Skip to comments.Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson: Same Old Product, Bright New Packaging
Posted on 03/10/2014 6:58:19 AM PDT by Heartlander
If there was any doubt that the rebooted Cosmos series, which premiered last night, would be politically charged and have a materialistic ideological message, consider what viewers saw in its first sixty seconds. The opening featured President Obama giving a statement endorsing the series. That's not necessarily bad, except for what happened next. Immediately following President Obama's endorsement, the show replayed Carl Sagan's famous materialistic credo from the original Cosmos series that "The cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be." Does it violate the separation of church and state for the President of the United States to be portrayed seemingly endorsing Sagan's materialistic viewpoint? Is this what President Obama meant when he said in his first inaugural address that we should "restore science to its rightful place"?
The irony is that viewers were then immediately told by series host Neil deGrasse Tyson that science follows a "set of rules." It should:
Before I launch into any more critiques, let me note some genuine positives about the rebooted series. First, the expensive CGI which animates the new Cosmos is easy on the eyes, and deliberately appeals to sci-fi fans like myself. Having watched every episode of every Star Trek series multiple times, I was excited to learn that the new Cosmos series was directed by Brannon Braga, who also helped create Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. In the first few minutes of Cosmos, Braga's influence was clear. Neil deGrasse Tyson is portrayed flying in a sleek spaceship through our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and then the entire universe, giving us a visually stunning and innovative tour of our "cosmic address," as Tyson puts it. That's another positive about the series: Tyson is a fabulous science communicator. If only he had used this series to simply communicate science, rather than science plus a heavy dose of materialist philosophy.
During the first episode, Tyson devotes lengthy segments to promoting the old tale that religion is at war science, and strongly promotes the idea that religion opposes intellectual advancement. He tells the story of the 16th-century astronomer Giordano Bruno, who he says lived in a time without "freedom of speech" or "separation of church and state," and thus fell into the clutches of the "thought police" of the Inquisition for disagreeing with the church's geocentric views. Never mind that his show made it appear that President Obama endorsed Sagan-style materialism, but I digress... Of course the main religious authority of that time was the Catholic Church, and the program shows angry priests with evil-sounding British accents dressed in full religious garb throwing Bruno out on the street, and eventually burning him at the stake.
Just to make sure that other Christians who aren't Catholic also understand their religions too hinder scientific progress, Tyson goes out of his way to point out that Bruno was opposed by "Calvinists in Switzerland," and "Lutherans in Germany," including the great protestant reformer Martin Luther himself. He never mentions that Protestants aren't the ones who burned Bruno at the stake, nor does he ever mention that most of the founders of modern science were Christians. But I digress...
It's a lengthy scene, all to highlight some of the darkest chapters of Christianity in Europe. But the entire retelling of Bruno's fate lasts a good portion of the first episode's hour. Why make the religious persecution of scientists some four hundred years ago a major focus of a widely publicized television series that is ostensibly about promoting science?
Actually, I'd love to see a TV show aimed at helping the public to understand the dangers of hindering academic freedom for scientists. I suppose if you wanted to cover that topic, you'd want to talk about the evil things some members of the church did to persecute scientists hundreds of years ago. But why stop there? Why not also talk about how Lysenkoists in the USSR persecuted scientists who didn't support their atheist, Communist ideology during the 20th century? Or why not talk about the numerous well-documented examples of scientists who have faced persecution and discrimination for disagreeing with Darwinian evolution in just the last few years? For example:
True, ID-critics may not be burning people at the stake, but they have become so intolerant that in 2007, the Council of Europe, the leading European "human rights" organization, adopted a resolution calling ID a potential "threat to human rights"!
So if Neil deGrasse Tyson felt so strongly that it's important to teach the public about the importance of "freedom of speech" for scientists to "question everything," then why didn't he mention any of these recent incidents where skeptics of Darwinian evolution or proponents of intelligent design had their academic freedom violated? Why did he only focus on incidents from four hundred years ago where the church suppressed science, while he ignored all the numerous instances of the present day where atheist-Darwin activists have suppressed the rights of ID-friendly scientists? Could it be because Tyson himself is basically an atheist, and sees the Cosmos reboot as a great opportunity to promote his materialistic worldview?
Now Tyson may officially deny that he's an atheist, but that's just standard political posturing. As he said in the "Beyond Belief" conference, which helped launch the New Atheist movement in 2006:
I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don't. That's really what we've got to address here. Otherwise the public is secondary to this.There's even a Facebook page created by fans of "Tysonism" which purports to promote "a secular religion based on the philosophy of astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson." The page quotes him saying things like:
The more I learn about the universe, the less convinced I am that there's any sort of benevolent force that has anything to do with it, at all.Another sign that Cosmos has a materialistic agenda is the fact that its executive producer is celebrity atheist Seth MacFarlane (the creator of Family Guy), who commented in an interview with Esquire about the need to be "vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith":
ESQ: ... I see you've recently become rather vocal about your atheism. Isn't it antithetical to make public proclamations about secularism?
SM: We have to. Because of all the mysticism and stuff that's gotten so popular.
ESQ: But when you wave banners, how does it differ from religion?
SM: It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith.Could the anti-religious message already seen in the first episode of Cosmos be MacFarlane's attempt to promote what he thinks is "the advancement of knowledge over faith"?
In any case, MacFarlane seems to promise the new Cosmos series will attack intelligent design:
For argument's sake, let's say "Family Guy" is not family-friendly, then I would say "Cosmos" is the first thing that I've done in my career that you can sit down with your entire family. It's for young people and old people. I think there will be a lot of crossover from the animated shows to this program. I think that there is a hunger for science and knowing about science and understanding of science that hasn't really been fed in the past two decades. We've had a resurgence of creationism and intelligent design quote-unquote theory. There's been a real vacuum when it comes to science education. The nice thing about this show is that I think that it does what the original "Cosmos" did and presents it in such a flashy, entertaining way that, as Carl Sagan put it in 1980, even people who have no interest in science will watch just because it's a spectacle. People who watched the original "Cosmos" will sit down and watch with their kids.Just how badly will Cosmos botch its attempts to attack intelligent design? Stay tuned.
Professor James M. Tour is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. He is famous for his work on nanocars (pictured above, courtesy of Wikipedia), nanoelectronics, graphene nanostructures, carbon nanovectors in medicine, and green carbon research for enhanced oil recovery and environmentally friendly oil and gas extraction. He is currently a Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University. He has authored or co-authored 489 scientific publications and his name is on 36 patents. Although he does not regard himself as an Intelligent Design theorist, Professor Tour, along with over 700 other scientists, took the courageous step back in 2001 of signing the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”, which read: We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
On Professor Tour’s Website, there’s a very revealing article on evolution and creation, in which Tour bluntly states that he does not understand how macroevolution could have happened, from a chemical standpoint (all bold emphases below are mine – VJT):
Although most scientists leave few stones unturned in their quest to discern mechanisms before wholeheartedly accepting them, when it comes to the often gross extrapolations between observations and conclusions on macroevolution, scientists, it seems to me, permit unhealthy leeway. When hearing such extrapolations in the academy, when will we cry out, The emperor has no clothes!?
…I simply do not understand, chemically, how macroevolution could have happened. Hence, am I not free to join the ranks of the skeptical and to sign such a statement without reprisals from those that disagree with me? … Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me.
In a more recent talk, entitled, Nanotech and Jesus Christ, given on 1 November 2012 at Georgia Tech, Professor Tour went further, and declared that no scientist that he has spoken to understands macroevolution – and that includes Nobel Prize winners! Here’s what he said when a student in the audience asked him about evolution:
… I will tell you as a scientist and a synthetic chemist: if anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me, because I make molecules for a living, and I don’t just buy a kit, and mix this and mix this, and get that. I mean, ab initio, I make molecules. I understand how hard it is to make molecules. I understand that if I take Nature’s tool kit, it could be much easier, because all the tools are already there, and I just mix it in the proportions, and I do it under these conditions, but ab initio is very, very hard.
I don’t understand evolution, and I will confess that to you. Is that OK, for me to say, “I don’t understand this”? Is that all right? I know that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t understand anything about organic synthesis, but they understand evolution. I understand a lot about making molecules; I don’t understand evolution. And you would just say that, wow, I must be really unusual.
Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science – with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. I have sat with them, and when I get them alone, not in public – because it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said – I say, “Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?” Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who understand this, they go “Uh-uh. Nope.” These people are just so far off, on how to believe this stuff came together. I’ve sat with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. Sometimes I will say, “Do you understand this?”And if they’re afraid to say “Yes,” they say nothing. They just stare at me, because they can’t sincerely do it.
I was once brought in by the Dean of the Department, many years ago, and he was a chemist. He was kind of concerned about some things. I said, “Let me ask you something. You’re a chemist. Do you understand this? How do you get DNA without a cell membrane? And how do you get a cell membrane without a DNA? And how does all this come together from this piece of jelly?” We have no idea, we have no idea. I said, “Isn’t it interesting that you, the Dean of science, and I, the chemistry professor, can talk about this quietly in your office, but we can’t go out there and talk about this?”
If you understand evolution, I am fine with that. I’m not going to try to change you – not at all. In fact, I wish I had the understanding that you have.
But about seven or eight years ago I posted on my Web site that I don’t understand. And I said, “I will buy lunch for anyone that will sit with me and explain to me evolution, and I won’t argue with you until I don’t understand something – I will ask you to clarify. But you can’t wave by and say, “This enzyme does that.” You’ve got to get down in the details of where molecules are built, for me. Nobody has come forward.
The Atheist Society contacted me. They said that they will buy the lunch, and they challenged the Atheist Society, “Go down to Houston and have lunch with this guy, and talk to him.” Nobody has come! Now remember, because I’m just going to ask, when I stop understanding what you’re talking about, I will ask. So I sincerely want to know. I would like to believe it. But I just can’t.
Now, I understand microevolution, I really do. We do this all the time in the lab. I understand this. But when you have speciation changes, when you have organs changing, when you have to have concerted lines of evolution, all happening in the same place and time – not just one line – concerted lines, all at the same place, all in the same environment … this is very hard to fathom.
I was in Israel not too long ago, talking with a bio-engineer, and [he was] describing to me the ear, and he was studying the different changes in the modulus of the ear, and I said, “How does this come about?” And he says, “Oh, Jim, you know, we all believe in evolution, but we have no idea how it happened.” Now there’s a good Jewish professor for you. I mean, that’s what it is. So that’s where I am. Have I answered the question? (52:00 to 56:44)
Professor Tour’s online talk is absolutely fascinating as well as being deeply moving on a personal level, and I would strongly urge readers to listen to his talk in its entirety – including the questions after the talk. You won’t regret it, I promise you. One interesting little gem of information which I’ll reveal is that it was Professor Tour who was largely instrumental in getting Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to reject Darwinian evolution and accept Old Earth creationism, shortly before he died in 2005. It was Tour who persuaded Smalley to delve into the question of origins. After reading the books “Origins of Life” and “Who Was Adam?”, written by Dr. Hugh Ross (an astrophysicist) and Dr. Fazale Rana (a biochemist).. Dr. Smalley explained his change of heart as follows:
Evolution has just been dealt its death blow. After reading “Origins of Life”, with my background in chemistry and physics, it is clear evolution could not have occurred. The new book, “Who Was Adam?”, is the silver bullet that puts the evolutionary model to death.
Strong words indeed, for a Nobel scientist. Readers can find out more about Professor Richard Smalley’s change of views here.
Why should we believe macroevolution, if nobody understands it?
Now that Professor Tour has informed the world that even Nobel Prize-winning scientists privately admit that they don’t understand macroevolution, a layperson is surely entitled to ask: “Well, if even they don’t understand it, then why should we believe it? How can we possibly be obliged to believe in a theory which nobody understands?”
That’s a good question. And it’s no use for Darwinists to trot out the standard “party line” that “even if we don’t yet understand how it happened, we still have enough evidence to infer that it happened.” At the very most, all that the current scientific evidence could establish is the common descent of living organisms. But that’s not macroevolution. Macroevolution requires more than a common ancestry for living organisms: it requires a natural mechanism which can generate the diversity of life-forms we see on Earth today from a common stock, without the need for any direction by an Intelligent Agent. But the mechanism is precisely what we don’t have evidence for. So the question remains: why should we believe in macroevolution?
The decline of academic freedom
Given the massive uncertainty about the “how” of macroevolution among scientists working in the field, you might think that a wide variety of views would be tolerated in the scientific arena – including the view that there is no such process as macroevolution. However, you would be sadly mistaken. As Professor Tour notes in his online article on evolution and creation, an alarming academic trend has emerged in recent years: a growing intolerance of dissent from Darwinism. This trend is so pronounced that Professor Tour now advises his students not to voice their doubts about Darwinism in public, if they want a successful career:
In the last few years I have seen a saddening progression at several institutions. I have witnessed unfair treatment upon scientists that do not accept macroevolutionary arguments and for their having signed the above-referenced statement regarding the examination of Darwinism. (I will comment no further regarding the specifics of the actions taken upon the skeptics; I love and honor my colleagues too much for that.) I never thought that science would have evolved like this. I deeply value the academy; teaching, professing and research in the university are my privileges and joys…
But my recent advice to my graduate students has been direct and revealing: If you disagree with Darwinian Theory, keep it to yourselves if you value your careers, unless, of course, youre one of those champions for proclamation; I know that that fire exists in some, so be ready for lead-ridden limbs. But if the scientific community has taken these shots at senior faculty, it will not be comfortable for the young non-conformist. When the power-holders permit no contrary discussion, can a vibrant academy be maintained? Is there a University (unity in diversity)? For the United States, I pray that the scientific community and the National Academy in particular will investigate the disenfranchisement that is manifest upon some of their own, and thereby address the inequity.
It remains to be seen if other countries will allow their young scientists to think freely about the origin of life, and of the various species of organisms that we find on Earth today. What I will say, though, is that countries which restrict academic freedom will eventually be overtaken by countries which allow it to prosper. There is still time for America and Europe to throw off the dead hand of Darwinism in academic circles, and let their young people breathe the unaccustomed air of free speech once again.
I read or heard someplace that the “lyin’ king” was doing an intro to the series so based on that, I tuned out immediately and never gave it another thougt. If he did, he must have done it on tape so as not to interfere with his never ending vaca.
I watched a while and went to sleep. Lots of fancy graphics, but not much substance.
I was irritated at the revisionist history regarding the Catholic Church. The show claims that helio-centrism is against Scripture and contradicts the Bible. That is simply false. Geo-centrism is not in the Bible and the Catholic Church has never made that claim.
Most people who know me consider me to be the most knowledgeable astronomer they’ve ever met, and they express confusion when they find out that I rarely watch astronomy based educational TV.
I usually say “if I have to look at another artists rendering of a black hole I might have to scream!” I did like the old “Project Universe” from Coast Community College, and others like it. But Cosmos is a very dim bulb in comparison.
Loved the fact that they played the original series in completion before hand. I had to laugh when Sagan talked about the new technology — computers. Looking back he was spot on. This was well before the personal computer, the Internet, cable TV, cell phones, etc. etc. We have certainly come a long way in 30 years. And maybe not for the better.
Another excellent series from the late 70s early 80s: Connections with James Burke. I first watched both Connections and Cosmos on my black and white rabbit ear TV. Lol.
Good for new recruits, though.
The future is entropy. Let them start with an explanation of that. They might even figure out global warming eh cooling eh universal cooling
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an extraordinary individual. His greatest strength is in communicating complex ideas and making them more accessible to people without a scientific background.
That being said, his primary defect is that he’s a bore. A motormouth that won’t shut up, and it leads him to areas outside of his expertise. I admire the gentleman, but I have seen him live and on video, and invariably he sucks the air out of the room. This is most obvious when he is part of a panel and despite being one of four panelists, he takes up much more than 25% of the talk time. Even his co panelists seem unappreciative of his selfishness.
I watched it. Fortunately, I missed the first few minutes with Bozo.
I found the segment about Bruno and the Church to be irrelevant, tiresome, and far too long. It was obviously out of place and contrived.
It also was a bit ironic, considering how anyone who questions the orthodoxy of AGW is treated by the supposed enlightened ones.
The rest of the program wasn’t all that bad. There isn’t much on TV on Sunday nights worth watching and they did a pretty good job of illustrating the immensity of the universe and the structure of the solar system. I’ll probably watch another episode or two to see how it shakes out.
I didn’t watch for one reason despite my love of this sort of thing. I didn’t watch because of this video of the show makers gleefully insulting Christians and conservatives, “Squirrel eating reactionary homophobes”.
I don’t have a problem with scientists believing something different, I have a problem with scientists who go out of their way to be as insulting as possible.
I prefer Michio Kaku to most of them.
I like him a lot, too.
I did watch it last night, but I tuned in 2 minutes into it, so I completely missed Obozo’s introduction. Oh...what a pity. (/s)
I was impressed with the CGI...but that was about it. I took absolutely everything said by Dr. Tyson with a massive grain of salt.
There was one other thing that I found interesting...that Dr. Sagan actually met Neil Tyson when Tyson was a teenager. Before this, I thought Dr. Tyson had no connection to Sagan at all.
Will I watch next week? Probably. It’s not going to change my belief in God and His creation and design for the Universe. However, I am curious as to what atheistic drivel will be put forth as “science fact”.
I like Kaku because he isn’t openly insulting and actually acknowledges the genesis of the Big Bang theory with a Vatican astronomer.
I’ve heard him call the big bang, “the point where religion and theoretical science converge”. He points out that its no less mystical to believe that everything came from nothing than it is for Christians to believe that God created everything from nothing.
Finally I too was struck by host Neil deGrasse Tyson listing the "set of rules" science should follow. But I immediately had a different thought on how it applies today: Climate change and "global warming."
Scientists who express skepticism in the party line that man-made CO2 emissions are causing changes in climate are routinely ignored, shouted down, and denied forums to present their evidence, some of which completely contradicts that of "scientists" such as Michael Mann or James Hanson. Opinions supporting the "deniers" are excluded from major newspapers and those scientists with impeccable credentials who question the "party line" (an apt expression as also it is the official position of the Democrats and one-world socialists in our government) are prevented from presenting those views in media interviews or on the Sunday talk shows
I watched the whoel thing. A total bore and I won’t watcht he res tof the series.
It was pretty weak otherwise.
I was explaining to my wife about how the colors for the nebulas were enhanced. That was was being shown wasn't in the visible spectrum. She was admiring the pretty pinks and blues. :)
It also inspired me to explain to her the stellar fusion reaction and the famous E=mc^2 and why the sun will burn for billions of years because it is converting matter to energy.
Interesting that most of the original series covered a lot of what we take for granted today, ie, black holes and solar mass and the higher atomic weight elements and how they are produced.
Sagan, for all of his faults, mainstreamed science and inspired a lot kids.
Degrassi has a big problem with Christians in the upper levels of science. He’s really sickening, spiteful and rather trite in person.
In his world it’s either “my way or the highway”.
When at a conference he was really ripping people of faith as though it was a personal insult to him.
I love Connections and The Day The Universe Changed.
I listened to some Cosmos. It didn’t do much for me either way. I miss Carl Sagan’s “billions and billions” that was parodied by others.