"The revelation that God did not, after all, create the universe went largely unnoticed last week."
No, that wasn't the news. The news was that Stephen Hawking had said he thinks that. Many of us have thought this for years. If anything the news should have been "Stephen Hawkings well behind the curve on atheism"
"I clocked the cover of The Times's science magazine: "The End of the Universe by Stephen Hawking". But the kettle was boiling and I didn't want to be late for work, so I thought, perhaps later."
So why am I reading your opinion on it? Lets hear from someone who thinks the origins of THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE is more important than tea.
"Hawking's book solves the mystery of the universe."
That should help it sell. Is the answer 42? Or is it in fact just a book about his theories on some aspects of the universe?
"In Twitterverse essence, he concludes that the world was created from nothing. So there was no need for a designer. There is no God."
Firstly since when were designers able to build worlds from nothing? Even Ty Pennington isn't that good! Secondly the argument that the universe must have had a designer is poppycock because it begs the question "Who designed the designer - or did they just spring from nothing?" which leads to an infinite list of questions and a headache. And anyway if you ask religious fundamentalists they actually have a whole stack of flimsy piffle arguments - not just the intelligent design one...
"Other newspapers did not altogether ignore this turn of events, but it was eclipsed by the Newer Testament of Tony Blair and by the rights or wrong of sharing a hotel room with your boss."
Right. Newspaper are rubbish. I agree. By the way Sarah - remind me what you do ... aren't you the Deputy Editor of the Evening Standard?
"In some ways "No God" fulfilled the criteria of a news story. It was controversial and there were plenty of experts ready to be quoted. God is a short word, so handy for tabloid headlines."
Actually the real problem with the "No God" story is that it's been around for a very long time. The first atheist is widely considered to be Diagoras of Melos in the 5th century BC. This may come as a shock to you but some journalists, and even editors in fact, do research (look it up...).
"Maybe what stopped it getting the full William Hague treatment was that it was tricky for news editors to establish veracity."
Which is hilarious because the truth about what William Hague and Chris Myers got up to in that hotel room we will never know. But the God question is over, solved, years ago. The answer is "no". Next.
"They may be clear-minded and cocksure as a breed, but even they know when they are out of their depth."
You know, Sarah, that you ARE a news editor. If you're out of your depth on a story that starts "Stephen Hawkings says..." you should consider moving in to window cleaning. Careful with those ladders though, always ask a friend to hold the bottom.
"By contrast, scientists such as Hawking or Richard Dawkins believe that their knowledge is absolute."
No they don't. They're scientists. They evaluate theories, they look at evidence, they are always ready to change their minds if new information comes to light.
"There may be a few known unknowns to tie up with a bit of string theory, but these are quite unlike those laughably unknown unknowns that constitute faith."
Faith is not an "unknown unknown" - it's the deliberate and wilful refusal to examine theories and evidence and the insistence on believing the most impossible things based on no evidence at all.
"Somehow, different races, or cultures, or sensibilities or economic theories may legitimately co-exist, yet atheist scientists refuse any freedom of conscience to people of faith."
On the contrary what atheist scientists reject is the notion that religion should not be subjected to the same scrutiny as other ideas. Scrutiny which it never ever manages to stand up to. Because it's false.
"The scientists are the evangelists now, and everyone must be forcibly converted."
No - an evangelist tells you to believe something without evidence. A scientist asks you to examine the evidence. And to be honest many scientists couldn't care less if you don't want to examine your religious beliefs until you start using them to uphold unfair arcane laws, to discriminate against others and to justify helping yourself to large sums of public money with which to disseminate to others the thrill of randomly believing rubbish without engaging brain.
"As Dawkins said to The Times's religion correspondent: "Either there is a God or there isn't. You really can't use "what feels right for me" as an argument. Why not?"
Well if "it feels right for me" is an argument we should listen to then I have to say that what feels right for me is an all-powerful baby-eating goddess who says it's my right to tazer corporate lawyers, climate change deniers and Deputy Editors of the Evening Standard who you find excruciatingly annoying. Hey hands off my "freedom of conscience" ... oh hang on ... DZZZZZZZ!!!!
"The blazing champion of atheism, Christopher Hitchens, gave a television interview, posted on YouTube, about his steadfast rejection of faith, even in the shadow of savage cancer."
Yes how amazing that he doesn't believe in God even after he gets cancer. Did no-one say to him "How can you fail to believe that a God who loves you deliberately gave you that cancer?". Ooops.
"He is courageous and witty but also compassionate."
He also wrote a horrid article about how women aren't funny and the only ones who are are "bull dykes". That didn't strike me as courageous, compassionate or indeed witty.
"Asked about the people who are praying for him, he does not denounce them in the Dawkins manner. He says that he hopes it helps them."
But isn't Christopher Hitchens one of these dreadful atheists who you claim therefore wants to evangelist about it? How can it be that he's not grabbed anyone by the throat and started shouting about the fossil record? You'll note however he doesn't say he believes prayer will help him. He suggests - sort of - that if it has any effect at all prayer may "work" on the mind of the praying person only - not because God is listening but because it's similar to meditating on a subject. Like mulling something over in your brain while listening to classical music or sitting in a nice quiet garden with a can of cold lager. That doesn't mean if he had a choice between prayers and modern medicine he'd waste too much time deciding which to go for.
"To Hawking and Dawkins, people of faith are cowardly and stupid. They are the flat-earthers."
The idea that the earth is flat is a lot more reasonable than the notion that a magic toga-wearing zombie lives in the sky and watches everything you do especially checking for bad language, signs of jealousy and sexual thoughts. Or maybe you're a scientologist Sarah?
"I wonder if it is possible to be blinded by science. Can you be so transfixed by physical laws that you miss the meaning of them?"
I wonder if it's possible to be so blinded by faith that you unquestioningly assume that physical laws must have meanings? Oh no I don't, thanks for answering that one Sarah.
"I was not so shocked by Hawking's claims that science is God, creator of all things. But I baulked at his dismissal of philosophy. I wish I knew as much as men of science about why we live. But it is hard of Hawking to forbid human understanding of what life means."
"Men of science"? Remind me to flush my degree away later... But to get to Hawking's dismissal of philosophy - that's the whole point. If the universe came into existence from nothing then the only meaning life can have is what we choose to give it - there is nothing to go back and figure out.
"Like many in the Church of England, I have a very diffident faith. I am moved by churches, especially country ones, I love hymns, and I feel that Christianity is part of the ancient fabric of Britain."
I also love history, choral music and great architecture. And I have the privilege of enjoying them without worrying that I might burn for all eternity in hell.
"My strength of belief comes and goes like digital radio reception..."
So even YOU have some doubts about this religion business? Why not allow your self the freedom to question them?
"...but I have experienced the profound peace and beauty of something that feels like truth."
Good for you - cos I've experienced the profound peace and beauty of being able to unravel more and more truth and understanding of the universe and not waste my time dreaming about sky-fairies.
"The final scene in the BBC's brilliant exposition of contemporary faith, Rev, shows the urban vicar, played by Tom Hollander, jolted from his crazed doubts to a quiet seriousness as he beholds the mystery of a dying woman."
Fiction, Sarah, fiction. Bit like your religion.
"Quiet contemplation of divine mystery."
This divine mystery is in your head. And it's only there because you refuse to examine it. Grow up, solve the mystery (clue: the answer's "no") and get on with life. Read a book, spend time with loved ones, y'know, edit a newspaper...
"It is too strong a human impulse, even for the gigantic brain of Hawking."
Firstly you think intelligent people don't have human impulses? Based on what? But more importantly Hawking has considered the idea of God and he's come to the conclusion: NO. If you accept his brain is so much bigger than yours, why not accept his point too?