Last night, I watched the premiere of a science series called “Curiosity” on the Discovery channel. The title of the first episode was “Did God Create the Universe?” Nothing like starting out with a bang (a “Big” one, at that… yuk, yuk). I watched, expecting the usual watered-down mush in which the hard science is played down for fear of offending the religious sensibilities of some viewers. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that this series did no such thing. The answer the program gave to the titular question was a resounding “No!”
The fact that a leading scientist (in this case, Stephen Hawking) didn’t invoke a divine creator is nothing new, of course. The fact that this was presented clearly on a mainstream cable channel, however, is. That this has happened at all, I think, is one of those quiet milestones the ramifications of which will not be appreciated until much later. I couldn’t imagine something like this ever having aired even ten years ago. Things are changing. Atheism, if not exactly yet mainstream, is at least emerging to the point at which it can be mentioned in polite company. It’s no longer something to be ashamed of or to be kept hidden.
And that’s a change I welcome.