“Gunning for God” Review, Part Two

My previous post gave an overview of “Gunning for God.” Now, some highlights from Chapter 1, “Are God And Faith Enemies Of Reason And Science?”

In this chapter, Lennox shows that when the New Atheists are discussing faith, they do not go to the standard reference works and use the definitions found there. If they had, that would have to acknowledge that belief and faith are cognate ideas and that both – in the standard definitions – are evidence-based. Instead, they use an idiosyncratic definition by which they “define as faith what most people would think of as blind faith” (p. 55).

Lennox shows to the contrary that, when one begins from the standard definitions of faith and belief, Christian theism and modern science are alike evidence-based belief systems, and he brings to light some of the fallacies that Hawking, et al, perpetrate as they seek to make the real world conform to their false definition. Examples include:

  • Logical incoherence from Hawking (pp. 31-32) and from Hitchens (p. 42)
  • An important category error (p. 32)
  • Hawking wrongly sees the monotheists’ God as merely a “God of the Gaps” posited to explain those things that science cannot yet explain and he believes that the theory of creation and consequent illusion of design he has put forward plugs the final gaps and so does away with God. However, ‘the very theories he advances to banish the God of the Gaps are themselves highly speculative and untestable’ (p. 35) (emphasis mine). Lennox cites physicist Paul Davies concerning Hawking’s M-theory: “It is not testable, not even in any foreseeable future”. Physicists Frank Close and Jon Butterworth express similar opinions (p. 37). Hawking has replaced the “God of the Gaps” with a scientifically untestable theory – hardly a coup de gras against theism!
  • Begging the question – that is, taking as a premise the very thing that the argument is supposed to prove (p. 48). Here, Lennox refers specifically to an article by A.C. Grayling, but the same fault could be found in any of the New Atheists when they use their own idiosyncratic definition of faith to argue against theism.

The irony of their illogic is that “the New Atheists’ view of the origin of the human cognitive faculty gives them no ground for the faith in science that they cannot do without. Indeed, their reduction of human thought to neurophysiology is ultimately nihilistic and destroys the possibility of truth, thus undermining the validity of all arguments including those of the New Atheists” (p. 56)

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