Can John Lennox explain how Jesus was simultaneously God and Man?
I have been reading John Lennox’s little book, ‘7 Days that Divide the World’ in anticipation of some events I’m hosting next week in Melbourne. John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and is an internationally renowned speaker on the interface of science, philosophy and religion.
On pages 101 and 102 of the book I came across a fascinating discussion he had with a physicist who approached him after a lecture he gave on ‘Science and God’. The physicist deduced that Lennox was a Christian and then said, ‘You are therefore obliged to believe that Jesus Christ was simultaneously God and human. How can you, as a scientist, explain that?’
Lennox responded by asking two, simpler, questions. The first was, ‘what is consciousness?’ The scientist replied by saying, ‘we don’t really know’. Then Lennox pressed and asked a second, ‘What is energy?’ The physicist replied, ‘well, we have equations governing it, we can measure it and use it’, but that wasn’t the question. In the end the physicist had to conclude that ‘we don’t really know’.
Lennox then said, ‘Do you believe in consciousness and energy?’ Yes he said. ‘So you believe in them, and you do not know what they are? Should I write you off as a physicist?’ The physicist didn’t want him to.
Then Lennox asked, ‘Why do you believe in consciousness and energy even though you don’t understand what they are?’ The physicist replied, ‘Well, I suppose it is because these concepts make sense. They have a kind of explanatory power, and you don’t have to understand them completely in order to use them to explain other things’.
‘Precisely!’ Lennox agreed, , ‘And that is why I believe that Jesus was both man and God. I cannot explain it … but I believe it because it makes sense of everything else. It is the only interpretation that adequately accounts for Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension’.
I think Lennox’s reasoning is interesting and there is merit to it. I don’t think that this resorts to an argument from ignorance, it is an argument from explanatory power. We don’t necessarily have to understand everything completely for the concept to have explanatory power.
Keen to hear thoughts on this.