As the days go by and Stephen Hawking’s death this week recedes further into history, we’re all going to feel freer to objectively weigh his thought and writing. The time for eulogies is now, but that time will pass. One of the most fascinating statements Hawking ever made was in his book The Grand Design where he said that, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Oxford mathematician John Lennox has offered some sharp remarks on that.
Jay Richards, co-author of The Privileged Planet, recalls in a classic ID the Future episode with Lennox the comment of one reporter who had taken some time to meditate on Hawking’s pronouncement. This reporter, for the Los Angeles Times, felt he must simply bow to the great scientist and accept his word on it: “Well, this is something that must be believed, but not understood.” Such is the prestige of science: Many of us feel that because a scientist said it, it’s scientific and however seemingly incoherent, must be true.
Lennox is a strong and highly charming proponent of the view that, between science and God, there is no necessary choice to be made. And he authored his own book, God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?, in response to Hawking. Dr. Lennox and Dr. Richards point out that atheist claims like those of Dr. Hawking — the much insisted upon God-versus-science dichotomy — are helped out by a false history spun by many astronomy and other science textbooks. The best inoculation against this, they note, may be to introduce the public to the true history of science, and of how great scientists have thought about God.
It’s an excellent conversation. Listen to the podcast or download it here.