The Cosmos TV show on Fox

The reiteration of Carl Sagan’s original series on the Cosmos has me hooked.  I wait eagerly from one week to the next until the next program airs.  The graphics are stunning, and Neil Tyson, the astrophysicist, is great in his job as the apologist (if you can call him that in this context).

Why am I enjoying this so? For one thing, it is a refresher course of scientific history that hearkens to man’s earliest curiosity about the world(s) we inhabit. The program telescopes the centuries of discovery in a way that allows us to marvel about how a few men’s ideas lead other men to hypothesize about greater ideas and grander theorems.

Much of the program is understandable by nearly everyone, but there are tiny bits that provoke thought in even those who have already scratched the surface of astrophysics.

As I watch and listen, I think of the creationists I know, one of whom insists that Earth and the living organisms on it is no more than 6,000 years old. I doubt any of them bother to watch Cosmos, but if they did, the suppositions would probably horrify them as terrible blasphemy.

What I finally take away with awe from each consecutive airing of the Cosmos is that, regardless of one’s position in regard to the universe and humanity’s position in it, the program reaffirms each person’s beliefs. Yet another paradox for believers and nonbelievers…

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6 thoughts on “The Cosmos TV show on Fox

  1. I find Cosmos mesmerizing and ethereal. A full display of human capacity and potential within a complex and elegant universe. And beyond. But I don’t experience it affirming everyone’s beliefs. Yes each thing we think we know is another pathway to an even more expansive and compelling mystery but the series makes it quite clear, quite often that there are “known knowns” that are indisputable and fly in the face of ignorant adherence to false beliefs that masquerade as alternative scientific explanations designated intelligent design.

    This last episode was quite dramatic in it’s unapologetic assurance that the universe could not be a mere 6,000 years old by virtue to the constant speed of light and the distance it travels to reach us from places back eons in time. This is not some kind of crossfire debate between liberal and conservative ideologies. We’re talking indisputable fact. The earth is not square and we will not fall of the edge. If we continue to pander to religious fundamentalist’s however, we may destroy this precious earth getting sucked into to the dark hole of climate change deniers. There are consequences to giving credence to ignorance and making policy that ignores our responsibility as stewards of the earth and explorers of the universe.

    I sensed this was your own joy and awe in watching Cosmos. But your concluding sentences seemed to be compromising the vision that has been consistent throughout the series.

    Thanks for putting your thoughts forward. We both share the enthusiasm of anticipating more comic wonders to come!

    Barry P. Marcus

    • As a casual observer of humanity and its many posits, I believe that Cosmos affects strongly all those who take the time to watch it through. My personal opinion is that its conclusions, while pointed more in one direction than in another, will reaffirm each person’s beliefs. Those who consider life and thought accidental and, upon death, without further presence, especially given the scale of the universe(s), may believe themselves vindicated.

      Then there are those who consider all of life and matter created mysteriously by a higher power of some kind, not necessarily just folks limiting the universe to a mere 6000 years. They, too, may experience the same sense of vindication. Already, faith, unprovable, is the underpinning of their spiritual philosophy. This marvelous program, Cosmos, that showcases the complexity of our micro and macro environment, surely reinforces their idea that none of the universe is accidental.

      As revelatory as Cosmos is, as spectacular as its beautiful graphics, as thorough as its research, viewers will draw their own conclusions based on their own hypotheses. Whether they are right or wrong is another matter entirely. In no way should this be extrapolated into making policy that ignores either stewardship of the earth or exploration of the universe.

      I just wish I were smart enough, educated enough, to add to our knowledge of the universe myself. How much more exciting that would be, than the delight I already experience as I watch this wonderful Cosmos unfold in front of my eyes!

  2. I absolutely agree with the comments above. I was not ruling out the inclusion of faith as trust in the mystery of life or of the human sense of awe and wonder. I too wish I was one of those enlightened ones who see beyond the paradigm and take a courageous leap of imagination and discovery. I also wish I had proof read my previous post. Especially having written “comic” when I intended “cosmic.” I guess the joke’s on me.

  3. Hi Helen, I’m enjoying Cosmos (and Your Inner Fish) as well. A belated comment that we thoroughly agree about: “viewers will draw their own conclusions based on their own hypotheses.” This reflects confirmation bias, the strongest of the “hardwired” cognitive biases. It dominates human life, making rationality, including in the sciences, difficult to practice, and filling our minds with irrational conclusions. In the situation you describe, many will say “we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” By Aumann’s Agreement Theorem, rational thought forbids this conclusion. Rational thought requires great effort, and much practice, as it is counter-intuitive to the many biases found in our monkey brains. I’m tired just from talking about it 🙂

    • Yes, very exhausting, I agree (so, are we supposed to ‘go along to get along’?)(and celebrate holidays and occasions regardless of misgivings and personal beliefs?). Is the alternative to become the Grinch to the majority?

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