In this light, she refers to the work of the controversial physicist Paul Davies, who views science’s refusal to question the origin of physical laws as an article of faith much like religion.

“The kind of thing that Paul Davies has dwelt on, about the improbability of all this order, seems to me to be sensible. So that one has to say that from the big bang onwards there’s some sort of tendency towards the formation of order and in certain stages of order towards proceeding to life and to produce more and more perceptive life as it were. Well this talk about a life force seems to me highly suitable and I don’t see anything superstitious about it. It’s still very vague but of course that’s getting you quite near to ‘well of course that means there’s a God’. People talk about the origin of having gods was just that you wanted to explain things or have something to placate us, but it seems to me one important source of it is gratitude. You go out on a day like this and you’re really grateful. I don’t know who to.”

Given her nebulous gratitude, I wonder why she rejected religion. “I didn’t exactly reject it,” she says. “I couldn’t make it work. I would try to pray and it didn’t seem to get me anywhere so I stopped after a while. But I think it’s a perfectly sensible world view. It caused my parents and people like them often to make what I think were good choices. And I notice this particularly with Buddhists, the notion that there is some kind of force that makes for righteousness, as Matthew Arnold said, is on the whole a helpful one.”