John Lennox at Rice University: Christianity Gave Us Science
Posted by Ruth Malhotra on September 29, 2015
Over 450 students packed Rice University’s Duncan Hall in Houston, Texas, on September 28 for an open forum featuring Professor John Lennox on the topic, “Has Science Buried God?”
In addition to the standing-room-only crowd and those who watched from two overflow rooms on campus, over 1,000 concurrent viewers watched the live-stream on the RZIM website from dozens of different locations including Chicago, Oakland, Miami, Philadelphia, Ontario, England, Finland, Egypt, France, Argentina, India, and Saudi Arabia.
Lennox, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, spoke passionately about the intersection of science and faith and answered some of the strongest objections to Christianity raised by those with a range of different worldviews. “I am not remotely embarrassed to stand here and tell you that I am a scientist and a Christian, because arguably Christianity gave me my subject,” he explained.
“If we are being offered a choice between science and God, then it is not a biblical concept of God,” Lennox contended. “Our God is not a god of the gaps, but a God of the whole show. The bits we do understand and the bits we don’t.”
A broad coalition of professors, campus leaders, and student groups came together to host this event and promote it to a cross-section of the diverse Rice campus. “Dr. Lennox is well-respected as a mathematician, and he is tremendously well-versed in historic and present-day struggles that people have with regard to the presumed claims of science trumping faith,” said Dr. James Tour, a distinguished professor of Chemistry, Computer Science, and NanoEngineering who helped organize the forum. “Because of this, Lennox could address these controversies head-on and seemingly effortlessly defuse them with a few cogent strokes.”
Around 6,500 hundred students are enrolled at Rice, a world-class research university often noted for its accomplishments in the fields of science and technology. “The understanding that science and faith are not competing explanations for the existence of the universe was a fact that resonated deeply with the students in attendance,” remarked one of the campus organizers following the event. “Dr. Lennox helped reframe the discussion in a way that enabled them to think more critically than before.”
After concluding his lecture, Lennox engaged in a question-and-answer session with the students, tackling a spectrum of issues including the basis of scientific thought in comparison to a spiritual quest for truth, whether belief in miracles is possible given one’s knowledge of the laws of nature, and the exclusivity of the Christian worldview.
“The more I have opened up my beliefs to criticism and debate, the more I’ve discovered that there is a resilience in the Christian faith that is utterly unique,” said Lennox. “Faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.”
Juan Carlos Martinez, Rice alumnus and campus pastor of Reformed University Fellowship, served as emcee for the event. “If the substance of Dr. Lennox’s lecture was compelling, it was also adorned by his pastoral tone. Far from talking down to people, Dr. Lennox graciously elevated our thoughts and allowed us to wonder at the majesty of God’s work in the created order,” described Martinez. “From my vantage point, I could see the faces in the audience, hanging, as it were, on every word. Clearly, the Spirit of God was at work.”
Another campus pastor who serves with Chi Alpha expressed the long-term impact he hopes this event will have within and beyond the campus community. “With such a focus on science at Rice University, Dr. Lennox provided an invaluable service to the academic community as he brought tremendous clarity to the relationship between science and faith and the Word from which both came forth,” he said. “Beyond this open forum, interacting with Dr. Lennox and his team has helped equip us to facilitate the type of dialogue that leads to faith-producing conversations on campus.”
In less than 24 hours following the event, over 10,000 people worldwide have watched the recording on the RZIM YouTube channel. “This was a lovely and thought-provoking talk, and we in India could enjoy watching the live stream as well,” commented one viewer. “What a mighty-beyond-comprehension God we have. I stand in awe of Him.”