This section begins on 41 and as there’s too much to quote here it’s much easier if you read it yourself. The gist of it is that all the scientists in the world can’t explain why Aunt Matilda made her cake. Lennox introduces it as “Perhaps a simple illustration will help convince us that science is limited.”
All it does illustrate is that Lennox has little imagination in real-world problem solving, for most people could without too much difficulty come up with ways to approach this problem. If the cake has a message on it (it is after all a birthday cake) then one could read the cake or see if there are candles on it. One could look at the style of the cake and compare it to other cakes. If one wanted to go the more science-orientated route then one could compile a database of all known cake recipes and then compare the ingredients of this cake to it. Police work in interviewing Aunt Matilda’s friends and family could turn up her nephew’s imminent birthday. Reading her diary, snail mail, e-mail or checking her FB timeline would also be helpful. Of the more melodramatic solutions a polygraph, truth serums, torture or the threat thereof to her family might also secure the information. If all else fails that guy from “Lie to Me” knows everything just by looking at people. And if he’s not available and we’re in the case of what to do when the all else fails, fails, we can just say ‘God did it’ and then there’s no recourse.
Lennox forgets, or rather doesn’t want to acknowledge, that science is more than just collecting data about the natural world. It’s also finding the coherent story that is supported by that data. And it’s being done by more than one person in one field, and those fields feed off and support each other. So yes, he is right in saying that a chemist can tell us about the elements in the cake and their bonding, and that that doesn’t really tell us why the cake was made. But that chemist doesn’t work in isolation; he or she has a whole world of knowledge that they contribute to and draw upon. If this were “CSI: Miami” then Lt. Caine would have something witty to say now about sweets.
Lennox tries to convince that science isn’t very good at answering ‘why’ questions, but in almost all cases that’s just an exercise in rewording the question so that ‘why’ replaces ‘how’. What he actually claims is that science isn’t good at answering questions of ultimate purpose; the big WHYS. These are the areas that he referred to earlier in the book – the origin of the universe, the origin of life and the workings of the mind. It’s a sad state for religionists when the only areas of inquiry that they can hold sway in are these three questions of ultimate purpose. Especially as science never sleeps.