Explore the New Cosmos
Astronomer Carl Sagan headed an effort to educate the masses about the world and universe in which we live. He did this through speeches, his hit TV series Cosmos, and through personal interaction with individuals such as a young Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Now the boy Tyson, who has grown to renoun himself, has joined with those who partnered with Sagan on Cosmos to produce a new Cosmos. More has been learned about the Earth and cosmos since the end of the old series than was known before it. This new TV series is literally built on the foundation of the old, with the same writers and style as the old, but with a new host, new science, new special effects and new cultural barriers to its message.
In the first episode, Tyson tells the story of the vision of Giordano Bruno, an Italian religious philosopher and controversial figure who aroused the ire of the Catholic Church of his day and was burned at the stake for it. I should note in all fairness that it was a much more self-centered and closed-minded Catholic Church in those days than the one of today. In fact, few know that the Catholic Church maintains its own scientific labs and research groups.
Some have criticized Tyson’s rendering of Bruno, and perhaps that needs to be looked at more closely (seriously, it’s easy enough for anyone to research), but the message in that segment of the program is important. Is there still a credible conflict between science and religion? I claim there is not, that it is a manufactured debate between the more closed-minded and arrogant atheists and theologians among us, sealed in a box arguing with each other.
What some have claimed loudly to be a minority view, that science and religion are compatible with one and other and that a skeptical scientist cannot also be a person of faith, turns out to be in the majority. We just need to shout our views more loudly. This first episode of the new Cosmos seems to have roused a discussion on this topic. This is healthy and necessary to get out of the way. Too many otherwise smart and influential people, who could accomplish so much more for the expansion of human knowledge, are wasting publicity on these hopelessly polarized and discredited positions. The scientists on one side of the debate could instead be teaching the people the importance of math and science for their futures. The theologians should spend their time teaching morality, which really is what the stories in scriptures are truly about. Those topics have become very badly needed by our culture today.
There were other messages, but I’m out of time. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed several parts of it a lot. I can’t wait for the next episode.
The legacy of Carl Sagan, and of Dr. Tyson for that matter, is to educate. So let’s join with them to educate the thinkers and the non-thinkers alike. Then we really need to persuade more of them to think.