I’m a great admirer of Richard Dawkins for his honesty and passionate commitment to his atheist views. I think he’s right too that the kind of God he dismisses in The God Delusion can’t exist. But this is not the God intelligent religious believers worship. He has completely misinterpreted the Bible, especially the Christian doctrine of the Redemption. He has totally misunderstood Aquinas, most of all Aquinas’s Five Ways and his idea of design. It’s true that one of the best things about Dawkins is his sense of wonder before nature, about which he writes so marvellously. But the wonders he writes about are always mechanical wonders, how a spider solves the engineering problems of spinning a web or how the eye measures colour in raindrops. He seems blind and deaf to another kind of wonder, the numinous presence in nature that transcends the material forms that transmit it. Human beings have felt it since the beginning of their history and left countless testimonies to it in their monuments and their art.
In the wake of Darwin it is no longer reasonable to believe in a God outside the universe who constructed it like a watch. But it is reasonable to believe in a cosmic intelligence inside the universe, ‘God dwells within the universe and that innermostly’ wrote Aquinas. There is nothing in science that contradicts this. Indeed science is increasingly pointing us towards it. Quantum physics probes ever further into a mind-bending further realm of reality that is beyond all our common sense and logic. That there is a further dimension of reality beyond this present one that we inhabit is what religion has always taught. Stephen Hawking tells us that there is no need for a God outside the universe to create it. The universe emerged from nothing. But Aquinas didn’t think there is a God outside the universe either. He would have loved Hawking and underwritten his every word, except that he called Hawking’s nothing existence itself. ‘God does not exist, God is existence’ he wrote.
Well done Richard Dawkins for demolishing a God nobody can or should believe in. But let’s move on.