In this blog, TV producer Iain Morris writes of the challenges and the benefits of wrestling with one of the biggest knowledge questions of all.
How many times has it been said, when faced with an uncertain situation: ‘I don’t know what to believe’? That dilemma always has my sympathy.
In their book ‘Decoding Theory of Knowledge’, authors Heydorn and Jesudson begin with a superbly impactful understatement: ‘The concept of knowledge is difficult’!
If that is so, how much more difficult is the concept of ‘belief’ – often predicated on what we think we know. I might believe my neighbour is kind because when my house was flooded, he gave me food and shelter for the night – and did so generously and bountifully. Knowledge built up by my experience has led to my belief. Often beliefs remain vulnerable and subject to modification depending on whether subsequent experience reinforces or undermines them.
Belief in the existence of a supernatural creator is more difficult to substantiate with any form of knowledge – including personal experience. But let’s not be deflected from the task on account of its challenges. We are human beings and as a species we excel in meeting challenges. I cite my knowledge of the development of civilisation as evidence of that belief!
I have always wanted to know if God exists and I discovered I am not alone. When I decided to make an investigative TV series on the subject, the groundswell of interest among those whom we met along the way was palpable.
My starting point was scepticism about the near certainty with which Richard Dawkins proclaimed his atheism. In his famous book which I read with interest, he claimed that God is a delusion and I wondered how he ‘knew’ that. Dawkins’ main basis for his belief that God does not exist was found in science so that is where our production team went to carry out our subsequently televised investigation.
We examined the scientific narratives around the Cosmos, Life and Evolution and Human Mind and Consciousness. We looked for evidence that would either substantiate belief in God or undermine it. We took the journey in the company of world renowned experts in science and philosophy. As we listened to both sides, and presented their arguments as faithfully and coherently as we could in our three documentaries, we recognised that in trying to form a conclusion for ourselves we were practising some very important intellectual skills – including listening, critically analysing, synthesising, evaluating.
But what a worthwhile journey and the benefit of this TV series now being available for educational use is that you can take the journey too.
No one could ever claim to know absolutely if God exists or not but forming a view – (or a belief?) – based on what you think the balance of evidence is, should prove to be a very worthwhile enterprise. Certainly I found it so.
To sample the series Introducing the God Question visit www.thegodquestion.tv/introduce. To see the resources available to you, select ‘store’ from the menu.
Based on the experience of others worldwide, I believe you will find taking the journey for yourself worthwhile both in educational and personal terms.
(The broadcast series The God Question has been transmitted to the homes of more than 830 million people worldwide. In some countries, it transmits as ‘Science vs God?’)