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The Bible : A History - Creation

Programme Synopsis:

Leading British novelist Howard Jacobson tries to find a path between religious and atheistic fundamentalists.

Jacobson describes himself as a 'non-practising Jew who fears all fanaticism bred by faith'. Yet he is moved to fury by what he calls the 'New Atheists', whose most vocal cheerleader is evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Not only, in Howard's view, do they oppose fundamentalist certainty with a no less intolerant certainty of their own, but they misunderstand the nature of religion, in particular the function of the Creation Myth. On the other hand, he is disturbed by creationists who believe in the literal truth of the Creation story and try to use science to support their faith.

Today there is a raging battle between the two camps, those who believe that Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a true account of how life began, and those who dismiss it as childish nonsense.

Jacobson sets out to find a path between the fundamentalisms of religion and atheism and to reach a way of reading the Creation story that explains why it continues to stir the imagination even of unbelievers like himself.

Jacobson talks to fervent believers, including his own Orthodox Jewish relations, and has a lively exchange with the atheist Professor A C Grayling. He meets an archaeologist who describes for him what the latest discoveries in Israel tell us about the historical origins of the Creation story, and consults scientists, philosophers and Bible scholars for their interpretations of the Creation Story.

Howard's journey takes him from the Dead Sea to the Natural History Museum in London, a temple to Charles Darwin, whose theory of natural selection did so much to undermine traditional religious belief.

At the end of his exploration Howard delivers his conclusions as to why the sublimely simple opening words of the Bible 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...' still have the power to move, and still 'do our hearts good to hear'.

View online on 4oD -



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