Is There Truth Beyond Science?

by Lisa Quintana

The Memorial Union lecture hall was packed full of UW Madison students who came to hear a Veritas Forum discussion between Dr. John Lennox and Dr. Larry Shapiro on: Is there is truth beyond science? Lennox is an Oxford Mathematician who has written several books on the justification of the Christian faith and is an international speaker on the subject. Shapiro is a UW Madison Philosophy Professor, and he has written on atheistic views that dismiss anything miraculous or supernatural. Both men were respectful of each other’s opposing views, and with wit and candor, discussed whether there can be truth beyond science. Lennox, obviously, whole-heartedly embraces truth beyond empiricism (the scientific method of knowledge), and Shapiro, of course, does not.

As if he felt the need to defend the atheistic worldview from negative impressions, Shapiro said he’s a very “nice guy,” and that, overall, atheists are good people. Lennox agreed. To go even further, Lennox did not defend the Christian who can be rude, judgmental, and hypocritical at times. Lennox said he’s met plenty of atheists who are much nicer than some Christians. (I think that admission took Shapiro by surprise.) Shapiro, on the other hand, suffers from what many of us suffer from—pride. He doesn’t see himself as a sinner, like Lennox admits. Matter of fact, Shapiro said he thought that a neighborhood full of atheists would be the safest place to live.

Would Shapiro say that in a neighborhood run by Mao Ze-Dong, China’s communist dictator in the 1950s & 1960s, who had up to 78,000,000 people murdered? I could mention Russia’s Stalin, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, or Kim II Sung of North Korea (all purported atheists), but that’s too many numbers to type.[1]  I realize that these dictators are horrific examples of atheists, but there is a lesson to be learned from history: if man is the captain of his own soul, then he ultimately sets the rules, and those rules can be brutal.

Shapiro went on to say that he believes in objective moral truth, in the necessity of right and wrong, and the ability to know the difference. Lennox believes this, too, but stated his belief lies in a Moral Lawgiver, the One humanity owes the ability to reason. To what does Shapiro credit his instinct for right and wrong? When pressed for an answer, Shapiro had none. He argued that philosophers have been trying to determine the grounding for what is right or wrong since the time of Plato. So, Shapiro believes in objective moral truth, but he does not know where to place this objectivity.

Shapiro stated that he did not see how believing in God could help us understand objective morality. He thinks that the theist has the same problem as the atheist does in determining what makes a thing right or wrong. Lennox heartily disagreed…

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