Belief

Neil deGrasse Tyson Sends Right-Wing Flagship Newspaper Into Tizzy Over Evolution and Climate Change

Washington Times contributor finds it frustrating that scientists don't default to God.

Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

The Washington Times' Rusty Humphries says he loves science, but only if that science includes his creator of choice. Moreover, his love for science doesn't extend to accepted scientific theory, the television show "Cosmos," and its host Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Humphries took to ​the paper​ to espouse his support for "theistic-based science,"—you know, the kind that eschews and supplants evidence and research with “God did that!”

Humphries complains:

“In the first episode, the first half of the show was cool. It dealt with how BIG the universe is. It’s hard to argue with that! But then, it was confidently declared that all this wonderment above us began with a big bang. All matter, trillions upon trillions upon trillions of planets and stars, were formed from a point no bigger than a single atom.”

Tyson did confidently declare that the universe started with the Big Bang because the evidence pointing to the existence of the event is overwhelming. And Tyson's not alone; you'd be hard pressed to find any real physicists who refute the theory. Yes, there are a few outliers out there still looking at other models to explain the origins of the universe, but the Big Bang is still the prevailing paradigm accepted by over 99% of the community. 

Humphries continues his willful ignorance:

“[…] Using physicists' own definition of the scientific method, when was the last time you observed an explosion creating order, much less something so perfect?”

This is a typical creationist "logic" trap, demanding eyewitness accounts of events that could not have been witnessed. Humphries' protest is very much like arguing that you can't prove guilt for a murder that had no witnesses. 

But what is true in our justice system is also true in science: Evidence is much more reliable than eyewitness accounts. Ask any prosecutor: evidence can piece together a better timeline of events than the flawed and conflicting accounts of bystanders and observers.

Humphries extends his attack, targeting atheism, climate change and evolution. But he does not even know where to begin, first claiming, “There really aren’t many true atheists out there. Everyone believes in something.”

Well, obviously, atheism is a belief in something, just not a deity. Someone who believed in nothing would be a nihilist.

 Humphries continues his attack, pivoting toward evolution:

“Evolution breaks every natural law we know — biogenesis, thermodynamics, etc. — and yet science dogmatically clings to it for one reason. Because the only alternative is God.”

Let's break this apart, because it is wrong on so many levels. First, evolution breaks none of the laws listed. Biogenesis is not even remotely broken; this is Humphries displaying his scientific ignorance yet again. And thermodynamics? Really? Can he even explain what he means by this? I assume he is using the tired argument that evolution breaks the second law of thermodynamics, meaning that entropy increases in an isolated system.

But as the Earth is not an isolated system, the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to this argument. Every scientist under the sun has refuted this countless times, yet scientific ignorance reigns supreme among creationists who tout this argument as if they found the golden ticket.

The biggest tell in Humphries' complaint is his claim that “the only alternative is God.” Actually, defaulting to God would be the last scientific alternative. After all, if evolution is ever disproven, God and creationism would not come out on top. Scientists would look elsewhere for new evidence to explain the origins and diversity of life on this planet.

“God did it,” is a cop-out and not based on fact or reason. For someone like Humphries to make this claim, he would first have to prove God exists and explain God’s origins. Humphries likes to claim something cannot come from nothing, yet he won't apply this same logic when speaking of his God.

What Humphries is doing is what all the creationist groups from Answers in Genesis to the Discovery Institute (which claims not to be a creationist group) are doing. They attack Neil deGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos" because of their own insecurities with their faith and how it can be challenged by science.

Humphries closes his argument in the most telling way possible:

 “I’m not against science, I LOVE science! But wise scientists don’t exclude the Creator. They embrace Him.”

Here you realize beyond a reasonable doubt that Humphries actually hates science. He hates it because he openly embraces theology as his explanation for the universe, and because he rejects scientific theories and evidence (and scientists) that do not jibe with his worldview.

Humphries hates science, he hates deGrasse Tyson and he hates "Cosmos" because all three make him feel stupid. He doesn’t watch the show in awe, he watches it in fear—fear that if he learns something that contradicts his beliefs he might be forced to reevaluate his belief system. So instead of approaching science as a way to challenge his beliefs, he attacks it as he sees science as an enemy of his faith.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an easy target for those like Humphries because he puts his faith out there once a week, promoting the magnificent awe of the universe. But instead of explaining the wonders of the universe through fairy tales, Tyson does so through logic.​
Dan Arel is the author of Parenting Without God and blogs at Danthropology. Follow him on Twitter @danarel.