by tarasskeptic

July 26, 2011

from YouTube Website





Part 1

Life, the Universe and Everything

"The Story of God" is a three-part video series produced by Dangerous Films featuring physician, Professor and British Lord Robert Winston.


The series explores the origins of religion. The documentary focuses on the three Abrahamic faiths, and discusses belief in God in a scientific age. It a number of interviews with scientists including Dean Hamer, atheist Richard Dawkins, and members of the CERN program.

Robert Winston acknowledges that there is something deep within us that seems to be crying out for God.


He says,

"However you define God and whether you believe in God or not, the world that we live in has been shaped by the universal human conviction that there is more to life than life itself.


There is a God-shaped hole at the centre of our universe. We've come up with many different ways to fill that hole with many gods or just one; with gods of hunting, gods of farming and gods of war; with gods of sea and sky.


We've imagined God as stern father figure or a fertile mother; we've pictured a jealous, angry, punishing God and a God of justice, wisdom and infinite love."

But, he asks, 'why did mankind start believing in God at all?'


He suggests that the answer can be found in many places ultimately in,

"the human desire to be united with something bigger than ourselves, something outside us, beyond us or, perhaps, even deep within us." Winston believes that we have "an instinct for the divine".

Winston goes on to say that,

"Historically speaking, mankind has preferred to believe in many gods."

This relies on the assumption of the first episode that there is a progression in religious ideas through human history.


Starting with animism and moving on to the monist religions of pantheistic Hinduism and later atheistic Buddhism, the suggestion was that spiritual beliefs become more specific over time.


The program finished by introducing a radically different idea which came to a Brahmin (priest) called Zoroaster as he stood knee-deep in icy water.

He suddenly realized, Winston tells us, that the various rituals to keep on the right side of many gods were a waste of time, and that there is just one God.

Zoroastrianism may be a very minor world religion now, but it has been very influential in the past.


By concluding the first episode with this monotheistic religion, Lord Winston seemed to be implying that this was the origin of the three great monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam which are the focus of episode two.







Part 2

No God, but God

Robert Winston introduces the second episode of The Story of God at the tomb of Abraham in Hebron.

"According to the Bible," he tells us, "Abraham was the first person to believe in one God."

This is a curious comment since the Bible never makes that claim. It also fails to allow for the first eleven chapters of Genesis which refers to such notable characters as Adam, Eve, Enoch and Noah (all predating Abraham) with the constant assumption that there is only one God.

Estimates for when Zoroaster lived vary widely, with most scholars suggesting 1000-600 BC, which is later than Abraham.

Abraham's tomb is therefore a good place to start, given that these three faiths look to him as their "spiritual father." It is closely guarded by Israeli security forces, and Jews and Muslims are segregated so that they face it (veiled behind a curtain) from opposite sides.


It is a powerful metaphor of how the common heritage of Jews and Muslims is the very thing which causes so much hostility between them:

"A symbol of our common heritage and a barrier which keeps us apart."

"Monotheism begins with a choice: God's," we're told. "Jews, Christians and Muslims have all had to wrestle with this demanding God", "a God who said to Abraham, "Walk before me and be perfect".


"Their wrestling has resulted in them coming up with some very different ideas about who (or what) this God is and what he expects of us."









Part 3 

God of the Gaps

The third and final episode of "The Story of God" begins with Robert Winston in St Peter's cathedral in Geneva.


This, he tells us, was the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation 450 years ago. The Medieval statues and wall paintings were removed and the congregation "set out to know God directly, with only their Bibles to guide them."


The reformation,

"redefined man's relationship with God by replacing the mysteries of faith with the certainties of religious conviction."

Winston's tone hints that he doesn't see this as progress, and the remainder of the episode confirms this as he laments the problems caused by certainty in the debate between science and faith.


Winston travels to the United States to visit a "Creationalist Museum" which depicts a history that is only a few thousand years old.