I’d recently picked up The Mind of God by the physicist Paul Davies. The title is a trifle misleading, in that book is not about theology. The blurb on the back cover describes the book as a “scientific search for the meaning of the universe. Ranging across the cosmos, Davies explores the origin of the universe, the laws of nature, mathematics, the beginning and end of everything. Ultimately, he seeks to provide a glimpse of the meaning of it all. This is a book no inquisitive mind can do without.” The title of the book comes from a Stephen Hawking quote: “If we do discover a theory of everything … it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason-for then we would truly know the mind of God.” In a way, the book is a close examination of the science-religion interface.
My father had borrowed the book from me, and it was lying on his table when our electrician, a devout Catholic, entered the room for some repair. No sooner did he spot the book than he asked my father, “Have you studied the Bible in depth?”
My father, a non-religious non-church-going natural Christian (anima naturaliter Christiana), was taken unawares and at first did not know what to say. The disconnect between the electrician’s facile assumption and the book’s content seemed unbridgeable. However, he recovered quickly, suppressed a smile, and gave a noncommittal reply.
Personal deity, savior, disinterested creator, imaginary friend, cosmic joke, cosmic villain, a black box, a theory of everything — God means different things to different people.