‘The end of God?’

Simoney Kyriakou
Simoney Kyriakou Simoney Kyriakou is editor of the Financial Adviser and an award-winning financial journalist.
01 November, 2010 3 min read

‘The end of God?’

This Horizon guide to science and religion, broadcast in September, highlighted again just how badly the BBC has it in for Christianity.

The hour-long programme on BBC Four seemed an interesting prospect – an eminent historical scientist, Dr Thomas Dixon, was to ‘delve into the archives to explore the conflict between religion and science’.

But any thought that this might be a balanced, well-researched programme was soon dismissed.

None of the leading Oxbridge Christian scientists were interviewed, nor were any of the best physicist minds in the Muslim world. Instead, viewers were treated to a litany of scorn hurled largely at the Catholic Church (the BBC’s poster-child for ‘Christianity’), supported by a brief incursion into the ‘excesses’ of North America’s ‘fundamentalist south’.


Firstly, there was mention of Galileo and his struggle against the church. ‘He thought his telescope was more reliable than the Bible’, said Dixon. And yet the Italian mathematician was not undermining Scripture. Some ‘delving’ would have shown Dr Dixon that the Bible doesn’t portray the earth as the material centre of the universe.

Instead of discussing points of parity between the Bible and science, Dixon quoted a 1981 Horizon where a professor declared: ‘We should not predecide (sic) what we want to find out; we should just find out’. If only this 2010 Horizon special had not ‘predecided’!

The programme peddled the old chestnut that Christianity has a thick curtain between ‘faith’ and what is scientifically knowable. Dixon even made it sound quite spiritual: ‘For many of the world’s great faiths there is a different way – revelation: direct communication from God’.

To prove this, we were treated to a 1973 video of hippies dancing to ‘Oh happy day’ in the street.

As it was supposed to be a ‘scientific’ programme, maybe more might have been learnt about ‘revelation’ from speaking to a good theologian?

Then Horizon moved off Catholicism for a while to focus on creationists in America and their crusade against evolution. Dixon asserted: ‘There’s no room for the traditional God of the Bible in modern science’. Really?

The programme showed a 2006 Horizon clip on intelligent design in relation to the flagellum, but the extract focussed on a 2005 court case in which ID proponents lost their battle to have ID taught in schools.

Dixon added: ‘Virtually no scientists think it is credible – even theologians are against it. Placing God in the gaps is not an appropriate solution as those gaps tend to be filled with scientific knowledge’.


There was exploration from archive footage of people’s ‘religious experiences’, using a ‘God helmet’- an alarming contraption that can give its wearer experience of another presence in the room. Even Prof. Richard Dawkins tried it on as he quipped, ‘If I turned into a devout religious believer, my wife would leave me’.

The programme switched to Buddhism, which was irrelevant anyway since Buddhism believes in a transcendent life force rather than a god.

The programme admitted to inexplicable things in science, such as dark matter or the universe’s complexity. ‘Some people see the sheer improbability of our existence as proof of a higher being’, the presenter claimed, before turning to Dr Stephen Hawking’s latest book as proof of no God.

Finally, there was this: ‘Why do we exist? What’s it all for? The room for a God who works wonders has been called into question. Imagine the day when scientists have a total idea of our universe – will God go away then?

‘No! Belief gives meaning and purpose. The brain’s own psychology suggests that we are predisposed to believe in God’. A BBC sop for the religious!


Evangelical Times questioned the BBC about this poorly put together Horizon, coming, as it did, so soon after the pope’s warning on ‘aggressive secularism’.

Danielle Peck, executive producer for BBC Science, responded: ‘The Horizon guide was just one of many programmes … timed to coincide with the pope’s visit.

‘The programme aimed to draw on pre-existing material to give a balanced view of the relationship between science and religion, presenting the science accurately and acknowledging that scientists past and present have had religious faith’.

But it didn’t. There was no attempt to explain the many points where faith and science agree.

Ms Peck added: ‘Other coverage of religion and science by the BBC has presented a different perspective on this topic. For example, earlier this year an episode of Songs of praise looked at the relationship between science and religion from a faith perspective’.

But BBC coverage inevitably focusses on supposed conflict rather than harmony between the two. The mood of this latest offering was summed up by a comment of Dawkins: ‘God is difficult to wipe out which causes me grief – religion has a strange tenacity’.

Aggressive secularism also has tenacity. But, then, ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man’ (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Simoney Girard

Simoney Kyriakou
Simoney Kyriakou is editor of the Financial Adviser and an award-winning financial journalist.
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