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BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on science, God and the universe.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: If God is the mystery of the universe, these mysteries, which we're tackling these mysteries one by one. If you're going to stay religious at the end of the conversation, God has to mean more to you than just where science has yet to tread.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Look at this glorious photograph. It was taken by a NASA space telescope and shows the remains of a supernova, an exploded star, 17,000 light years away from us, back when here on planet Earth we were still in the Stone Age.

Now hold your hand up to the screen and see how the photo resembles the X-ray of some large celestial hand. That’s why astronomers have called this image the “Hand of God.”

Not literally, of course. But the picture does provide us with an elegant entry into the next part of my conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's the director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

He's also the narrator of a mesmerizing new show at the planetarium called Dark Universe, and this spring he’ll appear as the host of a remake of the classic PBS series Cosmos. You can see it on the National Geographic Channel and FOX TV…

In our first episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson talked about the phenomenon of dark energy, the accelerating expansion of our universe.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON from Moyers & Company Show 301: We expected gravity to be slowing down the expanding universe. The opposite is happening. We don't know what's causing it.

BILL MOYERS: Nor do Tyson and his colleagues yet fully comprehend another cosmic enigma known as dark matter.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON from Moyers & Company Show 301: There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.

BILL MOYERS: On that mysterious note, we begin the next part of my talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Welcome.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: There were two strange sequences in your planetarium show. And I managed to go online and look at.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: You've become a dark matter junky here. You're going online, you need more.

BILL MOYERS: I think--

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: You need more.

BILL MOYERS: So let's talk about the scene of dark matter from your show at the planetarium.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So what's going on here is you're viewing the structure of the large-scale universe. And what we've represented here are dark areas that themselves have more gravitational attraction than the light areas. So the light areas are drawing themselves to the dark areas. And so you, what happens is, as this happens over the eons, structure begins to manifest in the universe. And you see this web work, and it looks almost organic, or it looks like some kind of neurosynaptic map. The formation and collection of matter in the universe follows the laws of physics. And when you add in the dark matter, this extra gravity, it turns the universe into the universe that we see.

That's why we know that dark matter is real. We don't know what it is. But we know it's there because we can't make the universe as we see it unless we put this extra gravity into our simulations to match the gravity that we see.

BILL MOYERS: So you know it's something.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: It's something. And there's some exotic ideas for it, by the way. Particle physicists are convinced that it might be an exotic particle that doesn't interact with us. Doesn't interact with our light, with our telescopes, but that it has gravity. So these particles are doing their own thing, invisible to us, but otherwise attracting our matter into their, nucleating us among them. So, but of course, a particle physicist would think that the solution is a particle. If you're a hammer, all your problems look like nails. One of the more intriguing accounts I've heard is if you have multiple universes, it turns out gravity can spill out of one universe and be felt by another.

And if we have another universe adjacent to ours, it could be that these sites where we see extra gravity is ordinary gravity in a parallel universe. And here we are, looking at it mysteriously like, "What is this?" It's like the blind man touching the elephant. "I don't know what this whole thing is, but here I can describe this part of it. And it's kind of textured, and it's, no, no, no, no, no, this got, it's smooth and hard." And, you know, you can't see the whole elephant. Maybe the elephant is ordinary gravity in another universe and we're feeling it and we're making stuff up just to account for it.

BILL MOYERS: You think there could be another universe?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: I don't see why not. Because back when we thought Earth was alone in the universe, we knew that there were other planets, that the Earth is just a planet, one of many. "Well, the sun is surely special." No, the sun is one of a hundred billion other suns. So, the galaxy, the Milky Way. No, the galaxy is one of hundred billion galaxies. How about the universe?

We have philosophical precedent to suggest that why should nature make anything in ones? Okay? Everything else we ever thought was unique or special, well, we found more of them. So philosophically, it's not unsettling to imagine more than one universe.

We also have good theoretical grounds for suggesting the existence of a multiverse. Where our universe is just one of some countless number of other universes coming in and out of existence, with slightly different laws of physics within them. That makes it a little dangerous. Because we are held together, involved in a universe where we work. Where we work physically. If you want to visit another universe, I would, like, you know, send something else ahead of you.

BILL MOYERS: So explain this to me, why is it I felt more satisfied watching the planetarium show, and as I'm sure we will watching the new "Cosmos," than I do personally from science fiction? I mean, I came away with a sense of really having experienced something authentic at the planetarium.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: That's a great question. By the way, there are many science-fiction fans who also embrace the science reality. And people who are fans of fantasy and super heroes and science fiction and all the storytelling that goes on on the frontier, essentially, everyone there knows the difference between that frontier and the real science that comes out.

And they will judge the storytelling based on how much science it got right before starts inventing what the frontier of imagination would bring. If you violate a known law of physics, that's lesser science fiction than the one where you get all your physics right, now take me, now give me the warp drive. Now give me the transporter.

Take me beyond what we know. So, but to your point I think maybe it's the same effect as if you tour the Air and Space Museum in Washington, which has the history of flight, including space flight, that we could've made an exact, we museum people, could've made an exact replica of the Apollo 11 command module that went to the moon.

And then we'd say, "Here's an exact replica." So that's okay. But if I now say, "This actual thing went to the moon," intellectually, that means something different to you. Your eyes see exactly the same, you could make a replica, a perfect, that looks exact, with all the blemishes and all the heat shield damage. You could do that. But if you know it's the real thing, the meaning is magnified. And so yes, you go to our space show, it is the real science. And it is captivating you the way we'd only perhaps had thought science fiction could.

BILL MOYERS: Science fiction came first in a way, in terms of popular entertainment.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: In some cases. But I'm a fan of JBS Haldane once said, I'm paraphrasing, he said, the universe is not only stranger than we have imagined, it's perhaps stranger than we can imagine. And when you realize that I, you understand why some people don't need to read the science fiction. Because black holes flaying stars in orbit around them and planets that have life forms undreamt of on Earth, this is, we're speaking real stuff here. Maybe that's as seductive as the imagination of someone standing on the frontier.

BILL MOYERS: One thing I took away from your planetarium show is that dark energy, is the increasing rate at which the universe is pulling itself apart, so how does it happen that we don't experience this expanding of universe as we walk down the street, or sit here in this building?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yeah, because you live 80 years instead of billions. If you lived billions of years, oh yeah. This would be, "Hey, check that out. Look what I noticed." Yeah, I think about things you miss because of how short our time on Earth is. I'll, the best example I can give is when you walk around, say, "Oh, there's a nice, puffy cloud." You don't stare at it for an hour, you just notice it.

BILL MOYERS: Right.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: If you do a time-lapse of the cloud, especially cumulus clouds, they are roiling, gurgling, boiling, places of condensed water vapor. They're alive. Yet, when you walk down the street, you think it's just sitting there peaceful and calm if it's just a simple cloud. So even something that does change in your lifetime, you don't think of as an actively roiling place, a cloud. So imagine longer, imagine mountain building on Earth. Imagine watching the Hawaiian islands pop up, or come, imagine watching ice ages come and go. Imagine watching species of life rise up, the dinosaurs, and then an asteroid comes, they go extinct essentially overnight on the, in the fossil record. That's a whole other way to see the world.

And it’s the task of the geologist, the astrophysicist to think about how that works. Fortunately, we have computers that can speed up time. I'll give you a great example. We used to have catalogues of galaxies. We say, "That's a really messed-up looking galaxy there. Let's make a catalogue of irregular galaxies."

So we have a catalogue of beautiful galaxies and irregular galaxies. And then people came up with theories, "How does a galaxy become irregular?" No one knew until we realized, galaxies collide. Galaxies feel each other's local gravity, collide, and it's a train wreck. And half the irregular galaxies are train-wrecked galaxies.

There's a famous astronomer, Gérard de Vaucouleurs who said, a wrecked Lexus is still a Lexus. It just happened to be in a car accident. So we would learn. Now, how do you get to know that galaxies collide? You put in the forces of gravity on a computer, run the simulation, and watch it unfold. And there you can recreate the havoc that you see in the universe on a 100-million-year time scale.

BILL MOYERS: So when a child sings, or used to sing, I don't think they do anymore, "Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are," it's not twinkling. Something powerful, dramatic, and dynamic is happening to it. Right?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, yes, and we call that twinkling. So yeah, there's starlight coming billions of, or millions of light years, well it depends on if it's a galaxy, well, hundreds of thousands of light years across space, and it's a perfect point of light as it hits our atmosphere, turbulence in the atmosphere jiggled the image, and it renders the star twinkling.

And by the way, planets are brighter than stars typically, like Jupiter and Venus. Venus has been in the evening skies lately. And if you go, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are," and you, I want, you want to wish upon the star, most people are wishing on planets. That's why their wishes don't come true. Because the planets are the first stars to come out at night.

BILL MOYERS: Don't you sometimes feel sad about breaking all these myths apart?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: No, no, because I think it's, some myths are, deserve to be broken apart. The, out of respect for the human intellect. That, no, when you're writhing on the ground and froth is coming out of your mouth, you're having an epileptic seizure. You have not been invaded by the devil. We got this one figured out, okay? I mean, discovery moves on. So, I don't mind the power of myth and magic. But take it to the next frontier and apply it there. Don’t apply it in places where we've long passed what we already know is going on.

BILL MOYERS: I came out of the planetarium, and that evening, I sat thinking about what you said in the show about, you acknowledged the Big Bang and you, and I remember that Hubble rewound the process mathematically. Correct me if I'm wrong, and calculated that everything, matter, space, energy, even time itself, actually had a beginning.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So it turns out that was not Hubble, although Hubble had the data that enabled the calculation. The person who did that was a Belgian priest Georges Lemaître, he was a priest, physicist. Physicist-priest, okay?

What a cool thing to have on your business card. You got people coming and going with that. But he calculated what the implications of Einstein's general relativity, which was the new theory of gravity, would be with Hubble's expanding universe. And he says, the whole universe may have begun in a singular point in the past. And thus Big Bang as a phrase was used pejoratively of this idea, but it stuck.

BILL MOYERS: Well, the astronomer Robert Jastrow described it like the explosion of a cosmic hydrogen bomb. Not the explosion of a cosmic hydrogen bomb, but like the explosion of a cosmic hydrogen bomb.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yeah, so there you're stuck with the analogy of the biggest explosion you know, using that to describe something that's even bigger. Which is hard to do, right? I mean, not to get morbid on you, but I was four blocks from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. I live downtown. And I was trying to describe to others the sound of the collapse of 107-story building. And it is not like anything else. So I can say, "Well, imagine two trains colliding." But how many of us even have heard or seen that? Whatever that is, it's more than that. So you're stuck. If the biggest explosion we've made on Earth is the hydrogen bomb, and then you say it's a cosmic hydrogen bomb, it is, I think saying it's a cosmic hydrogen bomb cheapens the event. Yeah, it's way bigger than--

BILL MOYERS: I understand. An incredible flash of energy and light, though?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: And matter and, yeah, all of this. All of the above.

BILL MOYERS: Do you give people who make this case, that that was the beginning and that there had to be something that provoked the beginning, do you give them an A at least for trying to reconcile faith and reason?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: I don't think they're reconcilable.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, so let me say that differently. All efforts that have been invested by brilliant people of the past have failed at that exercise. They just fail. And so I don't, the track record is so poor that going forward, I have essentially zero confidence, near zero confidence, that there will be fruitful things to emerge from the effort to reconcile them. So, for example, if you knew nothing about science, and you read, say, the Bible, the Old Testament, which in Genesis, is an account of nature, that's what that is, and I said to you, give me your description of the natural world based only on this, you would say the world was created in six days, and that stars are just little points of light much lesser than the sun. And that in fact, they can fall out of the sky, right, because that's what happens during the Revelation.

You know, one of the signs that the second coming, is that the stars will fall out of the sky and land on Earth. To even write that means you don't know what those things are. You have no concept of what the actual universe is. So everybody who tried to make proclamations about the physical universe based on Bible passages got the wrong answer.

So what happened was, when science discovers things, and you want to stay religious, or you want to continue to believe that the Bible is unerring, what you would do is you would say, "Well, let me go back to the Bible and reinterpret it." Then you'd say things like, "Oh, well they didn't really mean that literally. They meant that figuratively."

So, this whole sort of reinterpretation of the, how figurative the poetic passages of the Bible are came after science showed that this is not how things unfolded. And so the educated religious people are perfectly fine with that. It's the fundamentalists who want to say that the Bible is the literally, literal truth of God, that and want to see the Bible as a science textbook, who are knocking on the science doors of the schools, trying to put that content in the science room. Enlightened religious people are not behaving that way. So saying that science is cool, we're good with that, and use the Bible for, to get your spiritual enlightenment and your emotional fulfillment.

BILL MOYERS: I have known serious religious people, not fundamentalists, who were scared when Carl Sagan opened his series with the words--

CARL SAGAN from Cosmos: The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, that scared them, because they interpret that to mean, then if this is it, there's nothing else. No God and no life after.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: For religious people, many people say, "Well, God is within you," or God, the, there are ways that people have shaped this, rather than, God is an old, grey-bearded man in the clouds. So if God is within you, what, I'm sure Carl would say, in you in your mind. In your mind, and we can measure the neurosynaptic firings when you have a religious experience.

We can tell you where that's happening, when it's happening, what you're feeling like at the time. So your mind of course is still within the cosmos.

BILL MOYERS: But do you have any sympathy for people who seem to feel, only feel safe in the vastness of the universe you describe in your show if they can infer a personal God who makes it more hospitable to them, cares for them?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: In this, what we tell ourselves is a free country, which means you should have freedom of thought, I don't care what you think. I just don't. Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there's 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 on objective realities that you then want to put in a science classroom. Then I'm going to stand there and say, "No, I'm not going to allow you in the science classroom.” I'm not telling you what to think, I'm just telling you in the science class, “You're not doing science. This is not science. Keep it out." That's where I, that's when I stand up. Otherwise, go ahead. I'm not telling you how to think.

BILL MOYERS: I think you must realize that some people are going to go to your show at the planetarium and they're going to say, "Ah-hah! Those scientists have discovered God. Because God,” dark matter, “is what holds this universe together."

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So is that a question?

BILL MOYERS: It's a statement. You know, you know they're going to say that--

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So the history of discovery, particularly cosmic discovery, but discovery in general, scientific discovery, is one where at any given moment, there's a frontier. And there tends to be an urge for people, especially religious people, to assert that across that boundary, into the unknown lies the handiwork of God. This shows up a lot. Newton even said it. He had his laws of gravity and motion and he was explaining the moon and the planets, he was there. He doesn't mention God for any of that. And then he gets to the limits of what his equations can calculate. So, I don't, can't quite figure this out. Maybe God steps in and makes it right every now and then. That's where he invoked God.

And Ptolemy, he bet on the wrong horse, but he was a brilliant guy. He formulated the geocentric universe, with Earth in the middle. This is where we got epicycles and all this machinations of the heavens. But it was still a mystery to him. He looked up and uttered the following words, “when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies,” these are the planets going through retrograde and back, the mysteries of the Earth, “when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch Earth with my feet. I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia.”

What he did was invoke, he didn't invoke Zeus to account for the rock that he's standing on or the air he's breathing. It was this point of mystery. And in gets invoked God. This, over time, has been described by philosophers as the God of the gaps. If that's how you, if that's where you're going to put your God in this world, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.

If that's how you're going to invoke God. If God is the mystery of the universe, these mysteries, we're tackling these mysteries one by one. If you're going to stay religious at the end of the conversation, God has to mean more to you than just where science has yet to tread. So to the person who says, "Maybe dark matter is God," if the only reason why you're saying it is because it's a mystery, then get ready to have that undone.

BILL MOYERS: In the next and concluding part of my conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson, we’ll talk about science and democracy.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: You have not fully expressed your power as a voter until you have a scientific literacy in topics that matter for future political issues. This requires a level, a base level of science literacy that I don't think we have achieved yet.

BILL MOYERS: At our website, BillMoyers.com, there’s more about and from Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

[Credits]

Full Show: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science, Religion and the Universe

January 17, 2014

A new poll by Pew Research has found that one-third of Americans do not believe in evolution, with Republicans far less likely to believe that humans evolved over time than Democrats. That may be why the teaching of evolution to children continues to be an often temper-flaming debate. In states like Texas, some public school students are opening their biology textbooks to find evolution described as “dogma” and an “unproved theory.”

While astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson believes all individuals have a right to their own beliefs, he’s passionate about what should be taught in science class – science.

“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 stand there and say no, ‘I’m not going to allow you in the science classroom,’” Tyson tells Bill.

In the second part of their conversation, Tyson and Bill discuss whether science and religion can ever be reconciled, explore the cosmic enigma known as dark matter and the possibilities of parallel universes. Neil deGrasse Tyson is host of the upcoming series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiering Sunday, March 9, 2014 on Fox.

Watch part three of Bill’s interview with Tyson, which aired on January 10, 2014.

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Sikay Tang. Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson: Patrick Ecclesine/Fox

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  • Anonymous

    Mr. Tyson really makes sense…he is a genius in explaining the universe…I especially like his words, something like, we are breaking down these science theories one by one…in other words, we are discovering the unknowns little by little…for me, the ultimate discovery that I’d like to see before I leave this world is, if there’s another life out there….

  • Anonymous

    I have a greater appreciation of my concept of God, just because of these amazing discoveries, and the awareness of the beauty and the incredible diversity the study of science has uncovered. Why anyone would want to eliminate the funding of science or obstruct its development is beyond my comprehension. If we followed the theologians we would still be looking at the earth as the center of our universe and killing non-believers on sight that didn’t convert to our conqueror’s one perfect religion at the edge of a blade or a gun to their temple.

  • Arianna

    Time and space. One of the first things I had to learn to be a geologist was a radical new concept of time. Geologically speaking, the word imminent means “now to the next 100 years”, soon means “sometime in the next 500 years, Ice Ages tend to happen geologically “quickly” as in 1000′s of years…..then we get to epochs and eras and such. Now, once you’ve gotten your mind around that bit, you reach for space and our Western versions “known world” goes from the Fertile Crescent, to the Nile Delta, to the Mediterranean Civilizations, to European, to “oh my it’s not flat” to “this must be China then” to “it’s bigger than we thought” to…….well, you get the drift and remember the Africans and Asians were doing their own version of Earth formation. The supposition of the theory of plate tectonics to experimentation to acceptance as fact was done at a blazing speed…….geologically….and still quite fast for science in general. In fact, Dr. Tyson mentioned something, retrograde, which demonstrates it all perfectly……the planets only APPEAR to be moving “backwards” due to our position in our system, it is an artifact of our point of view i.e. if we were standing on Mercury, Earth would be “going backwards”. Now you know why true scientists are truly open minded. They have to be, it gets crowded in here if you try to keep the doors closed.

  • Luke Austin

    In case you haven’t looked at the news lately, religious zealots are still killing others as the “enemies of God” – see Syria.

    Oh, and the same zealots are trying to push “creationism” into science classes as an alternative to evolution to let the children make a “choice”. See TX Gov. Rick Perry

  • Luke Austin

    It is a delight to see someone maintain his composure and intellect when faced with irrational faith.

  • Luke Austin

    There is definitely other life out there. The odds are overwhelming. More intelligent than we are, we can only hope.

  • Vera Gottlieb

    Referring to the Big Bang theory…from where did this mass come? Fascinating and interesting!

  • Anonymous

    The Europeans are moving away from secular religion and providing some social programs to uplift the masses. We go in the opposite direction, more twisted zealots with no social safety net. Ours is a retarded country that only protects those with great amassed wealth, and wants the underclass ignorant as a pretense for cheap labor, and a justification for a massive prison industrial and law enforcement judicial system to keep everyone enslaved except the overlords.that oversee our every move. Its as you say, we are not progressing we are regressing, they want us to go back to feudalism and slavery, and its working. You don’t have to leave these borders to see the insanity, just follow the politics of texas or the deep south.

  • Anonymous

    I want my I am a Dark Matter Junkie T-shirt!

  • QueenBilquis Harmon

    I love when to meeting of the minds take place with such great understanding…Science is my weapon!..;)

  • Kathleen Muniz

    Wonderful interview! Cannot wait for Part 2.

  • Anonymous

    I love this guy – well, actually, both of them…

  • Madan Dev

    For an Atheist like me God is simply a spirit that is in the heart of everyone of us including animals, inert substances, rocks, lava, anything you can think of, that makes us go round around like a wheel of fortune being turned by MAYA (illusion).

  • Anonymous

    This shorter verson of Moyers and Company attempts to discuss the relationship of ‘science, religion, and the universe’ in less than a half hour. It can’t, and thus is simplisticly selective in what it does cover and ultimately is little more than a political diatribe against religious views with which Moyers and Tyson disagree.

    If a viewer wants to explore in detail the ultimate question of whether god and science can be reconcilled, a good place to start might be Lawrence Krauss’s lectures on Youtube. Krauss is a self-avowed ‘anti-theist’ so his answer is easy to guess.

    For me, a non-theist, whom isn’t hostile to some views inspired by theism, the question assumes a fact not in evidence: that the existence of god depends on theistic beliefs.

    In fact, theism isn’t a requirement for god to exist. Krauss, intelligent as he is, undoubtedly knows this, but in order not to confuse people whom aren’t philosophers, sidesteps the assumption in his advocacy.

    I, OTOH, a person whom thinks he exists in a ‘real’ place, turns Krauss’s view on its head, and believes that god is the process (not ‘being’) which accounts for the existence of everything, whether humans know it or not. That god is infinitely more powerful than the God theists endlessly ponder, but is unrelated to human ‘morality’ or beliefs concerning an ‘afterlife’ or repeating incarnations of life. That which exists doesn’t depend on what humans wish existed.

  • Anonymous

    What a relief to hear rational people discuss science eloquently, and to hear Dr Tyson emphatically elucidate the connection between the body of the unknown and the need (irrational as it is) to explain that unknown as the actions of God. I should say “a” god, since so many supernatural beings have been imagined in order to explain the unknown.) As he says, the unknowns ascribed to a god are fewer and fewer as science works out the realities of our world and universe(s). Dr. Tyson is a beacon of light in this increasingly fundamentalist, barbaric world. I am so thankful for people like Bill Moyers and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

  • OpenMind

    In my view, which is my right, the underlying reason persons believe in a god is quite simple. They are merely afraid of the finality of death. The concept of a god allows them to think they will basically live forever. Some are even convinced they will see and sit with dead family members and tell stories to bring the dead “up to date.” I find this so ridiculous, again my right to my opinion, that I find it completely and totally humorous I have no issue with others to think however they wish

  • Martha

    The interviews with Dr. Tyson are intriguing, to be sure, however he seems to diminish the sacredness (not religious) nature of the cosmos. Might you also interview Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker of Yale Forum on Religion & Ecology who, along with Dr. Brian Swimme and several scientists and scholars, over the course of more than a decade produced Journey of the Universe – a full curriculum for teaching the universe story. This is a much broader approach which includes many disciplines instead of only one. A doc film by the same name aired on many PBS stations. I hope you will consider!
    http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org/

  • Edward Moriarty

    I don’t think Dr. Tyson’s point was was agreeing or disagreeing about anyone’s religious views. He was discussing science classes teaching creationism while disparaging the scientific theory of evolution. Neither your beliefs, as stated by you, or the creators of the Texas school book fiasco have the credentials to to offer any substantial challenge to a discussion of science education by Dr. Tyson.

  • Luke Austin

    Amen, brother.
    We get called Marxists for saying that. I’d rather that than “conservative”.

  • Paignton Pearl

    me too!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with what Tyson states, but the issue of what should be taught in school is radically different from ‘whether faith and science can be reconciled’ and deserves a separate venue, especially considering the half-hour length of the segment.

    Moyers, whatever his personal beliefs about faith, is and always has been, fundamentally a leftist political activist. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this program is far too short to accomplish political objectives without compromising an essential discussion of the meaning of religion; religion’s relationship to god, and the relationship of science to both religion and god.

    Edward, you are correct regarding my lack of credentials to challenge Tyson’s views on teaching evolution (natural selection), but until I told you so, you had no evidence for your statement beyond faith.

    The process by which educational materials are selected and authorized is not my primary area of interest; the existence and definition of god is. Just because my view utilizes the scientific method to seek the answer to what god is doesn’t mean that it’s not faith. What’s new is that this faith has ony been realistically possibile for (about) the past 50 years; truly a milestone in human history.

    My father died agnostic becuase at the time there was no realistic alternative; now there is. YMMV.

  • John Kester

    I agree to a point but how does your position account for the religions with no afterlife (or at least not a good one)? A Hades filled with Shades, one in which even the mighty and proud Achilles states “I’d rather be a slave on Earth for another man…than rule down here over all the breathless dead.” was not an appealing destination for many Greeks. Yet the belief in their Pantheon remained strong. Your description fits well with Judo-Christian’ religions but I think it goes deeper than that for some people. What that depth is I have no idea, because it all sounds like rubbish to me and always has, but I think there is more to it than a simple quest for immortality (though that is certainly the driving factor for many).

  • Anonymous

    Dr. Tyson has clearly shown that he is just as ignorant of the Bible as fundamentalists are of science. His explanations are as farcical as they are wrong. I do agree that religious ideas have no place in science classes.

    Leaving religions aside, no one has adequately addressed the very real facts of supernatural phenomena which have been reported and verified for centuries all around the world. The best known in modern times are the trance readings of Edgar Cayce in California which have been carefully documented and authenticated. He had something like an 80% accuracy rate for giving prognoses and cures for unknown illnesses and diseases. He himself had no idea how he came by this information.

    Some American Indian chiefs had visions of upcoming battles that came to pass just as they foresaw. Many books have been written about phenomena like these. They remain unsolved.

  • @Miguel’srmcbuild

    Caution is in order when jumping to conclusions about the existence or non-existence of “intelligent origin” as Einstien phrased it. Merely because man continues to discover “new” facts does not diminish God’s existence. The fact is humans don’t really know for sure how the universe or universes began. The scientic genius of man is remarkable in its ability to discover and explain phenomena. That’s about it. Human Intelligence itself is a phenomena. Science and faith (not religion) are inextricably connected and mankind will continue its quest to keep pealing back the onion. Dr. Tyson like many atheists reduce “faith” to Bible teachings and something about an “old man with a white beard”. If we know nothing else it is that we know very little. Humans have barely scratched the surface of the universe yet we want to make statements of fact about everything..the known and the unknown. What little time humans have been on this one planet Earth is but a blink in the cosmos. The who, what, when, where and why of it all is a developing photo image still very much in its infancy.

  • A. Opinion

    I enjoy Moyers’ program & could listen to Dr. Tyson endlessly. However, the one issue I take with Dr. Tyson and science in general (and Bill Moyers for not bringing it up) is that science will always advance in the levels of problems it solves and in generating newer ignorance in light of those solutions but it will not and has not ever come close to the question of why which seems to be the real utility of the idea of a Creator or creating force whether personal or external. Science has only ever been about the how, not the why, which is the provenance of philosophy, religion, spirituality etc.. This is the real issue that everyone tries to work out for themselves as they move through life. This question is the only unanswerable one we have or will continue to have regardless of whatever science achieves. However, I do believe the combination of advanced science knowledge and the unknowable why of the heart will only serve to enrich that ‘why are we here’ question that will forever intrigue us. I would also add that the finality of either spectrum: the atheists’ “There most certainly isn’t” and the Fundamentalists’ “There most certainly IS and this is WHAT it is” are equally silly as they both presume complete knowledge of both the how and the why.

  • Anonymous

    FWIW, I believe Jewish theology is silent regarding an afterlife.

    IMHO, religious people believe in the many variations of god for a variety of reasons, but the fear of death is a major one for many people of the western world whom are religious fundamentalists.

  • Anonymous

    Mais, au contraire, mon frere! There was a theological debate between the Sadducees and other Jewish sects on issue, but the Jewish rabbi Yeshua made it crystal clear that there is an afterlife. It is commonly forgotten that Christianity is a sect of Judaism.

  • Anonymous

    Great show. It would have been interesting to hear more of Tyson’s view on the nature of human consciousness or consciousness itself for that matter. Which in science right now, is considered the “hard problem”. IMO, one of the weaknesses of Carl Sagan’s scientific views of the universe is he made the claim that consciousness is a byproduct of the cosmos, not a fundamental phenomenon. This is the mistake I believe most scientists still make today, who continue to base their theories on outdated Materialism, which if we look at the great discoveries of Quantum Physics in the early 20th century – with some of the great physicists of the day, including Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein, Wheeler and Von Neumann – Materialism as it was known since Newton really was put to rest. Even time and space as we know it is relative.
    I believe there is much science and scientific evidence (such as the famous two slit experiment, or more recently, the confirmation of quantum entanglement and non-locality) that consciousness as Von Neumann argued in his seminal book on Quantum physicis, plays a fundamental role in reality – and is likely as fundamental as the particles that come into existence with the Schrodinger Universal wave function collapse.
    Robert Lanza – perhaps one the greatest scientists living today (in some ways following in the footsteps of Heisenberg & Von Neumann) – who would be well worth interviewing by Bill Moyers – argues even that time as we know it is an artifact of the observer effect, that there have been numerous quantum physics experiments showing that events in the past can change depending on observation. Wheeler at the end of his life said the same.
    I think this also ties in with Tyson mentioning the current multiverse theory. It seems to me, the changing of the past retroactively upon observation could only occur if there were actual multiple pasts i.e. multiple universes.
    I hope Tyson does take a greater look at consciousness in his future work as I think that is his weakest link right now in his scientific views (as it was for Sagan). What a dynamic dual it would be to see Tyson and Lanza team up eh?

  • Frank G Turner

    Ah but evolution says nothing about the “Why” of the existence of the universe. Many seem to think that it does. Evolution is about “How” not “Why.”

  • http://nomoredst.blogspot.com Henry Hertz Hobbit

    What is the force of gravity? Oops, Einstein said that is just a warpage of the space time curve and is thus not a force at all. Okay, what is the strong force of the atomic nucleus, the strongest force known because it has to hold protons with their positive forces trying to repel each other? At least us Mathematicians know better than to try to define a point or a line in Euclidean Geometry. If you do define them you end up with a contradiction. But we aren’t searching after ultimate truth either – just an elegant cohesive system of thought. If it doesn’t answer questions, so much the better.

  • http://nomoredst.blogspot.com Henry Hertz Hobbit

    No. The nucleus of the atom which is made up of protons and neutrons is held together by the strong nuclear force since positive repels positive and negative repels negative. Why don’t the electrons dive into the nucleus rather than circling furiously all the time. But what is the strong nuclear force? You can go all the way through introductory Physics in College and they completely ignore the question. Mathematician: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, and therefore by mathematical induction all odd numbers are prime. Physicist: we have a little bit of problem here with 9, but 11 and 13 are prime. so 9 must be experimental error. Engineer: 1 is a prime, 3 is a prime and all odd numbers are primes – no doubt about it. Much of what is considered absolute truth in science will change over time. Mathematics is NOT a science. In most european universities it is in the college of Humanities along with Philosophy where it properly belongs. But science also has its beliefs which can not be easily resolved.

  • http://nomoredst.blogspot.com Henry Hertz Hobbit

    But you and I don’t exist. The thought train of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza ran into a dead end. Actually listening to a Berkeley professor talking about time (it doesn’t exist except through us) was illuminating. That is why Kant came into being – to resolve the inconsistencies of both the empirical (what science uses) and rationalist (what Mathematics uses) approaches. You get underneath some of these trains of thought and have inconsistencies glaring at you straight in the face. Since there is so little we can absolutely know, what is wrong with a class in high schol about comparative philosophy where beliefs of some religions can be explored? For example, not all Christians accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity which is the most illogical thing I have ever read. From that you know I have a Mathematics degree among the others.
    But I am joined by Newton who was an ordained minister and John Adams who gave up religion for law. Jefferson was a Deist. Absolute truth is hard to come by.

  • http://nomoredst.blogspot.com Henry Hertz Hobbit

    I hope you mean that Monsieur Cayce gave a trance reading in California. Cayce was born in Kentucky and lived there and in Alabama and at the end of his life in Virginia. He gave readings throughout his life, the most notoriously wrong being where Atlantis was (we will never know). Other things Cayce predicted and analyzed were uncannifly correct. Until Tyson begins to analyze things like this at a very deep level he is nothing more than a hack like Sagan that hasn’t realized yet that science doesn’t have all the answers. One of the main reaons for the Haj is to explose Muslims to the different thinking of other Muslims. Mohammed explicitly says that. Tyson desperately needs to broaden his knowledge in other areas. I suggest he start by studying Jainism.

  • Anonymous

    I watched the part 2 interview today. I’m definitely a Tyson fan, and I gained, if anything, more respect for him as a person well-read in philosophy and the history of science – he’ll need that to step into the shoes of the author of the first ‘Cosmos’ series.

    But – I think he over-reached. I’ll admit that my God fits his “God of the gaps” description – but he claims that “we’re knocking those gaps in knowledge down rapidly.” I don’t buy it, and I can’t believe a smart astrophysicist said it.

    Tyson deals in large numbers – spatial and temporal. We now know that planets are more common than stars, and it would be astonishing if primitive life were not common. And yet, when I look up at the night sky, I see no evidence of even one civilization with a zillion years on us. The most astonishing thing about the night sky is its silence.

    When we can produce evidence of such a civilization, and understand some communication from it, at that point I might be willing to say that we filled a gap. In the meantime, it remains interesting to me that, in one conventional understanding of God, the message most urgently delivered was about our frailty and the necessity of love for others. It seems that our night sky would agree. How long human civilization will be detectable by others, depends most on our capacity to love one another. And right now that’s a gap that shows no sign of being bridged.

  • Erok

    I was never very familiar with Neil, thinking him more of a TV personality than scientist, but BRILLIANT conversation on Moyers. Huge fan and great respect now!

  • Erok

    And our capacity to love one another is enhanced, not diminished by secularization and science. It is no coincidence that the most violent and intolerant places on Earth today are in regions where god belief is strongest. But even in the midst of that consideration, violence between human beings has been unceasingly on the decline throughout our history.

  • Erok

    I would’ve been kind of nice if He at least let us know about electricity or antibiotics, things that really have diminished human suffering. Instead He left us instructions on the proper method to boil a goat in milk and implores us to kill by stoning for minor offenses.

  • Anonymous

    I think separation of church and state is important, and I don’t think creationism belongs in a science classroom. I deeply love science and the gathering of knowledge.

    Science also has something to say about aggression, violence and the benefit of altruism. But – again – I’ll linger on that silent night sky. Is there such a thing as technological adolescence? What percentage of civilizations survive it?

    I do not condemn religion because it has some idiotic practitioners. At the same time, I think the wise scientist possesses humility.

  • Frank G Turner

    I have some interesting ideas when it comes to metaphysics, feel free to friend me on facebook (I like a lot of what you write). i myself am a chemist so the empirical and the rational are critical to me.

    What I am getting at is that many Biblical fundamentalists fail to comprehend is that just because we may have been created through a process of evolution does not mean we are not children of God or that we have no meaning. Our body shape and structure may have been a seemingly random occurrence but in such a complex universe that is expected. Evolution is about the mechanism of speciation and not the purpose. Many biblical fundamentalists also do not know the difference between abiogenesis (how life began) and evolution.(how life differentiates due to environmental pressures once it has already begun).

    FYI, the doctrine of the Trinity has been a topic of debate since the Council of Nicea. Records of the word “Trinitas” from which the word Trinity arise do not seem to indicate it occurring in the books of the Bible chosen at Nicea and only marginal evidence indicates that it may have been included in the Apocryphal books gathered by St. Jerome. Many believe that the word was coined by Tertullian, an early latin Biblical theologian. The Nicean council spent a great deal of time debating the doctrine of the Trinity.

    If we are going to talk metaphysics I will say, cogito cogito ergo cogito sum, cogito (I think I think, therefore, I think I am, I think).

    On a serious note I think the issue that is difficult to understand by Biblical fundamentalists is that from a practical physiological standpoint, stories of the purpose of the universe, such as the Biblical story of creation, do not lead to practical calculable empirical physiological applications. If they did and there was some way to experiment with them using the scientific method and demonstrate their usage (I have an interesting example of this) I would be all for them being taught in a science classroom.

    Physiological applications of a concept are primarily concerned with methodology, but only marginally have to do with the deeper philosophical purpose (aside from the purpose as demonstrated by the immediate application of what is being performed / demonstrated). The deeper purpose of why a mechanism occurs is metaphysics (which ties to spiritual belief).

    Many Biblical fundamentalists, much as they confuse evolution with abiogenesis, also confuse metaphysical purpose (why) with physiological application (how). Some may not have brains designed to separate the concepts mentally.

  • Anonymous

    Most people are aware that Christ was a Jew but the religion his followers created is not a ‘sect’ of Judaism.

    Here are two sources on Jewish theology and its views on spiritual afterlife. In general you’re right but the religion doesn’t focus on the concept.

    http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0001_0_00512.html

    ‘Orthodox Judaism has, throughout, maintained both a belief in the future resurrection of the dead as part of the messianic redemption, and also a belief in some form of immortality of the soul after death. The former figures in the liturgy at a number of points, including the morning prayer (Hertz, Prayer, 18), expressing the believer’s trust that God will return his soul to his body in time to come. It is also a central motif of the second benediction of the *Amidah (ibid., 134). The belief in the soul’s survival after death is implicit in the various prayers said in memory of the dead and in the mourner’s custom of reciting the Kaddish (ibid., 1106–09, and 212, 269–71). Reform Judaism has, however, given up any literal belief in the future resurrection of the dead. Reform theology concerns itself solely with the belief in a spiritual life after death and has modified the relevant liturgical passages accordingly.’

  • Anonymous

    I attempted to post a reply which included two specific reference links. In general you’re correct (except where you state ‘Christianity is a sect of Judaism’) but Judaism doesn’t focus on afterlife. The post was displayed as ‘awaiting moderation’ and subsequently disappeared.

  • Anonymous

    Marilynne Robinson and Garry Wills are, just like you, wishfully believing about an invisible man in the sky because you don’t understand science and reality. You have no proof, you only have warm and fuzzy feelings that make you feel better.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that’s a lot of hokum you just spewed. Sad you really believe that pseudo-science has been “carefully documented and authenticated”. No it hasn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I stand corrected. It was in Virginia Beach, I think. “Of all the things I’ve lost in life, I miss my mind the most.” Ozzy Osborne

  • Anonymous

    Go visit the Edgar Cayce association in Virginia Beach, VA and see for yourself the library of information. I didn’t say I believe in pseudo-science, I simply point out that it exists. Some persons deny that Moses and Jesus are real people, too. You can believe whatever you want to, simple seaman.

  • JonThomas

    Why do so many people, who claim science (a humble quest for truth) as a superior endeavor, often express such intolerance and indignity towards those who value spirituality and religion?

    I can understand the disdain when, as Mr. Tyson expressed, those who value religion arrogantly push aside science in places where science belongs, but it is quite unseemly to see such narrow-mindedness outside of those circumstances.

  • Michaelnel4449

    I so enjoy Mr Tyson, it’s like when I was a child and how I really enjoyed listening to the grown ups in the room talk about various topics. I concluded for myself there is no GOD about 10 yrs ago and never looked back. Some much of the world proves to be gullible, with more programs like this maybe they too could see the truth…

  • Madan Dev

    People’s concept of God is “HE,” man, but what I said is a “SPIRIT” that lives within all of us. God is a religious connotation, whereas spirit is universal just like breathing Oxygen that keeps us alive. From my point of view there is no heaven or hell. We can make this Earth as Heaven or Hell as we prefer. So, just being kinder to other, one solace the spirit, that is God within all of us.

  • Susan Brewer

    Be curious about this, too: it was picked up by Fox, wasn’t it?

  • moderator

    Indieview,

    Due to the links your comment ended up in moderation. It is now posted.

    thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Dan Jastico

    “There are no atheist soup kitchens” -Marc Maron

  • Rebi Jeffs

    THERE WERE COMMENTS earlier about the observer effecting the observation. That applies in one sense to spirituality. The word “dark” has its application regarding undefined forces in matter & energy, but the larger term “darkness” has had a more common application.

    MANY FULL SCALE believers in Judeo-Christianity have made a bad name for this faith, but I myself am a fundamental believer, having a love for science as well. Earlier comments lumping Judeo-Christian fundamental believers in with religious zealots in Syria and elsewhere is unmerited. The religion that is dominant there (a religion which has alarmingly grown in Europe & is now also very rapidly growing among intellectuals in America) uses a book that never mentions the word love, but repeatedly mentions the word kill, and such things as “kill the infidels” and endorsement of freely lying to non-believers, etc., with an author who also believed in marriage with an underage individual and who believed in catching men by invoking images that appeal to their most base nature.

    IT WAS STRICTLY the Judeo-Christian world which precipitated & saw the explosion of technology & knowledge up into the levels which we are discussing here, and saw the fantastic development of democracy which allows these discussions, with, in addition, the greatest universities having their roots in acknowledgement of faith. One people group in history has received the bulk of Nobel prizes because of something that is interwoven with them, a force that couldn’t be confined to their nomadic desert origins.

    BUT THERE ARE accounts even within that one ancient book of people flaring up against things of faith, just like some fundamentalists flare up & those who oppose fundamentalists also get enraged. The people who produced the most Nobel prize winners had a God whose real, true heart was for love, and who insists on only being grasped through THE SUPREME LAWS of poetry & passion, not through the use of equations. Here is a Cosmos kind of verse! “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways above..” Make sure that your heart is fully open to all this good — and to a love that is incredibly higher than that contained within this world.

    WE SURE CAN’T WAIT, though, to enjoy Neil’s program – for brief moment’s his inflections even recalled Carl! Also, our facebook link is listed, please visit. Have a good day, fellow Moyer & Tyson fans!

  • SteveZgt

    Most religious people do not make their religious judgements based on evidence, testing, historical data or even common sense so they will naturally be at odds with science. Most of what they believe in is made up or twisted in ways that will conform to what they want to believe. It’s when they try to parade religion as science that conflict arrises. It just won’t work. Never has.

  • Dylan

    Reductionism and abstraction are both necessary to the discoveries we are still to make in this world. Arrogance in either extreme is mind numbingly ignorant. Where are all the intellectuals? Are they all paired off in their atheist and religious camps? Boorish twaddle. Even Neil understand some beings possibly exist with intuitive knowledge of the things man can only grasp at in one human life time.

  • Dylan

    They’re not clever enough, no capacity to use abstract thought, thinking outside their peer box, or profundity on any level. They are not reading nor studying anything, they’re armchair atheists … it’s all they have.

  • God-optimist

    So here we have an atheist so he has no invisible means of support.First of if he is scientist he should get his facts straight.The bible nowhere introduced God as some one with snowy white beard.Instead it states God is a spirit and they that worship should worship him in spirit and in truth.Next stars falling from the heavens the possibility is broached up on by scientist on National Geographic,How about the earth ship being prepared to carry a half million people to escape the coming cataclysm.They are willing to take a risk to travel into space without a forwarding address.Then about heaven boring who knows?not according to what the bible states”eye has not seen nor ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love him. more to follow……

  • Paul Dunn

    Although Tyson is correct in asserting that faith has no place in the teaching of fundamental scientific literacy and procedure, he was way off the mark when stating that efforts to reconcile faith and reason invariably end in failure. His examples, one that Genesis leads one to believe that the world was created in a literal six days, and another that Revelation provides and incorrect view of the structure of the universe, both stem from his lack of knowledge with respect to linguistic translation of the original Hebrew and literary analysis specific to the apocalyptic genre, and he is simply incorrect that historical science alters the modern interpretation. Great physicist, not a notable biblical scholar.

  • javatea

    Science and Religion are like Water and Oil, some people try to mix it but end up to separate. There are limitation to adapt Scientific findings to the old book. Scientist like Dr. Tyson are not offending Religion, just wants to know what is truth.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think Tyson would be nearly so dismissive of religion if so many of those who cling to it weren’t so intent on dragging the rest of us down with them.
    It’s a defensive thing too long ignored by the sectarian community- and it’s long past time for a resurgence of intellect, humor and healthy derision when dealing with idiot fundamentalists willing to bring the Earth to its knees and then call it “God’s will.” To hell with them.

  • Arakiba

    A notable biblical scholar is like a notable Tolkien scholar, an expert on some interesting stories but not on real history.

  • ReDQLulz

    Considering the overwhelming level of murderous behavior associated with the organized forms of both Christianity and Islam, I see no reason to trust either religion in any way, shape or form.
    Both are lousy with evidence of their failures in guiding mankind. Neither is to be trusted.

  • http://about.me/mikelince Mike Lince

    I believe the folks at FOX recognized the commercial value of the Cosmos series. This was undoubtedly nothing more that a business decision. It will be a good show to record and watch with fast-forward to skip the commercials.

  • Frank G Turner

    The difficulty with that argument is that you are using the principle that because there is no objective proof of a phenomenon (A way to explain it through science and/or calculate it mathematically) then it must be supernatural. Just because something cannot be explained does not mean it is supernatural and even if that were the case, by stating that “God” must be the only explanation, one would be agreeing with Dr. Tyson’s assessment, that you have created a “God of the gaps.”

    Edgar Cayce may have just been a savant (and hence very good at recognizing patterns), but his gift still could have been God given. just not supernatural or magical. God can guide the hands of a surgeon that performs a wonderful surgery that the surgeon has done many times before, but once was doing for the first time (and was being guided every time). That does not make what is being done any less of a miracle just because it can be explained by perfectly rational reasoning. Some American Indian cheifs had lots of battles and wars, they may have come to understand how the battles progress over time.

    And some supposedly supernatural effects may never be explained, but that does not mean they could never under the right circumstances. The God that I have come to believe in and that I envoke and thank for many things does more than fill the unexplainable voids that I don’t understand. I consider God responsible for many of the miracles that I DO understand and CAN explain, but are STILL miracles.

  • Adam Acuo

    They are irreconcilable for the simple fact that the basis of religion is faith, faith is the opposite of reason, reason is the basis of science.

  • Adam Acuo

    The belief in god violates the principles required by the scientific method. Your core central philosophical belief is the opposite of that which you claim to love. A dichotomy that splits your existence into a mind and a soul and never the twain shall meet. Must drive you crazy.

  • Bill West

    Hi Paul,
    God is still under the gun to prove his/her/its existence, regardless of the word games offered by a believer. “Outrageous claims require outrageous proofs.” Carl Sagan. The ball of proof remains in the court of the religious apologist.

  • Frank G Turner

    Tyson never suggested that science does not have all of the answers. He even points out (in so many words) that scripture can have great value in a classroom where the main topic is spiritualism. He mentions reading it for emotional guidance an motivation. And my thought is that he does not want us to simply think of God as being in places where we can’t understand the reasoning behind things. God should not simply be a God of the gaps.

    I tend to agree with him that many well educated religious people seem to understand that the scripture is not meant to be presented as a science textbook. I would presume from that that Tyson would agree that science textbook would have no place in a classroom on scripture (unless one were studying how science had an impact on scriptural belief). How does one teach about the view of Go from early Hebrews by trying to demonstrate how to calculate

    The real issue is that many (presumably undereducated, but not always) religious individuals who cannot seem to fathom that scriptural writings in many cases (not all) were not meant to be taken as factual observations of actual events. Many of the stories are meant as parables for moral and ethical guidance and emotional inspiration. Insisting that they must be factually correct from an observational standpoint to have moral value can actually TAKE AWAY from the moral value. Its like insisting that the story of the three little pigs is worthless because it never actually happened,

  • Lynn Cormier

    I do imagine that this would be where faith comes in. To even attempt to understand the mysteries of a creator most high, is impossible. We do not have the energie and understanding that would be necessary. We do not have the experiance of God. We do channel the universal love, and most complete to the highest human level, to live through our higer mind. I do think that Science and faith do complete each other. One unmasks the mysteries, and they other completes ones faith.

  • jjthomp

    Religion is for the needy, be it a physical or mental need. It has been what has held communities together and fought off invading communities. Was it wrong for the times? I don’t know, but it filled a need. Till peoples needs are filled, there will be a draw towards religions (the glue that holds communities together), right or wrongly. Till we all realize that the Middle East and other parts of the world would like to have a good life too, we will watch Religions grow and change, in an effort to make the follower’s lives better. Or at least give hope to them, which bombs only try to destroy. Of course there are those who take advantage of Religion to control people for their own good.

  • NotARedneck

    The right wing – racists, bigots, fundamentalist imbeciles and gun nuts are loud, obnoxious and often dangerous. This is the main reason that they are thriving now days. Of course, tax evasion and financial fraud helps them to prosper too.

  • NotARedneck

    It is really irritating when these imbeciles try to define their superstition as “the truth”. It is nothing short of criminal – and to think their scum leaders are thriving due to the massive tax deductions that they get – with no need to demonstrate that they do any good at all!

  • Anonymous

    of which ‘god’ do you speak? there are so many…

  • Anonymous

    you are not discussing ‘faith’, but ‘dogma’, which is simply ‘propaganda’. so whose god is superior to whose? it’s in the eye of the believer, since no one can really know. it amazes me that anyone really cares…

  • Anonymous

    first, that’s untrue. second, those faith-based soup kitchens often serve conditional soup…

  • Anonymous

    you are funny…

  • Anonymous

    the reason is that religion is not a true philosophy since it isn’t based on reasoning. therefore it has no place in a comparative context with the study of pure philosophy. and since you wrote ‘some religions’, which religions? the arbitrariness of discussing any religion over another is just as dangerous as considering religion as a scientific exercise…

  • Paul Dunn

    Faith is neither dogma nor doctrine unless you take another step in that direction – which some do maybe – neither of those two are propaganda unless there is intent. I am fairly weak in faith, but so were people who purportedly directly witnessed said events leading to alleged dogma. To them to have faith, trust, was an immediate experiential action. However, you can’t know much if you don’t dig into the subject matter. This arc amazingly stays right on point – Tyson didn’t qualify his statements with equal knowledge. These texts and the legitimate history they represent are and were incredibly meaningful to many people, such as Copernicus, Martin Luther King, Galileo Galilei, Kepler, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Boyle,Mendel, Kelvin and Einstein. I’m caught up in the dogma of Catcher in the Rye at the moment…sorry to be a bit off beat. Tyson could change his mind.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Lanza had no credibility? You got to be joking. That is one of the most ignorant and bigoted statements I have read in some time.

    You might as well make the claim that Bohr, Von Neumann, Wheeler, Pauli or Heisenberg had no credibility as well. To make the remarkable claim that Robert Lanza knows nothing about quantum physics and would fail an undergraduate physics class is breathtaking – in its willingness to put bigotry and bias above the scientific method of open rationality and knowledge – against a leading practicing scientist (Dr. Robert Lanza) and the new scientific ideas he is putting forward – in the spirit of scientific knowledge and inquiry. What you are doing here is not practicing science – but a new kind of (disturbing) fundamentalism in science – that is founded more on deliberate willful bigotry (and deliberate, despicable character assassination) than truth.

    I bet you 2 cents you belong to the Skeptics Society – a group of fundamentalists that insist their “militant” materialistic view of the universe is the only scientific view possible, despite the fact that Werner Heisenberg and his colleagues scientifically established otherwise – that Newtonian/Deterministic materialism has been shown in quantum physics to be an outdated model of our reality (whether your blatant bigotry accepts that fact or not I frankly could care less about). Despite even very recent incontrovertible scientific evidence in quantum entanglement (predicted by Heisenberg and others half a century ago) regarding non-locality being a fundamental property of reality – that militant fundamentalism, based on nothing more than willful ignorance and old school materialism (that has no place in the practice of real science) – would invariably reject.

  • sturner6

    He never did explain the Big Bang except to try to think about how loud it was. What started it? Why did it happen?

  • Paul Dunn

    I’m not a big fan of American fundamentalist Christianity. The Pope is a Jesuit, and if I am reading you correct on bring the Earth to its knees, he is an environmentalist. Historically, many Christians have been so, and scientists and animal rights activists, etc.He is also making strides in his purge of cover-ups and fraud from the Catholic Church.

  • HolyChrist

    Anything that we used to not understand was labeled as “the work of God”. But then dismissed as we moved forward with our scientific understanding. “God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance”

    The big problem is there are things that we DO understand, but there are those who STILL want to label it as “the work of God”. For example, Bill O’Reilly commented about “God” causing the tides going in and out. No, that’s the Moon’s gravitational pull.

  • Anonymous

    You have a naïve view of religion and the psyche if you believe that it all just boils down to need and fear.

    But then again, the idea that we live in a mechanical deterministic universe has also been shown to be a naïve and falsely held point of view as well.

  • Anonymous

    Militant atheism is just another form of religion.

  • Merari

    Shown by whom? By theists? By people that claim the world is younger than written history?

  • Eric Dudley

    You should read the definition of atheism. A lack of belief in god or gods does not constitute a religion.

  • Anonymous

    By psychologists – and psychology is considered a branch of science – except for the fundamentalist “Skeptic” zealots who would deny psychology as well – and there is a number of them. And also by comparative religious studies in academia.

  • Anonymous

    Believing in a mechanistic godless universe is just as much a kind of religion based on pure faith as any other faith that has existed. You have very little understanding of what religion is.

  • fireengine42

    Most interesting. After listening to both interviews, then ALL the monologues/dialogues, repartee, I notice that none mention such movements as liberation theology, Whitehead’s process theology, or Tillich’s Dynamics of Faith and The Courage to Be, or Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, or Brother Lawrence’s The Practice the Presence of God. Movements actually doing some good, philosophers actually grappling with spiritual issues and beliefs about the cosmos, deep theological introspection on the psychology of belief, and writing about actually transcending the realms of wealth and power for the life of kitchen help and service–this is the stuff for real discussion. Much of the dialog seems to never get past the tired debates of half educated propagandists for one belief system or another, usually funded by some political faction or another. I applaud the forum Bill Moyer’s has carved out for decades to push for social justice in politics. I only wish that there were a series with a banner something like “Faith, Science, and the Future” that did not so much debate as explore, not so much pontificate as listen and learn, and in a broad enough context so that potshots and diatribe would be dismissed for what they are. Wonderfully skilled and steeped in the science paradigm as Mr. Tyson is, I think he would be the first to admit that he knows no more about dark matter and dark energy (“just words”) than he knows about God (another word). Science and Theology have this in common: practitioners of both, based on empirical experience, know that whatever they “know” today will in decades to come look as quaint then as phlogiston and the theory of essences do to us today.

  • Merari

    Psychology has no provenance over physics, It is also not a hard science, able to be reduced to pure mathematics, but rather a soft science, it is not deterministic. What theists have to say on the matter is wholly irrelevant.

  • Anonymous

    yes, faith is more like trust, blind trust, since it requires no reason. dogma is propaganda. believing dogma requires this blind trust. this is anti-scientific in any sense of the word. science is never about spreading dogma (which is never questionable), but always subject to reexamination. one observation which leads to a conclusion is not science, and believing such a conclusion is not a reasonable expectation for anyone but the so-called observer, if he/she is so inclined. i’ve known several individuals who have claimed to being witness to extra-normal or ‘miraculous’ events, but experienced only by themselves. proclaiming these to be anything other than subjective and unverifiable occurrences is simply arbitrary and unreasonable. i don’t see where tyson needs to qualify any of his statements in this regard…

  • Anonymous

    Nevertheless it is a science, that you obviously remain as deeply ignorant of as you do regarding religion.

  • Christine Turenne

    Is it possible that a species not far out of the stone age still has much to grasp about tHe great mystery and our attempts to understand and measure the miracle of existence?

  • Eric Dudley

    Atheism is not a belief in a “godless universe” and is not based on faith. It is because of the lack of evidence that most people chose not to believe in god, Zeus, leprechauns, ghosts or other made up entities. Up to this date their is no scientific evidence for an omnipresent being that created the universe. If by observation, peer review, and experimentation proof is provided that a god or gods do exist, I think you will find Atheism would have to address the facts that a god or gods do exist, and then would redefine itself.

  • Tom Hastings

    When will it be realised that every person has a different “concept” of who or what the Creator/Creation is! This means that not one person/soul is right in there particular “concept”. We are all wrong about it and always will be. If there is an after life we may then understand. Only hard cold science can determine what has actually been created.

  • Edward Moriarty

    Science is open to proof that any theory is correct or incorrect based on repeatable scientific evidence. If the evidence can show that something is correct or incorrect the new information then becomes open to the same modification by repeatable scientific evidence. It evolves.
    Religion is based on faith that it’s teachings and belief’s are truth. PERIOD.
    Two distinctly different approaches toward gaining knowledge.

  • Ryan

    The sad thing here is that whether or not your a supporter of the God of the Gaps or not, here we have a scientist overreaching the facts and getting into philosophy when he shouldn’t have an opinion. There isn’t any real new ground being covered in the sense of “knowledge” by the scientist, as if there was a finite amount of knowledge to be gained that would be exhausted by new discoveries eventually. Any new discovery leads to another mystery ad infintium, the progress is an illusion. Sure there’s progress in creature comforts by our advances, but never true knowledge in any sense. So in reality the “mystery” or the “God of the Gaps” really hasn’t moved at all in terms of a human point of a view and a metaphysical one. DeGrasse downplaying this is just his preference for passing his meaningless, according to Science, existence with rational thought via Science, but in reality his metaphysical opinion holds no more worth than the religious god of the gap person he disdains.

  • Dave

    Do you believe in a god? If yes, did your god allow for you to have a cognitive and contemplative brain? If yes, does your god allow freedom for the ways in which you utilize your cognitive and contemplative brain?

    Most would argue “yes, I am free to think,” for reasons that near the infinite (no one likes thought crime, our thoughts define us, reasoning and contemplation forwards human progress, etc., etc.).

    To wrap this up, if you were bestowed with a cognitive brain and allowed the freedom to use it, would you decidedly wave your right and believe things simply because you were told?

    Two quick bullet points to consider before the conclusion:

    *A god that is worthwhile does not bestow cognition, only to damn someone for its use. That is confusing, illogical, and passive aggressive.

    *A life that is worthwhile does not involve waiving the right to investigate truth in hopes that you’ve pleased a god, but rather it involves investigating as you would in the absence of a god, and knowing that if this particular god is worth the merit, your usage of the tools you were given are appreciated. If, after consideration, you determine god to be a man-made contraption, this applies.

    There is a logical paradox that surfaces when people say “I feel bad for you if you’re on the ‘wrong’ side of the argument.” You can live your life (something you KNOW you have) with interesting thoughts and the freedom of examination, OR, you can relinquish those freedoms and hope you’ve won an afterlife (something you’re NOT SURE you have).

    In the former, you’ll live your life freely and if there is a god, and if they are fair, they will appreciate your deliberate consideration of their existence. In the latter, you’ll abandon, ironically, one of “god’s gifts,” and if that wins you a golden ticket, wouldn’t you find that god behaved in a rather cunning and passive aggressive manner?

    There is a “wrong side.” It’s the side that avoids examination, free thought, and an “unsafe” final determination merely because they believe that these are grounds to be judged.

  • Anonymous

    Scientists “shouldn’t have an opinion”?

    Enough said.

  • Anonymous

    …and when the scientists find life on other planets, the theological troglodytes are going to insist that they too are god’s children–regardless of their own mythologies–and invent yet more preposterous biblical interpretations to sustain their narrative.

  • Anonymous

    Verb1.believe in – have a firm conviction as to the goodness of something; “John believes in oat bran”

  • Anonymous

    And the Atheistic fundamentalist troglodytes will continue to insist it is all random without purpose, and consciousness is just a product of inert matter …

  • Rebi Jeffs

    Whoa, a reply, thank you! From a proud Canadian no less, thanks Adam. Hey, can you say something about the Islam points. Oh also, hey, what kind of music do you like? (I’ll bet it’s rock!).

    But about going crazy…..

    Naaa!

    Because there’s a supreme source of peace and a supreme source of love (and of science!) available for you and I. But there ARE people going desperately & tragically crazy, as we see in endless sad headlines. They, and really everyone, could use such peace, don’t you think.

    But as for the scientific method. You might have me on some parts of that! Can I ask, are you ever in a place of science where the scientific method is actually set aside?

  • Rebi Jeffs

    Shucks, I just hovered and it voted, sorry!

  • Rebi Jeffs

    You’re assuming cognition is the only great tool.

  • bubba

    In what universe are scientists not allowed to have opinions on philosophical matters?

  • bubba

    I would say science,if understood,yields knowledge;theism does not.

  • bubba

    Science and religion are two diametrically opposed world-views of one reality.There is absolutely no way to make these opposite
    world-views compatible.

  • bubba

    Belief in a godless universe is not based on pure faith.It comes from scientific understanding of the
    universe,which is based on evidence gathered by scientific method,and which does not yield any evidence for the existence of either a supernatural realm or any
    supernatural beings,divine or not.

  • bubba

    I’m old,Texan,atheist,liberal,populist,and
    honest.I am not racist,homophobic,xeno-
    phobic,misogynist,bigoted,rich,loud, ob-noxious or dangerous,am not a redneck, and I don’t hunt. I do believe that guns are necessary for home and self defense,
    and I also like to target shoot. This likely
    means “gun nut” to you. So be it. How-
    ever, I do resent having all of these other pejorative terms applied to me just be-cause I like guns,and believe they provide the best defense of home,self,and loved ones. If you dislike or fear guns and are
    complacent about home and self defense, that is your right, but I hope you never ex-
    perience a home invasion or assault, be-
    cause I don’t think speaking sharply to an intruder or assaulter will provide much protection.
    Bottom line: Grow up! One is not a right- wing nut just because they like guns and appreciate their usefulness for protection.

  • bubba

    this post is absurd!

  • bubba

    Simple request: What constitutes your evidence for the existence of god?

  • bubba

    The fact that many people in many places for long periods of time believe something is NO proof that what they believe has validity.

  • bubba

    All theism is false and dangerous because none of it has any evidence to support it.

  • bubba

    I get much emotional comfort,meaning,and satis-faction from,logic,evidence,scientific method,and the objective truths about reality that these things
    yield,and from what little intellectual understand-ing of reality I possess.Throw in a large dose of Philosophy,and I’m good to go! Superstitious and false theistic nonsense only irritates me.

  • bubba

    Science and religion are FUNDAMENTALLY in-
    compatible world-views.At the core of all religion is belief in the existence of a divine,supernatural realm,containing a divine non-physical being who causally interacts with this physical reality in which we are embedded,all this totally unsuppor-
    ted by any evidence as to how this physical/non-
    physical causal interaction can or does occur. On
    the other hand, science shows us, in countless ways, that there is no supernatural reality, no supernatural beings,divine or otherwise,and no nonphysical causes of anything in this physical
    reality. As long as there has been science, it has been engaged in the task of taking what religion says about reality and showing it to be false.The
    great thing about scientific method is that it self-
    corrects.By its very nature,it corrects its mistakes. Religion gets it ALL wrong, and never corrects from within.Any corrections come from outside, primarily from science,and religion has to be drag-ged,kicking & screaming,to any correction.
    Religion is superstitious nonsense that should have been dispensed with centuries ago. We have better,scientific,explanations of reality.Let religion go!

  • bubba

    I am intolerant of religion because I consider it to be superstitious non-sense,lacking any supporting evi-dence,that is believed blindly,and to do so violates the duty we all
    have, to ourselves and the intellec-
    tual climate of our time, to be rational and not believe things
    without supporting evidence.

  • bubba

    incoherent BS!

  • bubba

    Atheists are uncharitable,is that your line? Go read something about the organization,Doctors Without Borders,then tell me this is true.

  • bubba

    This just seems incoherent to me.

  • bubba

    Consciousness as fundamental as quarks and electrons? You make David Chalmers proud! Silly!

  • bubba

    It’s my understanding that there is no consensus on what interpreta-tion of quantum physics is the cor-rect one,if any is. I’m not advocat-
    ing for Newtonian determinism, I just don’t think there is agreement
    on the “correct” interpretation.

  • bubba

    A course on comparative philosophy and religion
    would be a good thing as long as no particular
    religion or philosophy was deemed “the best” or
    “the truth”.No indoctrination allowed! And it should be completely separate from science.Also,
    many(me) don’t believe there is a “why” to existence.

  • bubba

    Simple answer: there is no why!

  • bubba

    This is just silly,and without basis in fact. NO supernatural phenomena have EVER been verified.

  • bubba

    I’ve seen Swimme’s Journey of the Universe,and it is nonsensical theistic claptrap!

  • bubba

    You completely miss the point,goober! He means they are afraid to acknowledge that death does not mean you go to some “better” place and live there forever. All those you mention believe that death isn’t final,that they go to a better place.What they fear is the probability that they don’t go anywhere except “into the ground or
    into the fire”,nowhere else.

  • bubba

    Except that Bill is a preacher,and was clearly un-
    comfortable with much of what Neil said.

  • Dave

    Hmm…which part of what I said prompted you to arrive at that conclusion?

  • Rebi Jeffs

    P.S. What thoughtful individuals will also comment on the FB page (fb /rebi.jeffs.33), on the “Compendium” post
    Mornin’ to you Dave! It’s expressed in parag 3 & a couple lines after that.
    So this morning, please be as open as you can be down inside. Something greater might be strongly calling to you. And to William Moyers today! Calling for all these great walls we make and we get so used to living with to finally open up, to finally be brought down a bit.

  • Rebi Jeffs

    Hello moderators! I was afraid of the smaller & smaller columns and thought by going higher that would be avoided. But now my disqus mail is unclear — can you tell me if my post from one hour ago is gone? Should I just put it down here? Or is it okay to go fresh this time? But let’s be fully fair at disq. I don’t know where the disabling of paragraphs came from.

    Here is the “in line” version if that is needed today . . .

    Mornin’ to you Dave! It’s expressed in parag 3 and a couple lines after that.

    P.S. What thoughtful individuals will also comment on the FB page (fb /rebi.jeffs.33), on the “Compendium” post

    So this morning, please be as open as you can be down inside. Something greater might be strongly calling to you. And to Mr. Moyers today! Calling for all these great walls we make and we get so used to living with to finally come down a bit! For these constructions down inside to ease, listening to this one great voice that calls out to you, that pleads with your heart.

  • Rebi Jeffs

    As far as going crazy, no, because there is a supreme source of peace and of love (and of science), which is available to you today as well! There are multitudes in the world going crazy though, as we see in the headlines & in the world’s trouble spots, who could use this peace, wouldn’t you say? Oh, and can you comment on the points about Islam & the Judeo-Christian world. As far as the scientific method, you may have me on part of that. But tell me, have you ever been in a place of science where the scientific method simply is not used?

  • Rebi Jeffs

    As for rampant corruption in the world, it’s always been here. Some nations have to deal with level of it that are unfathomable to us in America. But don’t forget how Christ massively railed against the corrupt “spiritual leaders” in his day!

  • Rebi Jeffs

    Yes, atheists say education is the solution to all. But that doesn’t account for horrendous crime/domestic abuse cases in the white collar category. Jamenta, can you comment on our fb post, “Compendium?” Have a good day.

  • A. Opinion

    Couldn’t disagree more. The practical why question is at the heart of all science and general knowledge. The philosophical why is what gives purpose and motivation to one’s life. Why is the question soldiers have died for knowing full well that their own survival was doomed. The philosophical why is the reason children no longer work in factories, our own Constitution, the nebulous things called empathy, compassion, guilt, conscience, morality, laws and ethics, the care and thought for the greater community of life in general.

  • Anonymous

    The locality EPR argument used by Einstein has been disproven – recent repeatable experiments have confirmed the predicted non-locality of quantum entanglement.

  • Anonymous

    Psychology is a science nevertheless – that you simply can’t sweep under the rug – just as you can’t sweep non-locality under the rug.

  • Anonymous

    Atheism is yet another faith. We do not even know what gravity is – not to mention what dark energy or dark matter is. Only recently, in the 20th century, did science make probably the biggest discovery since Newton – the “quantum state”, and the non-local and probabilistic nature of our reality (putting an end to determinism).
    To assume there is no God is just as much a matter of faith as to assume there is. Anything else – is pure unadulterated arrogance – to assume you already know what reality is and what caused it.

  • JonThomas

    So, you don’t mind intolerance when it emanates from you, but if it comes from someone else, then it’s bad?

    One of the quests of spirituality is to understand, not the physics of the world (although true spirituality doesn’t have to ignore it, rather it can embrace it with an open mind,) but mostly, the inner make up of humans.

    Religion is a tricky word, because the dogma attached to many religions is often different than naked spirituality.

    I will not say that there aren’t any religious, or spiritual people who fit your description, but there are those who do not.

    Not everything that is spiritual is without supporting evidence. Besides, even science realizes that there are ideas and concepts outside of the practicality of proof. A tolerant, open mind can accomplish much when faced with differences in thinking.

    In my comment above, I’m not saying that it is wrong to defend yourself, but I am trying to get across the idea that it is unproductive to attack someone who sees the world differently if they have simply stated their view.

    I know you used the word ‘duty,’ but it is unreasonable to think that everyone will conform to your sense of what should be.

    Sure, get frustrated, even express your frustration. Open a dialogue if it’s appropriate, but attacking them when they didn’t do anything against you is analogous to engaging in the religious crusades.

    All that said, in my first comment; I asked – you answered – we may never see eye-to-eye… it’s cool

  • Merari

    Yes, it is a soft science. It has as much to say about the properties of the universe as biology has to say about the temperature of the sun though.

  • Cooba

    Paul,

    Jesus Christ is the Author and finisher of our faith. He was a real person in a time that we all consider to have been real…the Roman Empire. He was witnessed by real people and written about. That’s how the word history came about in the English language…His story.

  • bubba

    You asked why some people are intolerant of religious belief.I attempted to answer your question as it pertains to me.I speak for no one else.If you con-sider this an attack on your beliefs,so be it.Point:what is your supporting evidence for what you call “the spiritual”?what is your evidence that there is even something called a “spirit”? I’m not asking you for
    evidence that absolutely proves the existence of spirit,all I want is SOME evidence that speaks to
    its existence.The fact that we all have spiritual feelings(brain pro-
    cesses)is no proof of an actual spirit or an actual spiritual realm
    over and above,and separate from this physical reality in which we are embedded. When someone is speaking what I consider to be unsupported non-
    sense,I feel an intellectual duty to respond.This is what I have done.If you believe things with-
    out supporting evidence, that is your right.People do this all the time.But you have no right to be taken seriously if you do this.All
    I have to respect is your right to hold/express any belief at all.You
    don’t have any right to have those beliefs be respected or be
    taken seriously.I feel your unsup-
    ported beliefs lack creditability,
    and I have merely expressed this opinion.If you feel that this is an attack ,I can’t do anything about that.Just remember,when you
    put your ideas out there,people will,and have a right to, express opinions concerning those ideas.
    That is what constituted discus-
    sion.Bottom line: Son, you are way too sensitive to be express-ing ideas on this blog!

  • bubba

    You,and no one else,knows any of this.You don’t know JC was real and was witnessed by real people at the time,even if he has been written about.You don’t know that Paul was an actual person either.And the notion that a possibly non-existent Paul said something about JC is no proof that either Paul or JC existed.In fact,there is lack of mention of JC in records from those times that should contain some mention of him.Finally,none of this has anything to do with “how the word history came about in the English language”.I don’t even know what this means.

  • bubba

    This is pertains to what exactly?

  • bubba

    I take the “why” question to be,
    “what is the purpose of human existence”.My answer is:no purpose.We exist because of
    biological evolution,which is a
    blind,purposeless,non-goal ori-ented, natural,physical process
    that begins from random muta-tions that arise in populations of
    biological organisms.This means
    there is no purpose for which we
    evolve.This does not prevent us from structuring our lives with any freely chosen purpose that we choose,or alternatively,to choose to have no driving pur-pose at all. We choose our purpose or not,nobody and nothing else does this for us.

  • Paul Dunn

    Cooba, I studied biblical literature from Hebrew and Greek language scholars in my undergrad and visited many historical sites in the ME with archaeologists. I am fully aware of what I am discussing and the inherent ignorance of the straw-man arguments posted as replies. However, nothing is less helpful in coming to a rational conclusion than churchy oversimplifications like taking a word from the English language and making it Christian in origin. Ignorant, stupid Christians are said to have sacked the library of Alexandria and murdered Hypatia due to their own ignorance of Christ. I may share your theology, more or less, but not your method.

  • bubba

    From your first post:

    “…he(Tyson) was way off the mark when stating that efforts to reconcile faith and reason invariably end in failure.”

    ANSWER: Science and religion are not compatible in the sense that they are two completely op-posite world-views of the same reality.At the core of ALL religion is belief in the supernatural; at the core of science is the idea that there is no evidence sup-porting the existence of any supernatural anything,divine or not.These opposing views cannot be reconciled.

    From your second post:
    “But faith means trust, and that can be reasonable if you allow for God, which science certainly does not disprove in any way whatsoever.”

    ANSWER: See above.

    From your second post:

    “I am speaking to monotheism as taught in the Judeo-Christian cannon – the Bible. Not religion per se. This is a faith, faith being a word literally meaning “trust”, with a well grounded historical context and within a specific culture. If you compare it to any religion, you will find its claims to be greater than them. Compare to the claims of the Buddha or Islamic tradition.”

    ANSWER: Really? The Judeo-Christian tradition “greater” than

    other religious traditions? How egotistical,sophomoric,and absurd,even to an atheist like me!

  • Paul Dunn

    I guess it was not obvious enough, but here is the point I was getting at. “The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument: Person 1 has position X. Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y.”

  • bubba

    ???????

  • JonThomas

    I’m sorry sir, but where did I say that you attacked any of my beliefs?

    I simply expressed my frustrations with intolerance.

    I then tried to explain why it might be beneficial for someone (specifically you once you responded) to be more accepting of other people’s worldview.

    I didn’t say you had to take anything seriously. What I expressed was that when you attack someone for not seeing things as you do, you are no better then those who participated in the religious crusades. Careful, your intolerance may take you to the next steps, purges and inquisition style litmus tests.

    You are already attacking those who are living different than you and aren’t conforming to your way of seeing the world.

    Intolerance is a very dangerous emotional expression. A spiritual person (spiritual does not even have to refer to a separate ‘realm,’ but it sure can, especially one of metaphysical construct) may explain that through introspection, using observable, testable data, a person such as yourself, if you wished of course, could improve your human interactions through changes in the way you act toward other people.

    In other words, if you express a more inclusive attitude, even when you disagree with a person (live and let live, or live and let die… whatever,) as long as their view doesn’t affect your life, then maybe you wouldn’t come off as so war-like.

    I suppose though, now is where you circle the wagons and say you are just fine as you are.

    Cool… I was just expressing myself, take it as you may.

  • A. Opinion

    I basically said the same thing in my original post: “This is the real issue that everyone tries to work out for themselves as they move through life.” So I guess we agree to agree.

  • bubba

    It’s Bubba,not Buuba,you goober!

    Your post:
    “I’m missing the point where evolution gives rise to humanist compassion, justice, love and, quite frankly, ultimate origins.”

    “Dispel Christianity for me with something besides a quote from Sagen(sic).”

    ANSWER: I wasn’t addressing your whole post,because I can’t make any sense of it. I was ad-dressing the second quote above. One can dispense with
    Christianity in the same way one would dispense with all religion.
    Just point out that there is NO evidence for ANYTHING that
    ANY religion says!

    As for the first quote,the point where evolution gives rise to these things is the point when/
    where the biologically evolved human brain has passed a thres-
    hold of complexity that allows it to entertain such complex concepts.

  • bubba

    your posts of 3hrs. ago and 11 minutes ago are inconsistent.

  • bubba

    I see no reason to tolerate views that I consider to be nonsense.
    That would be to take toleration to an extreme.

    You ask: “…where did I say that you attacked any of my beliefs?”

    Here is where:

    “…I am trying to get across the idea that it is unproductive to attack someone who sees the world differently if they have simply stated their view.”

    “Open a dialogue if it’s appropriate, but attacking them when they didn’t do anything against you is analogous to engaging in the religious crusades.”

    “What I expressed was that when you attack someone for not seeing things as you do, you are no better then those who participated in the religious crusades.”

    “You are already attacking those who are living different than you and aren’t conforming to your way of seeing the world.”

    Are these enough examples,in your own words? I see the
    problem.You seem to believe
    that disagreement with you is an attack on you.You want to just
    say your piece, and no discussion please! But if you feel this way,you have no business putting your ideas into a public discussion forum where they surely will be discussed and, yes,criticized.
    Toughen up,boy!

  • bubba

    ?????????

  • Cooba

    Airborne,

    I do agree, “that religious ideas have no place in science classes.” The pursuit of knowledge about our physical world is OK. God never, ever hinted that He would take away our free will. Pursuing knowledge about our physical world should have nothing to do with whether or not you believe in God.

    The problem is that scientists can neither prove or disprove God. If they were able to do that than we wouldn’t have to practice faith as far as His existence is concerned. In talking to Thomas, one of His disciples, who didn’t believe that Jesus was resurrected, He said, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20: 29.

    Jesus had that conversation with Pontius Pilot about the “what is truth.” Jesus said to Pilot that His Kingdom is not of this world, John 18: 36. John 4: 24, God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

    We learn that there’s a physical world and a spiritual world. Whether they choose to believe that or not it’s out of our hands. God gave us freedom in that He gave us free will. Who is man to take that away? However, these souls are making eternal decisions whether they know it or not. How? Mark 3: 28-29, “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter;(even against Jesus)but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”

    What that means is that a day will come when the window of opportunity closes and your fate is sealed. All this time the Holy Spirit was tugging at your heart and you rejected Him…you have grieved the Holy Spirit away. That won’t be forgiven…

    For the record, I have to say that for the “born again”, a true child of God continues in the faith, not in order to hold on to his salvation but as a fruit of the new life. It is not a work of merit but an outworking of the life of Christ within him. However, our good works shows our faith.

    It’s plain and simple. I cannot talk about God and bring science into it to explain the knowledge that God has given us about Himself in His word. In this matter, it’s not about science but all about God.

    I once heard a lady say, God is who God is and what He says and says about Himself is how you define Him…truth!

    May God richly bless you, Airborne.

  • A. Opinion

    You said “We choose our purpose or not,nobody and nothing else does this for us.”
    I originally posted “This (the why question) is the real issue that everyone tries to work out for themselves as they move through life.” These are one in the same.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you and thank you for your kind words. God willing, we shall meet one day in a better world.

  • Anonymous

    “To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”Aldous Huxley

  • Eric Dudley

    It is obvious by your reply to this subject, that you are unteachable. Faith is believing without proof. If there is a god(s) science will prove it. Faith proves nothing, just because you say it doesn’t make it a fact.

  • Cooba

    Mr. Dunn,

    That’s pretty much what I shared with Airborne in so many words.

    It’s OK to do science but it shouldn’t interfere with the belief in God. You nor I or anyone else can’t explain it scientifically. It has to be explain within the context of the scriptures.

    It’s all about God in this matter…otherwise it will be about science.

  • moderator

    Bubba and JonThomas,

    Time to move along. All that can be said has been said.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    JonThomas and Bubba

    Time to move along. All that can be said has been said.

    Thanks,

    Sean @ Moyers

  • JonThomas

    I’m not your boy! Sean, you see that as appropriate?

  • JonThomas

    I’m not your son, a perfect example of your subtle attacks. Again… not appropriate!

  • moderator

    To The Community,

    Please try to keep your comments respectful of others in the community.

    Thanks
    Sean @ Moyers

  • bubba

    I did not say that “faith is based on the experience of god”,I said faith is based on no evidence at all.

  • Anonymous

    This pertains to your particular kind of lack of knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    There is absolutely no scientific proof that something can come from nothing at all … such as the Big Bang.

  • Anonymous

    ……..

  • Anonymous

    Psychology – which is a science by the way – has established the existence of the unconscious. The unconscious has been studied now for over a century. It does not fear death like the ego does. The superstition arises from the necessary fear of the ego, but does not reside within the deeper portions of the psyche.

  • Anonymous

    Actually some of the newest theories/discoveries in evolutionary biology are moving away from pure randomness, more toward principles of self-organization. This does not prove there is a God (whatsoever), but at least the idea that pure randomness has led to the complexity we have today (such as the complexity of the brain) is starting to be shown as remarkably preposterous –

  • Anonymous

    I like this pope. It’s the deniers of Global Warming I’m talking about, who are misleading millions of people…

  • Cooba

    Hello Bill,

    You are right…God has allowed it to happen. Of course, you’re talking about the war that happened in heaven…before the story of creation.

    God could have eliminated Lucifer no problem but there would have been a problem with that. God had to put himself on trial to show his creation in heaven the type of world system Lucifer would ultimately create.

    God let it ride…it was not His original plan but at least His creation in heaven can see all that sin has brought about.

    As you know, God created the angels, Adam and Eve with a conditional immortality. He also made provisions if they(Adam and Eve)should falter and sin. Did not God take responsibility for His creation?

    The very reason why Christ died on the cross was because the very law of God law was violated. Keep in mind that this law is the very character of God. God couldn’t change it anymore than He could change Himself. Jesus not only did not abolish the law but He greatly magnified it. In fact, He demonstrated that its binding claims could never be voided. In the same sense, God would not and could not abolish the law to save even His own Son. It cost something to uphold the law and pay the maximum penalty. How? By substituting Himself in our place and being nailed to a cross which is what We deserved. God took it upon Himself to save us because we couldn’t. His love was as perfect as His justice. In His own body He bore the full penalty, satisfied the law and justified the transgressor. What more greater love than that from the Author of life?

    His creation in heaven can have no doubt…they saw the results as well as the love of Christ. God can now judge without any of His creation forever wondering, “was Lucifer right about God.”

  • R. Schauer

    Marty, you think without blood running through your brain you are going to be conscious of something? Dude, what gives you that idea?

  • R. Schauer

    What? NDT is not comparible with Sagan? Yikes, he is Sagan’s replacement!!! Wake up!

  • MARTY RAYMOND

    R. Schauer you’re assuming blood is a requirement for cognition when you can’t prove otherwise. Neither can I but who’s to say otherwise? Why would you gamble with such an important issue? What do you lose if you believe in God?

  • David Wilks Cordle

    I am just so thankful for your interview. I can believe in GOD and love information on scientific breakthrough’s. Just as Mr. Tyson says my belief is I can not know how to define it and I do not think a person can. My own personal experience justifies my own personal faith.

  • Bill West

    Cooba,

    You have not provided one iota of credible evidence for the existence of yours or any other deity be it God, Zeus, Horus, Isis, Mars, Dionysus, Athena, Allah, et al. All of the apologies for religions here go nowhere outside of the minds of you the creators. Zeus is a myth and Christ isn’t?

    Faith is the word the religiously infected use for a belief without evidence.

    These pro and con conversations about the existence of any aspect about religion are trite and endless.

    You people are suffering from the God/religion virus that can only be cured from within.

    Have a great year.

  • Cooba

    I was hoping that an intelligent person like you would tell me.

  • Cooba

    Bill,

    Totally misread your part but I hope you enjoyed the thought.

  • bubba

    Don’t be a smarta$$!

  • MARTY RAYMOND

    So you believe in intelligent alien life – which you have no evidence of whatsoever – but you don’t believe in God? Hahaha. Oh the irony.

  • MARTY RAYMOND

    Dave,

    If you have freedom to choose why do you sometimes choose to do what’s wrong? You being free to think and choose – have you anything ‘sensual’ in your life you wish you we’re slave to? If you’re alive then the answer to that question is YES. We all have a bent towards ‘sin’ as sin is defined in the Bible. We all have disobeyed at least one of the ten commandments oftentimes in our lives. If you say no you haven’t then you’re a liar, correct?

    So the gospel message is so simple it’s amazing: We’re all sinners because of the disobedience of Adam. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)

    And, Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

    HERE’S YOUR PROBLEM: Neither are you sure about the ‘afterlife’. Can you prove to yourself that there is no ‘afterlife’? No. So, you’re gambling with the one thing you cannot avoid in the life – your own eventual and certain death.

  • MARTY RAYMOND

    Really? How can you prove that? You speak to dead people? Is thinking a biological process only?

    Here’s a question for you, how do you know the world around you exists? Can you ‘prove’ ‘it’ to me?

  • Anonymous

    Yes all that is true. I only gave a definition of believe in from a dictionary.

  • Anonymous

    I have a belief that Earth exists.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Tyson. Again you give reason to think and discuss important issues. I just wish you could fix the direction of Earth on The Daily Show. Of course there are a few people here that slam others for having different thoughts. :/

  • Anonymous

    Why are you trying to insult people?

  • bubba

    Sean,why do you keep deleting my responses to posts that are snarky about my posts?

  • Anonymous

    Religion is an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship or even jogging. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with spirituality.

  • moderator

    Bubba,

    If you find other comments to be inappropriate please flag them for our consideration. If you respond to snark with snark, odds are good both posts will be deleted.

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    Sean @ Moyers

  • Cooba

    bubba,

    Let’s end this, really.You have to understand that God is not a science experiment.

    It’s OK to do science…I love science, particularly human biology. Hey, I work with surgeons. No, I am not going to get into how incredibly complex we are.

    I pray that someday you’ll have a personal experience with the Master. Don’t worry…if you go searching, He’ll find you. One thing…you have to open your heart to Him and let Him in. If there’s anything in this world that I can guaranteed will change your life forever is that. Then you will understand the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.

    I hope I can meet you someday on the New Earth and call you brother.

    Peace

  • bubba

    End it we shall,but you should understand that you have no supporting evidence for the existence of god. Peace.

  • anja

    Psychology as a science is debatable. I don’t buy it and according to James Watson we don’t know enough about the mind to even consider Psychology a science…. perhaps in 50 years.

  • Stephen Childs

    What if the structure of all ‘brains’ are a symbolic reaction to dark matter?!!!

    Or even more probable…the purpose of the universe is nothing and our brains try to deny the lack of purpose by proposing the desire of purpose.

    Consciousness is a result, not a gift. Understanding is a homo sapien’s way of grasping. Sad and exciting! :( :)

  • Anonymous

    Very disappointing. I really lost a lot of respect for Dr. Tyson.

    Tyson pretends that everything we observe and experience can be explained – or eventually will be – by physical laws, and that only things we can measure have any reality. This is a belief, not science. He claims that the mind is nothing more than a product of the brain. This also is a belief, not science.

    Psychologist Charles Tart calls this sort of thinking “scientism,” a.k.a. “scientific materialism.” It is dogma masquerading as science. That doesn’t mean that Tyson isn’t a real scientist, or that most of what he does isn’t science, but that when he makes unfounded claims based on personal, professional or cultural bias, he is exiting the realm of science and entering the realm of belief.

    Science as we know it simply cannot explain a number of phenomena, and it can’t just wish them away or assume they will eventually be explainable in conventional scientific terms:

    1. Psi phenomena – telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis – all have been proved in the lab. The magnitude of these is small, nevertheless, careful experimentation and replication have proved them beyond any reasonable doubt;

    2. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) – these are ‘explained away’ as hallucinations, but the life-changing nature of these events, and the vehemence with which experiencers – including many scientists who’ve had them – proclaim their reality, make them a phenomenon to be reckoned with. Of particular note is the case of ‘Pam Reynolds,’ who described accurately many details of what happened, and what was said, during her surgery, even though her heartbeat and breathing had stopped, her head was drained of blood, and her brainwaves flattened;

    3. Evidence of reincarnation – Drs. Stevenson and Tucker at UVa have spent decades studying very young children who claim to have been reincarnated, and have produced a record that strongly suggests that reincarnation is a reality;

    4. Quantum entanglement – what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance,’ this pervasive phenomenon seems to involve communication that is orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light, virtually instantaneous;

    5. The placebo effect – scientific materialism has no credible explanation for this, one of the most widely observed anomalies. It’s too bad it’s treated more as an embarrassment than an opportunity, because there is great potential here for human empowerment and greater health;

    6. Big Bang cause – Tyson tried to evade this thorny issue by focusing on religion’s poor track record in explaining physical reality, but science really has nothing to say about the ultimate origin of the universe (or multiverse). There definitely is some sort of miracle involved, because from a human standpoint, everything at least has a beginning, if not an end. If the universe is all physical, where did the stuff come from? If the universe was the product of a great mind, where did that mind come from? It’s hard for us to imagine that something could always have been in existence. We should ALL be humble in the face of this realization;

    7. Development of consciousness – scientific materialism hasn’t even begun to explain how consciousness could spring from inert matter.

    Other scientists note that the universe seems absurdly coherent and finely tuned for the product of an ‘accident.” I don’t have the credentials to evaluate these claims, but they are interesting.

    Tyson equates spirituality with religion, and puts a ridiculous burden on religion to accurately explain the physical universe. Religion is primarily concerned with shaping human behavior, not in scientifically describing physical reality. Tyson’s assertion that the bible sought to do so, and only was interpreted as metaphorical once it was found wanting in this regard, is unconvincing. Spiritual and religious texts are always metaphorical, because language evolved to explain day-to-day life, not the origin and ultimate meaning of life, including the supernatural. It should be noted that Tyson does NOT broach the topic of the spirituality of indigenous peoples, all of which describe the universe as “coherent, connected and whole” (in the words of Ervin Laszlo), which is increasingly being confirmed by modern science. This is interesting because this is not the most obvious interpretation from everyday life. We and everything else, while interdependent in many respects, seem separate. How did these “primitives” know about the underlying unity?

    Why does this all matter? Because scientism takes all the meaning out of life, and reduces it to the relentless, remorseless, deterministic carrying out of physical laws. In so doing, it tends to support nihilistic behaviors, and perhaps is one of the key drivers of our many environmental and other crises. Plus, it may be limiting our ability to reach our true potential. I think it’s sad when we have a so-called science that tells us not to trust our personal experiences, only what is measurable and repeatable in a laboratory. Here are some descriptions of personal, transcendent experiences of credentialed scientists. Should these be ignored as hallucinations?:

    http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=expo&ss=1

    The adherents of scientism may ultimately be proved essentially right, but we shouldn’t assume that they are.

    I suggest that Mr. Moyers invite onto his show other scientists who have a different take on reality and don’t indulge in scientism, such as Charles Tart, Brian Swimme, Bruce Lipton, or Mae-Wan Ho. Tart in particular has done deep thinking on what science is, and what it isn’t, and how to apply it properly – to the extent it can be applied at all – to the supersensible. He has also contemplated the implications of scientific materialism in a very thoughtful way. His voice needs to be heard.

  • Anonymous

    None of this is evidence of the existence of a deity.

  • Anonymous

    My point isn’t really about whether there’s a deity or not, it’s about dogmatic rejection of anything beyond what can be measured or explained using conventional scientific principles. When properly conducted experiments contradict the known rules of science, it is science that must make room for these phenomena – the inconvenient phenomena should not be denied or ignored.

    There’s plenty of evidence, as I noted in my comment, that there is a reality beyond the physical. Yet, scientists who try to study related phenomena are generally given the cold shoulder by the scientific establishment.

    My intent was not to denigrate scientists. I greatly admire many scientists. However, to the extent that they abuse their authority as revered scientists to portray belief as science (as in scientism), then I have a problem with them.

    Moreover, your assertion that most scientists are atheists is inaccurate. A study at the University of Buffalo (SUNY), based on a survey of 1,646 scientists at elite universities, found that about 1/3 of scientists are atheists (34%), and 30% are agnostics. Additionally, over 22% of the atheist scientists, and over 27% of the agnostics, indicated that they considered themselves ‘spiritual persons.’ Overall, 68% said they were ‘interested’ in spirituality, and 48% identified (even many of the agnostic) with a faith tradition. Surprisingly, the study found that whether a scientist was atheist or agnostic, or a believer had more to do with their upbringing than with the fact that they were scientists. So, the picture is not so simple. Here’s a link to the study:

    http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Ecklund.pdf

  • Anonymous
  • NG Carter

    I hope you realize that the first two sentences of your first paragraph are completely contradictory, and thus give no one any confidence in your opinion.

  • Anonymous

    You have a good point. I didn’t explain that well. What I meant was that we have experiments that give results that appear to be impossible, because we can’t find any explanatory theory that doesn’t violate the ‘laws’ of physics.

    I’m talking about psi phenomena here. When we have this anomalous experimental data, and we’ve rigorously questioned every aspect of the experiments and can find nothing ‘wrong,’ at some point we must accept the results and concede that our prevailing views about reality need an update. We cannot just assume away the ‘offending’ experimental results.

  • Aleenum

    Everyone is capable of superstition and irrational beliefs . It’s much easier for a scientist to change their beliefs

    A belief based on observable reproducible evidence is an excellent way to form beliefs.

    “Scientism” is a word made up by philosophers and social “scientists” to make themselves seem more relevant .

  • Anonymous

    “Scientism” may be used in other contexts, by other people, but Charles Tart uses it to describe belief posing as science, and I believe it’s inarguable that much of this goes on. Often, scientists are the worst offenders with this behavior and sadly, they often aren’t significantly more flexible than religious believers in changing their beliefs when those beliefs fail to mesh with newly discovered realities. I see it every day, and I’m seeing it on this website.

    Tart (and Radin and a number of others) does serious, reproducible, experimental science, and it’s showing that materialism, and science as we know it, cannot explain everything. It’s too bad that so many people can’t deal with it.

  • Aleenum

    Tart has been criticized by the skeptic Robert Todd Carroll for ignoring Occam’s razor (advocating the paranormal instead of naturalistic explanations) and for ignoring the known laws of physics.

    A belief that fulfills some deep desire or want is highly suspect.
    Does anyone want the mind to be a product of the brain?

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t cut and paste anything. It was all my work.

    I’m not at all saying that if something isn’t fully explained it must be God. The materialists may be right. However, we must not assume that they are right, because they may be wrong.

    I would have more respect for the materialist perspective if materialists weren’t constantly denying or ignoring proven phenomena that they find inconvenient.

  • Aleenum

    Im sure Charles Tart has interesting ideas and has a more nuanced understanding of certain phenomenon of the mind.

    Conflation of the material nature of nature to determinism and nihilism is a bit too soon.

    There is a spiritual component to us I don’t view this as a supernatural or special case of consciousness .

    My gut feeling about the studies on NDE leads me to the view that our brains cause or minds.

    Fiction with no sense of spirit or magic or awe can be very dull.

    Non-fiction is very dull to some they can’t see the inherent beauty and awe in an elegant naturalistic theory.

    One can put any narrative they want on any fact or theory.
    My lover is just meaningless particles or My lover is a specific configuration of particles that took billions of years to get just right.

  • Anonymous

    That’s fine if you have a gut feeling that the mind is the product of the brain. However, if you present this as fact and close your mind to the possibility that the mind is independent of the brain, then that is not being scientific. Scientific materialism is a belief system, just like religion. Certainly, if the brain is seen as the producer of the mind, this is hard to reconcile with tests that have been done, wherein percipients have demonstrated awareness of far-separated information, even while shielded in Faraday cages.

    You wrote “Conflation of the material nature of nature to determinism and nihilism is a bit too soon.” Firstly, it has not in any way been proven that nature has only a material aspect. Secondly, many materialists are avowed determinists. (It’s actually quite hilarious that they try to convince people to take on their viewpoint, because by their own system, the current and future views of those people are already determined. Publishing a book advocating determinism is rendered absurd by the very theory being promoted.) Thirdly, we see the mess the world is in. Is it really that far-fetched that a meaning-denying worldview, and consequent materialist economic system, is a key driver?

    Also, you didn’t answer my question. Do you agree that in science, nothing should ‘a priori’ be off the table, that we should accept whatever experiment validates? Yes or no?

  • Aleenum

    I get the feeling you’re a bit of a perfectionist.

    We’re not blank slates , even maybe especially the most gifted scientists are flawed ,are human.We’re fickle and at times irrational.

    I agree if you’re trying hard to prove you’re hypothesis wrong nothing should be off the table to science.

    Tyson is an astrophysicists judge him on his contribution to astrophysics not on his beliefs about whatever.

    To paraphrase Einstein:
    Science without human spirit is just blah.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. You’re the first person on this website to concede the point that in science, nothing should ‘a priori’ be off the table.

    Part of the reason I’ve been so tenacious is that I feel that the pseudoskeptics have done an excellent job of brainwashing the public that there’s no evidence for psi, or NDEs, or OBEs, or reincarnation, and that we know that all that is real are physical things and measurable energies. They pretend that only stupid people believe otherwise. They swarm websites and bully people, to the point where it’s impossible to intelligently address vital issues of what truly constitutes reality. Ironically, many of these people who claim to be so scientific don’t seem to have much understanding of the scientific method, nor can they be bothered with constructing a logical argument. It’s mostly name calling and knee-jerk responses.

    Regarding Tyson, my problem isn’t with his beliefs, it’s with his presenting beliefs as science, which I think he did in his Moyers interview.

    I agree with you and Einstein.

  • bubba

    “…The idea that “modern” thought–which of course is the present, whenever that is–is the acme, the “truth,” the endpoint of human reasoning…”.

    I never said that.What I believe is that,at any given time,science gives us whatever objective truth we have concerning reality,and at NO time does religious thought do so.Also,scientific method,by its very nature,is self-correcting,
    whereas theism never self-corrects,change of religious thought is ALWAYS forced upon it from outside,usually from science.

  • bubba

    Concerning your first three points, I doubt that you can provide any solid,creditable evidence to support these claims.As for points 4-7,these fall into the category of things that science doesn’t YET fully explain,but likely will, eventually.Saying that if science doesn’t explain something,right now,then it must be supernaturally,divinely caused, is just the discredited “god-of-the-gaps”
    argument.Also,even though science doesn’t fully
    explain these things,at least science has some hypotheses about them,and some evidence to support these hypotheses,something that cannot be said for religion.

    SOME OTHER CRITICISM:

    YOU: “There definitely is some sort of miracle involved, because from a human standpoint, everything at least has a beginning, if not an end.”

    ME: Supporting evidence,please.

    YOU: “It’s hard for us to imagine that something could always have been in existence.”

    ME: Being hard to imagine isn’t the same as being false.

    YOU: “Other scientists note that the universe seems absurdly coherent and finely tuned for the product of an “accident.”

    ME: I doubt that any reputable scientist has used this “intelligent design” argument. All this argu-
    ment says is that “if it looks designed,then it must be designed.” Science has provided too many examples to enumerate of natural,blind,non-teleo-
    logical,random,non-purposeful processes that mimic intelligent design(Darwinian evolution by natural selection being a prime example).

    YOU: “Religion is primarily concerned with shaping human behavior…”.

    ME: What shapes human behavior is our biologi-cally evolved,incredibly complex brains.

    As for the spirituality of indigenous peoples,
    anyone looking at reality sees unity and coherence,and science doesn’t contradict this view.Science seeks to explain what this wholeness consists in, and how it is possible.
    Science doesn’t reduce life to meaninglessness,
    science reduces man’s manifest view of reality,not to eliminate this view,but to more deeply explain the underpinnings of this manifest view.Reduction to explain,not to eliminate.

  • bubba

    Paranormal phenomena are in no way “proven”.

  • bubba

    The definition of “scientism” that I accept: Science is the ONLY source of creditable,objective truth
    about reality,the only source with
    supporting evidence.

  • bubba

    I expect that you believe morals and ethics are religion-based,right?

  • bubba

    Mind independent of brain? This
    means free-floating minds.You’ve seen these? I doubt it. No brain,no mind!

  • bubba

    If you believe Uri Geller can bend spoons with his mind,show me the mechanism by which he accomplishes this feat.Absurd and silly!

  • Ron Stone

    Very easy means for science to be reconciled with religion. Consider the single point:

    Prior to the Judeo-Christian (which does include the Islamic for the record) belief system, just about every belief system imbued deity into those things we now know as either inanimate objects or phenomena such as the weather or the changing seasons. The only way the early people could comprehend was that there must be a (g)od involved. How else for the crops to grow or the woman to conceive the child?

    In the J/C belief system, God is considered to have created all things. There’s no fire god or the gods of the harvest or whatever. God put it here for people to have dominion over, which means in part that *we* are responsible to figure out how and why it WORKS. We would not HAVE our contemporary sciences WITHOUT this belief system.

  • ☁ nine

    I have absolutely no idea where you got the idea that points 1-3 have been either tested, let alone proven to exist. They have not. In fact, there is evidence against the criminal mischief that comes with cold-readers posing as mediums, there are novels written on the art, including techniques in deception. Yet not one single person has ever been found to possess “powers.” #2 and 3 are both so ridiculous I won’t even go into it. Pam Reynolds was put under anesthesia, and her story conflicts with her doctors in that her NDE took place while she was still drugged and had consistent spikes in brain activity, prior to her death.

    Another God of the Gaps argument, except someone forgot to study the prerequisite info.

  • George Erhard

    The trouble with ‘science ‘ vs. ‘religion’ debate is that they occupy completely different mindsets.

    Science says “Ok, based on what we can experience, repeatedly, consistently, what can we say is true about the world?” And these ‘truths’ are constantly being updated as new observable phenomena appear. Science never claims to have all the answers, it just says, “Based on what we’ve seen happen, we can predict xyz.” It is the practice of observation, deduction, reasoning, and hypothesis. We once KNEW, by observation, that the Earth was the center of the universe, that it was flat, and that if you sailed too far you’d fall off the edge. We KNEW there were four elements that everything is made of, and we KNEW that everything we saw had been created as such. Then along come the astronomers, mathematicians, cartographers, physicists, biologists, and so on, and what we KNEW started to change. Scientific inquiry and discovery is constantly changing our reality.

    Religion, however, skips past all the detailed observation and presents Answers. These Answers will apply to everyone regardless of station, belief, or other circumstance. These Answers are also immutable over time, and deal with … well… things that are uniquely hard to observe and quantify. The core of religion is Belief, or Faith, which is DEFINED to exist counter to (or at the very least in absence of) observable proof. “God Exists.” Yet no one can point to a single physical measurable THING that has God’s fingerprints… either because the Finger Of God is much too inscrutable for us to find fingerprints of.. or God simply is That Good and never leaves such mundane things as ‘evidence’ behind.

    And God doesn’t have to change, He/She/It is the same always, no matter what happens to the world, or to the universe. It is WE who change, and with enough faith (and effort and perhaps money) we can always be changed BACK to that innocent state of not knowing anything other than “sunlight is warm, fresh fruit tastes good, and we are loved (not shunned) by the Divine.”

    To shorten things: Science is about asking questions. Religion is about accepting answers. Sometimes these two concepts get along, but most times, they’re at odds.

  • Anonymous

    Except that religion hasn’t answered any questions. It does include a lot of nonsensical proclamations about what it claims to be answers to questions, but ultimately nothing any religion says sounds like a rational answer to anything.
    Science is based on observation, and the understanding of those observations changes over time as it finds more evidence. That doesn’t mean that reality changes, it just means that we didn’t have the tools to answer many questions completely earlier.
    Religion starts with the concept that they already have all the answers, even though many of their so-called answers have been found to be demonstrably untrue based on observations. Religion is the path towards ignorance while science is the path towards increasing understanding. Religion isn’t just like fuzzy logic, like the concepts of warm or good. Too many who are religious refuse to teach or believe science because it has shown things that are inconsistent with their beliefs. Such is the path towards another dark age. It’s not enough to just say that they are different domains. Dogmatic religion is dangerous in that it seeks to eliminate the progress of human knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    Nope, there is zero credible evidence for any of the first three. James Randi has offered a million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate the reality of any of these. So far nobody has been able to claim that prize. If there were people who really had some of these abilities at least one of them would have been able to demonstrate it by now.
    The mind IS nothing more than the product of the human brain. Any attempt to show otherwise has completely failed.

  • Anonymous

    Utter nonsense. There is plenty of evidence for transcendent experiences, so much so that Charles Tart has said he’s bored by the “controversy.” He’s moved on to figuring out how to enhance our psi gifts and use them to make life more meaningful and rewarding. Here is a collection of peer-reviewed psi studies posted on Dean Radin’s website:
    http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm

    Moreover, I can’t imagine how anybody could look at the UVa studies and not seriously entertain the possibility of reincarnation. The results are that extraordinary.

    No true scientist would make a statement that “the mind is nothing more than the product of the human brain.” We simply don’t know where consciousness comes from. Certainly, no scientist has demonstrated how consciousness arises from inert matter.

    You’re stuck in 19th century rational materialism. Welcome to quantum physics and the 21st century. The sub-atomic particles that make up the entire physical world exist only as potentia (probability waves) until collapsed into materiality by a conscious observer. If you are correct that mind – consciousness – is an epiphenomenon of matter, how strange is it that the base phenomenon depends one of its epiphenomena for its own existence? If anything, matter is an epiphenomenon of consciousness, not the other way around. If you want to get an introduction to the implications of quantum physics, I suggest reading Fred Alan Wolf’s “Taking the Quantum Leap” or Amit Goswami’s “The Self-Aware Universe.” Both are physicists and neither one thinks rational materialism is viable.

    The “unclaimed Randi prize” sounds like a devastating argument on its face, but Randi is a showman and his offer isn’t serious:
    http://dailygrail.com/features

    http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/Examskeptics/Dace_amazing3.html

  • Anonymous

    The rational materialists are out in force. It seems that you folks are stuck in the 19th century. Quantum physics has rendered rational materialism in dire peril, if not DOA. How do you people reconcile your beliefs with the work of Bell, Aspect, Clauser and Freedman, proving quantum non-locality?

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, didn’t notice this at first. I think morals and ethics pre-date religion, but that many of our current M&E are strongly influenced by religion.

  • Michael Corrieri

    Funny that you mention computer simulations in the article. The easiest way to reconcile science and religion is to assume the world is a massive computer-type artificial simulation. If we actually existed in a simulation we would observe the laws of physics as they have been programmed, and as an interesting test the programmers could also introduce exceptions – including experiences limited in scope to small groups of people, like miracles. Or massive numbers (moving mountains, ascending into heaven, anything they want). It’s a very simple deduction – and in the not-too-far off future we will be probably be building such simulations ourselves. In fact, the simulation we are in could be an ancestor simulation with introduced variables, built by future descendants of mankind. Enjoy!