Sep 232011

The Independent has a review by Colin Tudge of “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins, illustrated by Dave McKean. (This review is also discussed at and Butterflies and Wheels).

Virtually every one of the very many comments, both in The Independent and at, criticises, and in fact generally condemns, this review. (I use the word “review” because it is in the “Reviews” section of The Independent, not because it is a genuine book review in any plausible sense). Quite right! It is a bizarre polemic, a rant against some aspect of either the book, or perhaps of Richard Dawkins himself or what he represents, that appears to exist only in the mind of Colin Tudge.

To try to understand Colin Tudge a bit better, I Googled for: “Colin Tudge” religion. This led me, on Google Books, directly to a chapter by Colin Tudge here: “The Pari Dialogues: Essays in Science, Religion, Society and the Arts” by F. David Peat. (Also at I’m confident it is the same Colin Tudge.

In this chapter called “Science, Religion, and Me Personally” by Colin Tudge, we see:

… “I don’t want to define religion in the usual ways. I don’t want to say as many do that religion is inveterately concerned with the “supernatural”. I certainly don’t want to say that it necessarily involves any particular God who can be named and who must be worshipped via particular rituals and ceremonies”. …

… “But if you take the view, as I do, that religion is and aspires to be the all-embracing narrative, the complete account of all that is and could and should be, then none of these common positions will do. Religion, the way I see it, embraces all formal disciplines, including science”. …

… “If the mind-matter idea does stand up, if indeed it is true, then it changes everything. Its implications for some of the core ideas of religion need thinking through but they seem intuitively obvious. It re-admits the idea of the intelligent Universe: the Universe that “knows” what it wants to be. … More broadly, it leads to the idea of the immanent God (the God who is ever-present in the Universe), as opposed to the transcendant god (its detached Creator and arbiter). It suggests that prayer, which to some extent may be seen as an attempt to influence events by thinking, might have a physical basis.” …

After this, his review of a book about science as a way of explaining the universe, which also mentions religion in the context of supernatural myths, could be expected to be incomprehensible to most of us! He is pretty well defining his own esoteric language for talking about science and religion.

More Colin Tudge articles about “science versus religion”:

Microscopes have no morals (Guardian): …  “The continuing fight is an anachronism. It is rooted in misunderstanding both of religion and (oddly, since it is fought by some outstanding scientists) of science. It is often said that science answers “how” questions while religion asks “why”, but that is simplistic. The greater point lies in their scope. Religion, properly conceived, attempts to provide an account of all there is: the most complete narrative that human beings are capable of. Science, by contrast, is – as the British zoologist Sir Peter Medawar put the matter – “the art of the soluble”. It addresses only those questions that it occurs to scientists to ask, and feel they have a chance of answering.” …

The art of the soluble (Guardian): … “Atkins and Dawkins are prominent scientists – Dawkins one of the most original theorists of our age. But on matters of theology their arguments are a disgrace: assertive without substance; demanding evidence while offering none; staggeringly unscholarly.” …

Colin Tudge repeatedly quotes Sir Peter Medawar: “Science is the art of the soluble”. Does he hold religion in esteem because he thinks it is somehow “the art of the insoluble”?

 Leave a Reply

Name required. (Spam NEVER gets published before being trashed)

Email required. (Spam NEVER gets published before being trashed)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>