Before moving on to what comes next, I want to have a look at this section because it directly pertains to conversations about faith that started in another medium but were not resolved to my satisfaction. It is my contention that Lennox grossly misunderstands the word ‘faith’. He is not at all sensitive to the nuances of meaning it has, and he conflates the faith the religionist has in religion with the faith a scientist has in science.
Lennox says that Dawkins says that “science doesn’t involve faith at all” (61). Now I don’t know if Dawkins says that science doesn’t involve faith, but it certainly does. The problem for Lennox is that it is not the same kind of faith that the religionist has. Lennox believes that the scientist’s faith is (a) science does not explain the mathematical intelligibility of the physical world and (b) the principle of uniformity of nature.
If you’re wondering what the connection these two kinds of faith and faith in a creator being have, then you’re not alone. Neither of these two sound even remotely like the kind of faith that religionists describe, never mind that a religionist is never talking about a creator in the general sense, but a creator specific to their denomination. The one connection is the word ‘faith’ that Lennox has latched onto and then placed them all under the same umbrella. Find me a religionist who talks of their faith in either of these two ways and I’ll agree that we can begin to consider having the possibility of maybe talking about religionist faith and the faith Lennox believes science demands as the same kinds of faith. The nuance in the difference of meaning are yawning chasms.
And then there is the example of his ‘inductivist turkey’ on page 62. He really shouldn’t have chosen an example with the word turkey in it. I’d also advise he doesn’t use an ‘inductivist lemon’ if he wants to avoid the problem altogether. Yes, we may indeed be a little forward in counting on the sun to rise every morning just because it has done so for the entire span of recorded history, but to do otherwise would throw us into a world of meaningless chaos. So yes, this is an act of faith, but one born out by the daily observation of nature, an observation that is clear for any and all to see. The last part is important because I’m sure that there are religionists who would say that they see their god in the same way, but this is a view particular to that person, or at most those of similar faith. For those not of the same ilk there is nothing to see, unlike the plainly visible rising sun.
And the turkey story again shows Lennox’s misunderstanding of the difference between science and religion. Science doesn’t operate in a vacuum of a scientist of one. If the turkey had consulted with its peers, asked around the Internet farmyard forum, or even looked at the words written on the calender on the kitchen wall, the real reason for it’s fattening was there to be found. The story Lennox’s tale is really telling is of the ‘revelationist turkey’ that looks at the signs and believes something to be true without any recourse to further observation.
Finally I’d like to talk about the biggest difference between the faith that Lennox believes in and the faith that science demands. It’s neither of the points that Lennox brings up, but it is the most telling omission. It is having enough faith in science to know when it is wrong. This is something that faith in religion doesn’t have and can never have and is demonstrated by the following sentence:
I believe that everything science has taught me may one day be shown to be wrong.
That’s it. Right up to now we have the best explanations for the universe that the science we have now can give us. I believe those explanations are correct now at the time of printing. However everything that science has taught us is subject to change. New science may come along that blows away what we know today and leaves us with a whole new understanding of the universe. And you know, I’m OK with that. In fact, a belief in science demands that. So Lennox, and anyone else who believes that a religionist’s faith is the same as the faith science demands, all you’ve got to do is replace the word ‘science’ in the above with your chosen religion. Put the sentence in the comments below and I’ll listen to your take on Lennox and faith. Until then…