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Mirakel och det övernaturliga

Är diskussioner om mirakel och det övernaturliga bara nonsens? John Lennox från Oxford University undersöker miraklens legitimitet och deras övernaturliga betydelse. | Harvard Medical School.


I denna text diskuterar föreläsaren förhållandet mellan tro på mirakel och det övernaturliga samt vetenskap. Han påpekar att det finns två huvudsakliga världsåskådningar: naturalism och teism, och att de representerar olika syn på verklighetens natur. Föreläsaren betonar att tro på Gud inte är oförenligt med vetenskap och att det finns historiskt stöd för detta. Han noterar också att tro inom kristendomen är grundad på bevis och att det finns en djup förbindelse mellan historiska vetenskapsmän och tro på Gud.


  • Föreläsaren diskuterar tro på mirakel, det övernaturliga och vetenskap.

  • Två huvudsakliga världsåskådningar presenteras: naturalism och teism.

  • Historia visar att vetenskapens grundare ofta var troende.

  • Föreläsaren ifrågasätter idén att vetenskap och tro är oförenliga.

  • Föreläsaren belyser att historiska vetenskapsmän oftast var troende.

  • Diskussion om de två huvudsakliga världsåskådningarna: naturalism och teism.

  • Påpekande om att tro inom kristendomen är grundad på bevis.

  • Förklaring av hur vetenskap och tro inte är oförenliga, trots vissa påståenden.


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Transkribering av videon

Sträcker sig till den 46:e minut då föreläsning tar slut. Därefter följer en stund för frågor och svar som inte är transkriverad nedan.

Innehåller tidsanvisningar

00:01 Welcome to the Veritas forum, engaging university students and faculty in discussions about life's hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. [Applause] Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to say I'm not like the Bishop who turned up at a county church in England and as he mounted the pulpit, he'd noticed there were only three elderly people in the audience.

00:43 And he said to the Vicar, he said, "Did you tell them I was coming?" And the Vicar said, "No, but word seems to have got around." [Audience laughs] Now, I am particularly delighted to be in the University of Harvard because I studied at Emmanuel College Cambridge. The other Cambridge. And in that college, there is a very special room which has been preserved for several hundred years. It was occupied by John Harvard.

01:20 Because you're great John Harvard came from Emmanuel College. And one of the things that was my joy during my time at Cambridge was to get to know a succession of very distinguished Harvard scholars because there probably still is a system where you can spend a term or a year in Cambridge at Emmanuel and you enjoy his huge suite of rooms and a very extensive entertainment allowance.

01:52 [Audience laughs] So, I'm particularly delighted to be here. I'm interested to see that the motto of your university is the word that stands behind me tonight -- Veritas. Which indicates that the founders were interested in truth. Of course, all of us must start somewhere and I started in the small country of Northern Ireland.

02:30 My parents were Christian but they were not sectarian and they gave me the greatest gift that a parent can give to his child. They allowed me to think. Now, when I arrived in Cambridge, in my first week as a student someone said to me, "Do you believe in God?" And they said, "Oh, sorry. I forgot. You're Irish." [Audience laughs] "All you people believe in God and you fight about it.

02:55 " [Audience laughs] That was a turning point in my life. Because I was interested in truth. Could it be that my faith in God was simply a product of Irish genetics? And so on that day, I decided to get to know people that did not share my worldview and befriend them. And I have been doing it ever since.

03:27 I have spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe in the communist time during the Cold War and more laterally, because I speak Russian, spending time in Russian discussing these things in the academies of science. And one of the questions that keep cropping up is the question that you've invited me to talk about tonight. Miracles as belief in the supernatural, irrational.

03:56 Now, there are several concepts here and the major one, of course, is the word "miracle" which comes from the Latin miraculum -- something wondered at. Now, of course, I'm aware that there's a weaker meaning like, "It was a miracle that she passed her exams at Harvard -- [Audience laughs] since she never seemed to do any work.

04:18 " You will be mistaken if you think that is the topic I'm going to address this evening. [Audience laughs] The Oxford English Dictionary describes a miracle as "a marvelous event occurring within human experience which cannot have been brought about by human power or by the operation of any natural agency and must therefore be ascribed to the special intervention of the deity or some supernatural being.

04:50 " Now, of course, if there is no such thing as a supernatural being or supernature, there is no need to discuss miracle and they're not quite the same thing. So, the antecedent question that we need to discuss is first of all, is there a supernature or is nature that we observe all that exists? In other words, we have to face the question of the existence of God.

05:16 Now, if you've been following the British newspapers -- as I hope you do every day, of course -- [Audience laughs] you will discover that Richard Dawkins is all over the front pages all this week militantly proclaiming that atheism is essentially the default position. He, as the acknowledged leader of the new atheists, is determined to show that science has rendered belief in all supernatural gods impossible.

05:53 His book, The God Delusion, is directed explicitly against the concept of the supernatural. And he wishes to use science to abolish religion. Now, of course, not all atheists are as extreme as Dawkins. Jürgen Habermas, a leading German intellectual who's an atheists, regards religion as an important source for creating meaning and indeed, he warns Europe that our educational system, our legal system, our human rights are all derivative from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

06:28 And interestingly he, the leading intellectual atheist on the continent adds, "To this day, we have no other source. Everything else is postmodern chatter." That's a fascinating statement for an intellectual atheists and I was reminded of that origin of our educational institutions as I looked up at your magnificent philosophy building.

06:55 It's the only one in the world I've ever seen to bear the inscription, "What is man that you are mindful of him?" Ladies and gentlemen, students of Harvard, you stand at a tradition that at its inception saw no contradiction between the highest intellectual aspirations and belief in God, even in the philosophy department. [Audience laughs] I don't know what it's like now.

07:24 [Audience laughs] But certainly, they did not believe then that belief in God was an insult to the intellect. Now, the new atheists are determined to spread the myth that science and belief in God are incompatible. I say "myth" because it's very easy to see that that is far too simplistic an analysis.

07:54 How can science and belief in God be essentially incompatible when, for instance, so many leading scientists at my own University of Oxford believe in God? I can name the heads of several scientific departments, world famous in their fields -- nanotechnology, electrical engineering and so on -- who are believers in God. And in this country, just to name one, William Phillips, Nobel Prize winner for physics is a believer in god.

08:21 And what I simply observe is this -- that brilliant science can be done by atheists and brilliant science can be done by believers in God, which shows us, ladies and gentlemen, that the conflict, which is real, lies much deeper in. It is not simplistically between science and belief in God and the supernatural.

08:50 It is between two worldviews, two concepts of the nature of ultimate reality. And it is against that background, that I wish to make my remarks. The one worldview is naturalism or materialism -- there's very little difference between them -- which believes that this universe is all that exists or the multiverse. And that is implications for the nature of explanation.

09:18 It means that explanation, by definition, must be reductionist from the bottom up because there is no transcendence, there is no ultimate top down causation. That was the view of Democritus and Leucippus in the ancient world. But also in that Greek melting pot, there were philosophers like Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and they did not accept that view. They believed there was transcendence. There was something more.

09:48 And those two views come barreling up through history and they divide us in this room tonight and they divide the professors in the academy both in Oxford and in Cambridge in England and in Massachusetts. So, what we're talking about, ladies and gentlemen, is worldviews. Belief systems, each of them.

10:10 The one is naturalism and the other is theism and it's just here that we encounter the first confusion. When I debated Princeton professor Peter Signor in Australia recently, he started by saying to us that his chief objection to religious belief was that people remained in the faith in which they'd been brought up and of course, I was a prime example.

10:35 So, just to reduce the balance, I asked him publicly about his parents. I said, "Peter, were your parents atheists?" And he said, "Yes, they were." [Audience laughs] So, I said, "You remained in the faith in which you were brought up then." "Oh but," he said, "It isn't a faith.

10:57 " "Oh," I said, "I was under the impression you'd believed it." [Audience applause and laughter] Now, ladies and gentlemen, that little spat -- and I got on very well with Peter Singer. You can watch the debate online -- is very revealing because it's consistent with the attitude of the new atheists to regard religious faith as faith and therefore, by definition, believing where there is no evidence, but atheism isn't a faith.

11:27 And of course, any philosopher could point out to them how trivial that is. It is very important to see that we are dealing with two belief systems. One believes that this universe is the ultimate reality -- mass energy. The other believes that God is the ultimate reality. And the burning question is, "What evidence is there for the very task of either of them, the truth of either of them? And in particular, what way does science point?" And therefore, we need to be clear that the kind of faith that the new atheists are describing is what most

12:11 of us would call blind faith. It's dangerous, of course. But faith in its ordinary dictionary sense -- derived from the word Fides, it means "trust" and all of us know that we don't usually trust people unless we're gullible, unless there's evidence to do so.

12:30 We don't trust the banks either, unless there's evidence to do so but that's another story. [Audience laughter] But the banking crisis has at least taught all of us the difference between evidence based faith and non-evidenced based faith. And now, I cannot, of course, speak for other religions. They must rightly speak for themselves.

12:54 But I'd like to make it very clear that Christianity is an evidence-based faith. One of the central statements of the Gospel of John is "These things are written," he said, "that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that believing, you might have life in this day." In other words, "Here's the evidence.

13:17 I've selected it in order for it to provide a basis for your trust, for your confidence, for your faith." I'll come back to the matter of faith later, but having talked briefly about that, I want to address this question quite rapidly. What way does science point? I claim that science points towards God. The atheists claim it points in the opposite direction. And I want to bring as witnesses, first of all, history.

13:46 It is no accident that when Harvard was founded, belief in God was written into its motto and onto its philosophy building. Because historians of science like my colleague at Oxford -- my former colleague John Hedley Brooke -- usually, most of them will agree with what's called Martin's Thesis. And the best formulation of it, I think, is due to C.S.

14:13 Lewis who said that men became scientific why? Because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a law giver. And the great pioneers of science -- Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Clark Maxwell, Babbage and so on -- were all believers in God. I can remember -- I had the opportunity to give the very first lecture on this topic in Novosibirsk in Siberia.

14:42 Quite a few members of the KGB in front of me -- [Audience laughs] and I was invited by the Provost -- I think that's what you call them over here. I was invited by him to give a lecture on why a mathematician believes in God. It was the very first lecture on that topic in the university in 75 years. And when I started talking about the history of science and the fact that Newton and Galileo were believers, I noticed anger rising in the front row of heavyweight professors. So, I stopped.

15:16 And I said, "What's the matter?" And they said, "Why were we never told this?" [Audience laughs] And I said, "Can't you guess?" [Audience laughs] They'd never been told. It was totally new to them that the founders of science were believers in God.

15:38 Now, you laugh but actually, we need to think carefully about the implications of that because the one thing it demonstrates is that belief in God and supernature were not, at the beginning, incompatible with science in the slightest degree. It was exactly the opposite. So, what has happened? Why is it that I'm even having to give a lecture on this topic in Harvard? Why isn't it that we do still believe that there's something more than the natural world if there is such a deep-seated harmony between science and belief in God? Well, first of all, there is a confusion about the reach of science. Alex Rosenberg

16:21 in his book The Atheists Guide to Reality says, "The mistake is to think that there is any more to reality than the laws of nature, that science discovers." Scientism, in other words, is the reigning view. The idea that science is the only way to truth. Now, we're immediately into the realms of Epistemology and Bertrand Russell summarized this viewpoint by saying, "What science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know.

16:54 " Now, Russell was quite a brilliant logician but his logic failed him badly when he made that statement. "What science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know." Is that a statement of science? No. So that we cannot know it. [Audience laughs] Is it too late for logic? [Audience laughs] This is what we call a logically incoherent statement. "If it's true, it's false.

17:16 " "You could work a night afterwards." [Audience laughs] Far more sensible is the view of Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar who said, "It's so easy to see the limits of science. It cannot answer the questions of a child. 'Where am I coming from? What is the meaning of life? Where am I going to?' We need to go outside science.

17:45 " So, point number one -- major point number one, ladies and gentlemen, is science does not define the limit of rationality. Rationality is bigger than science. Einstein, of course, saw it clearly. He said, "You can speak of the ethical foundation of science but you cannot speak of the scientific foundations of ethics." He saw that there was a realm into which science couldn't go and of course, that's obvious in Harvard, isn't it? I do believe you still have some humanities faculties left, don't you? [Audience laughs] Because if science was the only way to truth, you'd have to shut them tomorrow. And I don't

18:18 think you'd want to do that and neither would I. This scientism is extremely limited. The second thing is a confusion about the nature of explanation. I'm talking about God, ladies and gentlemen, but I wanted to be very clear to you what I mean by God because it seems to me that a great deal of atheist confusion today is that their concept of God is not one that I would share for a moment. Their idea of God is a God of the gaps.

18:55 Again, in Novosibirsk, I remember I was severely attacked -- I tend to be severely attacked -- by a professor. He said -- he came up to the blackboard and he drew a stroke of lightening and he said, "This is absurd, what we're listening to. You see, the ancients used to believe that the Gods were behind this.

19:15 And then we did a bit of atmospheric physics and we found it wasn't the Gods exit space for God." And that's the concept of the God of the gaps. I can't explain it, therefore, God did it. A bit more science, a bit less space for God. Now, if you believe in a God like that, it's clear that you've got to make a choice between God and science because as science increases, by definition, God decreases.

19:39 But what if you don't believe in a God like that? I certainly don't. My God is not a God of the gaps. He's the God of the whole show. So that when Isaac Newton discovered his law of gravitation, he didn't say, "Wonderful. I've now got a law and a mathematical description of how it works, I don't need God." He didn't do that.

20:01 What he did was write the most brilliant book in the history of science, The Principia Mathematica, expressing the hope that it would persuade the thinking person to believe in God. In other words, the more he understood of science, the more he admired the genius of the God who did it that way. The God was not a God of the gaps.

20:24 Because you see, ladies and gentlemen, God is not the same kind of explanation as science is. Steven Hawking in a recent book to which I've responded in my little book God and Steven Hawking -- [Audience laughs] See, that was a quite plug wasn't it, aye? [Audience laughs] Steven Hawking says we've gotta choose between God and gravity.

20:48 Well, if I were to have a -- you know what a Ford Galaxy is, don't you? Or automobile? If I had one of those here and said, "Look, I want to offer you two explanations for it. The one is the law of internal combustion and mechanical engineering -- a law of mechanism explanation. The other is Henry Ford. Please choose.

21:07 " [Audience laughs] You'd say, "You're absurd. You need both." Do you? Now, this is extremely important. To realize that explanation comes in different kinds. If you want a complete explanation of the Ford Galaxy, you have to have a law of mechanism explanation -- the scientific one -- and you have to have an agent explanation, in terms of Henry Ford. Please notice they don't contradict each other.

21:46 And the ideas going around spread variantly by one of the Dawkins means, the ideas going around that you must have either or. That's nonsense. The existence -- and I'm wording this very carefully -- the existence of a mechanism that does something is not, in itself, an argument for the non-existence of an agent who designed it.

22:12 So, that we don't see science -- I don't see science -- I'm a passionate scientist, if you count your mathematics a science, but that's another matter -- [Audience laughs] I'm a passionate scientist. We don't see a competition going on here at all. Because God is not a God of the gaps. So, the more I study, the more I'm impressed with the genius of God. We must not assume that there's only one level of explanation.

22:39 Now, to move on a little bit. I mentioned faith. And it has been put about that faith is A, a religious concept and B, it means believing where there's no evidence. Both of those definitions are seriously false. I've argued for the second, now let's come to the first. What about the use of faith in science? It is vastly important, of course.

23:12 Einstein saw it. And so did Eugene Wigner who wrote a wonderful paper, much loved of mathematicians, in 1961 entitled The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics. I mean, how is it that this bright Harvard mathematician, thinking in her mind in here, comes up with equations that describe the universe out there? How does that work? And it led Einstein to say, "The only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it's comprehensible.

23:43 " Now, we do science with our mind. And what I want you to think about now is not the philosophy of science but the fact that we can do it. Because to me, one of the greatest evidence is that nature is not all that exists is the fact that we can do science. Now, let me try and proceed with the argument. It starts with Darwin and something he wrote. Let me read it to you.

24:14 "With me, the heart of doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind if there are any convictions in such a mind?' Now, that particular statement is being subjected at the moment to an immense of philosophical analysis in the light of the way in which science is going.

24:51 Because, you see, many people hold that the driving force of the natural processes that eventually produced our human cognitive faculties were not primarily concerned with truth at all but with survival. And we all know what has generally happened and still happens to truth with individuals or commercial enterprises or nations motivated by what Dawkins calls their "selfish genes" feel themselves threatened in the struggle for survival.

25:22 They are essentially obliged to regard thought as some kind of neurophysiological phenomenon and from the evolutionary perspective, the neurophysiologicaly might, of course, be adaptive. But why, for one moment, would one think that beliefs caused by the neurophysiology should be mostly true? After all, as the chemist Holden pointed out long ago, "If the thoughts in my mind are just emotions of atoms in my brain, a mechanism that arisen by mindless, unguided processes, why should I believe anything it tells me, including the fact that it's

25:56 made of atoms?" [Audience laughs] Now, this is, to my mind, very important indeed. One of America's leading philosophers, Alvin Plantinga, puts it this way. "If Dawkins is right and we are the product of mindless, unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore, inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce including Dawkins own science and his atheism.

26:32 His biology and his belief in naturalism would therefore to be at war with each other in a conflict that has nothing to do with God. I find that fascinating. In other words, I'm suggesting to you, ladies and gentlemen, that it's not irrational to believe in supernature. It is irrational to believe solely in nature. The boot is entirely on the other foot.

27:04 Atheistic reductionism undermines the foundations of the very nature of the rationality needed to construct its arguments or any argument of any kind, whatsoever. And I think that the new atheists have signally have failed to appreciate the catastrophic implications of their view for science. A very interesting side light is thrown on this by nature. Listen to this.

27:32 Only if we assume a God -- this is nature -- only if we assume a God who is morally or alike can truth and the search for truth be at all something meaningful and promising of success. This God, left aside, the questions permitted, whether being deceived, is not one of the conditions of life. So, ladies and gentlemen, my basic argument tonight it this.

28:01 It is a scientific argument in that sense. I believe science makes sense as something we can do. And for that reason, I reject a naturalism that undermines the foundations of the rationality I need to do my science. On the other hand, Biblical thesis, which I espouse, is completely coherent in this explanation, why the universe is rationally intelligible.

28:29 Because it teaches me that the universe out there and the mind in are ultimately traceable to the same intelligent God. Naturalism, I submit, is incapable of explaining itself. So that rational explanation has a legitimate claim to universality but natural explanation does not. And ironically, particularly recent science suggests that naturalism is doomed because it teaches that the universe is a coarsely, closed system by definition.

29:07 This means, of course, that everything can be explained reductionalistically in terms of physical and chemical processes. But the naturalist, who insist on explaining everything in terms of such processes, cannot explain their own scientific theories or mathematical equations in terms of mere physical or chemical processes for the simple reason that theories, laws and equations are not physical.

29:34 They are immaterial. And the odd irony of all of this is you and I live in the information age and we've discovered -- and the physicists are telling us, that information is essentially a fundamental quantity that is not reducible to physics and chemistry. So, the irony of naturalism is that we're now in an age where we've got to believe in something that's non-material.

30:05 It is supernatural in the strict meaning of the term. So, it's a very interesting, intellectual situation to be in, ladies and gentlemen, and I want to suggest that the very existence of rationality is an outpost, so to speak, of the image of God that opens up the conceptual space to seeing that limiting ourselves to a naturalistic explanation is destroying the possibility of all explanation together.

30:38 And you know, that question of the immateriality of information is very important. It means we cannot reduce information to physics and chemistry. Let me tell you a little story. We have a marvelous college in Oxford. I'm a fellow of Green Templeton College and we put on lovely dinners.

31:04 And unfortunately, sometimes the seat arrangements are fixed, so you can't adjust where you're sitting. So, this night, I was sitting beside a biochemist and he asked me what I did and I was foolish enough to reply. I said, "I'm a pure mathematician." "Oh," he said, "how dreadfully boring." [Audience laughs] And I said, "Oh, but I try to make up for it by being interested in the big questions of life.

31:27 " He said, "Like what?" "Well," I said, "like the status of the universe, is it created or not?" "Oh dear," he said, "It's far worse than I thought." [Audience laughs] He said, "Listen. The bottom line is this -- I'm an atheist. I'm a reductionist. We're going to have an awful evening. We've nothing to talk about and that's that.

31:42 " [Audience laughs] So, what do you do with that? "Well," I said to him -- I said, "you know, it's not all that bad, is it?" I said, "I mean, I'm fascinated by reductionism. I know at least three kinds. Which kind are you?" Well, he wasn't quite sure, so being a kind man, I helped him a little bit and I said, "You're a methodological reductionist.

32:08 You take a big problem, spin it into little problems, solve the little problems, get inside of the big problem." " Yes," he said, "I do that." "Good." I said, "We agree on that then." So, he was warming up, called me by my first name so we were getting on famously. [Audience laughs] And then I said, "I think you're an ontological reductionist.

32:27 That you believe ontos Greek being. You believe everything can be reduced to physics and chemistry." He said, "That's right. That's my basic principle." So, I said, "Let's have an experiment then." He said, "What? Here at the table?" I said, "Sure." So I picked up the menu.

32:39 And he looked at it and it wasn't very interesting. It said, "Roast Chicken" and not even in French, in English. [Audience laughs] And he said, "What's the problem?" I said, "You're a reductionist. Everything in terms of physics and chemistry." I said, "Now, look at this thing here. R. O.

32:58 " I said, "Those are mark, aren't they? But they're semiotic -- Greek semion -- a sign. They're marks that carry meaning." He said, "That's right." "Okay." I said, "Explain to me the semiotics of those marks in terms of the physics and chemistry of the paper and ink." And there was a silence.

33:17 And then his wife said a bit loudly, "Get out of that if you can." [Audience laughs] He didn't try. I want to tell you what he said. Now, this is one of the world's top biochemists. He said, "John, for 40 years I've gone into my laboratory thinking that that could be done. But it can't. I was so amazed, I backtracked.

33:43 " I said, "Oh, but science has only been going 500 years or so." He said, "Doesn't matter. You cannot explain the semiotics bottom up. You have to introduce an intelligence." And then it dawned on him that I wasn't bright enough to have thought of the argument.

34:03 He said, "Where did you get that argument?" [Audience laughs] I said, "I borrowed it from a Nobel Prize winner." And I'm glad you laughed, ladies and gentlemen. It's interesting, isn't it? Just a few marks and you instantly argue upwards and postulate mind and we sit and look at the human genome. 3.7, is it, billion letters in exactly the right order in a four letter chemical alphabet.

34:41 Sophisticated, because the levels of information are contained not only in the linear sequencing but in the folding and in its relationship to the sale and all kinds of things and we ask about its ultimate origin, chance and necessity. What? Chance of the laws of nature. We don't say that about print. What's the difference? Semiotics in both cases.

35:08 Seems to me something very interesting is going on. And that semion, the evidence of meaning, our capacity -- because you see, ladies and gentlemen, we are not only containers of text, we are producers of text. And that, to my mind, is great evidence that there is a transcendence beyond nature. The beginnings of supernature are already to be seen within you.

35:35 But now we must come finally to the question of miracles. Because David Hume famously thought that miracles are, by definition, violations of natural law and natural laws are unalterably uniform, therefore, they cannot occur. And Richard Dawkins is quite quick to say that the 19th century's the last time when it was possible for the educated person to admit to believing in miracles.

36:11 Well, it's not quite that simple because the aforementioned Nobel Prize winner, William Phillips, believes that the resurrection of Jesus literally happened, as does a friend of mine who is a vice president of the Royal Society and a biologist to name just two. It can't be that simple. Now, in order to focus this, because we could spend a whole evening on it, I'm going to concentrate on the central claim of Christianity and that is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. And I want to approach two questions.

36:45 The one will be slightly longer than the other; the second would take a whole evening on its own. The question of the possibility of miracle as distinct from the actuality of miracle. C.S. Lewis reminds us that the first fact of the history of Christendom is the number of people who say they've seen the resurrection. If they died without making anyone else believe this gospel, no gospels would ever have been written.

37:11 Now, let's remind ourselves of the contemporary perspective of science. Since scientific laws embody cause/effect relationships, scientists nowadays do not regard them as merely capable of describing what has happened in the past, provided we're not working at the quantum level, such laws can successfully predict what'll happen in the future with such accuracy that even Newton's laws will land, some of them, on the moon.

37:45 And it's very natural that such scientists resent the idea that some God could arbitrarily intervene and alter, suspend or reverse or otherwise violate these laws of nature, to quote David Hume. To them, that would seem to contradict the immutability of the laws and thus overturn the very basis of the scientific understanding of the universe.

38:09 Now, David Hume is a problem child because unfortunately, he didn't believe in cause and effect, which is the foundation of scientific laws and secondly, he thought, quite correctly, that you couldn't prove induction which is also the foundation of many of our scientific laws.

38:34 Now, just before he died, I had an opportunity to talk to Anthony Flue, who used to be Richard Dawkins of another age and was the world's authority on David Hume. Now, he told me, quite straight, he said, "I was wrong about Hume. All my books would have to be rewritten because Hume did not actually believe in cause and effect and his arguments against miracles fail." Unfortunately, Anthony Flue did not live to write that book.

38:57 Now, let's look at some of these objections very quickly. The first is that belief in miracles in general and in the New Testament, miracles in particular, rose in a primitive, pre-scientific culture where people were ignorant of the laws of nature. That's nonsense, of course because a moment's thought shows us that in order to recognize some event as a miracle; they must know a corresponding regularity to which that event is an apparent exception.

39:25 If you don't know that people who died normally stayed in their graves, you would not be surprised at a resurrection. [Audience laughs] And of course, that was appreciated long ago. Joseph, for instance, who was espoused to Mary, knew exactly where babies came from. [Audience laughs] And so when Mary said she was pregnant, he wanted to divorce her.

39:49 He wasn't ignorant of the laws of nature. And so his reason for later accepting her and the child that was conceived of the Holy Spirit -- God becoming incarnate -- must have been enormously powerful. It is simple nonsense to say that people did not know the laws of nature in those days. In fact, there was a uniform attitude against resurrection.

40:15 When the apostle Paul prates to the philosophers at Athens and talked about anastasis, Jesus rising from the dead, anastasis, to stand up again, they laughed. They would not have laughed if he'd have been simply asserting the survival of some soul. They laughed because he was asserting something none of them believed in and that is the physical and bodily resurrection.

40:38 Now the second objection is that now that we know the laws of nature, miracles are impossible but that involves a further fallacy. Suppose I put $1,000.00 tonight in my hotel room in Cambridge and I put $1,000.00 in tomorrow night. One plus one equals two -- that's $2,000.00. And on the third day, I opened the draw and I find $500.

41:07 00. Now, what do I say? Do I say, "The laws of arithmetic have been broken?" Or, "The laws of the United States have been broken?" [Audience laughs] Well, you obviously got the point. But see how important it is? First of all, it's telling you that law means a different thing in both cases, at each case.

41:29 Secondly, how do you know the laws of the United States have been broken? It's because you know the law of arithmetic. If you didn't know that, you wouldn't know the other. Now, you see, it's not the laws of arithmetic have been broken, but what they tell you is that somebody has put their hand into the drawer.

41:53 That is, something has come in from outside this system because it wasn't a closed system. This is crucial. You see, I believe in the laws of nature. Indeed, God, who's responsible for them, created an orderly universe; otherwise, as I said before, we'd never recognize an exception. But God is not a prisoner of the laws. They're not like the laws of the United States.

42:21 God, who set the regularities there, can himself cause and event. Of course he can. What's to stop Him doing that? You see, what Christians are claiming about the resurrection of Jesus is not that he rose by some natural processes. No. They say that he rose because God injected enormous power and energy from outside the system. Now, unless you have evidence that the system is totally, totally closed, you cannot argue against the possibility of miracles.

42:58 So, now you have to come -- and that was far too brief, but I want to give you plenty of time for questions. Now, we need to come to the actuality. Is there evidence anywhere that a miracle of this order has occurred? And of course, as you know, Christianity is based on the claim that Jesus Christ came alive from the dead.

43:24 How do you get at a thing like that? Of course it's a singularity. Of course it is highly improbable. Observations of all the graves, if you were to take people from Harvard and set them in the graveyards to watch for a month and write in their book whether they saw a resurrection or not -- [Audience laughs] you could scientifically show by statistical methods that resurrections are very improbable in the Harvard area.

43:50 [Audience laughs] But unless you've investigated every grave back to the beginning of the universe, you cannot say they're impossible. Singular events are, by definition, improbable. But the question is, is there actual evidence that it happened? The claim is it did? What are the facts? There is an empty tomb.

44:19 How do we know? And then I would have to take you into the specifics of the evidence. And unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, although I'd absolutely love to do that, I'd have to come back to do it, but I've got a little bit of a shot in that direction. This question, I'm so glad that you asked me this question because I find it all over the world the same because it's vastly important to realize that this is not knocking science in any sense. It's recognizing the limits of science.

44:49 So, what I decided to do was this. I decided to read through David Hume in great detail, look at his criteria for evidence and witnesses and then take the resurrection of Jesus and put it under the magnifying glass from the perspective of David Hume. And here's another shameless bit of advertising, I've just produced a book on it.

45:12 [Audience laughs] Which is called Gunning for God. And it deals with that question and I hope that those of you who want to pursue it that far will be able to read it. Now, my final point is this. Of course science and history are not the only sources of evidence for the existence of God, miracle and the supernatural.

45:42 Personal experience is enormously important. And it's even important to a professor who's interested in intellectual things because one of the prime evidences, to me, that these things are real is my personal experience over many years of the living reality of Christ in my life. If he's risen from the dead, of course, it means he's alive and that opens up an enormous possibility of having a relationship with him. So, that too, would be a very important thing to explore.

46:19 I started by reminding you of Harvard's motto Veritas. But you know, that's not what it used to be. And I was delighted to see it's still on one of your main buildings. Harvard's motto was -- and still is -- Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae. Truth for Christ and the Church. I would suggest to you Harvard students and professors the time has come to revisit the original meaning. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

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