A heavier read but an excellent look at the philosophical implications of modern scientific discoveries is "There is a God: How the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind" by Anthony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese (Harper One, 2007). This book is available for about €10 on www.amazon.co.uk.

The book is marred by a fairly ridiculous and inaccurate sub-title. The work also contains some superfluous material - an extensive biographical introduction and two long appendices. However, you can safely skip these and concentrate on Part II (pages 85-154). Here is a taster of what the book contains:

Chapter 4 "A pilgrimage of reason"

Statements like "The laws of physics are ‘lawless lies' that arise from the void – end of discussion" may look at first sight like rational arguments that have a special authority because they have a no nonsense air about them. But if there is no reason and no evidence offered in its support, then there is no reason or evidence that it is a rational argument.

"The leaders of science over the last hundred years, along with some of today's most influential scientists, have built a philosophically compelling vision of a rational universe that sprang from a divine mind" (Anthony Flew).

One could say that this vision was prompted by a response to three big questions –

(a)How did the laws of nature come to be?

(b)How did life as a phenomenon originate from non-life?

(c)How did the universe, by which we mean all that is physical, come into existence?

Chapter 5 "Who wrote the laws of nature?"

The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature, but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and "tied together". Einstein spoke of them as "reason incarnate". The question we should ask is how nature came packaged in this fashion.

We can put the issue this way:

(a)Where do the laws of physics come from?

(b)Why is it that we have these laws instead of some other set?

(c)How is it that we have a set of laws that drives featureless gases to life, consciousness and intelligence?

Chapter 6 "Did the universe know that we were coming?"

"The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense knew we were coming" (Physicist Freeman Dyson).

In other words, the laws of nature seem to have been crafted and fine-tuned so as to move the universe towards the emergence and sustenance of life.

Chapter 7 "How did life go live?"

How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and "coded chemistry"?

How can self-reproduction arise by natural means from a material base?

Why does living matter possess an inherent goal or end-centred organisation that is nowhere present in the matter that preceded it?

"Life is more than just complex chemical reactions. The cell is also an information-storing, processing and replicating system. We need to explain the origin of this information, and the way in which the information processing machinery came to exist". (Paul Davies, physicist and cosmologist)

The Nobel Prize-winning physiologist George Wald once famously argued that "We choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance"

Chapter 8 "Did something come from nothing?"

Here, Flew notes how modern cosmology has placed the need to explain the universe centre stage again.

"No matter how you describe the universe – as having existed for ever, or as having originated from a point outside space-time, or else in space but not in time, or as starting off so quantum-fuzzily that there was no definite point at which it started, or as having a total energy that is zero – the people who see a problem in the sheer existence of Something Rather Than Nothing will be little inclined to agree that the problem has been solved" (John Leslie).

In other words, "the universe is something that begs an explanation" (Richard Swinburne).

Chapter 9 "Finding space for God"

Flew formerly argued that the very concept of God is incoherent because it presupposes the idea of an incorporeal omnipresent spirit. In this (unsatisfactory) section, he discusses his new thinking on the subject.