Monday, March 23, 2015

Video Lecture by John Lennox Explains Some of the Scientific Evidence for God.

In this post:

  • Science is limited, it cannot answer questions about the meaning of life and ethics.
  • Naturalism claims everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics but that is not true, information, semiotics (signs with meaning such as letters and words), mathematics, and scientific laws cannot be explained by chemistry and physics.
  • The DNA in living organisms is semiotic, it must have been produced by a mind.

This video covers some of the same material as the video in my previous post. I recommend reading that post because this post will be mostly on the subjects not covered there.

In this video, John Lennox Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford lectures on the theme: "Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational?" In the lecture, Lennox explains how science provides evidence for the existence of God and for the supernatural. He also explains why miracles can occur and he discusses the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus as an example of a miracle that occurred.

Science provides evidence for the existence of God

The limits of science.

Lennox explains that all the early scientists believed in God. They expected nature to be intelligible because they believed it was created by God. Unfortunately, over time some scientists have come to believe in Scientism, that science is the only way to arrive at truth. But in reality science is limited. Science cannot answer questions like, "What is the meaning of life". Science cannot answer questions of ethics. Rationality is bigger than science. Lennox also explains that God is not a god of the gaps who's role is diminished with every scientific discovery. God is the creator of the natural laws scientists are trying to understand. He says that science can provide one kind of explanation but there are other kinds of explanations and if you want a complete understanding you have to consider things beyond scientific explanations. He uses the example of a car. You can understand a car in terms of mechanical engineering that explain how it works, and you can also understand a car in terms of person, Henry Ford, who founded the corporation that produced the car.

Materialism is Incoherent

Lennox says that the fact that we can do science is evidence that naturalism is false and that the supernatural is real. He explains that belief in naturalism undermines itself because a natural origin would not produce a human mind able to reason reliably. This is covered in my previous post (linked above), and I also provide more information on this subject on my web site. In contrast to materialism which is incoherent, theism is coherent and does not conflict with science as was explained in the previous section above.

Evidence for the supernatural

In addition, according to naturalism, everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics, but in reality there are some things that cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics. These include: information, semiotics (signs that have meaning such as letters and words), mathematical equations, and scientific theories. None of these can be reduced to chemistry and physics and therefore naturalism must be false. The information in the human genome is semiotic and while it is represented in molecules of DNA the way written information is written in molecules of ink, the information and meaning in DNA cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics any more than the meaning of a written document can be explained by chemistry and physics. Only a mind can produce information and meaning. The fact that the information needed to produce life is not reducible to chemistry and physics is strong evidence that materialism is false and that life was created by God (the creator of life).

More information on why natural processes could not produce the information in DNA can be found at: Cellular mechanisms for non-random mutations do not explain how the vast amounts of genetic information in cells could arise naturally. and Materialism Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code. Intelligent Design is a More Reasonable Explanation.


In the next part of the lecture, Lennox turns to the subject of Miracles. He explains why miracles are possible and refutes some objections to the possibility of Miracles. He explains that the universe is not necessarily causally closed and there is no reason why God could not intervene. He chooses the resurrection of Jesus as an example of a Miracle that actually happened. He cites the witnesses who say Jesus died, was buried, and was then seen alive. For the details he refers to his book, Gunning for God in which he applied the criterion for evidence and witnesses proposed by Hume (a philosopher who rejected miracles) and shows that by those criteria the evidence shows that the resurrection occurred.

Outline of the Lecture

Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational?

  • Definition of the Problem
  • The Supernatural
    • Is there a supernature?
    • The atheist view.
    • There is no conflict between science an theology.
    • But atheists say there is.
    • The conflict is actually between naturalism and theism.
    • Blind faith vs faith based on evidence.
    • Christian faith is based on evidence.
    • Science provides evidence for God
      • Early Scientists believed in God.
      • Why scientists stopped believing in God.
      • Scientism: science is the only path to truth.
      • But actually, science is limited.
      • There are other ways to know truth.
      • Different kinds of explanations.
      • God is not a god of the gaps.
      • Scientists have faith that the universe is intelligible.
      • The fact that we can do science is evidence that naturalism is false.
      • Darwin's doubt: naturalism is incompatible with science.
      • Darwin, Haldane, Plantinga, Nietzsche
      • Scientific evidence for the supernatural
        • Naturalism undermines rationality, theism is coherent.
        • Naturalism says everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics
        • Certain things cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics
        • Scientific theories and mathematical equations cannot be explained in terms of chemistry and physics - they are not physical, they are immaterial
        • Information is not reducible to physics and chemistry.
        • Semiotics cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics.
        • The human genome is semiotic.
  • Miracles
    • The possibility of miracles and the actuality of miracles.
    • Refuting objections to miracles
    • First objection: people didn't know the laws of nature
    • Second objection: now that we know the laws of nature miracles are impossible.
    • The actuality of miracles.
    • The resurrection of Jesus.
  • Questions from the Moderator
  • Questions from the Audience

Quotes from the lecture.

Albert Einstein
“You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn around and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”
J. B. S. Haldane
It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.
Indeed, only if we assume a God who is morally our like can “truth” and the search for truth be at all something meaningful and promising of success. This God left aside, the question is permitted whether being deceived is not one of the conditions of life.
Antony Flew
“I now believe there is a God...I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”
It's the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence' ... 'Can the origins of a system of coded chemistry be explained in a way that makes no appeal whatever to the kinds of facts that we otherwise invoke to explain codes and languages, systems of communication, the impress of ordinary words on the world of matter?’

Additional quotes from this video can be found at Video Lecture by John Lennox Explains why Atheism is a Delusion Incompatible with Science.

Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.