Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which is hosted by the nation’s friendliest astrophysicist Neill de Grasse Tyson, premiered in early March as a reboot of the 34-year-old family-friendly program Cosmos: A Personal Voyage hosted by renowned, celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan. This time around, the fourteen-episode series will explore how the laws of nature were discovered and how we find our coordinates in space and time. The series is being broadcast in more than seventy nations, the largest broadcast ever for a television series. However, Creationists and other religiously-minded individuals in the audience are not mixing with the point of view quietly.
Sagan passed away in 1996, but the enthusiasm he offered often asked esoteric questions like, Why are we here? Where did we come from? Is there anyone else out there?, continue to be popular inquiries. The original series was the recipient of both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. Since it first aired, it has retained its large audience, being one of the most watched series ever in history, seen by over 500 million people. When Sagan brought outer space into the living room in 1980, the show’s aim had a similar vision as the current series, which is to highlight a wide range of scientific topics, including a perspective of humans’ place in the universe and the origin of life, which is inarguably exclusively presented in the series as evolution.
Naturally, those who believe the universe was created by an omnipotent being in the blink of an eye, or, ok, perhaps seven days, have a big caveat with the show. They feel their faith-based perspective deserves equal air time. They are actually demanding it. Seems like ol’ oil and water continue not to mix, leaving Cosmos and Creations at odds.
What Creationists fail to comprehend is that Fox can do what it wants. Cosmos does not have a political agenda, and even if it did, Fox can present or not present any side of the discussion it chooses. While being stuck in a debate about how the population came into existence, those opposing the shows perspective are missing out on a dynamic discourse on the unfathomable awesomeness of the universe and how the sheer wonder of inquisitive and formative scientists have led to unthinkable discoveries that continue to expand the mind.
The show is about observation. Not story-telling, not faith. Discussing the debate on CNN before the first episode aired, Tyson remarked that because of “science says,” we shouldn’t have to have both sides of the debate. Later, while interviewed by Stephen Colbert, Tyson alighted to fact that trying to be fair and balanced, like by including Creationism with the telling of our existence’s history, would be a waste of time.
“When different experiences give you the same result, it is no longer subject to your opinion. That’s the good thing about it. It’s true whether you believe it or not,” Tyson later embellished. “We live in a country that guarantees free speech, but it is not a country that guarantees that anything you say is correct.” Tyson’s stance is that “once a scientific truth emerges from a consensus of experiments and observations, it is the way of the world.”
In Tyson’s ideal universe, science would get as much media coverage as religion. Religionists may continue to fight their anti-secular battles, but the predominance of the fool-safe discoveries of scientific observations may not allow their voices to out yell the textbook. Perhaps, if scientific discoveries were more widely available and showcased in today’s mass media, the reality of the facts may not be as shocking or threatening. Cosmos is definitely not trying to threaten the population; it’s attempt is to synthesize what scientists know with general knowledge. A spring mixer may never see Cosmos and Creationists slow dancing to What a Wonderful World, but historically, is it not the most compelling romances that come from different sides of the track, or is it the most disastrous ones?
Opinion by Stacy Feder