I've been trying to track down the interview that her comments about Dawkins are drawn from, but no luck so far. I did find this interesting interview with her from a BBC interview
From what she says here she sounds like a deist more than a theist. Actually she sounds like someone who doesn't know what
she believes. Here's an example:
Q Does - God is a hypothesis. Does He require evidence?
JBB Well for me, God is a hypothesis. But I'm not sure that everybody would agree with me on that one. I think for some God is much more...present (laughs). It's definite, (laughing) it's er...
Q But you see, people would say 'That's not a scientific statement.'
JBB No. I would agree with that. I as a teenager was looking for proof of the existence of God, and of course didn't find it. And gradually came to the realisation that I suspect we're not meant to have proof of the existence of God. I suspect we are meant to act without proof, on probabilities - but ultimately with 'I don't know' as the bottom line. And I made the conscious decision to adopt the hypothesis that there is a God, and to run with that hypothesis and see what happened. And I haven't felt the need to abandon that hypothesis yet. But it could happen - who knows?
Q And are you vigilant in your scrutiny? Do you constantly examine this hypothesis?
JBB Yes I do. The proof - that's not really the right word - the data, the evidence is sufficient to convince me. Would not convince anybody else, I don't expect - and I don't know that it's meant to convince anybody else. But I have enough evidence that there is a God from experiences in Quaker worship for example. I'm also aware that quite a lot of my experience of God comes in a Quaker meeting for worship when a number of other people in the same room at the same time will have similar experiences in so far as one can describe these experiences to one another.
Q When you say in so far as you can describe them to one another, can you try and describe it to me?
JBB It's difficult because it is a very deep and intimate experience. It is at the level of sense, nudging, prompting is a word that, that Quakers will use. Er...
Q Is it like a trance?
JBB N...no, I don't think so, although if there is a strong sense of the presence of God, I find that intellectual questions float away as being irrelevant, and one is just wanting to be there. Sitting, breathing, em...
It obviously hasn't hindered her ability to do science, but the god she talks about in the interview is nothing like the Christian god. The problem I find, is that her name appears on those lists Christians like to trot out of scientists who believe in God. In their God-blindness
they hear the word and think that that gives their views credibility.
An example of that is this transcript
of a creationist 'documentary' called Testing God: Killing the Creator
, where this quote is used:
Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Yes, discovering that cosmic microwave background, or the heat or hiss left over, certainly made astronomers much, much more confident that they understood the Big Bang and 15 billion years swathe of the universal history. And certainly for those of us who are astronomers and religious, the question promptly comes up, what was god’s role in all this, or even did God have a role in all this.
Even though her own views on God are so ill-defined, she here aligns herself with other religious scientists who, when faced with a new discovery or result 'promptly' try and see how God fits into it. I think this is the nub of her complaint with Dawkins et al. And I think it implies that she sees what herself and other religious scientists do as a step beyond what other scientists do. They are open minded
As yet I have not found a single case of a terrestrial animal which fertilises itself.
- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
(he obviously never went to Bray)