Except His Religion
With his upcoming reprisal of Carl Sagan’s acclaimed Cosmos documentary just weeks away, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Bill Moyers touches on science and religion as well. At the [16:50] mark Moyers wonders about religious people who are trying to find signs of the divine in all those cold, hard scientific findings. Like most journalists Moyers takes the mythical Warfare Thesis (religion fights the inexorable march of science when not in full retreat and must locate its god in the gaps not yet filled by science) for granted and asked unsurprising questions about the feeble-minded faithful for the Director of the Hayden Planetarium to reluctantly set straight. The exchange reaches peak banality at the [20:50] mark where Tyson finally cuts to the heart of the matter. Religion cannot be allowed in science:
Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there is one god, two gods, ten gods, or no gods. That is what it means to live in a free country. The problem arises, is if you have a religious philosophy, that is not based in objective realities, that you then want to put in the science classroom. Then I’m going to stand there and say “No, I’m not going to allow you into the science classroom.” I’m not telling you what to think, I’m just telling you the science classroom—you’re not doing science, this is not science, keep it out. That’s when I stand up.
This is, of course, standard evolutionary fare. Blame others for introducing religion into science after, yes, introducing religion into science. It is Tyson who insists the world spontaneously arose (Evolution is “not only an important concept in biology but an important concept in all of science.” [3:50 in this video]) in spite of having precisely, err, no idea of how that happened while, on the other hand, mandating the evolutionary metaphysics that this must be true because we all know this world could not have been designed:
Star formation is completely inefficient. Most places in the universe will kill life instantly—instantly! People say “Oh, the forces of nature are just right for life.” Excuse me. Just look at the volume of the universe where you can’t live. You will die instantly. That is not what I call the Garden of Eden, alright. … We’re on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy—gone is this beautiful spiral that we have. And of course we’re on a one-way, expanding universe as we wind down to oblivion, as the temperature of the universe approaches absolute zero.
And that is only the beginning. You can see and hear Tyson’s religious concerns beginning at around 32:00 in this video. Yes you can find clever designs and beauty, but there is always evil and dysteleology lurking. For every Paley, there is a Hume:
And so, if I came upon a frozen waterfall, and it just struck me for all its beauty, I would then turn over the rock and try to find a millipede, or some kind of deadly newt, and put that in context, and realize, of course, the universe is not here for us.
Not here for us? And from where did Tyson gain this scientia? Which experiment informed him that these things demonstrate that the world “is not here for us”? Of course there is none, for this isn’t science.
This coming from the man who points the finger and says “you’re not doing science, this is not science, keep it out.”