Darwin’s Dangerous Idea And the Mission of the Media

Following on from my last post on the Channel 4 documentary Christianity: a History, (subtitled God and the Scientists) I’ve noticed similar arguments resurfacing in various programmes since, most notably in the series Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, presented by Andrew Marr (first episode shown Thursday 4th March, 9pm, BBC2; the programmes being repeated on following Tuesdays BBC2 7pm). In The Victorians (Sunday March 8th, 9pm, BBC1), we were once again given the same arguments (almost word for word) by Jeremy Paxman, when this (otherwise excellent series) reached ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.’

The script underlying all of these programmes contains the premise that, since Darwin proposed his theory, people have become far too intelligent to believe the Bible. Indeed, those poor saps who lived before Darwin were all a bit naive it seems. They mostly – we are led to believe – thought the world to be 6,000 years old, created in six days and so on, and were – we would gather from the presenters’ tones – of all people to be pitied. No one can possibly believe the ‘mythical stories’ of the bible any more, pronounce these talking heads with urbane, sophisticated wisdom. And of course, the underlying suggestion is either openly or covertly made, that God does not exist.

It’s a great shame that for the most part, these programmes don’t seem to give much of an alternative view. Indeed, they’re not even accurate as to the facts from their own (atheistic) standpoint. For a start, all Christians have certainly not subscribed to the notion that the universe is 6,000 years old. They have not all believed in the literal account of (for example) Genesis 1. Countless Christians have been content with ‘myth’ (in its true sense) within the pages of scripture. And there have always been atheists and debunkers of the scriptures. Our TV producers may think they’re being pretty clever, but they are not telling us much that is new. And they’re not doing much better from the angle of science either. There are holes and flaws in the theory of evolution big enough to drive a tank through which many scientists are happy to discuss, along with the evidence for there being a Creator; but such scientists are hardly ever invited onto these kinds of programmes.

So the programmes we’re discussing don’t even give a proper picture of the side of the argument they’re promulgating, which seems to be to debunk scripture, the Christian faith (not usually other faiths) and question the existence of God. But worse than this is their wilful neglect of other aspects of the whole picture. For example, they (mostly) ignore the fact that it was Christians/the Church who often instigated scientific research, built hospitals and schools, ultimately abolished slavery, introduced the beginnings of the Welfare State, fought against racism and so on. They ignore the fact that our legal, moral and ethical system is firmly rooted in the bible and our culture has evolved and flourished under this system. These programmes would rather portray the Church as a kind of club for weirdos; backward looking enemies of progress who need an ‘imaginary friend’ to lean on. If they portray Christians at all, it is either as fundamentalists, living in the bible belt of America, or as atheistic ‘Sea of Faith’ kind of ‘clergymen’.

I suppose the question in all this is Why? Why does the media have this bias against God and against Christian faith in this country? The answer is the same as it always was. It is because human beings are by nature anti-God ‘…who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.’ (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)

  1. Chris, I’ve been following your posts with interest.
    What’s your take on Did Darwin Kill God?
    31 March, 7pm BBC Two, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/darwin/?tab=20&video=true&start_at=17
    http://www.theologyphilosophycentre.co.uk/.

  2. Keith
    Thanks for your comment. I watched the linked clip and found it very interesting. Like the programme presenter, I too am disturbed by the extreme ends of this argument. It’s no secret that I do not believe the earth to be 6,000 years old and a look on the forum discussions with students will reveal most of my views in this area.

    In a nutshell, I’m simply not convinced either way in this debate and continue to keep an open mind. I think there are real, major problems with evolution, but I’ve openly said that, if it could be proved beyond any doubt, then I’d simply have to accept it. To start with a philosophical viewpoint which ipso fact refuses to do this, would mean I’d feel I was being dishonest with myself. After all, we criticise those from other points of view who, for example, refuse to be open to the possibility of miracles.

    Darwin certainly didn’t kill God!

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