John Lennox debates Peter Atkins

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This evening my wife and I enjoyed watching this debate with another couple over pizza. It generated a lively and animated discussion. Our teenage daughters watched with us for a while and we were able to discuss some of the points being debated. I highly recommend this video, not only just to watch, but to watch in a group setting and discussion tool. Yes, it is a bit long, but it is well worth it.

As a Christian, I found Lennox’s arguments convincing and I am very much in favor of an evidence-based faith. As Lennox states, a belief in God, a Creator, does indeed make scientific discovery more wonderful, and the rise of science in the Middle Ages was rooted in the Christian faith. Far from being a show stopper, as is stated by Atkins, it was this belief in a rational and ordered universe that inspired scientific investigation. Atkins consistently (i.e. over and over and over…) labels belief in design as laziness. As one commenter to the Youtube link asked, “how many times can one man say ‘Intellectual laziness’?” We were asking the same. Yet it was Atkins who demonstrated laziness in dismissing the conversions of prominent atheists like Anthony Flew, Francis Collins, C.S. Lewis and Alister McGrath as premature senility. This “laziness” is simply a straw man argument, packed from a stereotyped blind-faith anti-intellectualism and used to “prove” that belief in design is this show stopper. Those that fit this description, who fall back on various versions of God of the gaps explanations in place of genuine inquiry, are misled and hopefully few.

Regardless, they do not represent those that do look at the ever accumulating scientific data on our world and universe and decides the evidence points to a Designer. This is the importance of evidence-based faith. Given several examples of designed items (his own book, a 747, Paley’s watch), Atkins is unable to make the connection between these designed items and a designed universe. He is more comfortable attributing creative powers to matter and chance.

Overall, we found Atkins arrogant, a bit fidgety, but with a delightful accent. Ironically, as a scientist, he described himself as deeply humble. We were left to conclude it was so deep as to be unseen. John Lennox was lively and defined his arguments well. As to science, he considers it “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”.

We couldn’t agree more.

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