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Science and God

By Charles Pragnell - posted Thursday, 5 January 2012

Some books provide an entertainment, the memory of which may linger for some time. Other books are informative and educational and help to stimulate thought and affect personal attitudes and values. But there are some books which achieve both these ends and much, much more. They are challenging in the extreme to the intellect and to every previous belief and logical thought. Such a book is `Mr God, this is Anna’ by Fynn (the pseudonym of Sydney Hopkins).

Every page made me stop and pause while I thought through the intellectual implications of what was written. It is essentially a vivid and enlightened debate between scientific explanations of the natural world and the religious explanations for the same events. This debate is conducted by a disabled young man who is a backyard boffin and a little girl he finds wandering on the streets of London and invites to the home he shares with his mother.

Whatever may be your views and beliefs on the interplay and interaction between religion and science, this book will challenge you and yet enlighten you and always affect your thinking on such subjects. Since the book was published almost 40 years ago, the debate has of course moved on but many of the issues are still pertinent to our lives today.


This is what is said about `Mr God this is Anna’ on Wikipedia pages but it does not in any way do it full justice. The fact that the most recent edition carries a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury reinforces its value in the continuing debate between religious leaders and scientists.

“The explosive individuality of Anna is not sentimentally touching but sometimes almost frightening. I hope that a new edition will introduce a new generation to this formidable and astonishing figure” - Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mister God, This Is Anna is a book by Sydney Hopkins under the pseudonym "Fynn" describing the adventures of Anna, a mischievous yet wise four-year-old who Fynn finds as a runaway. Nineteen-year-old Fynn[1] takes Anna home to his mother who takes her in, though Fynn becomes Anna's main caretaker and closest friend. Fynn recounts his time spent with Anna, and gives a very personal account of her outpourings on life, mathematics, science and her mentor, Mister God. The sequels of Mister God, This Is Anna are Anna's Book (1986), and Anna and the Black Knight (1990).

The book was reissued by HarperCollins in 2005 with a Foreword by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

What is not said is how seriously disabled was Sydney Hopkins after the accident and the level he attained in his scientific experiments. An anecdotal story told to me by a friend who knew Hopkins, was that he was conducting one experiment when he reached a point where he could not advance the experiment any further due some limitations in his incredible scientific knowledge. He decided to write to the UK government department who he thought were conducting similar experiments to himself and assumed they were far more advanced in their discovery and may be willing share their knowledge with him or at least tell him how his experiment could be advanced further.

Some days later there was a loud knocking on this door and on opening the door, there stood two very large men in dark overcoats. They announced that they were Special government investigators and wanted to talk to him about his letter. They interrogated him for several hours and late into the night about his experiment and made a detailed inspection of his equipment in his backyard shed. Eventually they seemed satisfied to a degree and began to leave. As they went out of the door he decided to ask them what they were looking for and would he be getting an answer to his scientific query. They said they had come to see him because his experimental findings were far more advanced than the government’s own scientists and they initially believed he was working for another government and trying to get governmental scientific secrets. Therefore he would not be getting an answer to his scientific query.”


I very much commend this book to you.

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About the Author

Charles Pragnell is Specialist Adviser on Child Protection and Children’s Rights to the National Council for Children Post Separation

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Charles Pragnell

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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