Robin Ince hosts the alternative Christmas’ show, Nine lessons and Carols for Godless People, for people who do not believe in God but science, ‘believe’ being the key word there!
Ince and friends act as the ‘persecuted minority’ of rationalists in a culture populated by superstitious religious people. It's rather ironic then that our culture is actually a scientific and technological one, where the scientific perspective is the dominant way of knowing and understanding the world.
The game of oppressed minority is thus rather distateful. It reaches grotesque proportions when Ince reads what the audience is supposed to find fascinating facts of scientific discovery whilst saying 'ironically' how boring they are. He keeps on repeating that they are boring to prove his point that they are not. Why bother with being subtle? Robin, dear, science is not boring, but you are!
Brian Cox laments the cutting in funding for physics. Mhm, what could it be? Arguably, funding for university research is not enough, but the largest share has always gone to the natural sciences. It is humanities and social sciences that have been consistently neglected, not physics. There’s also the ‘small’ matter of having to rescue our financial system.
The main problem of the show, however, is the judgemental, intolerant and ignorant attitude towards religion. They all protest (far too much) that they are not anti-religious, but if that were true, why were the acts mostly referring to religion rather than science?
It seems to me that these ‘pseudo-rationalists’ think that religion and science are in competition. They believe in the myth that religion is a pre-modern irrational superstition which explains the world through supernatural causes; that the advent of modern science has opened our eyes to the ‘truth’; and, thus, we don’t need religion any longer. This is what is often referred to as the ‘Walt Disney Theory’. It’s sweet but sucks.
Aside from the fact that being religious doesn’t necessarily mean believing in God or anything supernatural. Belief in God is not irrational because the existence of God cannot be proven. By definition God is beyond physics, beyond scientific discovery. If science troubles itself with God then it’s not being scientific. The object of scientific discovery is the physical world, not metaphysics. Trying to prove the existence of God (or rejecting God on the basis of lack of evidence) implies that one doesn’t understand science.
That is the problem. These pseudo-rationalists believe in science and their prophet is Richard Dawkins. They pick on abstruse elements of religion, such as ‘creation science’, crystals and ‘the bible code’, to say that only science is rational and the only way of knowing. Religion is a way of knowing, and so are literature, art and music. You can shrink religion to fit your prejudice, but that’s all you’re left with: ugly prejudice.