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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of a polymath mathematician, 24 Dec. 2007
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This review is from: God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Paperback)
This is a very important book, as witness the glowing review of it in the Guardian - not known for its praise for God-botherers. Not only is it both concise and clear, it packs an enormous amount of information in. Lennox, though a mathematician, clearly has a wide knowledge of cosmology, physics, philosophy and biology to name just a few of the disciplines he discusses. I have a first degree in microbiology and genetics and yet learned a lot of new genetics from reading this.

He also has a great writing style which is witty, charming and remarkably free from rhetoric and rant which so often mar such books on both sides of the debate. Whether you agree with Lennox's conclusion or not, he will take you on a fascinating journey of discovery, on which very few readers will have visited all the varied stopping-off points.

Dr Trevor Stammers, Lecturer in Healthcare Ethics, St Mary's University College, Surrey
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Dec 2007 10:57:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Dec 2007 10:58:40 GMT
Is this a very important book because the Guardian gave it a glowing review? Or because its author has a PhD? Or because a lecturer in Healthcare Ethics at St Mary's University College, Surrey, who has a first degree in microbiology and genetics, says so?

There seems to be an awful lot of academic vanity and hubris knocking around among evangelicals these days, especially among the donors of five stars to books like God's Undertaker. They would do well to read Plato's dialogue Euthyphro in which Socrates discusses piety with an 'expert'.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2008 09:31:16 BDT
D. M. Ohara says:
Lennox's book is important, not for any of the factitious reasons Mr. Wheeler advances, but because of its factual basis and the quality of its arguments. It is by them that it must - and will - be judged.
The reference to Plato's Euthyphro in this context is another red-herring.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2008 14:43:07 BDT
D. M. Ohara:

Perhaps you would enjoy demonstrating to me the fallacious nature of this argument:

Most theists and the Bible scholars will, I think, agree that the God they worship or believe in is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. But holding such beliefs rules out the possibility of belief in a god who stands in an absolute relation to, and apart from, the universe - for the following reasons:

Omnipotence: If we claim that God is infinitely powerful, we have to admit that wherever power (or energy) exists, it is of God, and that there is no power (or energy) at all apart from God's power.

Omniscience: If we claim that God is infinitely intelligent, we have to admit that wherever intelligence exists it is of God, and that there is no intelligence apart from God's intelligence.

Omnipresence: If we believe that God is infinitely present, we have to admit that nothing exists in the physical world where God is not present.

We can make no exceptions to the above three conditionals, nor can we moderate them in any way. We have to believe that God's power and intelligence is in every molecule, quark, neutron and electron. We have to believe that every stone, every tree, every human being and every animal is God through and through, both as regards power, intellect and will.

From this we can conclude, with Spinoza, that God and Nature are one and the same thing, and that it is self-causing, and infinite in infinite ways. As far as we humans are concerned, we have knowledge of Nature (which is to say, God) under two aspects, namely, thought and matter, or concept and object.

One of the most interesting aspects of quantum mechanics is that a quantum of energy can be viewed either as a wave or as a particle, but not both at the same time, and if its velocity is given its position cannot be given; while if its position is given its velocity cannot be given. This scientifically established fact bears out Spinoza's dual aspect theory precisely.

If you dare to read The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, an anthology by Richard Dawkins published by the Oxford University Press, you will find that the most brilliant scientific minds today agree that mind-body duality (and hence God-Nature duality) is untenable.

The empirical evidence for evolution is now completely overwhelming. Everything evolves, even religion and religious beliefs. Once primitive man believed in spirits; later they grew into gods and were given names and responsibilities for creating different parts of Nature. Later still it was realised that there could not be more than one omnipotent being, and monotheism evolved. But monotheism presupposes a contradiction, namely that while everything in the universe is said require a creator, that creator does not require a creator but is self caused. Now we are moving on again. The breakthrough of Crick and Watson in discovering the double helix of DNA has shown us, once and for all, that substance dualism is dead. The genius of Spinoza consisted in his ability to show, from basic principles of logic, that dualism was contradictory, and in doing so to forecast facts about the world that have now been confirmed by modern science.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Aug 2008 12:11:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Aug 2008 12:11:33 BDT
Your argument is fallacious. Your logic is fine, but you misunderstand definitions and misread arguments.

You (or perhaps Spinoza? I have no idea) do not understand what omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence mean. Or at least, your definitions are not in line with classical theology, which is your target. Your basic thesis, that these qualities mean that God and Nature are inseparable, shows you have misunderstood how these characteristics are defined and discussed. At the most basic level, take a look at the Wikipedia article on omniscience for a simple explanation of how "omnipresence" is understood classically as God being present everywhere, but not of the same substance as everything.

You do not understand the cosmological argument. For something to be self-caused is illogical, but that is not what the cosmological argument requires: merely that there is an uncaused agent. Philosophers disagree as to whether this is the universe or God.

As for mind-body dualism, I would read what philosophers have to say about it. (If Dawkins is a good example of how aware scientists are of contemporary philosophy, I don't have much hope for the arguments advanced in the anthology you recommend.) Have a look on the web for William Lycan's paper titled "Giving Dualism Its Due". Lycan is a naturalist, so you can't accuse me of bias on that score, but he admits in this paper that it is difficult to formulate a clear argument against dualism.

I don't think any theist would argue with you about religious belief developing through time. Abraham clearly had a less developed understanding of God's character than Paul.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jul 2010 21:45:44 BDT
An excellent response - and a helpful elucidation of Spinoza, who was considered both an atheist and 'God-intoxicatd'. no theist confuses God with his creation.
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