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R.J. Berry

R.J. Berry, Professor of Genetics at University College London, is the author, with Malcolm Jeeves and David Atkinson, of Free to be Different, an examination of the ethics of non-conformity. His Natural History of Orkney is due out later this year.

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R.J. Berry, 21 February 1985

God began to leave the world in 1543. That was the year when modern science is deemed to have begun; when the appearance of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and Vesalius’s Anatomy marked the end of scholastic reliance on authority, and the beginning of the scientific method based on observation, hypothesis and experiment. I do not mean that God literally gathered together his possessions and moved back to Heaven: rather, that the mid-16th century marked the death of pre-scientific man, who had reasonably assumed that since God was in everything, he made everything work. It therefore made sense to believe that if the effective cause of any event from mental disease to crop growth is known, there can be no room for God as effective agent. God can exist only in the ever-decreasing gaps in our knowledge. And by simple extrapolation, there must come a time when there will be no space for him – except above the bright blue sky.’

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