This is not a book about God: it is a book about what was in 1983 the new physics , by a distinguished scientist who would go on six years later to edit a massive scholarly work called The New Physics, who would then start getting interested in life on Earth, extraterrestrial life and (right now) the physics or mechanics of cancer.

In other words, Davies is interested in all the questions raised 3,000 years ago by the Pentateuch; and in the increasingly intractable questions of how the universe began, how life began and how we came to be.

Atheism, like Christianity, requires an act of faith. There is no evidence whatsoever for the non-existence of God, and there is plenty of evidence for His existence. However, this evidence is entirely anecdotal, highly subjective, often conflicting and not subject to scientific rigour.

So in 1984 a new physicist picked up an old question first formulated perhaps 1,600 years ago by that great thinker St Augustine of Hippo, and 800 years ago by St Thomas Aquinas: can God’s signature be seen in the universe He created?

This is called natural theology: it has an honourable place in the history of science. Francis Bacon recommended it, Isaac Newton practised it, 17th century biologists like John Ray puzzled over the ambiguities it exposed.

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