DIVINE DNA? “SECULAR” AND “RELIGIOUS” REPRESENTATIONS OF SCIENCE IN NONFICTION SCIENCE TELEVISION PROGRAMS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Through analysis of film sequences focusing on DNA in two British Broadcasting Corporation nonfiction science television programs, Wonders of Life and Bang! Goes the Theory , first broadcast in 2013, contrasting “religious” and “secular” representations of science are identified. In the “religious” portrayal, immutable scientific knowledge is revealed to humanity by nature with minimal human intervention. Science provides a creation story, “explanatory omnicompetence,” and makes life existentially meaningful. In the “secular” portrayal, scientific knowledge is changeable; is produced through technical skill in expert communities; and is ambiguous, potentially positive and negative for society. Television representations of science affect audience understandings, and this is particularly the case for nonfiction representations of science, as they are likely to be “taken more seriously” than fictional representations. The consequences of the “religious” representation of science are discussed, and it is argued that a widespread understanding of science as presented in the religious portrayal would negatively impact democracy.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-26
Number of pages21
JournalZygon: journal of religion and science
Volume55
Issue number1
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020