John Lennox: No, Evidence and Faith Are
Not a Contradiction in Terms
by Donald McLaughlin
I’m here in Springfield, MO, where our friend the Oxford mathematician John Lennox gave the opening plenary talk to the 2014 Faith and Science Conference: Genesis and Genetics. With his famous wit, dynamic style, and lyrical Irish brogue, Lennox demonstrated for this highly engaged crowd of over three hundred that the supposed conflict between faith and science is a fiction. One of the sources of this familiar myth, Lennox said, is that the culture has re-defined faith to mean “blind faith,” a notion he utterly rejects. “It is not blind faith,” he said, “it is evidence-based faith.”
Lennox pointed out that atheists have a belief system too, that is to say a faith. He recounted an exchange he once had with bioethicist Peter Singer. Singer asked him, “Were your parents Christians?” When Lennox replied that they were, Singer said that was one of his problems with religious belief: children tend to adopt the faith of their parents. So, Lennox asked Singer, “Were your parents atheists?” Singer replied that they were. “Well, so you adopted your parents’ faith!”, Lennox replied. “No,” Singer answered, “because atheism is not a faith. It denies faith.” To which Lennox quipped, “Really? I thought you believed it!” That little story made the point very well.
Lennox went on to talk about how fields like cosmology and evolution deal with questions of ultimate reality…