Is there a God? - it's 2/1 on

March 12, 2004

A former theoretical physicist from Manchester University has turned his hand to a more fundamental proposition - the odds on the existence of God.

And the good news for church-goers is that, at 2/1 on, the existence of God is up there with the odds on the Labour Party winning the next election (7/2) and Leeds United getting relegated (11/4), according to bookies William Hill.

Stephen Unwin, an expert in quantum gravity, has used Bayes' theorem, which converts evidence into probability in what he acknowledges is an unorthodox manner.

The theorem was devised more than 200 years ago but is still in use in fields such as archaeological dating, medical diagnosis and spam filtering on the internet.

"I don't think anyone has used it for any higher purpose before," said Dr Unwin, who now works as a risk assessor in Ohio.

According to the research, to be published later this month in a book called The Probability of God , the likelihood of his existence comes out at 67 per cent.

Evidence for and against the existence of God is factored into an equation that weighs up negatives such as natural disasters and disease against positives such as the existence of moral values.

A numerical value is assigned to each piece of evidence using what Dr Unwin calls a divine indicator scale.

Dr Unwin points out that, thanks to quantum theory, the universe has come to be understood not as deterministic but as probabilistic.

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