Belief

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Is the Lightning Rod for the Major Threat Science Poses to Creationists

Rational thought and evidence are the creationists' biggest enemies.

Photo Credit: Vimeo.com/Screenshot/BillMoyers.com

Public education is a major enemy of creationism and intelligent design. Now the fears of these two camps are culminating around one person, the host of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Intelligent design proponent and conspiracy blogger David Klinghoffer writes on Evolution News, the anti-evolution blog:

“Despite its increasingly undisguised axe-grinding, history-befogging, and faith-baiting excesses, there's no question that the rebooted Cosmos series with Neil deGrasse Tyson will be turning up in classrooms as a 'supplement' to science education.”

Klinghoffer offers no evidence of this, simply that a few teachers posted on Facebook how excited they are about showing their science classes the Cosmos series when it is out on DVD.

It is a safe bet to assume that the popular, critically acclaimed show will turn up in classrooms across the country, and why shouldn’t it? Tyson does a great job of explaining science so that everyone can understand what makes science fun and exciting.

Klinghoffer is off-base to assume this will be a “supplement.” Think back to your days in school and how many times a year you would have a movie day and watch a documentary about a specific thing you were learning. We can safely assume this will be the same case, and that it's unlikely all 13 episodes will be played for students.

Teachers should be excited about the DVD set and how it can aid in teaching such things as the cosmic timeline.

One teacher posted online:

Cosmos will likely soon find its way into the middle school canon, and hopefully the young people of America will find deGrasse Tyson as charming as I do.”

To those like Klinghoffer, this is scary news: the last thing he or any of his colleagues wants are students excited about actual science. They want students excited about their dumbed-down, edited version of science, where instead of science textbooks saying “Biology” on the outside they say “Holy Bible.”

Klinghoffer warns parents, while masking his disdain for science:

“[…] Let me emphasize that I'm not here to condemn any teacher who uses the series in her class. It's not easy getting kids or adults jazzed about science, and doing so is a laudable goal. But parents should probably take an active role in supplementing what their kids learn from a 'supplement' like this.”

What he means to say is parents should erase the actual education their kids receive and replace it with the biblical nonsense of their choosing.

Klinghoffer has already publicly confessed on Evolution News that he pauses Cosmos throughout to explain to his son that Tyson is not often doing science. He even went so far as to claim he won't let his son watch the latest episode, which explains the Noah’s Ark myth. Klinghoffer explains:

“With past installments I had to pause now and then to point out to Ezra where host Neil deGrasse Tyson had stopped talking about science and switched to baiting Christianity. Last night's episode, number 11 of 13, would make that procedure impractical and tiresome.”

What is impractical here is stopping the show at all and explaining your mythology over scientific facts and evidence.

He continues:

“Casey [another blogger] and I were talking about where, with two episodes left and having dropped the initial pretense of a program on science, the Reverend Dr. Tyson will go from here?”

Science has not been dropped from the show. In fact, Tyson was explaining the origins of writing and civilization when he came to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the story that was later plagiarized to tell the Bible’s great flood tale. Though this is more anthropological, it is still science and does a great deal to explain the origins of civilization, as we know it.

Of course, when he cannot beat Tyson in the fact game, Klinghoffer resorts to calling Tyson names. Klinghoffer is fear-mongering, and posting about the dangers of Cosmos in the classroom not because he loves science and feels it is under attack, but because he passionately hates science.

He wants parents up in arms and believing their children’s beliefs will be under attack if they attend a public school, when anyone who has seen even a single episode of Cosmos can see Christianity is only seen as under attack by those who cling to its most ridiculous beliefs.

Creationist groups are even looking to turn their own profit and sell you DVDs to play instead of Cosmos. In a email marketing campaign they tell you their DVD set will explain what Cosmos won’t: “the real origins of the universe.”

Titled The Intelligent Design Collection, the box set concludes there must be design in the universe, and they know this because it looks like there is, despite any and all evidence that there is none.

Creationists and intelligent designers alike struggle with learning life has no divine purpose. If their mythology is deemed untrue, they will be responsible for finding their own purpose, and if we have learned anything from the reaction each week from these camps over Cosmos, it is that they struggle with an inability to think for themselves, and it’s the very last thing they want any of their followers to do.

A freethinker is an enemy to radical religious beliefs. Yet these groups forget that countless religious people accept scientific facts every day, because religion is not an excuse for ignorance.

No well-educated person who accepts events based on facts actually believes in a great flood, because no evidence exists for a great flood. Anyone with a basic science education understands evolution is true, and anyone who can understand what peer-review means and scientific consensus knows climate change is happening.

We may not know what Tyson and the writers of Cosmos have ahead for us in the remaining episodes of Cosmos, but what we can know is that the lessons will be scientifically sound and based in rational thought and evidence.

Yet we can also rest assured that creationists around the world will take issue with anything Tyson says, because the biggest enemies of a creationist’s beliefs are rational thought and evidence.

Dan Arel is the author of Parenting Without God and blogs at Danthropology. Follow him on Twitter @danarel.