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Leading article: Prize fighters

One of Alastair Campbell's most celebrated – and sensible – pieces of advice to Tony Blair was that "we don't do God". The perils of "doing God" were on full display yesterday, after the announcement that Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, former President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College Cambridge, was this year's winner of the Templeton Prize. This award – which was once for "progress in religion", but has since broadened its remit – routinely raises passions, a phenomenon probably not unrelated to its £1m value. Even so, this year's outpouring of vitriol was unusual.

A winning formula: Comedian Robin Ince is heading out on a nationwide tour with a group of scientists

In the last few weeks I have been asked 11 times, "is science the new rock'n'roll?" As we know, in the last 20 years, anything that starts to play to audiences above 17 can be classed as the new rock'n'roll. This is a very limited historical view of what drew the crowds as it only goes back to 1956. Perhaps it should be "is science the new hangings at Tyburn?" or "is science the new barely-armed slaves fighting a hungry tiger?"

For the love of God... scientists in uproar at £1m religion prize

The astronomer Royal has won this year's £1m Templeton Prize, an award denounced by many atheist scientists as an underhand attempt to promote religion by linking it with science.

The Beginning of Infinity, By David Deutsch

Brain the size of Birmingham, ego bigger still

Here On Earth, By Tim Flannery

This past 150 years are widely seen as the golden age of biology – when it began to seem that all life is understandable and will soon be understood; and that what can be understood can and should be controlled for our own benefit. In 1859, in the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin first explained the mechanism of evolution "by means of natural selection". Then Gregor Mendel described the units of heredity now known as genes; then, in the early decades of the 20th century, Darwin's notions were fused with Mendel's to create "neodarwinism" – evolution conceived as a shift in the content of gene pools of populations.

Storms of my Grandchildren, By James Hansen

The science behind our catastrophic weather to come

Books of the Year: Novelty Christmas books

Forget the clementines: these fun volumes can fill those stockings (though they're not all winners...)

Album: Saint Etienne, A Glimpse of Stocking (Foreign Office)

Without bells on – the atheist's guide to Christmas music

Books of the year: Science

There's the odd formula here, but the best of these books make the world's wonders accessible to all

The Black Cloud, By Fred Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle was a mathematician and astronomer of the front rank, whose theory of how elements are formed – in stars, from hydrogen – was resoundingly right (although he seems to have been resoundingly wrong in dismissing the "Big Bang" theory, as he sarcastically dubbed it). He was also a sci-fi writer of some renown, and this is a welcome reprint of his best-known work, from 1957.

The Evolution of God, By Robert Wright

Richard Dawkins' atheism has provoked a series of intelligent books about religion, from Marilynne Robinson's Absence of Mind and K aren Armstrong's The Case for God to this anthropological and philosophical enquiry by Robert Wright, an agnostic.

An ungodly row: Dawkins sues his disciple

Evolutionist's charity accuses protégé of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds

Last Night's TV: Giant Squid: Inside Nature's Giants Special/Channel 4<br/>Reggie Perrin/BBC1<br/>Sex Trafficking in Cambodia &ndash; Stacey Dooley Investigates/BBC3

On the (highly) scientific scale of natural squirmyness, cephalopods rank pretty high. Even grilled, seasoned with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, they take a certain oomph to tackle. Raw, enlarged and sprawled on a dissection table... well, suffice it to say thank goodness it wasn't tea time. Not for me anyway.

Allison Pearson reveals agonies in writing her latest book

Best-selling author tells of how she was engulfed by 'bad clinical depression.'
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own