An excellent edition of the Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 came from the Cheltehnham Science Festival and dealt with the limits of science and the role of religion:
All four panellists were on fine form.
Michael Portillo reminded us of the dangers of religion in political life:
Claire Fox was concerned about the growth of 'scientism', where science thinks that it actually has all the answers:
Clifford Longley spoke about the dangers of science, as in the experiments carried out by Hitler's lackeys during the Holocaust:
And Melanie Phillips talked about Maimonides and the distinguished rabbinic track-record in absorbing science into religious discourse. In fact, Maimonides said that you couldn't understand the biblical text without an understanding of secular subjects, including science!
The process of absorbing scientific thought into biblical interpretation has been going on in Judaism since time immemorial. What wasn't mentioned on the programme (perhaps surprisingly) was the Muslim contribution to this discourse. But it did exist - in the glorious Middle Ages - during which time many of their works were translated by their Jewish subjects into languages accessible to Christians:
The panellists were well balanced, and the scientists who professed to be atheists, if not convinced, at least listened to the arguments.
The BBC should put on more of these type of intelligent programmes. Because, as someone said, science looks at facts, but cannot explain how it all got there. So there is a place for religion after all. As long as it knows its place and science knows its place. And neither thinks that it is the be-all and end-all. For we only really know what we don't know, and ultimately there is nothing new under the sun after all, as the good book says: