“Trust me, Dave.”

Apparently CERN recently organized some kind of gathering, wherein theologians and scientists discussed on the question of whether or not God and science are incommensurable entities in the equation of the universe. According to the BBC, one of the participants was Dr. John Lennox who is apparently a staunch proponent of the notion that mankind’s ability to do science comes from God.

He is said to have made the following statements at this meeting of CERN’s:

“If the atheists are right the mind that does science… is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”

Interesting. If I understand correctly, Dr. Lennox assumes no one would trust a computer if it was the product of a mindless unguided process. So then if it is the product of an intelligent guided process, you can trust it…right? So what about the year 2000 bug, that didn’t really happen then? Or the case of radiation therapy machines lethally over-exposing patients due to mistakes in the software? What about the failing computers on NASA’s Apollo space missions, airplane crashes, etc? Well, I’m afraid all those things actually did happen. Thanks to ‘intelligently’ designed computer systems. So as for trusting computers, I would advise against it. But then again, as the title suggest, perhaps I have seen Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” too many times.

But then surely you would trust the mind, right? Well, things get even worse here. People can be indoctrinated or tortured into believing anything, or they can be mentally ill and have a distorted sense of reality. A simple drug may cause an individual to hallucinate, to think he can fly and mistake dreams for reality. The human memory whilst impressive is also notoriously unreliable. For example, the problem of false memories in the testimony of witnesses during criminal trials is well documented.

Now, even when we set all these considerations aside, there remains one main problem with Lennox’s assertion: he states the process is unguided. Mindless I can accept, but unguided? Surely, it is now widely accepted amongst scholars that evolution is guided by the process of natural selection? And the mechanism of natural selection is non-random, therefore it is a guided process. Again I see no reason to invoke God here.

And finally, there is one other final problem with Lennox’s objection against atheism. And it seems to me a problem of logic. First, let us accept Lennox’s proposition that a mind cannot be the product of a mindless unguided process. Since Lennox believes that God created man, we are thus left with the inevitable conclusion that God is not mindless, for he could not create man otherwise. How then came God into being? Well, since man could not have been created by a mindless unguided process, then likewise whatever created man can also not be the product of a mindless unguided process. So \mbox{God_2} created \mbox{God_1}. And what about \mbox{God_2}? Well, extending this line of thinking he was created by \mbox{God_3}.

I see an infinite series emerging here, with every \mbox{God_n} being created by \mbox{God_{n+1}}, and it doesn’t lead to a satisfying solution. This line of thinking is also the problem with the theory that life on earth arrived via an asteroid. Because that also doesn’t answer anything, just raises another question: Where did that life then develop?

But maybe I’m mistaken, perhaps I made an error in my logic somewhere, or made an assumption that is not supported by the facts. So just in case, read this post for what it is; just an opinion. And whatever you do, don’t trust my reasoning too much. ;)

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