So here we have it: the biggest of all subjects, the grandest of all spectacles, and the highest of all stakes. God, Cosmos, Eternity.
Infinite Other, Infinite Order, Infinite Transcendence. Surely no question, in the end, matters more than this: “Is there a God?” For we are really asking, “Is our universe, the totality of all that exists, the purposeful work of an inconceivably powerful Creator?” And no evidential tapestry, no kaleidoscopic panorama, is more vast than the one that confronts us in this supreme quest. Not only that: surely no issue has profounder implications for every human that ever walked this Earth than the inseparable, consequential questions: “Does this being (if he/she’s there) have personality as well as power? Has ‘it’ any interest in, or - ominously, perhaps - any requirements of, ME - an infinitesimal dust-speck on one of his microscopic, planetary globe-specks in a creation that expands and glitters with galaxies-by-the-billion?”
“EXPLORING THE GOD QUESTION” impressively parades before the serious viewer a dazzling procession of brilliant intellects, stellar experts, virtuosic scientists and philosophers, titans of the academic world all endowed (by Chance? by a God?) with capacities for calculation, deduction and reasoning that dwarf the average person’s. From iconic cult-authors and beloved celebrities of the New Atheism, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, to less-known but equally formidable champions of the theist cause, John Lennox and Rabbi Sacks, we are presented with argument and counter-argument that fascinate, captivate, charm or repel, by their explicative contortions, their intricate and mesmerising complexity. Cynics might claim they are even more complicated and multi-nuanced than the debates about Scottish independence! Finally, we long for the killer punch, the knock-down, irrefutable coup-de-grace of logic or scientific ‘proof’ that will confer the crown on the victor, theist or atheist, - so we can all cheer the Hawking-like genius of its mastermind, sleep more soundly, and - as the recent bus-hoardings of the atheists exhorted us all - “get out and enjoy life.”
However - most unfortunately - a final, unanswerable, irresistible conclusion is the one thing there isn’t. Triumph-by-proof turns out to be frustratingly elusive. Each of us, we are reliably informed, has to make up our own minds, come to our own decision about where the truth lies, and from that foundational commitment of mind and heart, shape our lives accordingly.
I was struck by Richard Dawkins’ fondness for the “beautiful and elegant” solutions of science. Yet what could ever be more “beautiful and elegant” than a God who, whilst gifting his creatures with gigantic potential for intellectual progress down the millennia of human history from Aristotle to Einstein, nevertheless makes the discovery and riches of his being NOT conditional upon mere mental ability, for that would exclude the vast majority of ordinary people. No. He rather invests each of us with another faculty, one that all possess and all can exercise from infancy to old age: the faculty of simple faith - not blind, as some would contemptuously dismiss it, but vibrant, informed and experiential - maturing and deepening throughout the years of a life which takes that initial, deliberate, believing plunge, and is prepared for all the astounding adventures - the glories, wonders, thrills and miracles - that the company and care of the Creator will then open up. The principle is this, laid down in ancient scriptures: “Whoever comes to God must believe that HE IS.”
St. Paul confirms this: “I KNOW whom I have BELIEVED.” Faith first, knowledge later. Such beauty, Dr. Dawkins! Such elegance! Such exquisite wisdom in a fair-minded, omnipotent God who is LOVE! Here is “the poetry” of God, to use Rabbi Sacks’ analogy, which undergirds and complements, not contradicts, “the prose” of the scientific method.