39 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Decent, but perhaps too small
, 3 Mar. 2011
This review is from: God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway? (Paperback)
John Lennox's little book says very little that his previous book `God's undertaker' does not. At just 85 pages of written word, this is indeed a small book.
The contents of each chapter can be summarised as follows:
Chapter 1 : Considers Hawking's argument that `Philosophy is dead'. Anyone familiar with the rudimentary argument against this claim knows that Hawking is in fact making a circular claim, i.e. that philosophy kills philosophy. This is because the claim is itself made FROM philosophy. The second half of this chapter looks at Hawking's idea of God. Like Dawkins he limits God to a mere `God of the Gap's' hypothesis and thereby fails to consider any other derivative concept of him. Lennox is quick to expose this and offer an alternative explanation - i.e. God as the uncaused cause.
Chapter 2 : Considers Hawking's claim that because of gravity the universe will create itself out of nothing. Lennox again raises the rudimentary rebuttal to this argument by asking, who then created the laws of gravity. The second half of the chapter then asks the ultimate question, i.e. are the "laws" of nature actually "something". The answer is, no they are not. They are deductive principles put together by rational beings. However, these laws have of themselves no separate or objective existence. Therefore the conclusion is that Hawking's argument is simply illogical.
Chapter 3 : Considers Hawking's replacement for God, i.e. M theory. Lennox draws attention to the fact that the theory itself is not universally accepted, and in reality has NO scientific evidence. The theory is merely a rational exercise which seems plausible on paper - beyond that it has nothing. Lennox next turns to Hawking's arguments about the rational perception of nature. Hawking's argument is really a hark back to the age old idea which Socrates discussed, i.e. does the world have an objective existence, or is it merely a rational construct. Hawking's ideas here seem muddled in that he seems to say that it's a rational construct, but then goes onto promote a high form of scientism. All Hawking's succeed in showing is that whilst he might be a brilliant physicist, he is a terrible philosopher.
Chapter 4 : Considers Hawking's use of the phrase "spontaneous creation". Lennox argues that Hawking fails to consider how the phrase has been used by philosophers throughout the ages and so has fraught his argument with philosophical difficulties. However, as Hawking's believes that he has already killed philosophy I doubt he would be too concerned by this.
Chapter 5 : Considers whether science without rationality could function. If anyone wants to promote a high degree of scientism, they need to be aware that the notion self refutes. Most noticeably this rebuttal comes from the argument, `prove to me scientifically that science is all there is'. As you cannot you are merely stuck with the ideas of abduction (the best possible explanation) and inference (what is observed). It is these two notions that science is based on. Both ideas show that nothing is really concrete and so attempting to eliminate God from the picture is ludicrous. This therefore leads onto Hawking's rebuttal of miracles and in turn freewill. Lennox arguments that it is the laws of nature that show us that a miracle occurred and that it is historically difficult to simply discount miracles on the basis that those who believe in them are `scientifically primitive'. Lennox finally argues that if freewill does not exist, due to man being a deterministic biological machine, then why should anyone actually believe Hawking's book? If man is also part of a deterministic machine (i.e. the universe), which is itself part of an undeterminable multi-verse in which anything is possible, then it is logically possible that God could exist in one of those universes, and due to his omnipotence and omnipresence, it is logically possible that he is present in ours. All of these arguments once again serve to show that Hawking's really is a poor philosopher.
The book itself uses the bog standard response to Hawking's book. Perhaps it is because Hawking's book is so poor in quality that this book is such an easy rebuttal. Whether this is a con or a pro, I'm still unsure of. As the book contains much of the arguments promoted in "God's undertaker", albeit with a slight focus on Hawking's new book - this for me made me feel a little cheated at having to spend the market price of £5 on this small book. I completed the book in about 2 hours which really gives you an understanding on how long it really is.
Occasionally Lennox also mentions Intelligent Design in his arguments but never really expands on whether he believes in ID or not. This is a fault that his former book also suffers from. On one page he'll talk about fine tuning, and then on the next Intelligent Design. This causes the informed reader some difficulties. However, the lay reader is unlikely to notice. Overall it's a good rebuttal, in that it does what it says on the tin, rebut Hawking's book. However, the cons are unfinished explanations and the size of the book. Overall, thoroughly recommended to the lay reader who is unlikely to know the usual rebuttals but unlikely to satisfy the more informed reader in that the arguments raised are the usual rudimentary ones. And finally, the language used in the book is simple enough to clearly convey the argument to any reader.
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