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‘Cosmos’: Science isn’t a religion

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”


Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."

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The new version of “Cosmos,” currently airing on Fox and several affiliated TV networks, is a beautifully produced introduction to the world of science, from the molecular level on Earth to the outer reaches of space. As such, it has what a few religious groups consider a controversial point of view: that some aspects of science are, at this point, undisputed.

The chief objections have come from creationist groups, which note that our culture hasn’t reached a 100 percent consensus on the subject, and complain that their views aren’t mentioned on the show at all. But they seem to misunderstand what “fairness” means in the context of a scientific program.

In fact, every instance when host Neil deGrasse Tyson emphatically points out that science is clear on a subject — “the theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact,” he says at one point — is a tacit acknowledgment that there are, in fact, other realms in which people view the issues differently. Tyson isn’t an enemy of religion; he has elsewhere acknowledged that plenty of scientists are religious people, who manage to square their deeply held beliefs with deeply researched facts. But he also understands the dangers, to science and society, when the lines between religion and science are blurred — as in Louisiana, where activists are working to repeal a law that allows creationism to be taught in public schools. The scientific process doesn’t require that all theories be given equal weight. Neither does a scientific TV show.

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