Book Review: Can Science Explain Everything by John Lennox
John C. Lennox’s new book (released 2019) Can Science Explain Every Thing offers the Christian a power-packed apologetic punch in a short 125 pages. Highly accessible and easy to understand, this brief introductory apologetic work is an incredible asset for those just starting to venture into the world of apologetics, and a must read for high school and college students looking for a helpful resource on the reasonability of the Christian faith in the midst of the cultural milieu of naturalism and the supposed great divide between faith and science.
“This book has been written in response to many young people and adults who have asked for an introduction to the “Science and God debate” that would be more accessible than my book God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? In addition, many of them asked me to deal more specifically with the relationship between Christianity and science as distinct from restricting myself to the evidence for the existence of God” (p. 7).
Lennox’s work is an important one that addresses the “science side” of our western culture that is “working to roll back the tide of ignorance and superstition that has enslaved mankind since we crawled out of the primeval slime” (p. 9). Lennox is a mathematician and professor at Oxford University alongside perhaps the most well-known atheist in the world, Richard Dawkins. Lennox has publicly debated Dawkins, and this book addresses many of the arguments presented in Dawkins’s The God Delusion.
In his address to this “God and science debate,” Lennox says that “it is very superficial to believe that increased scientific understanding squeezes God out,” and that “science does not compete with God as an explanation (to something). Science gives a different kind of explanation” (p. 33).
Lennox also takes aim at busting some myths. For example, the myth that religion depends on faith but science does not (chapter 3) and that science depends on reason but Christianity does not (chapter 4). In chapter 4, Lennox states that the “faith expected on the part of Christians is certainly not blind” and that “confusion about the nature of faith leads many people to another serious error: thinking that neither atheism nor science involves faith. Yet, the irony is that atheism is a belief system and science cannot do without faith” (p. 45). He also goes on to make this strong—even provocative—statement in regard to materialism and naturalism upon which atheism is based:
“[N]aturalism, and therefore atheism, undermines the foundations of the very rationality that is needed to construct or understand or believe in any kind of argument whatsoever, let alone a scientific one. . . . It is science and atheism that do not mix” (p. 49).
In dealing with the question of whether we can take the Bible seriously in a scientifically literate world, Lennox deals with such issues as miracles, the resurrection and empty tomb of Jesus, the personal dimensions of Christianity, and the fact that we can test the truth of Christianity (for Christianity can be tested). He argues that ultimately we cannot test the truth of Christianity by checking it out from a distance, which is what the Greek word skeptein means (“to investigate from a distance”), from which we derive our word skeptic. Rather, we must be willing to engage up close and personally.
Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is its brevity, accessibility, and ease of reading. Lennox has taken some fairly deep and complex concepts and made them easy to understand and remember. In total I found this short book to have incredible impact and to be balanced in its approach to both logical and rational arguments against the Christian faith, while addressing the materialistic “cultural soup that we swim in” (p. 14) and the notion that science and Christian faith cannot be compatible. Lennox does an excellent job of blowing these kinds of misunderstandings out of the water.
All the while, he remains compassionate and does not overlook the importance for anyone examining the Christian faith to be willing to do so personally, and not just from a distance.
(You can read more from Jon’s blog at www.jonsherwood.com. Used with permission.)