Religious right attacks (gasp!) “Cosmos”

| 233 Comments

I finally watched a tape of the first installment of the new “Cosmos” series the other day. I thought it was a bit overdone and maybe a little slow, and I thought the cartoons were ghastly. (Also, there were gobs of commercials; why oh why is this series not showing on PBS?) Never once did I imagine that anyone would accuse such a completely innocuous television program of being propaganda for materialism. Yet according to a Salon article by Andrew Leonard, the far right has accused the program of being precisely that. Ironic that is showing on the Fox network!

I have not looked at the primary sources, so I will have to take Leonard’s word for it, but they may be right about Giordano Bruno. The conventional wisdom is that Bruno was burned for supporting the heliocentric theory, but the historian Alberto Martinez, in his book Science Secrets, thinks that it may as well have been because of his theological views: doubting that Jesus was born of a virgin and denying that he was actually God. Bruno was, nevertheless, an early and vigorous supporter of the Copernican theory, and only an idiot or a conspiracy theorist (but I repeat myself) would think that Bruno was introduced into the program for nefarious reasons.

Acknowledgment. Thanks to Walter Plywaski for showing me the Salon article.

233 Comments

Apparently the records of Bruno’s trial, including the charges against him, have been lost. So we may never know exactly why he was burned. But we do know there were many charges. I see no reason why he couldn’t have been burned both for his ideas of an infinite universe and his denial of the trinity.

Fashions change in the Church. Copernicus was left alone, Bruno was burned, and Galileo was kept under house arrest, all based on the degree of tolerance of individuals at different times and places, and to a certain extent the personalities of the offenders. That Copernicus was not persecuted is not evidence that Bruno wasn’t burned, at least partly, for rejecting geocentrism.

why oh why is this series not showing on PBS?

I was wondering that myself. Would no PBS station pony up the money? PBS used to be a great source of science television (even if much of it was re-packaged British television). They already promote Wayne Dyer’s nonsense during pledge drives. I hope they haven’t become even more hostile to science education.

As I understand it, the decision to go on Fox had to do with attempting to reach a wider audience. As for the commercials, the first program is available on BitTorrent but it is indicated that it is 44 minutes long. I didn’t watch it but it is my information that it ran for 2 hours. If there was 44 minutes of programming in 2 hours of TV time, it is hardly worth watching. Possibly the file on BitTorrent represents only the first hour, which seems more reasonable.

My undestanding (IANAHistorian) is that Copernicus carefully presented the heliocentric model as only a mathematical trick to get better answers to heavenly movement problems than the Ptolemaic epicycles-within-epicycles model. CMIIW, but I don’t think he ever declared that the Solar System actually WAS heliocentric.

Well there was a scene where the showed Tiktalik crawling up onto the shore, so I guess they just had to object. I think that the second show will be more about the origin of life and evolution, so this is definitely not the end of the complaints.

Copernicus waited till he died before publishing (having others publish it, of course).

Darwin seemed to be going the same route, or perhaps would wait until he was really old. Then Wallace, and it went better for Darwin and Wallace than it did for Galileo.

Glen Davidson

John Harshman said:

Apparently the records of Bruno’s trial, including the charges against him, have been lost. So we may never know exactly why he was burned. But we do know there were many charges. I see no reason why he couldn’t have been burned both for his ideas of an infinite universe and his denial of the trinity.

I think Bruno is a more valid martyr for theological skeptics, heretics, freethinkers, etc. than specifically for scientists. A lot of what he was flirting with – Lucretius, atomism, etc. – was approaching materialism/atheism. So if atheists etc. want to claim him as a martyr to freedom of thought on religious matters I think that would actually be a pretty convincing case. “Martyr for science” is a weaker case, although some of the arguments people have made, e.g. “he was a philosopher not a scientist” are pretty poor – there was no such category as “scientist” back then, scientists were “natural philosophers” and the disciplines were thoroughly mixed.

Fashions change in the Church. Copernicus was left alone, Bruno was burned, and Galileo was kept under house arrest, all based on the degree of tolerance of individuals at different times and places, and to a certain extent the personalities of the offenders. That Copernicus was not persecuted is not evidence that Bruno wasn’t burned, at least partly, for rejecting geocentrism.

Copernicus was a Lutheran safely out of the hands of the geographic range of the Catholic Inquisition, I think, so that one is not really evidence for changing fashions in the Church. I think his key work was also published posthumously and had some rhetoric about theory-not-fact which meant milder reactions than what Galileo got.

It’s all a complex matter, I wish there was an ultra-neutral scorekeeper academic somewhere who could line up all the pro- and anti-science, pro- and anti-religious freedom of conscious, etc. players from the 1500s-1800s and do some statistical analysis to quantify the “religion helped science” vs. “religion hurt science” historical debate once-and-for-all.

Having watched the show last night, I didn’t get the impression that he was killed for any specific views but for heresies in questioning all things the church felt sacrosanct.

A picture of Giordano Bruno’s statue (in Rome!) is at the top of Ed Brayton’s “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” blog at http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/

Bruno was accused of and executed for multiple heresies - his cosmology was not important in his seven year long trial.

Like others, I am shocked that the media arm of the Republican Party, the F-Word Network, would carry a pro-science program.

Copernicus was a Lutheran safely out of the hands of the geographic range of the Catholic Inquisition, I think,

Copernicus was a Catholic cleric.

I suspect that you’re thinking of Kepler, although I don’t recall ever hearing what his denomination was–it makes sense, though.

Glen Davidson

Just checked, Kepler was indeed a Lutheran.

Glen Davidson

SLC said:

As for the commercials, the first program is available on BitTorrent but it is indicated that it is 44 minutes long. I didn’t watch it but it is my information that it ran for 2 hours.

It was only 1 hour on NatGeo, but I’d swear the commercial breaks took up more than 1/4 of the time slot. They were, at any rate, far too frequent and completely ruined the atmosphere they were going for in the show. I have never wanted to physically punch Jeep in the face so hard in my life.

Anyway, one of the attacks against the Bruno segment is this one, which takes great pains not to fill in the missing details of its rebuttal. For example, it attacks the idea that geocentrism was unpopular or almost unknown among people in Bruno’s day by citing a short list of astronomers who WEREN’T burned at the stake. Copernicus, Maestlin, and Kepler weren’t Catholic and some of them had protection due to their courtly positions, Brahe believed in an Earth-centric Universe (just that the other planets revolved around the Sun, which revolved around the Earth, so everything still went around the Earth), Stigliola I don’t know about, Rothmann mostly seems to have argued details about cosmology and motion but I don’t know if he actually set out a heliocentric idea himself. There’s any number of reasons why these people wouldn’t have faced the kind of persecution Bruno did (or why one of them faced such persecution and recanted). It seems to go out of its way to counter the “propaganda” of the Cosmos short with propaganda of its own.

Funny how I seem to have got my wires cross about Copernicus the same way Nick did. Whoops!

I too thought the rather amateurish cartoon portrayal of Bruno was a bit overdone and didn’t tell the whole story.

I think this series is aimed at middle school and high school students; but I don’t know if that accounts for the choice of using comic book caricatures to tell the story.

As to Copernicus; he didn’t want his work published until after he was dead. And Andreas Osiander’s preface to De revolutionibus cautioned that the heavens were not necessarily to be taken as Copernicus was saying. The general positions of both the Protestant and Catholic Churches at the time were that it was okay to portray your models and calculations as if they were true; but you were not to assert that they were actually true.

But the fact remains that the Inquisition was a pretty repressive political force that suppressed ideas by intimidation and death. And Protestants were just as repressive.

Paul Burnett said: Bruno was accused of and executed for multiple heresies - his cosmology was not important in his seven year long trial.

How do you know this?

I’d say that Bruno approached science in several respects. His claims were, though speculative, based in part on observation. He made a physical argument that the universe must be unbounded. His idea that the stars were like the sun, just far away, was a reasonable speculation from the appearances, in itself implied a vastly larger universe, and was an application of the principle of mediocrity. His denial of the ethereal element was another application. In other words, Bruno was in many respects acting like a theoretical physicist.

OK, 16 minutes of commercials out of 1 hour of running time is about par for the course these days. For comparison, The Rockford Files and The Fugitive ran for about 50 minutes in the 1970s and the 1960s respectively with 10 minutes of commercial time.

ksplawn said:

SLC said:

As for the commercials, the first program is available on BitTorrent but it is indicated that it is 44 minutes long. I didn’t watch it but it is my information that it ran for 2 hours.

It was only 1 hour on NatGeo, but I’d swear the commercial breaks took up more than 1/4 of the time slot. They were, at any rate, far too frequent and completely ruined the atmosphere they were going for in the show. I have never wanted to physically punch Jeep in the face so hard in my life.

Anyway, one of the attacks against the Bruno segment is this one, which takes great pains not to fill in the missing details of its rebuttal. For example, it attacks the idea that geocentrism was unpopular or almost unknown among people in Bruno’s day by citing a short list of astronomers who WEREN’T burned at the stake. Copernicus, Maestlin, and Kepler weren’t Catholic and some of them had protection due to their courtly positions, Brahe believed in an Earth-centric Universe (just that the other planets revolved around the Sun, which revolved around the Earth, so everything still went around the Earth), Stigliola I don’t know about, Rothmann mostly seems to have argued details about cosmology and motion but I don’t know if he actually set out a heliocentric idea himself. There’s any number of reasons why these people wouldn’t have faced the kind of persecution Bruno did (or why one of them faced such persecution and recanted). It seems to go out of its way to counter the “propaganda” of the Cosmos short with propaganda of its own.

As I stated on Phil Plait’s blog, Bruno’s proposition that the stars visible in he sky were like the sun and not holes in the firmament could not be tested because the telescope had not yet been invented. They were pretty prescient though.

John Harshman said:

I’d say that Bruno approached science in several respects. His claims were, though speculative, based in part on observation. He made a physical argument that the universe must be unbounded. His idea that the stars were like the sun, just far away, was a reasonable speculation from the appearances, in itself implied a vastly larger universe, and was an application of the principle of mediocrity. His denial of the ethereal element was another application. In other words, Bruno was in many respects acting like a theoretical physicist.

SLC said:

As I stated on Phil Plait’s blog, Bruno’s proposition that the stars visible in he sky were like the sun and not holes in the firmament could not be tested because the telescope had not yet been invented. They were pretty prescient though.

I’m not sure what the telescope had to do with it. How does a telescope show that stars are like the sun? You’d need a very big one to show a disk on even the nearest, largest stars. Perhaps you could resolve a binary and see, over some years, that the two stars were moving with respect to each other? I’d say that spectrographs would be the more important invention, as well as more precise means of determining parallax and/or proper motion. But those don’t seem to rely on telescopes, per se.

John Harshman said: I’m not sure what the telescope had to do with it. How does a telescope show that stars are like the sun? You’d need a very big one to show a disk on even the nearest, largest stars.

Here’s a suggestion. Before telescopes the magnitude of a star what was often called its size (literally). After telescopes it was realized that stars were so small. The before-telescope estimations of sizes of stars were far too big for their being like the Sun.

John Harshman said: In other words, Bruno was in many respects acting like a theoretical physicist.

So Bruno was an ancient representation of Dr. Sheldon Cooper. That would explain the kitschy cartoonishness.

TomS said: Here’s a suggestion. Before telescopes the magnitude of a star what was often called its size (literally). After telescopes it was realized that stars were so small. The before-telescope estimations of sizes of stars were far too big for their being like the Sun.

That was a little confusing. I’m thinking you may mean that the estimates of observed angular size were too big for them to be like the sun if their actual distances had been known. Telescopes might place an upper limit on the observed angular sizes of stars, which would bear on their actual size if you knew their distances or on their distances if you knew their actual sizes. Given that at the time neither was known, I still don’t see how that helps. It still seems to me that the crucial factor is distance, for which we need accurate and high-precision measures of parallax. Given measures of brightness and distance it should then follow that stars are similar to the sun.

I don’t actually know how or when in the history of astronomy it was determined that the stars were suns. Do you? But it seems to me that there are three major clues: knowledge of absolute magnitude, knowledge of stellar motion, and knowledge of stellar spectra. Still don’t see how telescopes come into it, except that they make spectrometry easier.

I don’t actually know how or when in the history of astronomy it was determined that the stars were suns. Do you?

Self-replying, I find on the web that it was 1838, on the basis of the first moderately accurate parallax measurements. Lots of people had supposed so previously, but that was the first hard evidence.

John Harshman said:

In other words, Bruno was in many respects acting like a theoretical physicist.

That makes the Inquisition the experimental physicists. :-)

I’m still trying to fathom the lying liars for Jesus objection to Bruno being burned at the stake for science. Does that mean they are happy with his immolation for his denial of Jesus being God? Well, that’s OK right? Go Neil deGrass Tyson job done!

k.e.. said:

I’m still trying to fathom the lying liars for Jesus objection to Bruno being burned at the stake for science. Does that mean they are happy with his immolation for his denial of Jesus being God? Well, that’s OK right? Go Neil deGrass Tyson job done!

No, they just don’t want him to be a martyr for science. Which, if they’re right and it’s true that his mistreatment and execution had nothing to do with his cosmological views, would be an alright objection. But Tyson specifically said that Bruno’s views were not strictly scientific, and the larger point in Cosmos is that there used to be a time when holding new and/or unpopular ideas could get you killed because they were thought to be the wrong ideas. That kind of environment is absolutely antithetical to science, regardless of whether Bruno makes a good “science martyr” or not.

Bruno’s main heresy, as far as the inquisitors were concerned, was denying that the real substance of Jesus was in the host. It was also considered suspicious that he went on lecture tours of Protestant countries. They were anxious to sniff out Protestantism or anything like it. Like Galileo, the real reason things went so far was that he made himself personally annoying to the wrong people.

Sad to say, I mostly know about Bruno from Yates (her reportage of facts was more reliable than her interpretations), and the odd article here and there. But there has been a lot of good recent work on Bruno I haven’t kept up with.

My objection to the original Cosmos was Sagan’s comic-book level understanding of history (don’t get me started on his gibberish about Pythagoras)–not that I realized it at the time. I’m skipping this iteration.

At no point in the episode is it claimed that Bruno was killed for thinking the Earth orbited the Sun. People hear the name Bruno and have a knee-jerk reaction to the usual false story to the degree that they failed to pay attention to what the show actually claimed. The show does show the priest giving reasons for the death penalty. Those reasons where theological/philosophical.

The discussion about Bruno reminds me of the poor treatment that the original Cosmos gave on the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

Mike Elzinga said: Deities are often used as rationalizations for bad behavior. If enough people are conned into believing what their religious leaders tell them, then it’s okay to behave like a psychopath if the leader asserts that the deity demands it.

As the Milgram (and many others) studies show, this is not a characteristic of religion per se, its true of pretty much any perceived authority. You can get people to behave just as badly by putting on a white lab coat and calling yourself “Doctor,” if you’re in a setting or culture where lab-coated scientists and doctors are respected. Belief in God may cause some people to be perceived as authorities when they otherwise wouldn’t, but once authority has been established, the bad behavior that follows has little to do with the religious nature of that authority and far more to do with general human nature.

NPR has a piece this morning about the new movie Noah, and biblical movies in general. What prompted my comment here was this exchange:

Why so many bible movies in 2014? “It just has to be that God is moving. There’s no other explanation for it,” says Son of God’s producer Mark Burnett.

Yeah, right. And the success of the Thor movies? Why, it has to be that Odin is moving. There’s no other explanation for it. I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the various successes of all the super hero and mega disaster movies of late, all with blockbuster special effects.

God moves in mysterious ways to the box office where money is concerned.

Oh, and the picture on the NPR piece of Noah’s “boat” from the movie? Looks rather like a poorly designed, and even more poorly executed 4 story log house, lashed together. Imagine an externally-braced timber framed box 300 cubits long, held together with lashings, with a really big ramp running the length of the central open atrium, taking up one third of the visible structure. I’m also “impressed” with the bird’s nest of bamboo scaffolding around the outside. You think that 4 guys could 2 foot diameter logs precisely aligned, when they couldn’t do any better with the mere saplings in the scaffold?

I wonder who the “science” adviser was on the film? Even the super hero movies have science advisers.

Noah‘s stirred up the ire of some conservative Christians who suspect [screenwriters] Handel and Aranofsky of using a story about environmental catastrophe to push a liberal message about climate change and conservation. But Handel says, the biblical Noah is a tale essentially about stewardship.

Why so many bible movies in 2014? “It just has to be that God is moving. There’s no other explanation for it,” says Son of God’s producer Mark Burnett.

Yeah, right. And the success of the Thor movies? Why, it has to be that Odin is moving. There’s no other explanation for it. I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the various successes of all the super hero and mega disaster movies of late, all with blockbuster special effects.

Finally, a way to determine who’s real, Jehovah or Odin.

If the movie “Noah” makes less money than the movie “Thor”, that would pretty much prove that it’s Odin. There is no other explanation.

There is also this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God%27[…]d_%28film%29) movie, released recently.

The critical reaction has been at best luke-warm, but that will only stoke the Christian right’s fears of atheist persecution. Atheists are so overwhelmingly powerful, you know. They’ve taken over the courts, the colleges, science, the Presidency, and even the Legislature. The Time of Tribulation is come! Prepare for the final struggle against the Deceiver and his minions!

Oh, and the picture on the NPR piece of Noah’s “boat” from the movie? Looks rather like a poorly designed, and even more poorly executed 4 story log house, lashed together.

Oh no, it was intelligently designed. God (oops) the intelligent designer gave the instructions!

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Ship of the Imagination” is just a Tardis with a fancy makeover. :-)

Scott F said:

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Ship of the Imagination” is just a Tardis with a fancy makeover. :-)

WHO??

But anyway, a Tardis is merely a dimensionally transcendental phone booth.

EPISODE 4 IS ON TONIGHT!!!

Dave Luckett said:

There is also this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God%27[…]d_%28film%29) movie, released recently.

LMAO here’s the Wikipedia plotline: “Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a freshman college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by a dogmatic and argumentative atheist. Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) demands that all of his students must sign a declaration that “God is dead” in order to get a passing grade in that portion of the class.”

HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah… that would past muster in an actual, real American university. I almost want to see this movie, it’s gotta be unintentionally funny… especially with generous libations… :)

Karen S. said:

EPISODE 4 IS ON TONIGHT!!!

What was presented, was presented well. But they missed an opportunity to really expand into the mind-blowing stuff. Also an opportunity to weave live scientists into the narrative - if you’re going to make the point that we might be living in a black hole-like object, then Hawking’s 1997 bet with Preskill and Susskind’s holographic principle solution make for a wonderful narrative.

Still don’t like those cartoons. Sagan’s Cosmos did it so much better with well-done live action sequences, e.g. the segment about Kepler. Avoiding phony English-with-an-accent dialogue was a smart move, too. Now we have cartoon characters WITH unrealistic dialogue.

But they did connect with a body blow to the 6,000-year-old-universe folks and the distant starlight problem with a brief but clever visual of the tiny area of our galaxy that is within the YEC limit.

Hmm… was Herschel pere voiced by Patrick Stewart? Sounds like him.

And yes, the animation blows goats.

So far seems like a pretty good series. Maybe they will do the history of geology, including how we know the age of the earth and things like continental drift. People will have a chance to learn real science and see that religion doesn’t provide answers to scientific questions. Looks like a win win situation once again, just like the Noah movie where people could see both the physical impossibility of the story as well as the utter stupidity and moral depravity of such a god.

John Harshman said:

There’s a creationist on Science League of America who does say that nothing in the universe is more than 10,000 light years from earth and that the stars shine not by fusion but by transmitting the light of the creator.

I’ve heard creationists say that the cosmic microwave background is the “light” created on Day 1.

The theory goes something like this: God created the earth, then said “let there be light” so that Earth could have a day-night cycle. The next few days passed, and then God decided to create the sun and stars and so forth, so he “stretched out the heavens” and filled them with stars and planets and galaxies…this also stretched out the original light across the universe as a perfect blackbody radiation spectrTm that happens to match the one predicted by the Big Bang theory. Convenient, no?

scienceavenger said:

david.starling.macmillan said: …human beings were so hungry that they immediately hunted most of the dinosaurs to extinction.

Uh huh. Hunted a T-Rex did they? With bronze-age weapons? Even larger and carnivorous Spinosaurus? 100 ton Argentinasaurus? That I’d like to see.

Hey, get enough people together and anything is possible, right?

Besides, there are pictures of this!

Mike Elzinga said:

TomS said:

You people who believe that stars are Suns, I have one question: “How you know? Are you there?”

No, but I know some photons that were; and they bring direct knowledge without lying about it. I’ve tested their veracity in thousands of other situations and it has never failed.

But did they die on a cross for your sins?

david.starling.macmillan said:

John Harshman said:

There’s a creationist on Science League of America who does say that nothing in the universe is more than 10,000 light years from earth and that the stars shine not by fusion but by transmitting the light of the creator.

I’ve heard creationists say that the cosmic microwave background is the “light” created on Day 1.

The theory goes something like this: God created the earth, then said “let there be light” so that Earth could have a day-night cycle. The next few days passed, and then God decided to create the sun and stars and so forth, so he “stretched out the heavens” and filled them with stars and planets and galaxies…this also stretched out the original light across the universe as a perfect blackbody radiation spectrTm that happens to match the one predicted by the Big Bang theory. Convenient, no?

It’s always amusing (and telling) how every Creation Science “discovery” is post-hoc handwaving. There’s no predictive power.

Did Creation “Scientists” predict the microwave background radiation prior to its discovery? I’m betting that if they addressed the issue at all, they would have denied its potential existence. Did Creation “Scientists” predict Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto? Or did they deny the possibility of additional planets?

Scott F said:

david.starling.macmillan said:

John Harshman said:

There’s a creationist on Science League of America who does say that nothing in the universe is more than 10,000 light years from earth and that the stars shine not by fusion but by transmitting the light of the creator.

I’ve heard creationists say that the cosmic microwave background is the “light” created on Day 1.

The theory goes something like this: God created the earth, then said “let there be light” so that Earth could have a day-night cycle. The next few days passed, and then God decided to create the sun and stars and so forth, so he “stretched out the heavens” and filled them with stars and planets and galaxies…this also stretched out the original light across the universe as a perfect blackbody radiation spectrum that happens to match the one predicted by the Big Bang theory. Convenient, no?

It’s always amusing (and telling) how every Creation Science “discovery” is post-hoc handwaving. There’s no predictive power.

Or, when there is, it’s so broad that it’s impossible to test in a meaningful way. “My model of magnetic field decay predicts that the magnetic field of Uranus will be less than 100%!” Wow, he was right!

Did Creation “Scientists” predict the microwave background radiation prior to its discovery? I’m betting that if they addressed the issue at all, they would have denied its potential existence.

I recently heard the claim that any universe with expansion from a beginning point would be expected to have a cosmic background. I don’t see why.

Even more recently, AiG’s Faulkner argued that the CMB could be a local background produced by Earth or by the solar system itself. Which seems equally implausible.

Back when I was a full-on YEC, I heard a person argue that the Milky Way was probably only 12,000 or so lightyears across and everything beyond it was just a reflection of some kind. That one really took the cake.

I thought last night’s episode (on light) was excellent. First 15 minutes were a bit slow, but after that there was lots of good content presented in a cool and interesting manner. I could almost feel Tyson’s pain when he said “Newton, nooooo!” :)

david.starling.macmillan said: Back when I was a full-on YEC, I heard a person argue that the Milky Way was probably only 12,000 or so lightyears across and everything beyond it was just a reflection of some kind. That one really took the cake.

George Orwell’s 1984 has take on that. O’Brien says (in Part III, chapter 3):

What are the stars? […] They are bits of fire a few kilometers away.

He makes the argument similar to the “How do you know? Were you there?” And suggests the term, “collective solipsism”.

According to the blurb at the end of the last episode, they will discuss the origin of life in the next episode. There is nothing that gets creationists upset more than that topic. I can’t wait. Between this and the inner fish series they are really taking a beating. If only they would have used their intelligence to search for the truth instead of trying to design some scam.

TomS said:

david.starling.macmillan said: Back when I was a full-on YEC, I heard a person argue that the Milky Way was probably only 12,000 or so lightyears across and everything beyond it was just a reflection of some kind. That one really took the cake.

George Orwell’s 1984 has take on that. O’Brien says (in Part III, chapter 3):

What are the stars? […] They are bits of fire a few kilometers away.

He makes the argument similar to the “How do you know? Were you there?” And suggests the term, “collective solipsism”.

Actually, in a sense, yews we were there. The light from distant stars has traveled for many years to reach the earth. Thus, in a sense, we are directly witnessing events that occurred ma thousands of years ago. Just check out the episode on light and the discovery of the spectral lines a few episodes ago.

In the last episode, Neil explains how the ancient greeks discovered 2500 years ago that the world could be understood in terms of natural processes, no gods were necessary. Floyd still doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

The last episode was about the age of the earth and how we know that it is 4.5 billion years old. Sorry YECs, you are just plain wrong. Deal with it already.

DS said: If only they would have used their intelligence to search for the truth instead of trying to design some scam.

Well but searching for the truth has never been the point. The point has been to get around Engele vs. Vitale, Abingdon vs. Schemp, and all the other court cases that have removed mandatory (or even “opt out”) religious instruction and official prayer from public schools. As I see it, creationism as a political movement (vs. as a personal belief) was pretty much invented in response to public school secularization. When it failed in court, creation science was invented, along with equal time and balanced treatment concepts, so they could try the exact same workaround a second time. Then when all those failed, ID was invented to do the same thing a third time. When ID failed, the anti-secularisation movement settled on the less direct strategy of deregulating education, with the expectation that this will lead to more religion in schools. So they deregulate both education funding via voucher progams, and school curricula via legislation like the LSEA. And, unfortunately, this strategy seems to be more effective than their earlier ones.

The last episode was about the age of the earth and how we know that it is 4.5 billion years old. Sorry YECs, you are just plain wrong. Deal with it already.

That part was great. The focus on leaded gasoline was a bit too “in the weeds” for me, but maybe that’s just my perspective. I’d be interested to learn if younger, less educated viewers found that part to be as valuable a learning experience as the first part.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 14, 2014 8:39 AM.

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