I have just watched a great programme on BBC2 it was called Has Darwin Killed God? and was fronted by Dr Conor Cunningham.There are some who believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution has weakened religion, fuelled in part by Richard Dawkins’ publishing phenomenon The God Delusion. Cunningham argues that nothing could be further from the truth- he is a firm believer in the theory of evolution, but he is also a Christian. He believes that the clash between Darwin and God has been hijacked by extremists – fundamentalist believers who reject evolution on one side, and fundamentalist atheists on the other.
Jean Claude Bragard the Executive Producer says; “This programme, part of the BBC’s Darwin Season, came from the realisation that it would touch on issues raised by Richard Dawkins in his book ‘The God Delusion’. The publishing phenomenon has fuelled a widespread perception that the theory of evolution makes belief in God redundant, even perhaps perverse. But how compelling was that argument? It was clear that many Christians have easily been able to reconcile their belief in God with the theory of evolution. How was this possible? This was the question we wanted to explore and so we invited Dr Conor Cunningham, a Christian but also an eminent philosopher and theologian from the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, to show how it was possible to believe in Darwin and God.”
Cunningham’s film attempts to overturn what he believes are widely held but mistaken assumptions in the debate between religion and evolution. He travels to the Middle East where he shows that from the very outset, Christianity warned against literal readings of the biblical story of creation. In Britain, he reveals that, at the time, Darwin’s theory of evolution was welcomed by the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Instead, he argues that the conflict between Darwin and God was manufactured by American creationists in the 20th century for reasons that had very little to do with science and religion and a great deal to do with politics and morality. Finally, he comes face to face with some of the most eminent evolutionary biologists, geneticists and philosophers of our time to examine whether the very latest advances in evolutionary theory do in fact kill God.
The show’s web page adds that Cunnigham’s argument is that we have been witnessing an unnecessary cultural war between religion and evolution that is damaging to both religion and science. Cunningham reveals that since the early days, mainstream Christianity’s view of God and Creation has not been literal. The idea of reading the Book of Genesis literally is essentially a 20th century American phenomenon. I thoroughly enjoyed the film which was able to embrace and celebrate where Christianity and science come together and also successfully marginalise both the fundamentalist creationsist Christians and militant atheists as unscientific and inflexible in both their approaches to the issue. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project adds; “Evolution is the answer to how. God is the answer to why?”