Some creationists are upset that they’re not getting mention on the series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Last night, they finally got some mention, and they probably weren’t happy about it.
For the uninitiated, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a reprise of the classic 80’s Cosmos series from Carl Sagan. Written in large part by the late Carl Sagan’s former wife, Ann Duryan, the series attempts to capture the wonder and awe of nothing less than our physical reality. The goal is to rekindle excitement for science in the public imagination.
The show’s host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who once met with Carl Sagan as a young man, has done a brilliant job of narrating the series. It’s producer, Seth McFarlane has also contributed his genius to the project. Between Duryan, Tyson, and McFarlane, Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey is perhaps even more compelling, uplifting, and dare we say —spiritual than the original.
The show’s genius is that it makes seemingly complex scientific understandings, such as knowledge about natural selection and evolution, appear quite simple because in reality, these are very simple mechanisms by which the universe and nature work.
Yet these simple explanations have creationists frustrated. How dare Neil deGrasse Tyson put forward the scientific theory of evolution without at least giving creationism equal mention!
During last night’s episode, Tyson spoke briefly about the use of “God” and the Bible to explain the universe. Tyson explained that centuries ago, without the benefit of methods and tools we have today, people did their best to make sense of the universe. Part of that effort was to develop mythologies, which became virtual facts for the people living in those times. In other words, God(s) made sense and provided the most reasonable explanation for the universe and the natural order of things.
We cannot fault people of yore for believing in deities because they simply didn’t know better.
Today however, there is no excuse. Tyson made clear that the laws of motion and gravity as mathematically calculated by Sir Issac Newton were sufficient to explain the natural world without any further resort to “watchmakers” (a reference to divine creators).
There’s your mention, creationists.
In the United States, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that the process of democratic thought and decision making applies to everything, including science. Just as voters get a choice of at least two candidates in an election, they should also be given a choice between two opposing views of creation. This is only “fair.”
Except that’s not how science works.
Science is not a democracy. In fact, science isn’t even political, so political analogies fail. Instead, science is a process by which we ask questions, find answers, and can make predictions about the future. Science is a method, not a philosophy or a worldview. Science is independent, loyal only to the truth of reality and even when some try to bend it to their personal beliefs, science defies all.
Science is the only method by which we can determine fundamental facts with a great degree of reliability. Repeated testing, performed via logical experimentation, shared and verified by others, and agreed upon by nearly all, gives us truth.
When enough truths are bundled together we get theories. Note that a theory outranks a truth because a theory is made of truths just like a strong cable is made of interwoven wires.
We rely on science every day. Science is what gives us the technology around us. The computer or smart device you’re reading this on uses science to operate. The medicine that heals you is also grounded in science. The antibiotics that protect you from disease is a direct product of our scientific understanding of Darwinian evolution.
If you don’t believe in science, as some creationists say, then perhaps you should eschew vaccinations, electricity, and other modern conveniences.
Science is not part of a duality. There is no such thing as science vs. creationism or anything else. That’s why creationists don’t get equal time with their myth-based hypothesis of creation. It simply doesn’t belong in a documentary series about reality. The fact that Cosmos has to even mention creationism is probably one troubling acknowledgement too many.
Creationism relies on “faith” which is by definition belief in that for which there is no evidence. Despite this foundation, plenty of creationists will insist they have evidence for their belief, then spout a series of personal anecdotes, while pointing to gaps in scientific knowledge as proof that God must surely reside there. Never mind the fact those gaps are pretty small and closing.
During an interview with CNN, Tyson had this to say about the whole manufactured equal time controversy.
“I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn’t really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced. You don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.”
Well, there you have it. Creationism isn’t a valid worldview anymore. It’s as ridiculous as flat-Earthism. As a civilization we have simply evolved beyond it. It deserves no special treatment, no reverence or respect. And it certainly doesn’t deserve airtime on a documentary about reality.