Don't get me wrong, the content was still solid. But it didn't really seek to answer the question posed - rather that position was assumed as the default and anyone who said otherwise was attacked. It started off calling Dawkins a fundamentalist and pretty much stayed at that level for the next 60 minutes. Which is fine, I disagree with his assessment of course about what constitutes a fundamentalist. But more than anything, such language was indicative of the argument to follow.
He started out showing that the bible should not be taken literally, showing the disparity between Genesis 1 and 2. Then followed by a few quotes from prominent theologians, there his case that Christianity was compatible with evolution was set. I couldn't help but think watching him quote Augustine of Hippo (I even quote this guy when it comes to biblical literalism) that it would be like someone in the future quoting John Paul II supporting science and claiming from there that historically there's no incompatibility. Methinks that such statements by the likes of St. Austin demonstrate that the same battle was playing out back then as it is now - that agreement isn't unanimous, rather that there were individuals on both sides hence the need for the excellent prose in the first place.
So apparently everything was fine and dandy among the church in England and in the US until the early 20th century when fundamentalism rose for the first time in history (which again makes me wonder why St Austin had to write such words in the first place) and that put religion at loggerheads with science. But, as we find out, it's not that William Jennings Bryan opposed evolution, but the moral decay posed by social darwinism. He was an old earth creationist, so that's different. Likewise in 1961, the modern creationist movement was started by Henry Morris called The genesis flood. And this was again caused by apparent moral decline, because it was the 60s. Just forget to mention that JFK made a huge push to get science taught nationally at that time, play the morality card.
Today, it's pretty self-evident that the morality card is still played against evolution. So I agree to an extent that its a problem. And for the biblical literalists? Well he kind of played it down with a No True Scotsman argument, apart from that opening where he tried to show that genesis is myth, there wasn't really much to his taking down this position. It doesn't fit with the church fathers (well the ones he quoted) so it isn't true Christianity.
The final third of the program was dedicated to the other extremists who say that evolution and God are incompatible - the Darwinists. While he lined up Richard Dawkins in the opening monologue, he had to settle for the likes of Dan Dennett and Susan Blackmore. His focus? Ultra-darwinism, whereby memes mean that one can't really know anything (hello Plantinga) so the atheist objection is absurd. And there was atheist philosopher Michael Ruse to give credence to the notion of compatibility between Christianity and Darwinism.
I know it was an hour program, but his response felt shallow. After allowing Susan Blackmore to explain her case, he argued against it in a matter of seconds - asserting that such a case is absurd and that there's no counter argument to this. And his argument here may be right about a certain form of argument against the existence of God, but it didn't cover what seem to be the mainstream arguments the likes of Dawkins propagates - that evolution makes God unnecessary. Maybe Conor Cunningham accepts such an argument could be valid, though it seemed a blight on this show that such an argument was missing.
So in the end, I was left feeling somewhat empty. The structure followed a simple format - present the opening, tear down the arguments from the creationists, then tear down the arguments from the atheists. Though I felt that at all stages he didn't give a satisfactory explanation, at least from what I've seen from my contact with both believers and non-believers regarding this issue. It might just be my position as a hardened atheist, but it seemed that he didn't address the underlying issues at all. I could picture a creationist watching it and dismissing his arguments against biblical literalism, and I could see the likes of Dawkins watching it and thinking he missed the mark against the atheist position.
I went in hoping to gain some insight into the theist mindset regarding the intersection of God and science. What I saw seemed not to make the case, but an attack on others who say there is no case. It seemed overly apologetic towards creationists, and tried to pin it on a wider societal movement, and that the Darwinist position puts itself into an untenable position - so it's invalid? It didn't feel like he made much of a case at all, and that is sad. It didn't try to paint a picture of how God fits into reality, I'm guessing that being nebulous has some advantages when contemplating the infinite, and because of that it for my mind didn't make the case for the topic at hand.
Maybe I'm way off the mark, that my beliefs got in the way. I've been dealing with creationists online for a while now, but I didn't get anything out of there which would help in my understanding of how one could be a Christian and support evolution. I was expecting there to be something of that nature, something that would show that the position is intellectually tenable. But I can fully accept that my expectations would mean that what Cunningham presented would be unsatisfying to me. Maybe Only A Theory should be next on my reading list. But in the absence of that, the words of Jerry Coyne still echo in my mind:
Attempts to reconcile God and evolution keep rolling off the intellectual assembly line. It never stops, because the reconciliation never works.