If you’re putting on a cutting edge show that you want to be a huge success, one of the keys is to start off with an episode that will immediately grab people’s attention. Discovery Channel’s new show, Curiosity, does just that with the pilot episode title: Did God Create the Universe? Certainly controversial, it is the first in a series of what Discovery promotes as ‘life’s greatest and most fascinating mysteries’. With the way they’ve billed the show, you’d think that they will get around to curing cancer at some point down the line. As a note, I’m not even going to touch on the titular question as that would be way beyond the scope of this article and might cause too much controversy on this site.

‘Did God Create The Universe?’ premiered this past Sunday at 8pm and was ‘hosted’ by Stephen Hawking. I say ‘hosted’ because there a few segments where he talks, but most of it is done in voiceover by someone completely different. It appears they tried to make up for that by having dramatic closeups of him, such as focusing on one eye as he asks a question and him gazing at the ceiling.

The episode consists of Hawking trying to answer the title question from the laws of science. A portion of the episode is devoted to the historical progression of scientific discovery about the universe and how it could help explain phenomenon that earlier peoples thought was the work of gods. It is really helps the viewer understand the basics as what I’m sure is especially complicated physics and cosmology is broken down into a format understood by the average person. One particular example is the tennis analogy used. Hawking points out that the rules of the game can be changed at any time, but the laws of nature that govern the motion of the ball, the physics of how it rebounds off of the racket and so on. The shot of the tennis ball zooming through the air transitions into a planet swirling in space. This example and subsequent one build upon each other.

The tennis segment is among many dramatic and interesting visuals of the episode, along with the historical documentary’s primary staple, reenactments. There are Vikings shouting at the sun, Galileo gazing at the sky through a telescope and a pensive Einstein as he writes his theories down. These all serve to give a human element to the hard science being explained and are much more interesting then if they were stock visuals and someone was doing the voiceover.

The whole episode, seeing as it is hosted and told from Hawking’s point of view, has a clear pro-science slant and focuses more on scientific explanations then religious ones. This can especially be seen when Hawking is talking about John XXI. The Pope was so afraid of these new ‘scientific’ explanations going counter to religious teachings that he outlawed them completely. He then subsequently died of gravity when the roof of his apartment collapsed on him. There is no mention made of the fact that John XXI was a physician himself.

Not to give the wrong impression, but other ‘great questions’ are to be examined over the course of the series and the next episode focuses on how ready the world might be for an alien invasion. If you want to see Hawking, you’ll have to catch this episode, because upcoming ones are hosted by different people.

The premier episode of Curiosity is sure to provoke debate and controversy. The subject of God in the first episode should not detract from some very interesting science of the universe. The show highlights some scientific concepts that I’m sure the average person doesn’t know about and the concise explanation really help in understanding them. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but needless to say, the episode is quite informative and I for one am will certainly tune in next time.

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