New controversy surrounds the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which is a fascinating look at the history of scientific investigation using state-of-the-art special effects and a brilliant team of professionals working to bring the next generation of young people an interest in discovery. The problem that creationists now have, apparently, is that they are not getting equal time.
Last week, Danny Faulkner of Answers in Genesis appeared on television with Janet Mefferd to argue his case, pleading that there should be a balanced presentation of all points of view. This would work, however, if he was actually talking about science, but creationism is a tautology, a system of understanding limited to itself, because the proof listed for what they believe is nothing more than religious text. Their ideas are not measurable and therefore cannot be called “equal” to scientific evidence. They say this openly, that the root of religion is faith, a belief in something specifically without evidence, so their issue with Darwinian evolution, which has been repeatedly verified across scientific disciplines from genetics to anthropology for over a century without detraction, is just a spurious attempt to speak their opinions.
For creationists to talk about equal time is actually disturbing, being that they spend their time trying to kick science out of schools in favor of religious morality, which may have developed with faith as a vehicle for the comprehension of what is bigger than humanity, but long since has become a simple matter of socio-political ethics.
The creationist argument is even trying to hijack the concept of intelligent design, despite the proponents of that belief, who postulate that the notion of irreducible complexity is proof that there must be a watch-maker to the design of the natural world. This is viewed as a fringe attempt at theistic science, however, and the entire heart of their argument is entirely subjective. What an individual might perceive in biology as being “too complicated” to have arisen over billions of years is not an objective conclusion, therefore the foundation of what they say could not have evolved through adaptive mutation points to their ignorance about the exaggeration of chaos within living systems and the organisms that develop over time in harmony with them.
Intelligent design has tried to become a staging point for arguments of deism, that science is real but that the fundamental structure of the world is unified with the source of everything and the creator becomes one with the creation, but they still postulate an external interloper and are somehow unconcerned by how creationists twist their viewpoints and point to their diverging thoughts as being “real scientists who do not believe in evolution” in an attempt to provide the excuse for pushing creationism through the back door.
In an era when science and technology, along with basic human morality, will be necessary in solving the world’s problems in reference to clean air, pure water, renewable energy, and sustainable food sources, for anyone to be talking about killing science in favor of the outmoded traditions of the past appear to be insanely attempting to cut humanity off at the knees. Religious hierarchies and domination had their time on earth, and they spent it burning heretics at the stake for providing evidence that the root of their power, the Bible, was far from absolute truth.
US District Judge John Jones III agreed in the 2005 trial between Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in which he stated that intelligent design is not science because it cannot divide itself from a creator, thereby making it a religious theory, and that promoting it as religion violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution, specifically the Establishment Clause that defends the division of church and state.
In the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the producers went out of their way to avoid covering the history between the war with science and religion in which countless intellectuals were viciously tortured before being cooked alive simply for being awake to evidence that cast doubt upon the Biblical codification of reality, therefore calling into question the secular power of the dogmatic church more than any notion about God. The producers of Cosmos even used cartoons and a soft-hearted example of the threat that early scientists in Galileo’s time faced by offering objective observation to those who did not want to hear it. An Oklahoma television station actually cut out a part of the show that mentioned evolution, so when episode two covered genetics and admitted that humanity was partially a relative of earthworms and even mushrooms, they obviously struck a nerve.
The argument that equal time should be given to all points of view is a farce, because in talking about politics no one objectively gives credence to those who believe that September 11 was created by George Bush II as a Gulf of Tonkin incident to motivate America into war, and neither do people refer to those who believe that Barack Obama is lacking an American birth certificate for the exact same reason. Their viewpoints are unfounded, and just as intellectuals do not qualify the statement that the earth is round with ideas that it is flat, the concept of scientifically verifiable evidence over faith takes precedence.
It seems that scientists waste too much time covering the evolution of the eye, or the topic of the rotor-mechanism of bacterial flagellum and how it developed, because all that is required to kill the argument for intelligent design is the human brain itself. As the most complicated system known to exist in the Universe, it is also the only thing that either perceives God if he exists or creates God if he does not, and it should therefore be at the top of everyone’s list for the proof of religion or science. The reason that creationists cannot touch this argument, however, is because science has extensive evidence and a well-recorded step by step evolutionary track from which this specific integrated biology has developed, giving detractors no room to breathe. This is why they attach themselves to aspects of science that have not yet been fully diagrammed, because that window of doubt allows them to slip in the argument for an external God.
The original Emmy and Peabody Award winning Cosmos: A Personal Journey was a 13 part mini-series co-written by Carl Sagan that was broadcast on PBS in 1980 and went on to be seen internationally by half a billion people. The purpose of the first special, as the title suggests, was more about the introduction of science into the popular mindset than the spread of dusty notions that often do not resonate with the daily lives of normal people, however integral these concepts might be to life itself.
The new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey television series is being aired on Sunday nights on Fox, and is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist working at the American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium in New York. Despite the extreme advancement in computer-generated imagery, the purpose is essentially the same, which is the entire reason for the accessibility of its release. The informational design of the program meets with the careful task of delivering theoretical and observed topics to the general public, as most of the data involved is already understood by the scientific community.
With the transition from animated cartoon comedies on Fox to the potentially mind-expanding display of life beyond human experience, the great unifier of this series is to take the inclusivity of the human race and boil it down simplistically. What astronauts of all nations come away with from their experience in outer-space is that humanity is floating on the same beautiful blue orb through the void, and that there is commonality that should be celebrated instead of focusing on differences.
The widespread viewing by young adults could also spur an attachment to science beyond the imagination, as many college-age youths are still looking for a major. To open minds with information is one thing, to ignite the imaginations of the next generation to take up the task of furthering knowledge and expanding the intellectual evolution of the species is something entirely different. Just as popular shows like Star Trek have been applauded by modern scientists as being the light that brought them a calling to their field, likewise to expound upon the past of scientific discovery with the kind of motivation that leads people into a desire to push forward into the future can become a gateway of understanding far beyond the minds that are initially opened by the series.
When critics scoff at the supposed meaningless activities of youth, they have failed to see that kids who grew up with video games have become the pilots of remote-operated vehicles in the military, making their endless hours playing with joysticks into essential hand-eye coordination training for real world applications. In this respect, it must also be noted that playing video games did not corrupt the concept of reality in this generation or their reaction to real violence, and so the overall value of handing scientific information to a relatively young audience of cartoon-watchers is a simple matter of beneficial cause and effect.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is set to break down perceptual barriers across all nations and to dispel the false idea of separation that people focus on with political limitations and territorial concerns. Humanity is a singular unit, as all scientists have tried to point out from the beginning, that their task is nothing less than enlightenment through gathered verifiable fact usually resulting from theories so advanced that mainstream scientists themselves are taken aback. To add another page to the wisdom and history of the entire human race is a journey of courage against the status quo, and so the revelation of the cosmos, like American footprints on the moon, are a landmark of human achievement.
In an interview, host Neil deGrasse Tyson said that if someone does not understand science in the 21st century, they should move back to the caves because it will be where they are left when everyone else moves forward. Either way, as it is known in circles of fame, controversy is just another form of advertising.
By Elijah Stephens