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Independent Review of Theological Reflections of an Information Scientist

There can be few questions which polarise opinion so violently and extremely as the question of the existence or non-existence of God. The bleak no-man’s land between the religious fundamentalist on the one hand and the aggressive atheist on the other is an uncomfortable place to find oneself, and many will have wished for a new examination of these polarised positions, and a fresh perspective on the whole God issue.

Professor Gillies provides just such a new perspective; not a compromise between the two viewpoints, nor an attempt to find common ground, both of which would be futile, but a close examination of the scientific and religious basis of both standpoints, and a genuine attempt to find an alternative to “reason” and “unreason” in an area he calls “beyond reason.”

This is accomplished by a close examination of the nature and development of both the aggressive atheistic and the fundamentalist religious arguments, coming to the conclusion that by any reasonable definition of fundamentalism, both sides merit this label.
Professor Gillies draws the important distinction between religion and theology, a distinction lost on many proponents of both extreme arguments, as is his view that science cannot be argued to be comprehensive, nor always to be the best medium through which to answer questions.

He proposes some preconditions for meaningful dialogue on this subject, including a common understanding of the concept of unreason, and an acceptance on the part of aggressive atheists of the importance of considering those arguments which go beyond reason, and on the part of the religious fundamentalists of the importance of propositions based on reason.

For many people, myself included, this invitation to re-examine the arguments from a new perspective is welcome and long overdue. For those at either end of the spectrum, the invitation to open their minds to new concepts may as yet be a step too far.

Tony Bonser