The God Factor: 50 scientists and academics explain why they believe in God  by John Ashton (editor) ; HarperCollins Publishers 2001; 379 pp; $22.95 softcover.

Is religious belief a kind of virus in the human software, and  belief in a supernatural God irrational ?

This is what Oxford University professor Dr Richard Dawkins, in his Voltaire Lectures to the British Humanist Association, said a few years ago. In fact many scientists and academics now teach that there is no supernatural God and that everything, including life, exists as a result of natural forces.

Partially to counter such a culture John Ashton has collected the writings of 50 scientists and academics (most of whom teach at Australian universities) who explain why they believe in God. Interestingly a recent survey has shown about 40% of scientists believe in a personal God, as a God who answers prayers and also performs miracles.

Ashton argues that the Bible tells of the Creator's guidelines for how humans are to live, and that God is seeking to have a personal loving intellectual relationship with each one of us, and that those who respond affirmatively to this innovation will live forever and enjoy fellowship with their Creator.

As intellectuals the writers seek to justify their reasons for believing in a personal God. Each one of them explains why they choose to believe in the supernatural God of the Bible, in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, in miracles, and in answers  to prayers.

Ashton has arranged the responses into two sections, to allow for a developing discussion from two key perspectives - reason and faith, and faith and experience

With 50 writers to chose from, I have only space to mention two -John de Laeter the West Australian astrophysicist who has a minor planet named after him, and Brett Inder the economic at Monash University.

Theologians will take note of de Laeter's explanation of the Trinity. "Within the concept of the wave-particle duality of matter, the Trinity of the godhead is a perfectly acceptable concept of the nature of God".

Inder takes the economics of a cup of coffee - "one of the reasons I believe in God because there's much about the world that is stuffed… and [belief] does a great job of explaining how things work".     

A masterful collection, ideal for evangelism