Essay:The Grand Design vs. God

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I have just come back from a lecture at a local church from John Lennox. He has written a response to Hawking's The Grand Design and is doing a book tour of sorts. Having read The Grand Design I thought I'd attend.
Now, I knew what to expect - though I don't think Lennox is a creationist I did expect the standard "refutation" to be of a philosophical kind as opposed to the scientific and I was not disappointed. While Lennox was kind, affable and obviously enthused he began by claiming that Hawking, after stating so blithely that there need not be a God anymore, had now been elevated into the pantheon of the "new atheists".
Firstly, while jovial, "atheist" was still said with a hint of distaste, secondly he began on a long path of claiming Hawking introduced a false dilemma (it was either God or Hawking - the irony of this you'll see) and lastly he stated that Hawking had long hidden his atheism by using the term "know the mind of god" and even describing the universe a "miracle" in Brief History of Time. Missing the point of Hawkings words and rhetorical flourishes by using media reports of Hawkings words and not the ones of his own (you'll remember the media furor at the time his book came out).
He then turned to Hawkings book itself however, during the entire 50min lecture, did not once touch on the science. Instead, as we have to come to expect from most Christian apologectics, he nit-picked at the language Hawking used and picked a sentence from one page and contrasted it with another several paragraphs down and explained why they were in contradiction. This went on the entire lecture and not once was there any attempt to explain the overall gist of Hawkings idea (M-Theory).
Ironically, as stated above, one of the biggest flaws in his argument was his false dilemma. He posited that Hawking was claiming it was either M-Theory as Hawking understands it or God which is not only a huge misunderstanding (and conflates "Gods" to mean the monotheistic God) but is also the exact same thing he himself is claiming - it is either Hawkings science or his god.
After a few more assumptions and presuppositions he went on to state that even atheist cosmologists like Penrose don't agree with Hawking, suggesting to the 99% Christian audience that, again, he must be correct in his assumption of God because Hawking is incorrect - but without once explaining the science where Penrose and Hawking do agree.
He then trotted out the same misunderstandings (deliberate or otherwise) of cosmology and "nothing" before stating that the Universe cannot logically create itself but avoiding the obvious question of why god can always be extant and he himself can create a universe from nothing.
So far it was fairly typical apologetic fair but came something I had never heard before:
The laws of physics cannot create anything - they merely describe the action, the mechanism. So when Hawking says the laws of physics created the universe it cannot be possible. Again he quote-mined Hawking without explained the gist of what Hawking meant. Hawking says in his book the laws are able to explain why the sun rises and moves around the world but they cannot explain how the sun got there! (Emphasis Lennox's - he said that bit passionately and pointedly).
To back this up he stated the laws of arithmetic cannot create another $1 from $1000 but he misses that A) Hawking is talking physical laws such as nuclear decay or gravity and B) These laws can explain how the sun got there. It was a very misleading argument.
He ended with the appeal to authority (Kepler, Newton et al were Christians) and an appeal to complexity and design.
At question time I asked a question about that fact he would refute Hawking but did not actually once describe Hawkings science but I got no proper reply and the final hour was a sermon rather than a lecture (with a few digs at atheists thrown in plus a couple of appeals to emotion re: the NZ Earthquake).
So, basically, he applied the fallacies fallacy to Hawkings book, committed a few of his own and basically confirmed what I expected. But he was a nice guy all around and I felt pretty glad to have attended - despite having the odd dirty look thrown my way.


Having been underwhelmed by John Lennox I have spent a lot of time watching lectures by other Christian Apologists. Some are rather weak sauce but others raise valid, scientific and thought-provoking arguments. I recommend Dr. William Lane Craig's presentation for the Templeton Foundation on the Big Bang.