Materialism for the Masses: ‘Cosmos’ Reboot Distorts the History of Science

If there were any doubt that the rebooted “Cosmos” series would have a materialistic message, consider the first 60 seconds of its Fox premiere on March 9.

The opening featured President Barack Obama, with the presidential seal in the background, endorsing the series and praising “the spirit of discovery that Carl Sagan captured in the original ‘Cosmos.’”

Taken alone, Obama’s words are uncontroversial and politic. However, immediately following the president’s statement, the show replayed Sagan’s famous materialistic credo from the original 1980 ‘Cosmos’ series, stating: “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

President Barack Obama speaks on the economy at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, Thursday, July 10, 2014. President Obama ridiculed congressional Republicans on Thursday, accusing them of doing little more than opposing his agenda in a campaign-style rally with less than four months remaining before midterm elections. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Kye R. Lee, Pool) AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Kye R. Lee, Pool
(AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Kye R. Lee, Pool)

Knowing those behind “Cosmos,” this isn’t surprising.

The host is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson who believes “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.” Executive producers include comedian Seth MacFarlane, who expresses his desire to be “vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith,” and Star Trek writer Brannon Braga, who says “religion sucks” and admits he “longs for” the day when “religion is vanquished.”

With Tyson himself admitting we must view “‘Cosmos’ not as a documentary about science,” the series barely hides its ambitions to bring Sagan’s materialistic views to a new generation.

But have its creators pushed the agenda too far? “Cosmos” faced sharp criticism—from leading evolutionists—for inventing stories about religious persecution of scientists while whitewashing religion’s positive historical influence on science.

The first episode portrayed the 16th century scientist Giordano Bruno being burned at the stake by Catholic priests for teaching that the Earth orbits the Sun. The problem? Bruno wasn’t a scientist and he wasn’t persecuted for his heliocentric views. Of course Bruno’s persecution was tragic, but the church killed him for promoting the occult worship of Egyptian deities and other quirky theological beliefs.

Throughout the series, Tyson repeats this theme that religion opposes scientific advancement, whitewashing the chorus of historians who believe that religion had a positive influence on science.

Photo Credit: Fox
Photo Credit: Fox

As prominent historian Ronald Numbers argues, “[t]he greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict.” One scholar at the staunchly pro-evolution National Center for Science Education even blasted “Cosmos” for its “slipshod history of science” and “antireligious bias.”

The series’ apparent goal is to inspire an atheistic vision of scientific utopia—claiming we are the result of “mindless” and “unguided” evolution, while scrubbing religion’s positive contributions. Even worse, “Cosmos” brands dissenters from the “consensus” as unthinking Nazi-followers who lack “scientific literacy” and are “in denial.”

But is it a crime to scientifically challenge the consensus? After all, “Cosmos” heavily endorses panspermia—the fringe idea that life came to Earth from space.

The final episode, which aired last month, pushes the idea that humanity occupies no special cosmic location, calling Earth “a lonely speck” and citing “the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe.”

Credible scientists disagree.

Proponents of intelligent design have shown that Earth does occupy a privileged position that fosters both intelligent life and scientific discovery. As Nobel Prize winning physicist Charles Townes explained:

“Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all.”

With expensive CGI and Tyson’s gifting as a science communicator, “Cosmos” offers lucid scientific explanations. But “Cosmos” also shows what happens when celebrity atheists are given millions of dollars to promote their views on national television. The truth is sacrificed to their god—Science.

Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law. He is Research Coordinator for Discovery Institute, co-founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center, and coauthor of Discovering Intelligent Design.

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