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The Story of God December 18, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Science, TV.
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Robert Winston’s ambitious series (part promoting his new book) concluded with the topic I’ve been waiting for: science and religion. And what a good episode it was. I’ll admit I do have my problems with Lord Winston; he sometimes speaks waaaay too slowly for one thing, as if explaining things to a five-year old. But at other times his enthusiasm gets the better of him. There was plenty of opportunity for that. “The God of the Gaps” asked if science was the new religion and if there was a place for both in the world, as Winston himself exists.

What followed was a succession of excellent set-pieces in a succession of exotic locations. He’s done a fair bit of travelling in the series, but this was outstanding, takin in the CERN supercollider in Switzerland, Lourdes, the Grand Canyon, Kentucky, Florence… South Kensington. Yes, a big thrill was seeing our very own Imperial College in the mix as IC Professor Steve Unwin explained the equation to calculate the extent of one’s belief in God. Lord Winston got 94%. The equation was usefully explained with Star Wars-esque floating text. But I wonder how Professor Unwin feels about being dubbed over with fancy graphics and a deep voice?

Midway through the programme, Lord Winston decided he would play devil’s advocate, or rather embark on a quest of Winston vs the world. First he amicably took on Richard Dawkins. Then came the real piece de resistance: the creation museum in Kentucky. Imagine, an entire museum of dinosaurs and history rewritten to insist that Adam and Eve lived side by side with the T-Rex’s. Lord Winston, and myself, were notably aghast. Sportingly, Winston gave him the once over in a radio debate, but came off rather outnumbered amongst American accents. The trouble is, you can’t boil a one hour debate down to a two minute segment.

Despite my jest, this was a fascinating programme and very fairly made. Clearly Lord Winston stamps his opinions all over it, but it clearly displayed the state of the debate today. I might be a bit of sucker for well chose quotes, but some of Winston’s philosophy was remarkably apt: Why are people so worried about the threat of science on religion? Is God no big enough to look after himself?

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