Dr Thomas Dixon in the chapel of Keble College, Oxford
Thomas Dixon is a senior lecturer in history at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of ‘Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction’.
The End of God? A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion
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 programme filmed in two locations which have historic links to science and religion.Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was the venue for a famous confrontation over the theory of evolution which took place in June 1860. In front of nearly a thousand people, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce had a heated debate with a biologist called Thomas Huxley (known as Darwin’s Bulldog). No one knows exactly what was said in this debate but it’s gained an almost mythical status as a turning point in the story of science and religion.
Across the road from the museum is Keble College, Oxford. Keble was originally established by a group of church reformers, but its first warden was sympathetic to science and to the theory of evolution. In the late 1880s, a group of Oxford clergymen who were associated with Keble published a book called ‘Lux Mundi’ (‘Light of the World’). The book engaged with new scientific discoveries and claimed that evolution could be helpful for faith because it showed that God was at work in the natural world.
- Thomas Dixon
- Naomi Law
- Naomi Law
- Executive Producer
- Danielle Peck