Hawking, God, and a new Discovery Channel Series August 2, 2011

Hawking, God, and a new Discovery Channel Series

This is a guest post by Aaron Friel. He is a freshman at the University of Northern Iowa and member of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI).

The Discovery Channel is hosting a new program, Curiosity, that aims to provoke thought and discussion and ask the “fundamental questions facing the world today”. Their first episode (Sunday Aug. 7th, 8 p.m. ET/PT) will be a special with the eminent Stephen Hawking titled, “Is There a Creator?” Fantastic.

This sort of thing really inspires me, for a long time there’s been a dearth of good scientific programming on cable television. I grew up on Iowa Public Television and NOVA, and I’ve watched certain (not to be named) cable channels slide in ratings among my peers while appealing to a less skeptical audience. I shouldn’t need to mention the abundance of UFO-related television, but I’ve sort of given up on cable these days when channel-surfing has lead to me to the latest musings of pseudoscience “experts”.

So I cannot express with enough gratitude that someone held up as a credible source will say on cable, on the Discovery channel, that “God does not exist”. Bravo, Discovery.

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  • Heidi

    And the “SyFy” channel will retaliate with even more shows about ghosts, psychics and wrestling.

  • While National Geographic chips in with Nostradamus, 2012, Ancient Astronauts, Turin Shroud, fictional megatsunamis and flying saucers….

  • OverlappingMagistera

    I’m cautiously optimistic. The program looks like it uses a lot of celebrity hosts; actors, comedians, etc. Hopefully it will focus on the science, and not on celebrity opinions.

  • Thanks for the heads up.

    Good point on the crud that flies through the waves on cable TV. PBS has great shows. A cool one I saw not to long ago on WGBH out of Boston on the “Question of God.” Balanced view with points from Freud and C.S. Lewis, then a discussion panel of believer and non-believers.

    Here’s the link:


  • Anonymous

    It’s actually going to be simulcast on several of the Discovery Channels.

  • arcanewinter

    Pretty sure they won’t actually let him say “God does not exist” with all the conviction it deserves.  Instead they’ll let him reason up to it, then edit in someone else to draw the wrong conclusion.

  • Former Thumper

    And the really messed up bit is when Discovery sells one of its channels to FREAKING OPRAH?

  • Gibbon

    Really? That is one of the fundamental questions facing the world today? Is there a creator?

    Whether there is one or not, or a hundred of them, doesn’t change a thing. Everything we know would still remain the same regardless. Apples would still fall, birds would still fly, stars would still shine, and our understanding of how those things work would not change.

    And let’s keep in mind that you can’t really prove or disprove the notion of a creator being. Humans have been trying to answer the question in either the positive or negative for several thousand years, and at no point, not even today, have we ever been any closer to providing a definitive, or even less than certain answer.

    Add to that the fact that if this creator is omnipotent as all the major theological traditions contend, then anything and everything is consistent with these creator beings. Omnipotence basically allows for anything that is logically consistent, meaning that the only thing not possible is a paradoxical, e.g. is God so powerful that he can create a rock that even he can’t lift.

  • Anonymous

    It isn’t a fundamental question of science, no. Hopefully this aspect will be a main focus of the program.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to be a valid or reasonable question to be “fundamental.” In this case, I’d say “is there a Creator” is fundamental to a lot of bad behavior.

  • Totentanz

    “And let’s keep in mind that you can’t really prove or disprove the notion of a creator being”

    Please stop using this as an argument.  It is nonsensical.

  • Anonymous

    I think we need more celebrities and material, until someone is no longer famous or memorable for simply denying a god. That’s the best thing I see in news of this show. We’ll get more of a cultural track record.

    Don’t dismiss celebrities completely! For all the people that don’t follow scientists, celebrities/politicians are the biggest icons they know. They influence stereotypes. As far as we want to go ‘out’ and show each other that we aren’t unethical baby-eating devils, celebrities are like road sign posters that tour and maintain themselves.

    As nice as Ricky Gervais is, it’s probably better not to have a single celebrity poster boy all by himself.

  • dauntless

    Followed by all new episodes of “Extinctin’ Alaska with Sarah Palin” and “Demon Detectives”!

  • Robin Marie

    As a student of history, I an attest to the same sad trend happening on the channels that purport to have humanities material. While The Discovery Channel has morphed into the Not Science Channel, the History Channel’s favored programming of Nostradamus programs, Da Vinci Code programs and Did Aliens Create World History programs wins it official recognition as the Not History Channel.

  • Scott

    The Science Channel has had some good programming lately.

  • Haj

    Nonsensical, it’s not.  It’s candidly honest, and true.

  • Guest

    But there IS a god, His name is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Just let yourself be touched by His noodly appendage.

  • Vanessa

    Hey now, I really like the show The Haunting. The hilarious reenactments and the ridiculous people claiming their houses are haunted is very entertaining.

  • Vanessa

    You’re right. There are much better questions to be answered, as stated on the website: “Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could live forever? What would happen if aliens attacked? Why sex is fun?”

    Compared to those things, Is there a Creator? is just a silly, pointless question!

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    And they also show re-runs of Stargate SG-1 so I cannot knock them.

  • every channel has a “haunted” themed show now. Even Animal Planet has one.

  • every channel has a “haunted” themed show now. Even Animal Planet has one.

  • Dan W

    I’ve given up on the History Channel. They rarely show any history anymore. Instead it’s mostly crap like ancient aliens, and other ridiculous non-history stuff. I miss the days when it could be more aptly called the Hitler Channel, with all their shows on Nazis and WWII history. At least that actually fit their name, but now it’d be better of called the Hysteria Channel.

  • About time sponsors over here grew some balls.  Hope this trend keeps up.

  • Come one, Guest. Pastafarianism is in no way a real religion. I’ve never heard of them persecuting, oppressing, or molesting anyone.

  • FishyFred

    I saw it earlier this week and I was pleasantly surprised. Hawking often states his position as “God is not necessary.” Put like that, it invites viewers to be more receptive and to make their own decisions.


    DVR is set, thanks!

  • arcanewinter

    That’s heartening to hear, wouldn’t have expected it!

  • Heidi

    Understandable.  But I get my Stargate fix on Netflix.

  • Zeektheawesome

    Too bad my parents wouldn’t let me watch it. :/

  • dauntless

    Perhaps it is a true statement, but it should be qualified with the equally true “it is pragmatic to not believe in a creator being”.

  • lol Extinctin’ Alaska

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