Creationism has been given a bad rap by those Christians who believe—against all the scientific evidence—that the earth and everything in it was created in seven 24-hour days, less than 10,000 years ago. A growing number of Christians, however, understand that the Bible and science, properly understood, aren’t hostile to one another. John Lennox, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Oxford University, accepts that the earth is far older than that. Thus, Lennox takes the Genesis account to be a figurative account of a literal fact, that God created the earth.
Genesis presents creation in seven days to give Israel’s need to keep the weekly sabbath a creationist frame, not to give a scientific account the process of creation. Lennox acknowledges his uncertainty over how the evolution of homo sapiens connects with the biblical story of Adam and Eve. He thinks God most likely intervened to speed up humankind’s development dramatically at certain points.
While Lennox makes no claim to have all the answers regarding the process of evolution, he is adamant that believing in God is far more logical than the atheistic dogma that nothing outside of nature exists. The key point is that everything originated in mind, God’s mind, not merely in mass-energy, as atheists would have us believe. For the corollary of that atheistic belief is that human intelligence is the product of an unguided process of natural selection. He writes:
“Either human intelligence ultimately owes its existence to mindless matter; or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.”
In his talk entitled, “Intellectually Fulfilling Faith: Lessons from C.S. Lewis,” Lennox says he has fun with his scientific colleagues around the world when he asks them, “What do you do your science with?” and they often tell him about some very expensive machine, and I say, “No, no, no, I don’t mean that, I mean…”
“Oh, you mean my”—and they’re about to say “mind” when they remember that there is no such thing as the mind—and they say “my brain.” (I actually do believe that mind and brain are to be distinguished, but that’s another topic.) “You mean my brain?”
“Yes, I mean your brain. You do science with your brain. Well, tell me the story of the brain.”
“Well, do you want the long story or the short?”
“Well, in short, the brain is the end product of a mindless, unguided process.”
And I look at them and smile and I say, “And you trust it?”
If you knew that your computer was the end product of a mindless, unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it for a moment, would you? And yet to do your science, you trust something that you believe has come to be without any mind behind it whatsoever.
It’s interesting to know that one of the first people to raise that question was Darwin himself. It’s called Darwin’s Doubt. He said,
“With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
Presciently, in the 1940’s, [C. S.] Lewis saw that brilliant science had been done by thinking. But what people had failed to do was think about the thinking. And he says this:
“Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true. It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid, that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument which proved that no argument was sound — a proof that there are no such things as proofs — which is nonsense.”
And that issue has now moved to the center of the contemporary debate about God and science. In his provocatively subtitled book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, American philosopher Thomas Nagle, an avowed atheist, openly confesses, “I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” Yet he concedes:
“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.”
“Evolutionary naturalism implies that we shouldn’t take any of our convictions seriously, including the scientific world picture on which evolutionary naturalism itself depends.”