Intellectually Fulfilling Faith: Lessons from C.S. Lewis - page5




Intellectually Fulfilling Faith: Lessons from C.S. Lewis
by John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College

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A couple of years ago, the eminent American philosopher Thomas Nagle wrote a book with a very explosively provocative subtitle: Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Now, the interesting thing about this is that Nagle is an atheist. “I want atheism to be true,” he writes, “…I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” Yet, he writes, “consciousness is the most conspicuous obstacle to a comprehensive naturalism that relies only on the resources of physical science. If we take this problem seriously and follow out its implications, it threatens to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture.” That is Lewis exactly! Or again says Nagle, “Evolutionary naturalism implies that we shouldn’t take any of our convictions seriously, including the scientific world picture on which evolutionary naturalism itself depends.”

Another world-class philosopher is Alvin Plantinga, and he sums up the position: “If Dawkins is right, that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce – including Dawkins’ own science and his atheism.”

Naturalism is fatally flawed. It undermines the foundations of the very rationality that is needed to construct or understand or believe in any kind of argument whatsoever, including those that are used to defend naturalism. It therefore doesn’t simply shoot itself in the foot, which is painful; it shoots itself in the brain, which is fatal. A parallel aspect of this fatal flaw that Lewis saw so clearly is that naturalism’s claim to explain everything in terms of the physical sciences overlooks the fact that one of the now fundamental concepts of science – information – cannot be explained in such terms, not even in principle. We live fascinatingly in the information age in which we’ve discovered that DNA is an information-bearing macro molecule. But we’ve realized that information, though itself often carried on material carriers, is itself immaterial. The physical sciences cannot by definition cope with the immaterial, nor can naturalism. In other words, information is not within the explanatory power of physical reductionism and so naturalism fails.

And the Gospel of John gets that exactly when it says, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word already was. The Word is eternal.” That is an existent statement. And then it says, “All things” – not were made by Him (although that is true) – It’s, “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing came to be that came be.” That’s an existent statement. Mind the Word is primary, the physics and chemistry are derivative. It’s the Word before everything else. And Lewis saw that and made massive contributions to getting it across. Christianity for him was a completed, coherent of explanation of why the world is actually in part scientifically intelligible, and why immaterial information exists because ultimately responsible for our universe is an immaterial, Creator God, and He is also responsible for the creation of the human mind in his image.

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