Chance and Design

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the theories of a grand design in the universe. The late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould argued that if you re-ran the tape of evolutionary history, an entirely different set of creatures would emerge. Man would not exist because the multitude of random changes that resulted in us would never be repeated exactly the same way. Others disagree, arguing that there is a pattern that points to some kind of direction - even, perhaps, a design, a sense that some things are pre-ordained. Who were the original proponents of the idea of a grand design? Were they deliberately setting out to find a scientific theory that could sit alongside religious faith? On the other hand, can the concept of contingency - or the randomness of evolution - be compatible with a belief in God?

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  • Simon Conway Morris 4 episodes
    Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at Cambridge University
  • Sandy Knapp 4 episodes
    Botanist at the Natural History Museum
  • John Brooke No other episodes
    Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University

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Auto-category: 215 (Science and religion)