Friday, 3 September 2010

'It must be true..I read it in The Daily Mail'

Not a week goes by without a patient presenting me with a cutting from the Daily Mail. If it's not castigating GPs for being overpaid and lazy it's raising hope with a 'medical miracle' story that is overblown and usually unhelpful.

So today a helpful article by Professor John Lennox, a mathematician from Oxford University. He takes to task his fellow academic Professor Stephen Hawking, he with the brain the size of the planet who has overcome a significant medical disability to be one of the most noted scientists of this generation.

Hawking apparently states that the laws of physics are all we need to explain the origin of the universe in his new book The Grand Design. But Lennox differs and explains his thinking as both a scientist and a Christian

But, as both a scientist and a Christian, I would say that Hawking's claim is misguided. He asks us to choose between God and the laws of physics, as if they were necessarily in mutual conflict. 
But contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions. 
What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.  
That is a confusion of category. The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but someone had to build the thing, put in the fuel and start it up. The jet could not have been created without the laws of physics on their own  -  but the task of development and creation needed the genius of Whittle as its agent. 

Similarly, the laws of physics could never have actually built the universe. Some agency must have been involved.
Do read it all here


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