Dear P


Yes, the Plantinga paper is delightful. I love the scrupulous steps of his arguments. Thank you for sending it. But no one is ever convinced by an argument. One is put in mind of Oscar Wilde: “It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue.”


The work of two scientists ─ one a believer, the other not ─ may be compared and found of equal merit. Indeed they may dovetail quite satisfactorily. From this it follows that the universe may be absurd but it is not random. That is, all manner of empirical reality is compatible with the hypothesis that God does not exist. This will frequently induce in some people a state of mind akin to despair. Why should God do such a splendid job of appearing not to exist? What if the universe really is empty? But to say that, bereft of supernatural meaning, life is absurd is not at all the same thing as to say that it is random. Second by second, like the ticking of a clock, events emerge that confidently appear to be part of a pattern that we cannot yet see, like a fragment of lace, elements in a sequence that we hold but cannot yet parse.


Of course, the existence of God is the whole argument. But granting for a moment that ‘He’ exists, the more stupendous thing is that He enables Himself to be known. Surely, given our finite nature and limited circuitry, the least breath of heaven should devastate us and blow all our fuses. And the sheer fact of God’s existence is so shattering, to believer and unbeliever alike, that we shall all stand, united with our opposites.Flew - There is a God - cover


Thus for me all matters of faith are originally existential. People are convinced, not by arguments, but by experiences. God is not a theory that explains anything. God is the recognition of reality. We are all participating in the joyous miracle of the creation.


I personally feel that all the most important things cannot be verbalised at all. So I am reluctant to enter into pointless argument. Nevertheless, I recently bought (but have not yet read) a book by a philosopher friend of mine, Tony Flew, who has recently changed his mind: There Is A God. The book seems to have caused a stir.


Perhaps of equal significance to Dawkins and others is the fact that religion, far from fading away according to the European model, is actually making a global comeback. Indeed, I suspect this is a large part of what Dawkins is motivated by: the feeling that there is a need to fight a planetary battle against black superstition! There is a brand new book that looks, from a neutral perspective, at the failure of the European, and the success of the American, model: Micklethwait and Wooldridge, God is Back (subtitle, How The Global Rise Of Faith Is Changing The World). John Micklethwait was interviewed on Radio 3 the other night here.



All the best to you both