Post Author: Bill Pratt
Some skeptics of Christianity are known to argue that the great success of science revealing the physical mechanisms of the universe should lead us to conclude that the God hypothesis is totally unnecessary. Science will ultimately reveal the laws of nature, and once we know these laws, the need for God has vanished. Does that follow?
Not according to Philosopher John Lennox in his book God’s Undertaker. Lennox says, “Such reasoning involves a common logical fallacy.” Here is how he illustrates the fallacy:
Take a Ford motor car. It is conceivable that someone from a remote part of the world , who was seeing one for the first time and who knew nothing about modern engineering, might imagine that there is a god (Mr Ford) inside the engine, making it go. He might further imagine that when the engine ran sweetly it was because Mr Ford inside the engine liked him, and when it refused to go it was because Mr Ford did not like him.
Of course, if he were subsequently to study engineering and take the engine to pieces, he would discover that there is no Mr Ford inside it. Neither would it take much intelligence for him to see that he did not need to introduce Mr Ford as an explanation for its working. His grasp of the impersonal principles of internal combustion would be altogether enough to explain how the engine works.
So far, so good. But if he then decided that his understanding of the principles of how the engine works made it impossible to believe in the existence of a Mr Ford who designed the engine in the first place, this would be patently false – in philosophical terminology he would be committing a category mistake. Had there never been a Mr Ford to design the mechanisms, none would exist for him to understand.
How does this illustration apply to God and the universe? Lennox explains:
It is likewise a category mistake to suppose that our understanding of the impersonal principles according to which the universe works makes it either unnecessary or impossible to believe in the existence of a personal Creator who designed, made, and upholds the universe. In other words, we should not confuse the mechanisms by which the universe works either with its cause or upholder.
Hawking, Dawkins, and other atheistic scientists fail to understand this basic philosophical point. One day, if there is a full and complete physical explanation of how every particle in the universe behaves, if we arrive at a set of equations that explains every physical mechanism, the fundamental question of where these equations came from will still need to be answered. Scientists will not have eliminated the existence of Mr Ford.