Last Wednesday, I went to Swarthmore to hear John Lennox (not John Lennon) speak on the question, “Does morality need God?” Regardless of the answer (which he answered simply, “No, of course not.”), Lennox’s past of growing up in Northern Ireland was very interesting and relatable to the history we’ve been delving into in regards to our poetry.
Lennox is a mathematician, a philosopher of science, and a Christian apologist who also happens to be a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford.
He introduced us to his background with the question, “Now, have you heard of Northern Ireland?” He chuckled and said that yes, we’ve probably heard of Northern Ireland, but for probably not the best reasons. Lennox explained that he comes from a non-sectarian Christian background. His father very strongly believed that all people are created in the image of God, making all people (and all Christians) valuable and important. Because of this, his father hired Catholics and Protestants in his family store.
Lennox also revealed that he almost lost his brother (who “almost had his face blown off,” Lennox remembered) to the violence in Northern Ireland over religion because of their father’s devotion to treating both sides the same.
To this day, Lennox continues his father’s inclusive belief and looks upon his homeland, Northern Ireland, with the shame that his people “are using the name of Jesus Christ to take up bombs and AK-47s.”
He also had an experience in school when another boy asked him about his religion, but then immediately backed off, saying, “Oh, that’s right, you’re from Northern Ireland. You don’t talk about those things there.” Because of the violence he was exposed to as a child and that encounter with the other boy in grade school, Lennox chose to continue to delve deeper into his faith to discover and share what it is really means.