DR ALEX Stewart (Faith Viewpoint, May 30) needs to clarify what he means by 'evidence', for the three claims he makes out to be supported by evidence read as a perfect sequence of diminishing likelihoods.

a) It is possible that there was a real person called 'Jesus' living in the Levant about 2000 years ago, but has scholarship yet demonstrated that it is more than a possibility?

b) We have no examples of people dying and then coming back to life. By 'dying' I mean experiencing a verified complete and permanent cessation of all body functions.

To support the claim that Jesus, supposing that he existed, died and then came back to life requires more than seems to be on offer at the moment.

c) To claim that a man, who may or may not have existed, died, came back to life and was thereby a member of a weird equal-opportunity triumvirate places a further burden of proof on Dr Stewart that he has failed to acknowledge.

To drag the late Stephen Hawking into this farrago of unsubstantiated claims is to deploy a tactic of false equivalence that is widely, employed by religion's apologists the world over.

For in portraying Hawking's 'belief' as being the same beast as his own 'belief', Dr Stewart conveniently ignores the fact that the meaning of many words, 'belief' prominent among their number, is not simply and easily definable.

When Hawking said he 'believes' that the universe is explicable as a consequence of 'a law of science', he was using 'belief' to mean a conditional acceptance of the accuracy of a multitude of scientific observations, and a plausible interpretation of those facts.

If any of this had been falsified by later observations, or had his interpretation been demonstrated to be wrong, Hawking, being a scientist, would have changed his mind.

Religious 'beliefs' have no resemblance to this. They are dogmas - unfalsifiable doctrinal assertions that have as much resemblance to any testable version of reality as the claim I hereby make: Last night I died in my sleep but, having shortly thereafter bumped into both St Peter and Old Nick and not having taken to either of them, I revivified myself and in the morning I arose as usual and looked forward to beginning my second life.

A claim such as this is immediately wrecked upon the rocks of common sense.

Contributors to 'Faith Viewpoint' take note.

Geoff Brambles