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When I was 15 or so, I dispensed with God. I was into astrophysics and quantum theory and I could find no place for Him in my mathematical universe. I had a little bible in my room called Bertrand Russell’s Best and, if challenged on religion, always had one of the great humanist’s rebukes to hand. Russell seemed to voice my own thoughts, only more lucidly than I could myself.

“Religion,” he wrote in one passage, is based “mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind…

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