The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion

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As the Pope ends his visit to Britain, historian Dr Thomas Dixon delves into the BBC’s archive to explore the troubled relationship between religion and science. From the creationists of America to the physicists of the Large Hadron Collider, he traces the expansion of scientific knowledge and asks whether there is still room for God in the modern world.

The relationship between science and religion has been long and troubled: from the condemnation of Galileo by the Catholic Church in 17th century Italy, through the clashes between creationism and evolution in 20th century America, right up to recent claims that the universe does not need God.

Delving through the rich archive of programmes from Horizon and BBC Science, Thomas Dixon looks at what lies behind this difficult relationship. Using original footage from 1925, he tells the story of John Scopes, a Tennessee teacher who was tried for teaching evolution. He sees the connections between religion and American politics in the story of a more recent court case — the trial of Intelligent Design. He looks at what happens when new scientific discoveries start to explain events that were once seen as the workings of God, and explains how some of our most famous scientists have seen God in the grandest laws of the universe. Finally, he finds intriguing evidence from brain science which hints that belief in God is here to stay.

The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion, 8.1 out of 10 based on 24 ratings

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  • Migel

    There is no room for religion is science, but I have no doubt you will have some pastor or priest in this documentary arguing that they answer 2 seperate questions: Science answering the question of how we came to be here, etc. and religion answering the question of why, which of course is bullshit, religion has no authority on telling anyone about anything, because the different denominations all differ and you can’t proof that one is more right than the other, because they’re all based in fiction.

    • Otto Sklor

      Science being what it is – the search for knowledge – it will undoubtedly catch up to religion one day. That day may be sooner than we think. Proof that life was designed by an intelligence is intrinsic in every cell. DNA is a true code. The simple fact that it is itself and also a representation of something else proves it was designed. The dumb forces of nature by definition could never form something that represents something else. This simple self-evident truth will revolutionize science.

      • Shawn

        I think you may do well to read the book “Why I Became an Atheist” by John W Loftus, or perhaps “the Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins.

        • Seraph

          I think you would do well reading actual intellectual literature and not garbage spawned from a extremely hateful man.

      • Jtsredrock

        Without argument, how do you qualify your statement?
        On the surface it may sound valid, but to state it maybe it’s another matter.

    • AnarchoRationalist

      There are plenty of religious scientists who would disagree with you.

    • Bookman

      Your conceit is that religious cannot tell us anything because it is inconsistent, and that science can tell us something because it is consistent, and therefor true.

      This is horsefeathers friend.

      Lets presume that religion is fiction, which it certainly appears to be to us materialists. Would you really be so bold, and observably wrong, as to suggest that fiction cannot tell us useful things? It does all the time, chances are your favorite films and books, the things that have moved and improved your life the most are fictional, rather than non-fictional.

      As for the differing narratives of the various religions, I hardly find that surprising, and don’t see how that, in any way, nullifies it. The human experience of reality is, by it’s very nature, subjective (don’t feed me any nonsense about science being objective, no one has ever been able to prove such a thing). It is natural for there to be differing and contradictory models of reality, humans all perceive and interpret their experiences differently. Science is full of contradictions and disputes, and don’t pretend that it isn’t.

      Science is a methodology, not a position, it exists to allow people to collaborate and generate models of what they are experiencing, nothing more. Religion started as an intuitive means of interpreting experiences, and the stories that they created have been so compelling that people are still deriving meaning from them today.

      I hope that whatever philosophy supplants science in the coming centuries shows more mercy and tenderness towards science than we are showing religion today. We look mighty foolish in the eyes of history, I imagine.

    • Cenataur

      I believe God created ” The big bang ” and yes there is a place for God in Science .

  • http://www.youtube.com/guitarzeroh Guitar

    Inherently, there are leaders that have sold-out the good American people. Inherently these leaders and their profiteers exploit the fears of cultures across the spectrum of faiths.
    ~
    Inherently -adverb: A quality that is inherent is a permanent part of a person’s nature or essence (: an inherent tendency to fight back).
    If it is ingrained, it is deeply wrought into his or her substance or character (: ingrained prejudice against women).
    Inborn and innate are nearly synonymous, sharing the basic sense of existing at the time of birth, but innate is usually preferred in an abstract or philosophical context (: innate defects; innate ideas), while inborn is reserved for human characteristics that are so deep-seated they seem to have been there from birth (: an inborn aptitude for the piano).

    ~ guitar zero(h), youtube
    AronRa is impressive, Greydon Square as well.

  • Jay B

    What an incoherent ramble

  • max jones

    i guess some a claim that creationism was not legal squashed until recently is legitimate. the impression that before this creationism was taught in american schools is just simply not true.

    i was raised in small town, republican, religious kansas, usa and i was never taught anything other than evolution. the idea that creationism or god or any religious folklore should be considered would have been so ridiculous it never occurred to anyone… there was no controversy. and there actually still isn’t any controversy beyond what is manufactured by this religious guerilla war.

    kansas had its schools system hijacked by a few people who believed that kansas was a good target of opportunity. they changed our laws but in my small community both religious and non religious all agreed to ignore the law in our schools.

    the people on the state board of education that pushed this agenda through lost their seats the next election. in a vote teaching creationism lost in 104 out of 105 counties.

    the rise of creationism is directly tied to the rise of the political right in the last 20 years.

    the impression given in the documentary is wrong.

  • DrMouse

    So long as children are raised by their parents, there will be Gods.

  • Shawn

    I think Otto Sklor would do best to read “Why I became an Atheist” by John W. Loftus, or perhaps “The blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins. His understanding of DNA or how anything exists, is a little one sided.

  • Anonymous

    so long as there are idiots there will be religion..

  • Anonymous

    so long as there are idiots there will be religion..

  • Steve

    I cringe every time they reveal the levels of religious belief in America. 

  • Steve

    I cringe every time they reveal the levels of religious belief in America. 

  • Jtsredrock

    what I like to question is this:

    If there is no god or higher intelligence how  is it that the universe is so well orchestrated ?

    And why are the so called “laws of nature” are in existence?

    One could argue its all to do with maths, but OK who or what invented maths?

    My argument is if the universe came out of nothing, therefore the above doesn’t exists and then  “something” had to create them>

    Even the presenter 1/2 contradicts himself buy saying you need a recipe, which is ingredients ,one is  IE energy .

    Where does that come from?

    • Peter.Swede

      please ask yourself this: why is there a need for a ‘creator’? You wonder why the “laws of nature” are in existence? How universe came out of nothing? … there for it has to be an intelligent creator!! ?? Well… Ever asked yourself WHO CREATED GOD? Now before you answer this question of mine, be aware that I will jump thru the screen and smack you in the head if you say “well…that’s different! God didn’t need to be created because he is…well…God? !! I mean c’mon! You seem to be a smart person. don’t be a…schmuck?

      I wish and hope, I haven’t offended you or anyone else. And if my post is full of miss spelling and such…i’m really sorry but english is not my native language. I am from Sweden. all the best…peter. :) ps. I would like to take the moment out to thank everyone responsible for ‘Documentary Heaven’ and all of you guys who debate, comments all the posts. Great reading! It’s just a great place to visit. can’t live without it. Ds.

      • Jtsredrock

        It would appear that’s this universe “came out of nothing”
        Now I am not saying I understand what has been said, however I get some vague idea what is meant.

        So if the above argument is true, well it could be argued that God “came out of nothing”.

        Now I am not even suggesting I am right all I am  asking what is the ultimate truth?

        You
        could just out smack me in the head,but I say there’s nothing wrong in
        seeking the above and no doubt I will never find the answer but I don’t
        believe its not a straight “black and white” answer.

        P.S You and me are some sort of bio-chemical machine correct?
        But also there appears to be some sort of driving force in that machine till it claps out.
        No one yet has provided me an answer to that question.

        Maybe you are smarter than I would you like to enlighten me?

  • perfezzer m

       Science is nothing more than trying to discover how everything around us, and us ourselves, came into existence and what makes things tick. Making discoveries and/or finding the answers to some of the mysteries of the world and the universe doesn’t negate the existence nor prove the existence of an intelligent creator of everything.
       I do believe though that science will always be used to support ones belief that there is a God, or is not a God.
       I choose to believe that science is nothing more than just a study of how God does things. Sadly, human’s hearts and minds are moved by only two motivations…to seek pleasure, or to avoid pain. In other words, selfishness is our first motivator so discovering these things, finding these new tools, under the guise of enriching all humanities lives, will only further  galvanize the the two groups…the “haves” and the “have nots”.
       Until all of humanity sees that possessions need to be shared, power to be volunteeringly balanced, and the same compassion to be felt and shown for a hurt person as we would for a limping dog, to consciously do this for the ensured happy continuing existence of humanity, any discovery is but a fleeting quick fix of entertainment.
       While we reach for the heavens, lets make sure we make the good choices here and now to prove to ourselves and others we belong there.
       We all sense that things aren’t right. We all know to that “right” starts with each of us as individuals. It would be a shame to do nothing more than just spread our dysfunction out into the cosmos.
       Even for the ardent atheist scientist, who’s aware that there are more dimensions than we thought previously, has to take note that there’s a story of someone who lived a couple of thousand years ago who, upon death, was said to be able to move back and forth between this one and another. With out the benefit of scientific instruments.
       The moral of that story is simply to not let the confidence instilled in us due of our discoveries swell into arrogance because a ‘simpleton’ of yesteryear appears to know, and is able to bring about…much much more, while we infants continually plod along the timeline, with the powers that be here, still broken with dysfunctional greed.
       The good news? We all have a place in that other dimension and there, seeing as how all that will be left after our bodies turn back into star stuff are the energies inside us, our minds and consciousness, and seeing as how energy can’t be destroyed, there we’ll all live for eternity.
       Science is just a study, and an explanation, of how God did, does, and will do things. It’s a good thing the true, single, living Creator digs us.              

  • perfezzer m

       Science is nothing more than trying to discover how everything around us, and us ourselves, came into existence and what makes things tick. Making discoveries and/or finding the answers to some of the mysteries of the world and the universe doesn’t negate the existence nor prove the existence of an intelligent creator of everything.
       I do believe though that science will always be used to support ones belief that there is a God, or is not a God.
       I choose to believe that science is nothing more than just a study of how God does things. Sadly, human’s hearts and minds are moved by only two motivations…to seek pleasure, or to avoid pain. In other words, selfishness is our first motivator so discovering these things, finding these new tools, under the guise of enriching all humanities lives, will only further  galvanize the the two groups…the “haves” and the “have nots”.
       Until all of humanity sees that possessions need to be shared, power to be volunteeringly balanced, and the same compassion to be felt and shown for a hurt person as we would for a limping dog, to consciously do this for the ensured happy continuing existence of humanity, any discovery is but a fleeting quick fix of entertainment.
       While we reach for the heavens, lets make sure we make the good choices here and now to prove to ourselves and others we belong there.
       We all sense that things aren’t right. We all know to that “right” starts with each of us as individuals. It would be a shame to do nothing more than just spread our dysfunction out into the cosmos.
       Even for the ardent atheist scientist, who’s aware that there are more dimensions than we thought previously, has to take note that there’s a story of someone who lived a couple of thousand years ago who, upon death, was said to be able to move back and forth between this one and another. With out the benefit of scientific instruments.
       The moral of that story is simply to not let the confidence instilled in us due of our discoveries swell into arrogance because a ‘simpleton’ of yesteryear appears to know, and is able to bring about…much much more, while we infants continually plod along the timeline, with the powers that be here, still broken with dysfunctional greed.
       The good news? We all have a place in that other dimension and there, seeing as how all that will be left after our bodies turn back into star stuff are the energies inside us, our minds and consciousness, and seeing as how energy can’t be destroyed, there we’ll all live for eternity.
       Science is just a study, and an explanation, of how God did, does, and will do things. It’s a good thing the true, single, living Creator digs us.              

  • perfezzer m

       Science is nothing more than trying to discover how everything around us, and us ourselves, came into existence and what makes things tick. Making discoveries and/or finding the answers to some of the mysteries of the world and the universe doesn’t negate the existence nor prove the existence of an intelligent creator of everything.
       I do believe though that science will always be used to support ones belief that there is a God, or is not a God.
       I choose to believe that science is nothing more than just a study of how God does things. Sadly, human’s hearts and minds are moved by only two motivations…to seek pleasure, or to avoid pain. In other words, selfishness is our first motivator so discovering these things, finding these new tools, under the guise of enriching all humanities lives, will only further  galvanize the the two groups…the “haves” and the “have nots”.
       Until all of humanity sees that possessions need to be shared, power to be volunteeringly balanced, and the same compassion to be felt and shown for a hurt person as we would for a limping dog, to consciously do this for the ensured happy continuing existence of humanity, any discovery is but a fleeting quick fix of entertainment.
       While we reach for the heavens, lets make sure we make the good choices here and now to prove to ourselves and others we belong there.
       We all sense that things aren’t right. We all know to that “right” starts with each of us as individuals. It would be a shame to do nothing more than just spread our dysfunction out into the cosmos.
       Even for the ardent atheist scientist, who’s aware that there are more dimensions than we thought previously, has to take note that there’s a story of someone who lived a couple of thousand years ago who, upon death, was said to be able to move back and forth between this one and another. With out the benefit of scientific instruments.
       The moral of that story is simply to not let the confidence instilled in us due of our discoveries swell into arrogance because a ‘simpleton’ of yesteryear appears to know, and is able to bring about…much much more, while we infants continually plod along the timeline, with the powers that be here, still broken with dysfunctional greed.
       The good news? We all have a place in that other dimension and there, seeing as how all that will be left after our bodies turn back into star stuff are the energies inside us, our minds and consciousness, and seeing as how energy can’t be destroyed, there we’ll all live for eternity.
       Science is just a study, and an explanation, of how God did, does, and will do things. It’s a good thing the true, single, living Creator digs us.              

  • Satindas

    “God”, is surely the single most likely product of the developing human mind. It was the panacea for all unanswered/unanswerable questions. But now 100,000 yrs on, the whole concept of a supreme creative intelligence is more like a badly infected wound, and unless we find some ointment, I’m afraid the prognosis is not good. 

  • Satindas

    “God”, is surely the single most likely product of the developing human mind. It was the panacea for all unanswered/unanswerable questions. But now 100,000 yrs on, the whole concept of a supreme creative intelligence is more like a badly infected wound, and unless we find some ointment, I’m afraid the prognosis is not good. 

  • Brianna Stowers

    kdfjak’lf

    • Shitflops

      you missed the point, I’m right and you’re wrong because I didn’t fully understand the movie

  • Geust

    So answer me this:  Was this documentary blocked by God or Scientists?!?

  • FutantWhat

    As an aboriginal Scotch/Irish/English mutt transplanted to the U.S. since my mid-teens, I must say that only in America can Christianity (in particular) reach such lampost-thick mindlessness as it routinely does. I am literally the only person I can find in the state of california who has actually read the Bible – in it’s painfully boring entirety. What wingnut got the damn fool notion that this sadistic tale of human abuse is in any sense a “good book”?

  • Somesuchsayer

    Religion is a simple construct that was evolved by us and will soon go away because we have no need for it. Already atheism is rising and more and more people are flocking to more “open” pseudo-spiritual practices. I think that’s the way it should. For those who think science as less than religion than perhaps you should think about  how you are taking advantage of it right now. Every advance in human endeavors and technology was accomplished because of the “contradictions and errors” in science. Religion is a dusty, unchanging tome that should remain where it is. Science changes because it is constantly advances. Every new system or model does not deny it’s previous but is instead built upon. In science, there is always progress and I think that is beautiful. This world is beautiful and I don’t need a god to see that, why can’t others see it that way? No idea, but with time, I think, we will come to a point where people smarten up and stop believing in such utter garbage and instead simply appreciate the now and the beauty and order that is the natural world.

  • Patrick

    -Only false science contradicts God.
    -Sound science un-altered and un-tainted will only ever prove that God exists.
    -Which religion is correct? None. All religions are false. The Bible clearly teaches this.
    -The Bible even peers into the future to warn that we will all depart from the faith and embrace false science instead:

    For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.

    24Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

  • T12J7M6

    and the biggest religion is naturalism and the fools in it do not even know they are in a religion. Observable and historical sciences are against neo-darwinian evolution and it is blind faith in human authority. There are not a single proof for it, it is all just fantasy and hopeful dreaming, assumption on top of assumption and circular reasoning – that is all it is. God is real and he loves you and is good and just. He will be bountiful to those who are bountiful! Choose the bountiful eye!

  • Carl Franklin Hendershot III

    It was a time long ago ~ I was hindered by substance and not sustenance. Epic failure to find hope. If it is your last wish to see your race vanish ~ at least let others in it have a say. Religion is what you make of it morally and not based on society as a whole. Whole society’s are wrong. You must clear your mind of the sickness that has come upon you. Open your eyes to LOVE and be a witness to it. Prayer only works if you LOVE. It makes for a sad world and existence to see it any other way. Pray..Pray..Pray..

  • https://t.co/jedzzy jediazera

    The video cannot be played. :(