Arts and Entertainment David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh in Monday's episode

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh was only meant to work on Coronation Street for two months. Her character was intended as little more than a gimmick to help the Manchester-based soap opera compete in the ratings battle with then-dominant EastEnders. Fifteen years later, her character’s story has finally come to a close, and with it, one of soap’s most enduring and touching romances: that of oddball Roy and his kind-hearted wife, Hayley.

Observations: The artist and the atheist ad

Unless you've been living under a rock, you can't have missed the furore surrounding the atheist ad campaign cooked up by the comedian Ariane Sherine and supported by Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association, which has seen London buses plastered with the statement, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life". They brought to mind the work of one S Mark Gubb, who had the idea of subverting the Church's proselytising posters a long time ago – and to far more striking and amusing effect.

Hermione Eyre: Thought for the day: get us thinking, BBC

How much longer can "Thought for the Day" continue on Radio 4's Today programme? That little slot of sanctimony before the 8am news bulletin – only two minutes and 45 second in duration but always seeming so very much longer – is again being targeted by secularists, who politely suggest it should either widen its remit to include non-religious contributors, or shut up shop altogether.

Credo: Anne Rice

Author, 67

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/10/by-john-rento-7.html">John Rentoul: The Godbotherer vote</a>

Alarming stuff for us heathens in a ComRes opinion poll for Theos, the "public theology think tank". It would seem that 20 per cent of the Great British public would not vote for an atheist as prime minister.

Howard Jacobson: So God 'probably' doesn't exist. Don't these atheists have any conviction?

This is a cowardly opposition to religious sentiment

A 21st century exorcist

Martin Shaw is back on TV &ndash; but how will he fare against an adversary with supernatural power?

Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled?

“A clergyman in charge of education for the country’s leading scientific organisation – it’s a Monty Python sketch,” pronounced Britain’s top atheist, Richard Dawkins, recently. How the world turns. In the days of Galileo it was the church which went around persecuting scientists. Now the boot appears to be on the scientific foot. That is how it must feel, at any rate, to Professor Michael Reiss who last month was hounded out of his job as the Royal Society’s director of education by a group of Nobel Prize winners who were outraged not by what he said but by what people might think he had said.

Why There Almost Certainly Is a God, By Keith Ward

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.

Mariinsky / Gergiev, De Doelen, Rotterdam

Dostoevsky's obsession with physical and mental pain, coupled with his relentlessly emphatic style, means that The Brothers Karamazov is not the ideal book to curl up with. Nor is this 900-page emotional odyssey ideal fodder for opera: two operas have been drawn from it, but neither has stood the test of time.

Dom Joly: It's 50p a swear word... and the pot stands at &#163;75

Idon't know where she got the idea, but Parker, my daughter, suddenly produced a fully decorated swear box and announced that there were new rules for us all to follow. It was going to be 50p per swear word, and she and Jackson would split the proceeds at the end of each month. It was all very entrepreneurial and there was no way we could refuse without setting a pretty bad example.

Rupert Cornwell: Campaign 2008... the year of the church

It's not just Bible Belters and Republicans who feel obliged to advertise their faith

Léger, Fernand: Leaves and Shell (1927)

Is this it? asks the spiritual seeker. This material universe, this mortal span, this natural stuff, is this really it? And the atheist answers yes, there is nothing more, no eternal life, no supernatural powers, no god who made the world, no providence, no destiny. This world, this life, is all there is. And if you feel that's not enough - get over it.

How God works in litigious ways

There is a fascinating case going on in the High Court in which God may possibly be called as a witness. Like to know more? I know I would. Here is an extract from the opening proceedings.

BOOKS: The sea of faith and violence

The End of Faith By Sam Harris FREE PRESS pounds 12.99 (336pp) pounds 11.99 (free p&p) from 0870 079 8897

BOOKS: When love of truth meets the truth of love

Carol Birch The Evangelist By Clare George SCEPTRE pounds 16.99 (391pp) pounds 15.99 (free p&p) from 0870 079 8897
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