Scientific Rationalists advance their agenda
The Big Question, Channel Five, January 2004
David J. Tyler
How did the universe begin? How did life begin? How can we live purposeful lives when our species is just one of millions emerging from an unguided evolutionary process? What makes me “me”? How will everything end?
These were the big questions tackled by five scientists in a Channel 5 TV series in January 2004. It is important to note that all these questions have Christian answers. They are ultimate questions whose answers influence the way we see ourselves, the world around us, and God. An interesting test of the claims about the relationship between science and faith arises: we might expect to find a convergence (or at least some sort of complementarity) in the answers if both science and faith are concerned with truth.
Any optimism about this was quickly dispelled by the programmes. The biblical record of creation was treated as part of the dark age before science started to find out what really happened. As the scientific answers were unpacked, they were radically different from, and opposed to, those we get from the pages of Scripture.
Some significant differences are noted in the table below and expanded on in the commentaries.
The Big Question
|Ultimate origins||Spontaneous generation out of nothing||Creation by God out of nothing|
|Origin of life||Chemical evolution by natural processes||Intelligent design|
|Ethics and purpose for humans||Exercising our wills to escape from our selfish genes||God’s holy nature is our standard|
|Human identity||The brain: mind, emotions, consciousness||Humans are made in God’s image|
|The end of it all||Death of the cosmos||Christ’s return leads to a new heaven and a new earth|
The presenters either explicitly rejected the Christian message as primitive, mythical and false, or they completely ignored it. There was no sign of convergence at all.
It is highly significant that the presenters are all known as people with a rationalist worldview. Three of them are prominent humanists. Richard Dawkins is notorious for speaking and writing regularly on a humanist atheist platform. The other two are Susan Greenfield and Harry Kroto.
In the commentaries that we have prepared on these programmes, we draw attention to the way the rationalist mindset of the presenters affects the questions they ask, the range of answers they are prepared to consider, and the data that is selected to support their arguments. Our objections are in no way opposed to being rational, but we point out that rationalism puts up a barrier to any idea of revealed truth, where God speaks into our lives. Our general conclusion is that the programmes were not promoting healthy science, but that the language and tools of science were used to promote a rationalist agenda.
In our commentaries, we have not set out a detailed response. Rather, we have had the more limited goal of explaining why the science in the series was deficient and how science informed by a Christian worldview would enable a far healthier assessment of the relevant data.
The commentaries on the programmes are as follows:
- Stephen Hawking (I) How did the universe begin?
- Harry Kroto (II) How did life begin?
- Richard Dawkins (III) Why are we here?
- Susan Greenfield (IV) Why am I me?
- Ian Stewart (V) How will it all end?
For further reading, please see these articles on the BCS web site.
- The twilight of the Age of Enlightenment
- The crusading face of contemporary science
- Meeting the challenge of the Darwinian worldview
- Life, design and purpose in the universe
- Darwinism's theological agenda
- Two complementary faces of science
- Reflections on "Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder" by Richard Dawkins