The hand of God

November 1, 1996

Keith Ward's article and the accompanying book review (THES, October 11) made sad reading. It seems that the science-and-religion debate is still being carried out in terms of "Did God create the Universe?" without any consideration of the religious and philosophical views of the Eastern traditions either by Ward or by his scientific opponents. Ward's overly-broad definition of theism at first gave the impression that he might be extending the debate. However, what he has in mind is still the normal definition of theism as belief in God, God being the personal superbeing of the Semitic tradition, who conceives of the world, and then creates it as something separate from himself.

The concepts of the sources of the universe (brahman, vijnana, the Tao, etc.) in the Eastern traditions, and their relationships with the universe, are quite different from the concepts of God, and it is misleading to conflate them either with God or each other. It is surely time for both scientists and philosophers to start mastering the details in order to raise the standard of the debate.

Robin Harwood

University of Reading

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