Mal Fletcher comments

Mal Fletcher
Mal Fletcher

The natural historian Sir David Attenborough this week explained why he does not mention God in his award-winning TV programmes.

The revered presenter of such groundbreaking series as "The Living Planet" and producer of the classic "Life on Earth", told The Times: "I tend to think of an innocent little child sitting on the bank of a river in Africa, who's got a worm boring through his eye that can render him blind.

"Now, presumably you think this Lord created this worm, just as he created the hummingbird. I find that rather tricky."

Attenborough has, of course, touched on one of the great dilemmas facing people who believe in God - and perhaps particularly Christians, who believe that God is love.

How can a wise, just and above all compassionate God allow a situation in which such injustice can occur?

There are no easy answers to this conundrum. However, it is worth noting that atheism offers us no explanation for the presence of evil in the world or any hope for the eventual redemption and restoration of the natural order - both of which Christianity does.

Neither does it present us with any hope of an eventual change in the troubled natural order; while Christianity teaches that Christ will return to reveal the full, physical manifestation of his Kingdom on earth, a process that will include a resetting of the natural order.

In that Kingdom, we are told, there will be no more suffering, crying, poverty or pain.

I respect Sir David. I particularly admire his passion for his subject, which he so effortlessly conveys to the audience in a very up-close-and-personal way through the often distancing lens of the TV camera.

We owe him a good deal for showing us the wonder of our natural environment - and awakening us to the peril it faces from environmental catastrophe.

However, as I once respectfully pointed out to the then head of BBC Religion (TV), Sir David constantly presents a worldview which assumes that there is little place for Christian faith in the world of reliable science.

I don't believe that Attenborough was particularly attacking any organised faith in his comments to The Times. He seems to me to be a gentleman and one not inclined to demean the beliefs of others. Yet these comments and some of those made in his programmes clearly support a purely materialistic Darwinian view of the universe, which is in many important respects opposed to the Christian worldview.

The inference for the audience is that the natural world, when viewed with an informed eye, speaks against religious faith - especially the Christian faith.

As I pointed out in my book "Five Big Ideas: Concepts That Shape Our Culture", ( in the wake of scientists like Darwin many people have grown up thinking of science as the bastion of atheism and naturalism. They see it as a realm of thought that allows no space for belief in God.