Why There Almost Certainly Is a God, By Keith Ward
Sunday 28 September 2008
There is a running joke in the forums at RichardDawkins.net about "fleas", which is what the site's contributors call the spreading rash of books that have been published in refutation of Dawkins' bestseller The God Delusion. It isn't an officially endorsed term, but was inspired by a comment that Dawkins made about two books with his name in the title by the Oxford theologian Alister McGrath: "It is tempting to quote Yeats ('Was there ever a dog that praised its fleas?') and leave it at that..." While poorly argued and badly written books undeniably number among these "fleas", there are others containing nimble logic and thoughtful prose which even hard-line atheists should still find it rewarding to engage with – if only they would. One such is the latest missive in the Oxford God debate, Why There Almost Certainly Is a God (named, with one small change of wording, after chapter four of The God Delusion), by the university's former Regius Professor of Divinity, Keith Ward.
Rather neatly, Ward uses one of science's finest achievements – the discovery of the bizarre quantum world – as a weapon with which to undermine the materialist world-view championed by Dawkins. The appealing simplicity of the latter evaporates when you look at the building blocks of the universe closely enough: "What is the point of being a materialist when we are not sure exactly what matter is?" The fact that modern physics' best theories about the universe are verifiable experimentally counts in their favour, but Ward only needs you to concede that his "God hypothesis" is simpler to have exposed a chink in Dawkins' armour.
Exploiting it, Ward's line of reasoning becomes increasingly abstract, but never less than intellectually intriguing. Dawkins' blazing polemic is by far the more fun to read (and to my mind the more convincing) but Ward's courteous objections are stimulating and elegant nonetheless.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre