Cosmology Media News

You have to know the Cosmos remake is in trouble when …

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… when physicist Chad Orzel is saying stuff like this at ScienceBlogs:

Back in 1980, Sagan had to devote a lot of time to airy speculation about distant stars and planets and hypothetical scenarios about the origin of the universe, because there was a ton of stuff we didn’t know. In the intervening three decades, we’ve amassed a truly astonishing amount of information on these topics, from robot probes of our own solar system, from redshift and transit detections of extrasolar planets, from measurements of the cosmic microwave background by COBE and WMAP and others, from Hubble images and new ground-based telescope technologies, and just thirty years of doing what we were already doing.

And the thing that bugs me is that I don’t feel like the show is doing that justice. Too many topics are covered at about the same level of depth as back in 1980, just with spiffier graphics. And while that approach didn’t leave too much of a gap back in the day, today there’s a vast range of stuff they haven’t even touched on– there hasn’t been more than a passing mention of dark matter, and I don’t recall anything at all about dark energy.

So, I find the choice to prioritize wildly speculative but vaguely inspirational material like panspermia and the whole “future cosmic calendar” stuff kind of disappointing. There’s so much that they haven’t talked about yet that’s based on good, solid evidence, but we’re getting soaring vagueness. And it’s becoming clear that we’re just not going to get a good discussion of a lot of these things– there are only two episodes left, and the end-of-show teaser makes it sound like the next one is going to be largely devoted to climate change– a topic that has already gotten a significant chunk of airtime in at least three previous episodes– which doesn’t leave a lot of room for dark energy. More.

Casey Luskin at Evolution News & Views offers

This past Sunday night’s episode pushed a naturalistic origin of life and the Copernican principle (the idea that Earth is insignificant in the cosmic scheme) — which is perhaps to be expected. But the episode got surprisingly ideological as well, promoting panspermia, the Gaia hypothesis, and a propagandistic, Star Trek-like picture of the future. According to Cosmos, this last can only be achieved if we embrace an alarmist environmental vision. Our host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, compares skeptics of the current “consensus” on climate change to Nazis.

Mmmm. Over to Godwin’s law: Everyone you don’t like is a Nazi now (just as everyone you don’t like is a creationist).

Carl Sagan, Cosmos’ originator, focused more successfully on his main message: Cosmology in the service of atheist materialism. The Tyson team would have been wise to take a leaf from the old pro’s book because ratings for their remake have disappointed.

Hank Campbell probably sums up the underlying issue best:

It had an alarming non-science gaffe – the story of the likely insane philosopher Bruno reconfigured to be…what exactly, no one is sure. 25% of Episode One was devoted to talking about mean old religion in the middle of a narrative about cosmology only to have Neil Tyson then dismiss the entire story as Bruno not being a scientist anyway.

As I noted in response, now that Campbell mentions it, who was supposed to really care so much about Bruno and his ravings (some of which got him executed, though we actually don’t know which)? Would we really expect this type of material on a series called Cosmos? And in Episode One too, just when people were deciding whether to make time for the rest of the series?

Put simply, de Grasse Tyson’s team decided that what the world needs to hear right now is their own scattered reflections about, well, all kinds of stuff they care about.

Earth to deGrasse Tyson: Talk radio was invented for that, not big bucks broadcast.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology) for a brief summary of why this had to happen.

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21 Replies to “You have to know the Cosmos remake is in trouble when …

  1. 1
    OldArmy94 says:

    Why do so many materialists like dGrasse Tyson hitch their wagons to the climate change issue and proclaim their zealous allegiance to the undisputed truth claim that the earth is warming due to mankind’s sins?

    Could it be that their affections are religious and climate change is the highest form of dogma within the Church of Gaia?

  2. 2
    Acartia_bogart says:

    “Mmmm. Over to Godwin’s law: Everyone you don’t like is a Nazi now (just as everyone you don’t like is a creationist).”

    Yes, there is hyperbole from the atheists and evolutionists. Good thing that never occurs on the creationist side. Except for some concluding that atheists are insane, or autistic, or….

    Why don’t we just agree that people on both sides of the argument can behave badly and leave it at that?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Acartia_bogart, and exactly what does it mean for a atheist to ‘act badly’ when he refuses to acknowledge the reality of objective morality?

    Cruel Logic – short film
    https://vimeo.com/5355398

    i.e. ‘Don’t go getting all moral on me’

  4. 4
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Bornagain, you are still hung up on the false belief that morality wouldn’t exist without religion. This simply isn’t the case. Morality, as most of us would define it (e.g., the golden rule and others) is a necessity for any society. And I use the term society very loosely. Large males in a herd group will place themselves at the edges, significantly increasing their risk of death. If they were humans we would call them people of high morals. But because they are animals we call it instinct. If I were a large male wildebeest, I would say that instinct sucks. I’m moving to the centre of the herd.

    On a side note. My math skills have increased dramatically since I have been commenting here.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Acartia_bogart, contrary to what you may believe as an atheist, morality is not based on the subjective whims of a society (for instance the NAZIS), or on a supposed evolutionary ‘herd instinct’ for survival, but is a objectively real, tangible, part of reality.

    That objective moral values really do exist is readily apparent to most people with common sense, save for most die hard atheists who are willing to deny anything and everything rather than ever admit there is any evidence for God.

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

    Neo-Darwinists simply cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality. Dr. William Lane Craig calls it a ‘knock down argument’ against atheism:

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    And as the preceding quote, and videos show, refusing to acknowledge that objective morality is self evidently true results in logical absurdities. And although showing a position to be logically incoherent is indeed a powerful argument against that position, there is another way to make the case for objective morality even stronger. Since, as a Christian Theist, I hold that God continuously sustains the universe in the infinite power of His being, and since I also hold that God created our ‘inmost being’, i.e. our souls, then I also hold that morality is a real, tangible, part of reality that we should be able to ‘scientifically’ detect in some way. I think this quote from Martin Luther King is very fitting as to elucidating what the Theist’s starting presupposition should be for finding objective morality to be a ‘real, tangible, part of reality:

    “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.”
    – Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

    And, contrary to what the materialist/atheist would want to presuppose about morality, we find much empirical evidence to back up Dr. King’s assertion that “there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws”. For instance, ‘Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional’:

    Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....brain.html

    And although split second reactions to hateful actions are pretty good for establishing that “there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws”, non-locality of morals (i.e. morals that arise outside of space and time and are grounded within the transcendent being of God’s perfect nature) demand a more ‘spooky action at a distance’, i.e. quantum, proof. And, due to advances in science, we now have evidence to even this ‘spooky’ beyond space and time level:

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

    Can Your Body Sense Future Events Without Any External Clue? (meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010) – (Oct. 22, 2012)
    Excerpt: “But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand,,,
    This phenomenon is sometimes called “presentiment,” as in “sensing the future,” but Mossbridge said she and other researchers are not sure whether people are really sensing the future.
    “I like to call the phenomenon ‘anomalous anticipatory activity,’” she said. “The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense. It’s anticipatory because it seems to predict future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it’s an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....145342.htm

    As well, the following experiment, from Princeton University no less, is very interesting in that it was found that ‘perturbed randomness’ precedes a worldwide ‘moral crisis’:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE1haKXoHMo

    Mass Consciousness: Perturbed Randomness Before First Plane Struck on 911 – July 29 2012
    Excerpt: The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened – but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.,,
    Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers. ‘It’s Earth-shattering stuff,’ says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the ‘black box’ phenomenon.
    http://www.network54.com/Forum.....uck+on+911

    Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – peer reviewed publications
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

    Thus we actually have very good empirical evidence supporting Dr. King’s observation that ‘that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws’. In fact, since the emotional reactions happen before the violent images are even viewed, or before the worldwide tragedies even occurred, then one would be well justified in believing that morality abides at a much deeper level of reality, in the perfect nature of God’s being, than the ‘mere’ physical laws of the universe do (just as a Theist would presuppose that morals should abide at such a deep level prior to investigation). Moreover, the atheistic materialist is left without any clue as to rationally explaining how ‘prescient morality’ is even possible for reality at such a deep level.

    Verse and music:

    Mark 10:18
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

    Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpYeekQkAdc

  6. 6
    VunderGuy says:

    @Acartia

    So… you’re a Secular Humanist then?

  7. 7
    JLAfan2001 says:

    Vunderguy

    Why do you keep asking everyone if we believe in nihilism or secular humanism? Is there a point to that?

    Are you torn between the two? Let me make it easy for you.

    Humanity is nothing special in the universe or on this planet. We are nothing to nature. We are programmed to spread of genes and follow the illusion of altruism until natural selection decides to do away with us. Secular humanism is useful in so long as nature has programmed our brains to blindly follow it but there is no real substance to it. Time will eventually undo everything we have done.

    Of course, this won’t convince anyone since they are programmed to follow otherwise but I’m programmed to point out it’s fallacies. I have no choice in what I do same as everyone else.

    It’s all bullshit.

  8. 8
    Barb says:

    JLAfan2001: Nice dodge. You didn’t explain either secular humanism or atheism. You only explained you own sad, nihilistic worldview. Try actually answering the question posed to you next time.

  9. 9
    JLAfan2001 says:

    Barb

    Look at Vunderguy’s post again. He wasn’t asking me so I wasn’t answering or dodging anything. I was merely showing him reality.

  10. 10
    Barb says:

    Your reality, dear. Not real reality. But keep trolling, it seems to amuse you.

  11. 11
    ppolish says:

    I fondly remember watching the original Cosmos on PBS – loved it. My then girlfriend gifted me the coffee table Cosmos hardcover for Christmas that year. Wrote a cute note inside:) She’s long gone, but my interest in cosmology has continued.

    I did a personal “boycott” of Cosmos2, take
    that Neil grrrr. Sounds like I did not miss any
    new Space Science whew. No Bicep, no CMB, no Hawking “no Black Holes”, no fine-tuning, etc. Instead mostly pseudoscience.

  12. 12
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Vanderguy 6: nope. I refuse to assign a label to myself

    Born again: “Acartia_bogart, contrary to what you may believe as an atheist, morality is not based on the subjective whims of a society (for instance the NAZIS), or on a supposed evolutionary ‘herd instinct’ for survival, but is a objectively real, tangible, part of reality.”

    You are assuming that the whims of society are subjective. Yes, some societies take a direction that cannot be sustained (eg, Nazis, soviets, etc.). But that is because they opted (there is that free will again) to adopt a strategy and behaviour that is not stable in the long term for a society (sounds almost like a selection process). But keep in mind, the Nazis developed and flourished (if but for a short time) in a population that was overwhelmingly Christian. Hitler himself claimed that Nazi philosophy was based on Christianity. So don’t drop the Nazi card unless you are willing to play with the cards you are dealt.

  13. 13
    tjguy says:

    As I have pointed out before, JLAFan is at least consistent with his beliefs, unlike many atheists.

    Humanity is nothing special in the universe or on this planet. We are nothing to nature. We are programmed to spread of genes and follow the illusion of altruism until natural selection decides to do away with us.

    According to the tenets of your faith, maybe so, but scientific evidence for those beliefs is sorely lacking!

    Secular humanism is useful in so long as nature has programmed our brains to blindly follow it but there is no real substance to it. Time will eventually undo everything we have done.

    Of course, this won’t convince anyone since they are programmed to follow otherwise but I’m programmed to point out it’s fallacies. I have no choice in what I do same as everyone else.

    It’s all bullshit.

    You betray your faith by arguing your point when you know it is useless. This shows me that either you don’t really believe what you claim or, that more than likely, you find that you cannot actually live in a consistent way with those beliefs.

    Tell me. Even if I had free will, why would I ever want to adopt your nihilistic faith for myself?!

    Will it make me happy and fulfilled and bring meaning to my life and relationships?

    Is it the kind of legacy I want to leave for my kids?

    Please! Even if it is right, I’d rather be deceived and happy!

  14. 14
    tjguy says:

    And JLAFAN, if you really believe that, you realize that no one has any possibility of knowing if their beliefs are really true or not – you included. In the end, if you are right, then it matters not one little iota what we believe or how we behave!

    Any worldview promoting such obvious foolery is certainly wrong.

    Oops! There I go again thinking I can rationally make a decision and consciously evaluate an idea. I forgot. My thoughts are nothing more than meaningless chemical secretions of my evolved robot monkey brain!

    But even that mistake is beyond my control! It’s hopeless!

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    tjguy:

    And JLAFAN, if you really believe that, you realize that no one has any possibility of knowing if their beliefs are really true or not – you included. In the end, if you are right, then it matters not one little iota what we believe or how we behave!

    I don’t agree.

    You’re confusing a number if quite different things!

    Ontology
    Epistemology
    Ethics
    Aesthetics

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    Acartia_bogart (bogart is the cat half of this duo):

    Why don’t we just agree that people on both sides of the argument can behave badly and leave it at that?

    Do you not find the question of why they behave badly even mildly interesting?

    Is it possible that people behave badly because they believe to be true that which is in fact false?

  17. 17
    Robert Byers says:

    The show was just a propaganda vehicle for certain common subjects dear to left wingers hearts.
    It really was a attempt to indoctrinate people/kids with anti creationism, climate changism, and feminism in science, and so on.
    Its hilarious in its foolishness of motives.
    Yet this is what they all talk about all the time.
    This had nothing to do with sciency ideas past or present.
    Was the host really worthy to be noted as a science guy??? Hmmmm.

  18. 18
    tjguy says:

    Mung @ 16

    I don’t agree.

    You’re confusing a number if quite different things!

    Ontology
    Epistemology
    Ethics
    Aesthetics

    Mung, can you please explain a bit further. I’m not following what you are saying.

    Thanks.

  19. 19
    Barb says:

    Robert Byers asks,
    Was the host really worthy to be noted as a science guy??? Hmmmm.
    Yes, he was. Even if I don’t agree with all of his philosophical worldviews, he is a PhD astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Also, his book “Death from the Skies” is a fun read.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems some need a little reminder why a lot of people are very leery of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism. Let’s hear Dawkins, just for starters:

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85]

    And there is a lot more out there, for 2350 years now.

    We weren’t born yesterday.

    Amorality translates into might and manipulation make ‘right’ when it gets mixed with ruthless power. AKA, nihilism.

    KF

  21. 21
    VunderGuy says:

    @Kairosfocus

    Yep. Glad to see someone recognizes the inherent Nihilism implied by Atheism.

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