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The Age of Doubt

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 09 March 2000

Melvyn Bragg examines the spread of religious doubt over the last three centuries. Nietzsche proclaimed that God was Dead in 1882, Hegel in fact beat him to it apprising his Berlin students of God’s demise as early as 1827. By the end of the 19th century echoes of the death of God can be heard everywhere: in the revolutionary politics of Lenin, in the poetry of Tennyson and the psychoanalysis of Freud. The march of Science seemed to challenge the authority of the Bible at every turn and by the twentieth century almost all the great writers, artists and intellectuals had abandoned the certainty of their belief in God.

So who or what was responsible for this sudden spread of religious doubt? If God could truly be said to be dead then who fired the first shot? Have we educated ourselves out of Christ only to embrace the bleaker creed of Mamon? Is God a human construct or did God construct us? Is there an argument from design, or was the Big Bang morally pointless, without what we could call a mind at all? Did Darwin and natural selection rebut the idea of a divine purpose?

With A N Wilson, novelist, biographer, journalist and author of God’s Funeral; Victoria Glendinning, author, journalist and biographer of Anthony Trollope and Jonathan Swift.

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