Lennox, just give it time) he’s still going to use it not only to show that god isn’t dead and buried, but rather alive and kicking. Lead on…
And now just some bits I had issues with…
P8 “Are all religious people to be written off as prejudiced and underinformed?”
I don’t see why all religious people should get a free pass while the rest of us have to remain labeled as prejudiced and underinformed.
P8 “For [early pioneers in science] it was the dark corners of the universe that science did illuminate that provided ample evidence of the ingenuity of God.”
It’s nice that they got their motivation from somewhere, but appeals to authority aren’t very convincing. You line up all the great thinkers who’ve believed in a god, and I’ll line up those that haven’t, and we’ll have a Royal Rumble. At the end we’ll still be no closer to the truth.
P8 “So, is naturalism actually demanded by science?”
No. Straw man territory. However the book would be pretty slim if this view were inadmissible, so we’d better allow it.
P8 “Or is it just conceivable that naturalism is a philosophy that is brought to science, more than something that is entailed by science?”
Yes. The reader should probably get used to this kind of question. There’s no problem in agreeing with Lennox as it advances his argument not one jot.
P8 “Could it even be, dare one ask, more like an expression of faith, akin to religious faith?”
No. I’ll cover this in more detail in the relevant chapter. For now I’d just like to point out the masterful use of “dare one ask”. It really draws the reader into Lennox’s line of argument.
P10 “But is that [Naturalism is the one philosophy that is absolutely compatible with science, essentially by definition] really the case?”
No. Lennox has listed a whole lot of really famous scientists who’ve believed in god, so it would be pretty silly to answer in the affirmative. People are pretty good at doublethink, so I’m sure that we can easily hold the contradictory notions of god and science in our minds if that’s what we want to do. I know I’ve doublethunk sillier stuff.
P10 “[Anthony Flew] announced that a superintelligence is the only good explanation of the origin of life and of the complexity of nature.”
There is much debate about Flew’s statement. Also Flew repeatedly rejected the Fine-tuned Universe proposition, which Lennox introduces later on as one of two pieces of evidence for ID.
P12 “Indeed, in the film Expelled (April 2008) Richard Dawkins himself appears to concede that one could scientifically investigate whether the origin of life reflected natural process or whether it was likely to be the result of intervention from an external, intelligent source.”
“appears to concede” is not a fair interpretation of Dawkins’ answer in the context of the question.