When science moves, God must give way 1

February 11, 2010

Peter Harrison is quoted as damning Richard Dawkins' and his supporters' views as "intellectually vacuous, although their popularity is sociologically interesting" - a phrase that succeeds in being at once dismissive and patronising ("Faith and science were once friendlier bedfellows", 4 February).

Such language can only reinforce the impression that those who have a vested interest in the religious status quo are unwilling, or unable, to engage with the arguments.

My own history - having moved from mathematics to theology - allows me perhaps to see things from both sides. I do not find Dawkins "intellectually vacuous"; nor do I believe that the religious impulse is wholly in vain. The problem is that the claims made by the Abrahamic religions for direct involvement by a deity in the process of creation and evolution fail the first test of evidence, as amply shown by modern evolutionary theory.

Rather than resort to the puerilities of intelligent design or the use of dismissive rhetoric, their adherents would do well to look to their own beliefs and doctrines in the face of what we know to be the case.

Alastair G. Hunter, Honorary research fellow, Department of theology and religious studies, University of Glasgow.

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