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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to beat, 9 Nov 2007
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This review is from: God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Paperback)
It is difficult to describe how good this book is. Well written, clear, intelligent, interesting and in some places original. For a while I thought it was a bit dense for the ordinary reader but that is only in a very few places. In actual fact the book is readable, stimulating and to some degree, mind stretching. I now realise that maths is the foundation of everything!

Of all the responses to the current New Atheist publishing phenonmena, this is my favourite. I am very grateful to John Lennox for a book which I hope will enjoy a wide circulation and certainly deserves one.

David A. Robertson
Editor Free Church Monthly Record and author of The Dawkins Letters
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Dec 2007 17:25:01 GMT
Let us suppose that we accept Lennox's book and its central thesis that science has NOT buried God and that the book qualifies for as many stars as we are allowed to give it.

Now the trouble starts, because if you believe in a theistic god, i.e. an infinitely powerful and wise creator who stands apart from the universe, you are presented with a choice. Either you believe in a God who intervenes in human affairs, or you believe in a God who, having formed the universe out of nothing and issued immutable laws for it to follow, withdraws and leaves it to run on without further intervention. You can't consistently believe in a God who intervenes in human affairs and yet does not intervene.

But here's the problem. Theism (creationism) reduces God to a less than omnipotent creator who has to work miracles to keep his creation running in accordance with his will, while deism (intelligent design) reduces God to a less than omniscient architect or designer whose design has resulted in endless generations of human misery, to say nothing of the prospect of eternal punishment in the fires of hell for the vast majority.

The contradiction implicit in believing either in an intelligent design God who should intervene but doesn't, or a creator god who shouldn't have to intervene, but does is, I think, particularly fatal for the Christian religion, as belief in intelligent design rules out the need for the miracles of divine incarnation and bodily resurrection that are essential to the Gospel story; while belief in a creator who is careless (or ruthless) enough to build into creation original sin, eternal punishment and the need for salvation rules out the possibility of belief that the original design was the product of an omnipotent and omniscient intelligence in the first place.

The problem can be expressed as a logical inference that might be expressed as "If design infinitely intelligent, then no requirement for Divine intervention; and if Divine intervention required, then design not infinitely intelligent".

The only way out of the impasse that seems rational to me is to accept Spinoza's
argument, in his philosophical masterpiece Ethics, that God and the universe are
one and the same thing, that this "God-or-Nature" is its own cause, and that it is
infinite in infinite ways. But Lennox lumps Spinoza together with Berkely and Descartes!

This is a gigantic blunder: it only takes one hole to sink the ship. Lennox has not done his homework. It really is unforgiveable. Don't be taken in by this sophisticated flim-flam.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2008 08:22:34 GMT
A. P. Wilson says:
Charles,

If I undestand you correctly, the first option (infinitely intelligent design/no divine intervention necessary) would be a universe in which free will is impossible. The only way in which the universe could be designed to operate in a perfect manner at all times would be to morally programme beings with any agency such that they were unable to commit evil acts. The agency then becomes no agency at all.

The riskier (and essentially more loving) option is to create a universe in which the freedom to act is genuinely conferred thereby ensuring moral agency. It seems that some form of divine intervention is then required to ensure the cycle restoration/redemption.

I suppose the human analgoy would be to ask the question, "Is it morally acceptable for parents to so curtail the lives of their children (even into adulthood) that they never had the option of making mistakes?"

Anyway, this has turned the thread into a debate rather than a review of the book and so it is probably deemed "off topic"

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2008 21:01:07 GMT
Mr. Wilson: forgive me, but I don't think you quite understood the nature of my argument. Intelligent design and theism are not options. What I am saying is that they are mutually contradictory. If you believe one, you cannot accept the other and remain consistent. As for belief in free will, this depends on regarding the past, present and future as separate - a concept that space-time physics, thanks to Einstein, whom Lennox conveniently ignored - has long since been discarded by the vast majority of physicists. It is this sort of mistake in Lennox's book, which, I believe, renders it ultimately self-defeating.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2008 16:46:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2008 16:47:00 GMT
A. P. Wilson says:
This sounds like an interesting discussion but perhaps a little unrelated to the book review. If you would like to "take it elsewhere" then please feel free to email me at tony.p.wilson@gmail.com

I notice that you have also read David Deutsch - excellent in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2008 16:06:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2008 16:10:50 BDT
I can highly recommend Richard Dawkins' new book The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing to anyone who is seriously interested in biology, anthropology, mathematics, physics and evolution. What particularly fascinated me was the discovery of aspect duality (wave/particle) in quantum mechanics and the deterministic nature of quantum probability. Aspect duality (of thought/matter) and identification of God with Nature are the cornerstones of Spinoza's philosophy of single substance, which is the foundation of naturalism.

And, of course, Spinoza features in Lennox's short list of philosophers who, he claims, supported his thesis that God, whether in the form creator or intelligent designer, really exists. That is the very last thing that Spinoza claims, suggests, infers or insinuates. Let me put it in capitals: SPINOZA IDENTIFIES GOD WITH NATURE.

In making such a gaffe, Lennox demonstrates either that he does not understand Spinoza's dual aspect theory or has never read about it. Either way, his reference to Spinoza destroys the credibility of God's Undertaker and its author. Small wonder, therefore, that he was unable to find a serious publisher for his book.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 17:44:44 BDT
James Reed says:
The mistake you've made here is to assume that omnipotence and omniscience neccesitate a perfect state of affairs. In actuality the quality of omnipotence means that you are all-powerful and therefore have the power to create 'any logically consistent world' that you want too and the quality of omniscience doesn't mean that you have to create a world without suffering as there is no way that we can say that a world with less suffering would be a world where more good actions take place.
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