This year the National Geographic TV channel has released the new Cosmos series. The series is hosted by well known astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. I would like to comment on this new Cosmos series and on the views of Dr. Tyson. I will not go into a lot of detail on particular episodes of the series. I would rather just give my overall impression of the entire series. The Answers in Genesis website and Creation.com have had various articles answering specific problems with origins concepts in the Cosmos series. In general I think the main point is that though the new Cosmos series is beautifully done in terms of the graphics and video effects, and Dr. Tyson is very talented in explaining scientific concepts, that does not make the series right about our origins.
There are aspects of the new Cosmos series that are very good and which I think Christians would benefit from watching. Some of the series deals more with explaining scientific concepts, such as about the atom, and how the application of a scientific idea makes a difference in how people live. Another aspect I really enjoyed are the historical parts dealing with how certain scientific discoveries were made and how it made a difference to people in history. There is lot of this in the series and this is very worthwhile. One of the best examples on this is where it tells how it was discovered that lead in gasoline polluted the environment and caused health problems for people. This is why gasoline was changed to be “unleaded,” though the oil industry resisted the change. The story of this and the scientist behind it is something I was not aware of and it is something people should be aware of. There are ways our scientific knowledge have a practical relevance to our daily lives and today people don’t realize this enough.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who hosts the Cosmos series, is a very accomplished spokesman for science. He attended Harvard as an undergraduate, and did graduate study at the University of Texas at Austin, and Columbia University. He also had personal contact with Carl Sagan, who was host of the original Cosmos series. Dr. Tyson has referred to Dr. Sagan as a mentor, or as an inspiration to him. Carl Sagan made a famous statement in the original Cosmos series, to the effect of “the universe is all there is, was, or ever will be.” This has always been a very offensive statement to people of faith. Thus Sagan was very overt and fairly hard-lined in his atheistic views. Dr. Tyson says agnosticism is the term closest to his worldview. I feel a little affinity to Dr. Tyson in that I was once also an agnostic and surprisingly Dr. Tyson and I were born in the same month, in October 1958. But I grew up on a farm in Kansas and he grew up in Manhattan, New York. The new Cosmos series, rather than making an overt statement like “there is no God” instead presents more the idea that “science provides better answers than religion.”
I would say there is an emphasis on the Big Bang and the age of the Earth and universe in the Cosmos series. It also deals with some evolutionary biology and how carbon is important to life. It presents some on the complexity of the cell and transcription (copying) of our DNA but does it without the concept of intelligent design. It mentions that there are some who believe the Earth is around 6,000 years old, and it shows a picture of Bishop James Ussher, who is well known for his estimate of the Earth’s age from many years ago. It mentions the starlight-time problem for the creationist view on the universe also. It deals with radioactivity and how it is used to date materials as well. But it always makes a very simplistic presentation and never presents any complications in the arguments or any challenges that have been brought up by other scientists. Creationists have published many articles and books that show the problems with the simplistic arguments presented in the Cosmos series. Presented so nicely in the program it can seem like it makes sense, but there is important information left out that shoots down the whole idea. Creationist science has become more sophisticated than Tyson appears to imagine it being. The answers from creationist research is a lot of information to wade through and the scientific community merely dismiss it, they do not reject it with real knowledge of what it says.
At the beginning of the program related to comets, it shows a baby in a basket. Tyson then says it’s like humanity awoke all alone with no instructions and no guidance, like a baby being left on a doorstep. Thus humanity has had to grow up figuring out everything by our own wits. This concept is wrong. God did not abandon humanity, like leaving a baby on a doorstep. God was there with humanity in the beginning. It’s actually humanity that abandoned God and not the other way around. But in spite of this, God has a plan of redemption in Christ and he is still there for those who sincerely seek Him. Furthermore, He did not leave us without instruction either. The 66 books in the Bible are His instructions to us. These instructions in the Bible are not really in conflict with science. But if you insist on giving science authority it does not deserve, then that puts science in conflict with the Bible. There are mysteries we haven’t fully explained, so we still have work to do. We still have discoveries yet to be made. But science should have room for more than one worldview, so that people of faith who are in science are not mistreated and discriminated against. If you watch the Cosmos series, be aware there is more to the story and there is always another way to look at the same facts.
One more thing. The universe is not all there ever was because the self-existent Creator existed first. The universe is not all there ever will be either, because it will be recreated by God at the subatomic level. It will be a universe unspoiled by human sin.