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Interview
Q: So does He exist?
SDU:

God?

Q: Yes.
SDU:

I don't know. Although my book does expand on this response.

 

Q: How so?
SDU:

Well, most people write books on subjects they know. I did the opposite. My book is really about things I don't know … about uncertainty.

 

Q: Uncertainty is seldom the stated position of participants in the debate about God's existence.
SDU:

No, it isn't. We do tend to admire certainty in our society.

Yet, I think it was Bertrand Russell who said--- and this is probably a very mangled quote-- the problem with this world is that thoughtful, intelligent people are generally racked with doubt and uncertainty, while fools tend to be cocksure of themselves.

My position is that uncertainty has a crucial role in the way we believe in an about God.

 

Q: In what way?
SDU:

I think that uncertainty, in the sense that the evidence and its rational analysis doesn't lead us a hundred percent of the way to belief in God's existence, is the thing that opens the gap for what we call faith.

 

Q: But why is that desirable?
SDU:

In my mind, there is an experience that accompanies faith … it's more than simple belief. And if reason takes us all the way to belief in God, then what role could faith play? After all, none of us have faith in the existence of ceramic wall tiles … evidence and reasoned analysis take us all the way to full, rational belief.

 

Q: So, how does this work …how do you use mathematics to broach the subject?
SDU:

Well, probability theory is the mathematical means of analyzing uncertainties. What I do in my book is to line up the evidence for and against the existence of God - at least as I see it - and apply some basic rules of probability theory to calculate the probability of God's existence - the odds of God, really.

 

Q: Are non-mathematicians going to understand what you did?
SDU:

The math element of the book - simple arithmetic, really - is at the technical level of balancing a check book.

 

Q: You say that you consider the evidence for and against God's existence. What do you consider that evidence to be?
SDU:

There are many topics that are by now standard issues in the debate between theists and atheists … the seeming purpose to the universe through the apparent fine-tuning of its natural laws to the emergence of structure and life, the perennial problem of the existence of evil, the question of the source of moral values, etcetera.

Many authors have considered these matters, although their approach is generally one of eliminating the uncertainties to arrive at their pre-established position.

I took quite the opposite approach … I sought to embrace the uncertainties and to see what the implications might be for the Probability of God, and for the way we believe in God's existence.

 

Q: And the book is funny … not what you might expect given its theme.
SDU:

Some have been kind enough to tell me the book is funny. And I listened to them very carefully -- they did use the word "funny" and not "laughable", because that would be completely different.

Yes, I did use humorous devices, but not at the expense of the serious themes of the book. My reasoning was that a book about math concepts, no matter how simple, has the potential to be dull; a book about theological themes also has the potential to be dull, so a book about math and theology has the potential to be supernaturally dull. Yet, I wanted it to be a fun read as well as thought-provoking.

Frank Wilson at the Philadelphia Inquirer said it was "pleasantly breezy." I see that as a laudable goal for any theological text.

   

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