Lennox also defends creationism as a useful concept for getting people thinking in a scientific way:
" ... the rise of science would have been seriously retarded if one particular doctrine of theology, the doctrine of creation had not been present." (God's Undertaker, p.22)
Why is a doctrine of creation important? Lennox points out that it frees science from the idea that we ought to be able to deduce what is happening in the universe from fixed prior principles. If - in contradiction to such an idea - we assume that God is entitled to create what he likes (trilobites, giraffes, and whales, to name some examples), then our duty is to address what exists rather than to set rules for what can exist. Unfortunately, centuries ago, many scientists attempted to proceed by setting rules about what can exist, according to their theories. Many of their ideas were in conflict with reality, and unproductive conflicts were common.
Having taught sections of the Design or Chance? adult night school course at St. Michael's in the University of Toronto, I also have a clear sense of another issue: A doctrine of creation encourages people to believe that the universe is worth studying because it puts a limit on the things you would need to know in order to understand. For one thing, even by positing an actual beginning of time, it closes off an infinite past in which virtually anything could have, and has, happened.
Assume, for example, that our theory of the universe does not include a doctrine of creation. We might assert - as some cultures have - that the universe is supported on an infinite series of turtles who (in some greater infinity) are swimming in an endless sea. Why study it? The information gained from one turtle may be no use in interpreting another, and then - even if you could get to the end of the turtles (which you cannot, because the series is infinite) - you would then confront the endless sea. All the information you have accumulated is a mass of interesting sludge, really. The prospect of understanding the universe is actually impossible. Lennox aided my understanding of this question by noting that the Jesuit Fathers who visited the advanced kingdom of China in the early modern period had difficulty at first persuading the Chinese scholars that many features of the universe can be understood by simple equations. They had not expected to find the unverse comprehensible in that way.
So a doctrine of creation imposes limits on what we must understand in order to gain a picture of our universe. That is critical for science as we understand it. If we assume that if the Big Bang happened roughly 13.7 billion years ago (conventional dating), then anything that could not have taken place within that period by random movements alone either did not happen or happened because of exterior or prior guidance. Or something else? At any rate, we are justified in seeking an explanation.
Next: Part Five Lennox's book - little known but much recommended!
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