13 AUGUST 1994, Page 20

LETTERS Non satis

Sir: In 'An atheist's vision of life' (6 August), Richard Dawkins suggests that `Science could give a good account of itself in the religious education classroom.' Of course it could. For example, When, Where, How and Why did the world begin? Modern science has pretty good answers to the first three of these questions: better than the Book of Genesis, though that wasn't too bad for its time.

But the last question is a different mat- ter. Why did the world begin when it did, with a Big Bang or otherwise, and why does it exist at all anyway? It isn't the business of the natural sciences to answer the question Why? and Dr Dawkins scornfully says that 'You might as well demand to be told the colour of jealousy, and then crow with triumph when you get no answer.'

Such questions can, however, be asked, and the standard religious answer is that it is the work of God. Dawkins, of course, will have none of this, but his own answer, that as a scientist he can't be expected to answer scientifically unanswerable questions, won't be accepted as a satisfactory answer in the religious education classroom, nor indeed anywhere else.

Professor C. B. Goodhart

Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge