66 Mins

Richard Dawkins and Alan Lightman on Science and Religion

Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Alan Lightman go head to head to debate science and religion.

As an evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins can find no hint of an immaterial universe in hiding. Science arrives at knowledge by evidence, and everything else is fiction. If we need meaning, we go to art – or religion – to console us for its absence. Science explains most things. But not everything. If not ‘everything’, why not, and what do we call the rest? Does faith play any role in science? Yes, but not what is understood by religious faith. What kind of faith, then?

As a theoretical physicist, Alan Lightman has always held a scientific view of the world, whose logic is governed by a small number of impersonal forces and laws. These decree that all things in the universe are relative, material and mortal. But one summer evening in Maine, looking at the stars from a small boat at sea, he was overcome by an oceanic feeling: a hint of something unified, absolute, and immaterial.

The encounter between science and religion has received an unprecedented public airing over the last decade. This film offers a head-to-head between two scientific sceptics who find themselves on different platforms, but waiting for the same train: would it be possible to prove or disprove the existence of an intelligent and purposeful creator – and, if so, how?

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