Science and theology
Sir, – Michael Nugent (Rite and Reason, October 11th) writes that “In every generation religious people explain the parts [of how the universe operates] that we don’t yet know by attributing them to gods. Every generation we patiently move more explanations from “a god did it” to “we now know how it happens naturally”.” Now, nothing seems more silly to me than the notion that humans invoke God merely to meet some puzzle about how nature works.
For the vast majority of people who have lived, God has not been a response to this or that puzzle, but the fundamental response to existence itself; to the very fact of this thrilling, beautiful, dramatic, sublime cosmos around us. The doyen of modern atheism, Richard Dawkins, has written that “the universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
I suggest that such a response can only come from someone spectacularly tone-deaf to the music of existence. Mankind’s craving for ultimate truth goes deeper than can be satisfied by any scientific explanation of empirical facts (which simply pushes the explanation back one more stage to some mysterious “laws of nature”); as St Augustine wrote, “our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” – Yours, etc,