Grand Undertaking

A Review of God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John C. Lennox
Lion Books, Oxford, 2007

Reviewed by Lael Weinberger

A “modest level of questioning” Darwinism is viewed as “suicidal” in many circles, John Lennox writes, but it must be done. Just to be prepared for the worst, Lennox has already composed his own epitaph:

Here lies the body of John Lennox.
You ask me why he’s in this box?
He died of something worse than pox, On Darwinism – heterodox.

Fortunately for us, Lennox still lives. A professor of mathematics and a fellow in the philosophy of science at Oxford University, he is a committed Christian and a skilful communicator. He successfully took on the Apostle of Atheopathy, Richard Dawkins, in the live God Delusion Debate,1 and Dawkins looked quite red-faced. His new book, God’s Undertaker,2 is an excellent apologetic that takes on the claims of the popular “new atheists”.

Lennox makes the whole book into one extended argument, with each chapter building effectively on what has gone before. When this is done well, a book becomes a page-turner, which the reader wants to read from start to finish. But the danger is that, by building a single argument, many important related topics can get left out. Lennox manages to avoid this pitfall, keeping the interest throughout the book unified around a single argument, while at the same time maintaining a broad scope of coverage. He covers a wide range of the relevant issues and arguments, moving between science, philosophy, and history, but ties it together so that the reader does not feel like he is doing mental heavy lifting.

This is evident from the very beginning of the book, which Lennox starts with a consideration of worldviews. Atheistic critics of religion usually try to draw battle lines between science and religion. Lennox dispels this myth with a pointed argument that worldviews actually shape the way everyone, atheists included, view science, so that the real battle is not between atheism and religion, but between the philosophical system of naturalism (nature is all there is) and the philosophical system of theism. In the process, he takes on the two most popular historical examples often cited to show that there is a “war” between science and religion: Galileo and the church, and the Huxley–Wilberforce debate. He explains that in Galileo’s case, the real problem was the Catholic Church’s dogmatic embrace of Aristotle, and that the Bible does not teach that the earth is the centre of the solar system or any other such Aristotelian nonsense.3 He shows that the Huxley–Wilberforce debate was a debate between scientists, and that it is far from clear that Huxley actually won. All of this material is put together into an easy-to-read argument….

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