‘The forgotten roots of science’ is a mercifully short section that saves its weakest claims for last:
It is, of course, notoriously difficult to know ‘what would have happened if…’, but it is surely not too much to say that the rise of science would have been seriously retarded if one particular doctrine of theology, the doctrine of creation, had not been present – a doctrine that is common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam (23).
As usual I’m impressed with Lennox’s command of rhetoric shown in the gentle approach at introducing this with ‘it is surely not too much to say’. The reader nods in agreement without realizing that they are agreeing with not very much at all. For what is it to science if its rise is severely retarded? Nothing. Nothing at all. The unasked question that is definitely not notoriously difficult to answer is “Would science have arisen without the doctrine of creation ever being present?” That it would have is inevitable, which Lennox himself as much admits when he limits his statement to ‘severely retarded’.
But just when you thought Lennox couldn’t deliver a weaker argument he rounds off directly after the last quote with ‘Just because a religion has supported science does not prove that the religion is true. Quite so – and the same can, of course, be said of atheism” (23). At first I wondered why Lennox would bother to explain something so blindingly obvious. It doesn’t follow on from the previous point, and it leaves one scratching one’s head as to why it needs to be so emphatically stated. Then I realized that Lennox includes this because he holds the reader’s intellectual ability to follow an argument in contempt. It’s surely not too much to say that Lennox needs to spell out clearly that atheism can’t score any points by supporting science because he’s already assumed that his readership is gullible enough to agree with the above point about science primarily stemming from theism. And it’s surely not too much to say that Lennox imagines someone saying ‘If a religon can be proved true because it has shown some support of science, then surely atheism must be even more true because it supports only science!’
Alright, this is total speculation. It’s me imagining Lennox imagining his readership gullible. But surely it’s not too much to say that it’s inclusion is puzzling, or even dare we say, questionable.