PERFECT PLANET SERIES 2021
The BBC has once again produced a natural history programme series with stunning photography that reveals many of the wonders of creation. The term ‘Perfect Planet’ is used because secular scientists acknowledge that the Earth is unique and superbly designed. But this emphasizes how strange it is that the BBC will not acknowledge the Creator of nature in their programmes.
Even though the Creator is not mentioned, there is no doubt that many viewers will be convinced of the existence of an supremely wise Creator God. Romans 1:20 reminds us that we have no excuse for disbelief.
Episode 2: The Sun. This episode describe the amazing cryogenic wood frog that freezes during winter months and then comes back to life in the spring. David Attenborough used terms including ‘supernatural ability’ and ‘magic’ to describe their amazing design. The episode also described the remarkable codependency between fig wasps and the fig tree. Attenborough used the term ‘science fiction’ to describe the incredible process by which wasps enter the fig fruit, lay eggs and mate. The terms used by Attenborough demonstrate the overwhelming evidence of intelligent design. They also remind me of the verse: God does things we cannot comprehend (Job 37:5).
Episode 3: The weather. This episode described the astounding migration of million-strong flocks of shearwaters flying from New Zealand to Alaska (12,000 km) every year to live in a perpetual summer. The navigational skills and endurance required for such migration are quite incredible. There was also wonderful footage of fire ants in the Amazon building an ant-raft out of just ants(!) by interlocking their body parts. The resulting floating colony travels on the flood waters to places (such as large plants) where they can live until the flood waters recede. The idea that these creatures could gradual evolve in small steps by genetic accidents requires a mountain of faith!
In Episode 3 I absolutely love the footage of the red crabs on Christmas Island (in the Indian Ocean) that go on the most unbelievable migration to the coast to lay their eggs at a high tide. Somehow, when the baby crabs hatch at sea, they find their way back to the island to migrate in land and so the whole cycle starts all over again. There are so many millions of crabs that the entire beach turns red when they congregate on their migrations. God often creates in super abundance.
Episode 4: For me, the star of this episode was the cuttlefish with its wonderful array of bright color patterns that move across its body. Incredibly, the cuttlefish can control these patterns to perform special feats like blending in with the surroundings. Cuttlefish have fantastically complex mechanisms to create the colors and patterns. These include chromatophores containing luminescent protein nanostructures. Engineers can only dream of creating something like a cuttlefish.
SEVEN WORLDS SERIES 2019
This series started by considering the remote world of Antarctica. Despite being so hostile with freezing temperatures and biting winds, creatures like penguins and albatross thrive there. The navigational skills of the albatross are truly stunning with parents able to find their way back to a tiny nest after spending months at sea. This was one of the examples where I asked myself “How was God able to do that!?”.
Next came Asia, a vast continent that stretches from the arctic circle to the tropics. The rich rain forests of Borneo were definitely a highlight with orangutans and other creatures seeming to enjoy being able to climb and jump effortlessly through the trees.
South America featured some incredible creatures like the team of dancing male manakin birds that perform a beautiful courtship ritual on behalf of one male. Such elaborate beauty is way beyond anything that is needed but is just what would be expected from a Creator who loves beauty and design (and fun!).
Australia came next and featured some unique creatures like the huge cassowary land bird with its elaborately coloured and shaped head. The thorny devil lizard that soaks up water in its skin by standing in puddles was an example of extremely clever design, even if it looks rather creepy!
The episode on Europe included an amazing section on the mayfly insect with its fleeting life cycle on the Tisza river in Hungary. The mayfly not only appears at precisely the right time for mating but also flies to just the right place in the river where eggs will be best protected before hatching.
North America has its own special creatures such as the huge lovable Florida manatees that move slowly through the water with huge flippers. One of the highlights for me was the fireflies beautifully lighting up the forests in the summer nights.
Africa was predictably the last episode because of its great diversity of life and large animals. This programme featured some famous African animals like aardvarks, chimpanzees, rhinos and cheetahs.
With the help of drones there were some breathtaking views of savannahs, forests, mountains and seas from high above the ground. These aerial views help one to appreciate God’s amazing design of whole eco-systems.
Natural history programmes are big undertakings. The series apparently involved around 1,500 people working in 41 different countries over several years. Credit must go to the patient camera workers who sometimes spent many weeks waiting to capture brief but special moments.
As humankind explores more of the earth, it is becoming increasingly clear there is a Creator who is infinite in wisdom and power. In creation God does great things we cannot comprehend (Job 37:5) even with all our scientific knowledge.
As with previous series, a seriously negative aspect of the programmes was a complete absence of acknowledgement of the Creator or praise for His works in creation. Instead there is an atheistic worldview that is so out of place in the face of overwhelming evidence of intelligent design.
Over the last decade there has been a significant change in the content of the BBC natural history programmes with an increasing focus on environmental, ethical and political issues. Whilst things like poaching, plastic pollution and deforestation are certainly important topics to consider, there is the danger that nature programmes become over politicized.
Many people I know would prefer there to be a separation of political issues from the study of creation. In the case of the Seven Worlds series, the producers could have had a dedicated eighth programme to focus on environmental and ethical aspects. Alternatively, they could have had an appendix to each episode. That way, the seven continents could have been appreciated without the distraction of man-made issues and problems.
Topics like global warming, world population and birth control are controversial and there is the danger that the BBC presents just one particular worldview. By having separate and dedicated programmes on environmental issues, it is then possible to deal with them more thoroughly and to bring in different opinions.
Another shortcoming for me personally was too many long scenes of predators stalking and attacking prey. Rather than give prominence to violence and suffering, it would have been better to focus more on the beauty and peacefulness of creation. Violence and suffering is only here because of the curse on creation that came at the time of the Fall of Adam and Eve. In contrast, beauty and peacefulness is a reminder of how God originally created the world and is also a reminder that the future new heavens and new earth will contain no suffering.