I couldn’t keep watching Cosmos

My buddy told me I had to watch Cosmos, the new science TV series that’s a follow up to Carl Sagan’s 1980 TV series of the same name. I recently watched the pilot episode and I knew I couldn’t enjoy it any longer. I prefer the softness and the joy of Planet Earth.

I really like some of the ideas, some of the imagery, and I love learning—so I was looking forward to the TV series. I didn’t think it would be perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be so godless! Of course, I didn’t expect it to be evangelical or something, but it was so passively hostile toward faith at all, I could barely stomach it. Apparently Neil deGrasse Tyson is a hardcore atheist (I actually didn’t know who he was or that he was so religiously atheistic until my friend told me), but I could tell how aggressively he disdained those with faith. This quotation was unfortunately confirming of my suspicion: “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on…”

The pilot episode features a basic summary of the history of the universe both in terms of space and time. In the middle of the show, Tyson makes Giordano Bruno a martyr to science. While acknowledging he is a man of faith, it seems to me like he was highlighting a dark age in the church’s history in order to elevate his point that those who rely on faith for any sort of explanation are weaker than the rest of us. I suppose to Tyson, God is dead. But I think Nietzsche was wrong, and I prefer Kiekegaard’s existential leap of faith.

Tyson makes the point that the only way to go on his odyssey is to agree with the premise that the scientific method is the perfect way to find truth, and that we need to question everything in order to find the real truth. I like asking questions, but I don’t think he would take so kindly of me questioning his method to begin with. If we keep using the same method to get test the truth, we might be questioning the wrong things.

The material he is trying to wrestle with is too humungous for human understanding, according to him. To envision the infiniteness of the universe and then to suppose that a multiverse exists proves this, right? He makes it seem like space is too hard to understand, but time is even a greater mystery. He tries to explain the history of the universe by representing it in a calendar year (what Carl Sagan calls a cosmic calendar)—the part that rubbed me the wrong way, of course, is when he lists Jesus being born five seconds ago while listing other religious figures (Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.), and he arrogantly praises the advent of science as occurring .5 seconds ago and explaining everything we’ve just viewed.

I suppose I could’ve tolerate Tyson’s smug arrogance and absolute certainty if he didn’t take shots at people who think differently than him seemingly every other second. If he just didn’t overly praise his method, while also devaluing mine, I might have been able to enjoy the show a little more. It just kept smacking me in the face every time I tried to give it a chance.

When he explains the great mysteries of science (where the matter came from for the big bang or how life itself began), a little humility and less artificial certainty would go a long way. For one, thing, its bad evangelism. I suppose if he wants to convert people who worship God to science worshipers, he should be a little nicer. Even Bill Nye was more respectful to those with faith when he debated Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. A little courtesy goes a long way.

I understand that Christians haven’t always been so courteous (burning Bruno at the stake, for example), but we’ve also been radical examples of faith and have done a remarkable amount of good in the world. It would be nice to be considered thoughtful, as opposed to fools, and not to be pitted against another group of people. Subdividing people is foolish anyway, but causing a fight between two people that didn’t need to have one is even worse. I’m not even sure I disagree much with Tyson’s approach and his thoughts. But it kept feeling like a lecture about vegetables from a holier-than-thou vegetarian–can’t I enjoy vegetables and still eat meat? Can’t I learn about the universe, supposedly from an expert, without my faith also being questioned? A little less arrogance and a little more gentleness might cause me to tune in next week.

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