Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cosmos returns Sunday

This Sunday on Fox is the return of Cosmos, brought to you by executive producer, fellow atheist and Family Guy genius Seth MacFarlane. The show, which originally launched in 1980 with Carl Sagan, has been rebooted with one of the world's most famous astrophysicists as host, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The late Sagan was not only one of the greatest scientists in history, but he was an outspoken atheist who championed rational thought and the scientific method.

It's funny, when people wish they could go back in time to change things, they mostly want to stop a tragedy or fix some mistakes, and don't get me wrong, I would do that, too, but one frivolous change I might make is to pay more attention to Cosmos when my eighth-grade science teacher showed episodes to us on his classroom television. I embraced science that year, enjoying formulas and experiments, but I never took it seriously enough to explore it as a career.

One of the downfalls from my science teachers was to mostly exclude math from the education. While it's such an obvious and intricate part of the discipline, in primary education the teachers mostly stuck to anecdotal instruction (likely to try to keep children from drooling on their desks), and only occasionally did we get introduced to formulas and equations. By then, I was already into mathematics and thought of science as its slightly slower younger brother. (I didn't follow my journalistic path until college.)

Anyway, back to the show. Tyson is a perfect replacement for this reboot as he is so energetic and engaging, his passion is infectious and could inspire young minds to think for themselves and to use rational thought. Tyson is an atheist, though he hates that label and sidesteps it when asked directly about it. But it's clear where his stance is, given some of his recent quotes:

"God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance.”

“I want to put on the table, not why 85 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15 percent of the National Academy don’t.”

“People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah's ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.”

I can't wait for this show and will occasionally report back here with my thoughts. And I'll leave you with this quote from Sagan:

"For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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