By Steven Mahone.
Mr. Mahone tells us that he “had the day off and made the mistake of perusing the [Discovery Institute]’s website.” Mistake or not, the perusal inspired him to write the following interesting response, in which he argues that it makes no difference whether or not the Cosmos is all there is.
The Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin says a lot more about his organization than he probably realizes with his latest article, which damns with faint praise the Cosmos series currently running on the Fox Network. On the one hand, Luskin claims that he is “glued to the screen” because of the fascinating science being presented by host Neil deGrasse Tyson, yet (there’s always a “yet”!) he is simply unable to contain his personal vendetta against anything that doesn’t explicitly acknowledge his intelligent-design agenda by asking, “But is that all?” Perhaps it’s just me, but isn’t Luskin really missing something here? He sort of reminds me of the story where a crusty old talent agent watches a potential client re-enact Moses at the Red Sea by parting the waters of a swimming pool on stage in full view of the audience. Through his chomped cigar, the unimpressed agent yells, “It’s been done. Next!”
There is a strength that comes from the knowledge and enlightenment that Cosmos is sharing with all of us on Sunday nights. Luskin wants to weaken that strength by claiming that the evidence must point to something more and that we can’t just be star-stuff, as Tyson claims, simply because we’re here to challenge such an assertion. In a nutshell, the crux of his organization’s argument is that some hydrogen atoms have attained a greater privilege than others, so we must be here by design. Apparently, the fellows over at the DI feel better served by appearing on The 700 Club to promote their ideas than they do by engaging cutting edge science or philosophy.
The problem, of course, is that Luskin (or anyone else, for that matter) can pretty much assert whatever he wants – right up until we detect an asteroid with our name on it and then suddenly the whole “privileged planet” thing is not so much after all. Not to mention the trillions of bacteria and viruses that are under no obligation whatsoever to not mutate this evening and ruin our wishful thinking for this summer’s vacation. Luskin desperately wants to take Tyson to task for telling us straight-up that the universe is unconcerned for anyone or anything. It’s nothing more than the old game of “blame the messenger”!
Neil deGrasse Tyson knows very well what science has to say about a hydrogen atom that’s contained in the tear of a newborn as well as one that’s at the core of a main sequence star. He also knows that our humanity has much to say about this as well. What Luskin fails to acknowledge is that the miraculous and the ordinary are equally indifferent to us, whether his designer is real or imagined, because that’s what the evidence shows and that is precisely what Tyson is trying to get across to his viewers. Not only is Tyson almost certainly correct, it turns out that this is the best situation possible because it means that the hopefulness and purpose that we seek is right there in front of us. Nothing is more or less privileged than anything else in the Cosmos. If Luskin were to put down his chomped cigar and stop worrying about whether that’s all there is, then he might come to the realization that what’s here is more than enough.
Steven Mahone is an engineering professional and founding member of Colorado Citizens for Science.