Religion and science are two of the most powerful forces active in the world today. But has the scientific enterprise somehow rendered belief in God unnecessary or even contradictory? If not, why are some leading and outspoken scientists so dismissive of God’s very existence?
The informative and engaging new film Against the Tide: Finding God in an Age of Science (Pensmore Films, 2020) highlights the current intellectual debate taking place about whether belief in God is rationally justifiable in a scientifically enlightened era. The plot of the film has actor Kevin Sorbo (God’s Not Dead, 2014) traveling to Oxford University to meet mathematician and outspoken Christian apologist John Lennox.
The purpose of Sorbo’s visit is to ask Lennox to give the case for the other side—namely that science depends upon God if it is to function properly as a critical enterprise that reveals data about the natural world. Sorbo also asks Lennox to explain why so many prominent nonbelievers reject God. Lennox was raised in a Christian family in Ireland and studied at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities, even attending lectures by the famous Christian author and apologist C. S. Lewis. Over the last several years, Lennox has debated such prominent atheist scientists and other skeptical academics as Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Singer, Christopher Hitchens, and Michael Shermer.
Sorbo and Lennox travel from Oxford University to Israel to make the case for the historical person of Jesus Christ and the reliability of the gospel message.
In watching this film five points stood out to me in terms of Christians thinking through the so-called challenge that science poses to their faith:
- What makes John Lennox stand out as a fine Christian apologist are his intellectual qualifications to respond to science challenges (he holds a doctoral degree in mathematics) and his winsome demeanor and gracious personality. He is cerebral and likable in his defense of the God of Christian theism as he employs both his head and heart in extending persuasion.
- Lennox reminds us that secularists don’t share our religious (theistic) worldview and that they need to hear the other side in order to properly develop an independent judgment concerning the big issues of life (the whats and whys of existence).
- Lennox astutely recognizes that the typical objections raised by his secular opponents are not so much science issues as much as they are worldview considerations. For example, the basic assumptions upon which science depends (e.g., the orderliness and regularity of the cosmos, the reliability of math and logic to describe nature, the intelligibility of the world, etc.) fit better with theism than with atheism. Thus, it is God who grounds the world’s intelligibility that makes science possible and successful.
- In his apologetics reasoning, Lennox exposes the severe explanatory problems that the secular worldview of naturalism (only the natural world exists) has in accounting for reality; namely, rationality from the nonrational, mind from nonconscious matter, and life from the nonliving.
- Lennox responds to the strongest secular argument against God—the problem of pain, suffering, and evil—by introducing the central doctrinal truth of Christianity that God has taken a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ and has personally entered into the suffering world. In his incarnation Jesus Christ suffered with and for human beings. Thus, God knows what it is like to suffer.
Against the Tide is a fine film that challenges believers and nonbelievers to give careful consideration to the God question. I love movies that make me think! How about you?
Reflections: Your Turn
Have you seen this film? How about inviting your skeptical friends to see it with you?