The next day had the replies from the Archbishop of Canterbury, scientist -theologians, the Chief Rabbi and so on. They mounted a robust defence of theism. They were aided by Professor Hawking’s hubristic (I would say foolish, but it probably helped sales of the book) dismissal of philosophy as dead which called into question his judgement about any area of knowledge outside of his particular field of physics. Reaction to the mistitled The Grand Design have not all been kind, as here for example.
This silly (I use the word deliberately) dismissal of another mode of enquiry after knowledge reminded me, of course, of the ubiquitous Richard Dawkins. And sure enough up he popped in the Times as the archpriest of dogmatic atheism. Once again he showed that he regards scientific questions - I leave aside what that actually means - as the only ones worth asking, dismissing more open-ended ones as ‘silly’. This form of arrogance represents a curious failure of intelligence on the part of a very clever man. It renders his attacks on religious faith as predictable and harmless, and (I'm writing as an ex-atheist) he is now surely more damaging to the cause of atheism.
All this obscured the fact that notwithstanding the robust defence I mention above, advances in scientific understanding of the universe do indeed pose a challenge to traditional theism. Not because they disprove God - they do not and cannot - but because they take a creator God out of the equation. Yet while theism retains a creator by removing God from any place where there might be any conflict with scientific theory, this means that whatever role is left for God offends the principle of Ockham's Razor. So while it might be true to state, as God's defenders do in the TImes, that there is no necessary conflict between science and theism, is this because all meaningful ground has been conceded?