With unprecedented access this revealing film takes viewers inside the little known world of the Unification Church, commonly known to outsiders as the Moonies, at one of their controversial mass weddings.
The great triumph of modern science is that is that it has been incredibly successful at helping us understand and control the world we live in. But many of us will feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with a view of life that strips it of any true meaning or purpose. Are we really just the living parts of a vast machine that has no meaning? In this first film in the series Ard and David will challenge the core beliefs of scientism and present the beginnings of a different story that science has to tell about the universe we live in.
If there is a moral compass, how do we know what is the North and South? What is right and wrong? If right and wrong are culturally variable, then the only arbiters of right and wrong are mere preference, or alternatively, force. Cooperation, or niceness, says Alex Rosenberg, was essential to our evolution from being at the bottom of the food chain, to arriving at the top. But are we agreed on who we should be nice to, and when? Dr Gwen Patton grew up in the racially segregated America of the 1950s. To her the limits of niceness were clear, because people chose who they would be nice to, and who not. She became involved, as a young girl, in the Alabama bus protests, driven by a sense that we are all God's children. In discussion with Frans de Wall, Ard says he needs an absolute logical, rational source for moral judgements. If morality is just grounded in passions, you can manipulate those passions. David disagrees. He thinks we all work out our own truths. Ard argues that universal morality then would depend merely on power.
Is beauty a guide to truth? There is one story told by science which states that the only things that can be classed as true are facts: things that can be measured, quantified and verified. It denies truth to the spiritual, the moral or the aesthetic because these do not fit scientific criteria. They are classed as meaningless, figments of the imagination - the misfirings of neurons. David and Ard challenge this bleak vision, and ask if it is correct, why is it that we are so moved by beauty, and why do so many truths reveal themselves as beautiful? The answers they each reach are very different, but through their journey and discussions they reveal how profoundly our sense of beauty is connected to both our quest for truth, but also our search for meaning.
For scientist, the only source of morality must be our genes. Morality is the ultimate emergent property of the gene, says Peter Atkins. Whatever leads to a stable society leads to a sense of morality. Primatologist Frans de Waal, however, says he would never trust science to explain morality - you can construct a perfectly logical argument for slavery. George Ellis argues that evolutionary and neuroscientific arguments about morality always introduce by the back door a concept of the good life which they take for granted as being a good thing. Who says living together is a good thing? And if 'good' means happy, why not give everyone drugs to make them feel happy? Is that a moral life? According to evolutionary theory and the survival of the fittest, cheaters, who will compete ruthlessly, should be the most successful survivors. But Harvard Biologist and Mathematician Martin Nowak uses an extraordinary graphic to illustrate to Ard and David his mathematical calculation that collaborators and competitors are locked together in the evolutionary process, a truth which has been observed in the field by primatologists for decades.