Neil deGrasse Tyson Tells Bill Moyers Why Faith and Reason are Irreconcilable
In a multi-part series with the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Moyers explored a variety of topics, including the nature of an expanding, accelerating universe (and how it might end), the difference between “dark energy” and “dark matter,” the concept of God in cosmology and why science matters. “Science is an enterprise that should be cherished as an activity of the free human mind,” Tyson tells Bill. “Because it transforms who we are, how we live, and it gives us an understanding of our place in the universe.
The following is video of Moyers' two-part interview with Tyson, with full transcripts of the video appearing below:
Bill Moyers: Welcome. It's been almost 35 years since PBS premiered one of its most successful series of all time: Carl Sagan's “Cosmos.” Many of you may remember, as I do, his elegant exposition of the universe.
Over 600 hundred million people in more than 60 countries have now watched "Cosmos." But in the decades since, the universe has kept moving – literally, moving in every direction — and so has science. And that’s why “Cosmos” is returning this spring, this time on National Geographic Channel and Fox TV.
Our guide is the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, America’s most popular scientist, the unabashed defender of knowledge over superstition and clearly the rightful heir to Carl Sagan's curiosity and charisma. So fasten your seatbelt for a whole new interstellar journey through tens of millions of years and hundreds of millions of miles to the farthest reaches of outer space.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederic P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York, where he narrates a breathtaking new show titled “Dark Universe.” I took my 12-year-old grandson to see it over the holidays and we were mesmerized. Imagine: trillions of stars, a hundred billion galaxies and light traveling a hundred million years before reaching us here on earth.
That very planetarium, by the way, is where Neil deGrasse Tyson, a kid from the Bronx, age 9, first felt the universe subpoena him to become a scientist in thrall to the night sky. He’s written ten books including this memoir: “The Sky is Not the Limit” and this, his most recent: “Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.” Oh, yes, I almost forgot – "People" Magazine once voted him the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive! Welcome.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: That was a few years ago, actually.
BM: You only got it once.
NDT: I know.
BM: So no bragging rights, right? But you clearly got more of the star stuff that Carl Sagan said we're all made of. You just got more of it than we did.
NDT: Well, yeah, I've been touched by the stars perhaps more frequently than others.
BM: But you were just nine?
NDT: Nine, nine years old. A family trip. My parents, we were all native New Yorkers and my parents knew well the value of all of the cultural institutions of New York City. We went every weekend to one or another of these institutions, if not the zoo, the art museum, the many art museums, the Hall of Science.
And our first visit to the Hayden Planetarium for me — by the way, I would ultimately go as a school trip. But for family, I go there and I sit back and I'm certain — I love that where you said I was subpoenaed by the universe. I think I had no choice in the matter. I think the universe called me. Because when the lights dimmed and the stars came out when I was nine, I'd never seen a sky like that in my life.