Cosmos a Christian Review


I haven’t seen Cosmos.

Yet…

Okay, my defence is this. I loved the original? But I cannot watch it in India. I have a download limit of 8 GB a top up and that I ration out into phone calls with Hera and blog posts and the occasional Youtube Video. In short? I cannot see it till I go home. My parents are recording it for me.

But it’s nice to see reviews. Even Christian Ones.

Say you’re reading this at your computer, and there’s a warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie on a plate beside you. Nice, right? But how would you say that cookie came to be?

Some might talk about the flour and milk and sugar inside each one, mixed just so. They would probably mention the baking it underwent in an oven at a precise temperature for a set time. That is how that cookie came to be, they might say. And they would, of course, be right.

Others might simply say, “My Aunt Edna made them for me.” Or my daughter or husband or someone else who had been so kind. And they would also be right.

Basically?

Christian Creationists don’t quite like Cosmos. It is the shot to the liver. A believed strong suit of creationist arguments was to conflate cosmology with evolution. Tyson’s work and a throwback to Carl Sagan crushes them.

At its core? Creationists hate the show because not once has it brought up the notion that a magic dude called Jehovah did it. I am sure there are Muslim Creationists shaking their fists at this but the dialogue of creationism is exclusively dominated by Christianity.

To these people the fact that the Universe can be compared to a cookie is astonishing because it means that they simply haven’t grasped the point of the show.

At no point has there ever been a maker of the Universe in our constant search for understanding of it.

This is a rather absurd rewrite of Paley’s Watch.

But in the midst of this journey, audiences are given a litany of scientific “facts” that sidestep the idea of a Creator and will exclude Creationists. Evolution and an almost infinitely ancient universe is a given

I missed that “Discovery of Jehovah” event that invalidated all of Biology. Who got the Nobel Prize for that one!

These aren’t givens. These are provens. I am sure your audience will guffaw at the thought of a universe older than 6000 years or whatever much smaller time scale you think we live on but the reality and evidence points away from all that. And indeed Evolution is a rather minor blip on the whole Universe.

We know it occurs on one small planet in the Solar System. We know it should be found elsewhere but due to the fact we cannot travel in our Universe bar the relatively small area around our Planet and Solar System we don’t know if it exists elsewhere and where it does. But for the time being we are the only planet, in the solar system among billions in this galaxy let alone other galaxies  that we know has life. To the creationist? That means the entire universe exists solely for the sake of this one pale blue dot and that we should pray to their particular god of choice or else  suffer the consequences. The review fails to mention the historical tortures visited on those who thought outside the line of creationist thought.

For the scientist? We wonder why we are alive and where else could life be found. It is not a fantasy to think about aliens but an educated guess.

Tyson dives into the history of Giordano Bruno—a Catholic friar who had the audacity to suggest that the sun was just an ordinary star and that the universe was infinite. We’re told that that theory threw him into conflict with the era’s “thought police,” the Catholic Church, and that he was eventually burned at the stake for heresy.

But Corey S. Powell, writing for the science publication Discover, enumerates several instances where Cosmos misleads its viewers on Bruno’s story, whose list of heresies apparently goes well past just scientific musings (most of which had, incidentally, already been voiced without the Church bringing out the torches). As David Sessions at The Daily Beast points out, “What Cosmosdoesn’t mention is that Bruno’s conflict with the Catholic Church was theological, not scientific, even if it did involve his wild—and occasionally correct—guesses about the universe.”

Except the nature of the Cosmos was considered a theological study rather than a scientific one. Galileo also was silenced on the notion of “Theology” too. These men were accused of dragging the divine heavenly bodies into the mundane.

I fear they did the opposite. The elevated objects of superstition into the realm of knowledge. Christian apologists furiously attempt to rewrite this silencing of thought as a blasphemous event of theological debate rather than the reality. Bruno died because he made claims contrary to the party line of the Church. He died for thinking differently. He may have been wrong about a lot of things, but he was at his core doubtful of a suspect world view of magic dictating the function of the planet.

Cosmos certainly likes its edgy outsiders—those willing to question conventional wisdom and the “thought police.” But maybe now it’s the one squelching the free flow of ideas. “I was struck in the first episode where [Tyson] talked about science and how, you know, all ideas are discussed, you know, everything is up for discussion,” said former college professor Danny Faulkner on The Janet Mefford Show. (Faulkner taught astronomy for more than 25 years at the University of South Carolina Lancaster before he joined Answers in Genesis.) “It’s all on the table—and I thought to myself, ‘No, consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem.'”

Because Creationism is unproven, unscientific and requires the whole of human history, geology, biology and astronomy to be declared bunk to succeed as a world view and frankly that’s not going to happen.

Danny Faulkner is not an edgy outsider any more than Mike Adams is one. Both are unscientific people who utilise whatever platform they have to flog an incorrect, biased and faulty world view.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it, all right?” he adds. “I guess you can decide whether or not to believe in it, but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

Replace the word science with the word God, and it sounds very much like something a Christian might say to an unbelieving associate, does it not?

Ah an attempt to portray religion as an equal to science. Or as science as an equal to religion. I am afraid Tyson is right here.

See if you don’t believe in gravity, you won’t float away. If you don’t believe in evolution, it won’t stop happening. If you don’t believe in nuclear fusion the sun will not cease to function. The world does not change how it functions when you believe in a god.

As for your religion?

You pray to your gods to cure leprosy.

I will stick to Dapsone.

Put it this way. I have cured more lepers than Jesus did in that piece of fan fiction we call the Bible. And that was written by his fan boys.

Science!

Comments

  1. Bruce Martin says

    Thanks for explaining to us about the concept of dapsone in the treatment of leprosy. Now I can show the structure to my chemistry students, as a molecule whose shape is completely understandable.
    Of course, as my college is in the USA, I wouldn’t dare add in the fact that this chemical is likely to be more effective than using one bird to spread the blood of a second bird around a house to treat it for leprosy. It just doesn’t do to bring up the bible for non-reverential purposes, even at a state funded public college. That would be asking for trouble. But at least I can hint at it by covering the orbital hybridization at the sulfur atom. Thanks again for helping to connect the chemical nature of the world with human concerns.
    Maybe someday there can be a version of Cosmos for bringing chemical understanding into people’s lives, and this can be part of it.

  2. Myoo says

    Say you’re reading this at your computer, and there’s a warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie on a plate beside you. Nice, right? But how would you say that cookie came to be?

    Well, if you want to make a chocolate chip cookie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

  3. had3 says

    Substitute rock for cookie and it’s still the identical argument for the creationists, although they wouldn’t attribute a creator to the rock as they would to the cookie. Therein lies the problem with their attempt at science, there’s nothing that’s demonstrable as being “not-created.”

  4. Holms says

    Say you’re reading this at your computer, and there’s a warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie on a plate beside you. Nice, right? But how would you say that cookie came to be?

    [1]Some might talk about the flour and milk and sugar inside each one, mixed just so. They would probably mention the baking it underwent in an oven at a precise temperature for a set time. That is how that cookie came to be, they might say. And they would, of course, be right.

    [2]Others might simply say, “My Aunt Edna made them for me.” Or my daughter or husband or someone else who had been so kind. And they would also be right.

    Any yet what the author completely ignores is: which of those explanations allows a person to make their own cookie? [1] gives us a mechanism to follow and potentially experiment with, giving rise not only to chocolate chip, but also any other variety of cookie. [2] is a mere declaration that the thing exists because it exists, with no mechanism to explore.

    Thus, which methodology do we use and teach? Declarations of ‘Aunt Edna god made the cookie universe / Earth / life / etc.’ or a mechanistic explanation which has the advantage of actually being useful.

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