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  • Grace Church Wakefield

David Attenborough the Preacher

Last month the world famous British broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough gave an impassioned speech on climate change to the UN Security Council.


You can watch it on the link below.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaweqwsN62k


In an age that thinks ‘preachers’ (people with a message) are weird, Attenborough is definitely a preacher!


In 2012 Attenborough told Radio 4’s Desert Island Disks that he is agnostic (uncertain) on the possibility of a God.


Now, I don’t want to get into any debate around climate change ... but what I want to show you is that Attenborough’s whole message only makes sense if there is a God, rather than this universe being a colossal accident (which would mean you are meaningless).


I have three reasons.


1. He is calling 'free' individuals to voluntarily give up their own individual freedoms and pleasures for the pursuit of the greater good.


Attenborough happily assumes the theory of evolution as an-answer-for everything in his TV programmes.


But the idea that we are evolved accidents due to ‘survival of the fittest’ has helped lay the groundwork for the radical individualism of our age.


This is the idea that you are the centre of your own personal universe. You have to ‘look after number one.’ ‘It’s a dog eat dog world’ people say. ‘Do whatever feels right for you’.


You hear this sort of thing on the TV and radio all the time.


But here’s the irony: Attenborough wants individuals and independent nations to do what is opposite to the theory of evolution - sacrifice yourself for the good of others!


But why would radical individuals now essentially die to themselves for something greater than just themselves?


Only if there is a God who invites us to follow his example of self-sacrifice (sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for human sin) can we say that self-sacrifice is better than self-service.


2. Attenborough insists that nations have a 'moral responsibility' to act.


Whilst Attenborough has said he is ‘agnostic’ when he comes to God, I have never heard him give serious weight to the possibility in any of his TV work.


But if there is no God, then there is no ultimate meaning to life because everything is a total accident. There is then no such thing as moral responsibility (right and wrong) because it’s just something made up by living accidents (human beings).


Attenborough might think it's right for governments to act for future generations. But someone else might say ‘no, let’s just have fun while we can and forget about future generations’.


If there is no ultimate morality, then you can think what you like. There is no right and wrong. There is no such thing as ‘moral responsibility’.


So my point is that Attenborough actually assumes there is a God when he tells the governments of the world that they have a ‘moral responsibility.’


3. He clearly cares - a lot. A passionate final warning in his old age.


Attenborough looks old. It’s amazing the amount of effort he is putting in to tell his message to the world before he dies.


It reminds me of Christian preachers I’ve come across either in my own generation or from the past, desperate to tell people about the forgiveness God offers us if we trust in Christ.


But if this whole accidental cosmos eventually just explodes so that matter itself ceases to exist, why bother? It's a lot of effort. Attenborough should just enjoy the last few years/months of life while he can.


If there is a God however, who has given us responsibility to care for the creation he has made, then campaigning for that to the very end of our days can be seen as a truly noble cause.


Conclusion

What Attenborough is asking us to do, and the reasons why we he says we should do it, and even the manner in which he is asking it, only make any sense if this is a meaningful universe, created by a God, and that we are not dog-eat-dog individuals, but created for something bigger than ourselves.


Ian Goodson - GCW Pastor