Oxford professor answers questions about science, Christianity

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Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Students and faculty packed the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom on Friday night to have their questions about science and Christianity answered by John Lennox, a mathematics professor at the University of Oxford who has written several books about science and theology.

Daniel Bonevac, philosophy professor and moderator for the discussion, raised the central question of the night.

“There are really only two arguments against the existence of God, and one of them is that science rendered faith in God unnecessary or irrelevant,” Bonevac said. “Is this true?”

Lennox answered this question with two points. The first was that science can’t explain everything.

“Science can tell us nothing about basic things like morality, aesthetics, the meaning of life and so … science is limited,” Lennox said. “Unfortunately, we are living in a culture and academia [that believes] science is the only way to truth, but that’s logical nonsense because the statement ‘Science is the only way to truth’ is not a statement of science.”

Lennox also discussed Christian scientists.

“Look at the Nobel prize winners,” Lennox said. “65 percent of them believe in God. The idea that there is an essential conflict between science and religion is demonstrably false. … The real conflict is between atheism and theism, and there are scientists on both sides.”

Psychology junior Madelynn Marlow said the night was interesting in part because both Christians and non-Christians attended the event.

“I love gaining perspective from people who believe what I believe and from people who don’t believe what I believe,” Marlow said. “Hearing from both sides I think is a valuable experience. You can gain so much just from listening to other people.”

Lennox also talked about his personal life, including how his parents influenced him, telling how his father handed him a copy of “The Communist Manifesto” when he was 14 years old.

“My father said, ‘You need to know what other people think,’” Lennox said. “That instilled in me this curiosity about what other people think.”

Lennox said that science and Christianity are two different ways to explain the world and its concepts, such as morality, but they can coexist. Lennox used cars as an example, saying one could explain them by talking about Henry Ford or about the laws of internal combustion.

“Pitting these explanations against each other is a huge mistake,” Lennox said. “The law of internal combustion is not an argument against the existence of Henry Ford. You need both explanations.”