John Lennox against the tide in suffering
This post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. In the previous post we looked at God and the cosmos, and God and biology. Now we look at the big questions of consciousness and suffering. In this post the tide of atheism in academia is represented by statements by Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Peter Singer.
Why are we conscious human beings (with self-awareness and a complex mind)? So far this has defied scientific explanation although the following opinions have been expressed.
Peter Atkins: “Extraordinary our consciousness has evolved as a mechanism of survival”.
Peter Singer: “It has arisen through the processes of evolution but have nevertheless thrown up beings capable of reasoning”.
Peter Atkins: “It really is time and the ability of matter to undergo transformation that can result in the human brain”.
John Lennox: “If we think of all the classical philosophers who had so much in their minds and gave us so much wisdom. The thing to realize is that information in their consciousness (and in ours) is not material. So simple logic deduces that since consciousness has an immaterial aspect it cannot have been produced by purely material processes.”
Michael Shermer: “Consciousness is an emergent property of a billion billion neurons firing in particular patterns and nothing else”.
John Lennox: “Consciousness is nothing but ‘a firing of a billion neurons’? There’s not a scrap of evidence for it. Asking the neuroscientists in Oxford, there’s not a scrap of evidence for it. They tell me that no one knows what consciousness is.”
So where did it come from?
John Lennox: “Well I believe that the fact of us bring conscious human beings able to speak and think is a reflection of the existence of a God behind our universe who is Himself a conscious being. We are made in the image of God. But atheism gives us no explanation whatsoever.”
And the evidence must be taken seriously. How else can we accept that our astonishing universe could explode out of nothing? How else can the wonder of life with its DNA instruction manual be explained? How else can we account for the mystery of human consciousness that prompts us to search for the deep meaning of it all?
John Lennox: “I argue that there is evidence of the existence of an intelligent God behind the universe. But Christianity goes further and it answers the question, Who is this God?”
You can also access John Lennox’s thoughts in his books.
John Lennox: “What motivated me to write the book ‘Does science bury God’, was to demonstrate that it was perfectly possible to be a serious scientist and to believe in God. But then I wrote another book called ‘Gunning for God’, which shows why the new atheists are missing the target.”
One of the ways atheists are gunning for God is to query God’s origin. “Who made God?” is at the heart of the book “The God delusion” by Richard Dawkins.
Who made God?
Richard Dawkins: “We would both need an explanation for where that complex living being came from. You can’t just evade the issue by saying God was always there. You still need an explanation.”
John Lennox: “When you analyze the question, who or what created God? You are assuming that God is created. But that means we are not considering the God of the Bible who is uncreated. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Gen. 1:1). But God Himself is not created. It is certainly a valid question for created things. I told Dawkins, ‘You believe the universe created you. Let me ask you your question. Who created your creator?’. And I waited a very long time and I never got an answer.”
But Christians may be accused of failing to find answers to one of the most challenging questions in the world. If there is a God, why is there so much pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering
John Lennox: “Discussing science and God isn’t going to answer this question. One of the main reasons I’m a Christian is that it deals with this question in a way that no other philosophy or religion does. The hardest problem I face as a Christian is the problem of evil and pain.”
John Lennox: “My niece getting a tumor at 22 that kills her. What do I say to my sister? We could argue for a long time about what a good God should-might-would-could have done. And we’ll get nowhere. So it seems to me there is another question that we can ask. Granted that life presents us with a double picture. We see some beautiful things. We see some ragged edges. We see hurt and pain. And we see joy. How can we come to terms with that? And it seems to me that there is no simplistic answer, but a window into an answer. And it is this. If it is true that Jesus is the Son of God, what is God doing on a cross? This is telling us that God hasn’t remained distant from the problem of suffering and pain, but has Himself become part of it. The God who cares for this world so much that He entered this world. He coded Himself into humanity in Jesus Christ.”
Human beings able to speak and think is a reflection of the existence of a God behind our universe who is Himself a conscious being. People are made in the image of God. Since consciousness has an immaterial aspect it cannot have been produced by purely material processes.
If there is a God, why is there so much pain and suffering? God is not remote from pain and suffering. Jesus came to experience pain and suffering and died to relieve His followers of pain and suffering. This happens in God’s timing, not ours.
The content of this post comes from the documentary movie “Against the tide” (2020), which looks at finding God in an age of science.
In the next post in this series, we will look at “John Lennox against the tide in history”.
Posted, July 2021