Book review: Cosmic Chemistry by John Lennox

Book review: Cosmic Chemistry by John Lennox

There are few more important questions that Christians face from their friends and colleagues than the relationship between science and Christianity. Many dismiss Christianity thinking that science has explained it away, especially when it comes to the issue of the origin of the universe. The standard theory of evolution is accepted as adequately explaining everything; surely there is no need to believe in the primitive idea of a God who created things?

If we’re honest, most thoughtful Christians have been disturbed by these things too. Can we be confident in the opening chapters of Genesis? With belief in evolution so widespread and prominent atheists proclaiming God to be dead, can we really hold to the traditional line of God designing and creating everything that exists?

My background is in chemistry, prior to studying theology, and I have read widely and deeply on this topic. Out of all of the books I have read that attempt to explain the science, the limitations, and the core issues at play, the new book Cosmic Chemistry: Do God and Science Mix? by John Lennox is the most comprehensive and helpful book I have come across.

John Lennox is a household name for those who follow the debates between science and Christianity. A respected professor of mathematics from Oxford University, he has been very active in publicly debating prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins.

This book explains the issues before going into depth on the current state of the science in a range of different fields, including chemistry, biology, archaeology and mathematics. Each field raises different issues. Cosmic Chemistry looks directly at the science and considers where the evidence leads. What are we to make of the fossil record and the Cambrian explosion? Why does the internal machinery of individual cells make gradual evolution by mutation impossible? Why do recent mathematical theories raise issues around where new information comes from?

This is a well-researched book, and I really appreciated the effort to explain the science fairly and well. Lennox often quotes top researchers in their field who are fundamentally opposed to Christianity but who also have doubts about the accepted theory of evolution.

I do need to issue a word of warning: this is not a light before-bed type of book. You need to be engaged and think deeply, and sometimes have a break to consider what you have read before moving on. And, spoiler alert, it is more than possible to be a Christian who understands science deeply and well. Don’t simply assume that science is something Christians should be afraid of that undermines your faith.

When I read the conclusion where John Lennox explains his personal faith, even after all he has researched and engaged with, I felt like standing and cheering. It is a breath of fresh air to see a respected scientist so plainly confess his faith in Jesus who died for his sins.

If the issues of science, evolution and design interest you, read this book. It rewards the time investment. If you want something lighter without the detail, Lennox’s short book ‘Can science explain everything?’ from a few years ago is also helpful on the principles with far less detail on the actual science.