BBC Renews American Enthusiasm for God

Turning a few more Americans in a Godwardly direction doesn’t sound like too hard a task, we just didn’t think it would be a British paragon of science and the natural world that would do it…

In a bizarre turn of events, it has been recently suggested by researchers in the Psychological Science journal, that images of vast and “awe-inspiring” natural phenomena, such as the Grand Canyon, shown in television shows like the BBC’s Planet Earth, have some bearing on whether people will admit to religious or spiritual beliefs.

In the study, the test group that were shown scenes from David Attenborough’s famous programme were reportedly much more willing to attest to the existence of spiritual or higher powers, while the control group, who were shown images of a less “jaw dropping” nature, from a separate set of news clips, were not.

BBC Americans belief in God

The irony is, of course, that these television shows are, ostensibly, a science-led delineation of natural phenomena.

The idea, though, that “awe-inspiring” views of nature provoked these sort of “beyond ourselves” feelings is hardly new. Literature fans will be well aware that imagery of the “sublime” was a popular theme among Wordsworth and the other Romantic poets.

Standing on a cliff edge, for example, overlooking an enormous gorge or expanse of forest, is supposed to have the power to threaten our personal perception of the world, to shake us out of our microcosm and into the macro. According to Wordsworth, it was supposed to have the power to help us access the deeper chasms of our own minds.

Annoyingly though, all this survey really reiterates, is the unfortunate concept that most people are just incapable of comprehending much beyond their relatively small comfort zones.

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