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Here are a pair of lectures by Dr. John Lennox (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford) on the New Atheism, science, and morality. They were delivered March 11-12, 2008 as the Carver-Barnes Lecture Series at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Professor Lennox says that all of these ideas are explored in greater depth in his book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

One of the values of thoughtful lectures like these is simply to have clear in our mind the difference between things like science and scientism, between the results of science vs. the nature and philosophy of science, between what science can explain vs. what science cannot explain.

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5 thoughts on “John Lennox Lectures on the New Atheism, Science, and Morality”

  1. A. Halbrooks says:

    Good stuff. There have been several great debates between Prof. Lennox and Richard Dawkins (plus one with Christopher Hitchens) on these issues. He’s a powerful debater, no question.

  2. Ron says:

    I just got around to listening to these… good stuff. The last few seconds of the second lecture (where he imagines he in heaven with his wife) is worth the price of admission alone. I hope the youth he is talking to, takes to heart what he says.

    Thanks for posting these JT.

  3. John D. McCarthy says:

    I can’t get either of the two parts of these lectures on video to work.

  4. Jim says:

    This is almost word for word the same lecture he gave which prompted the debate with Richard Dawkins—in which Dawkins picked apart each and every one of his well worded but ultimately circular and presumptive statements—to the point that Lennox was later forced to conceded some of his points were weak, in an article he wrote for a British newspaper. And yet, once back behind the lectern, he continues to use the same arguments he’s already acknowledged aren’t as strong as he would have liked them to be as if he hasn’t learned from his mistake of trying to foist them on his audience more than once before.

    He may well be a nice enough fellow, but he is being extremely dishonest when he posits that atheism as a philosophical tract is unreliable simply because of the emphasis it places on scientific discovery.

    Firstly, positive atheism and agnosticism, as espoused by much clearer thinkers than Lennox such as Russell and Voltaire, was devised long before the kind of empirical data we now have from genetics, astrophysics and quantum electrodynamics and is grounded in pacifism and free thinking, not pure logic.

    Secondly, by discounting scientific discoveries which have displaced what were once attributed to God or gods, such as the mapping of the gnome, proving the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero and Darwinian evolution by means of natural selection, Lennox almost seems to be suggesting that in comparison to what science is yet to show us, these previous discoveries are somehow insignificant and don’t count as evidence against the existence of a divine agent. Perhaps this logical fallacy washes with those who don’t understand falsification but that hardly makes it a valid argument—although it does at least reveal a further presumption on his part that his audience aren’t interested in the problems with his tract.

    Finally, as if to confirm this, he mixes and matches deism and theism with pantheism as if we’re not supposed to notice he’s borrowing from one to cancel out the bias of false choice in the other. If he were talking to anyone other than himself and the already converted this wouldn’t stand for a single second. But unfortunately even though he has engaged in debate with those who are capable of reminding him of this fundamental flaw in his argument, he continues to fall back on these angles of attack whenever he thinks he can get away with it.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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