Democracy Has Prevailed.

March 24, 2014

Equal Time For What?

Have you been watching Cosmos?

It's a reboot of sorts of the Carl Sagan series originally broadcast in 1980.

So far the host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, has talked about how old the age of the universe is (13 billion years or so) and the truth about the theory evolution (uh-oh).  Both of which have gotten him into trouble with the defiant, faith-based anti-science folks among us.  Tyson actually said, "The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact."

From Mother Jones:
In the first episode of Cosmos, titled "Standing Up in the Milky Way," Tyson dons shades just before witnessing the Big Bang. You know, the start of everything. Some creationists, though, don't like the Big Bang; at Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis, a critique of Cosmos asserts that "the big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned."
At that link, we find a criticism of the now-famous saying of Sagan's, that "The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be."  Uh-oh.  That's a problem.  Why?  Here's why:
It is denial of the supernatural, saying the only thing that exists is the physical world, the natural world. But to say that with any certainty Sagan had to get outside the physical universe and see that the physical universe is all that there is. And he would have had to do that in eternity past and in eternity future in order to say that. If he could really see that, then he would be god. It’s a very bold, metaphysical statement. It’s an assertion. But it’s not science. It’s not a scientific statement.
The only thing scientists have physical evidence for is the physical world.  So unless it's "balanced" with stories of some other world (which by definition would leave no physical evidence for scientists to study) any purely physical assertion of a purely physical universe is biased.

And for that, they're demanding equal time (or at the very least some mention that their non-science is in some what science):
[S]ome creationists believe the show lacks balance because it doesn't offer equal airtime to religious fundamentalists.

"Do they ever give a creationist any time?"

"Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all." (Via The Janet Mefferd Show)
There's a reason creationists aren't considered plausible on a science program: it isn't science.

Just saying it is, doesn't make it so (this should be a note to all my friends at the Trib who continue to assert - without any plausible evidence - that Climate Science isn't settled.  Just saying it isn't doesn't mean it isn't).

I'll let Tyson explain why creationists won't get be treated with any sort of scientific plausibility in Science and why "equal time" is a bad idea for science: 
"I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn't really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced," Tyson said, adding, "you don't talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let's give equal time to the flat-earthers."
Did I ever tell you that he and I share a birthday?


Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Neil Degrasse Tyson said we don't know exactly what happened during/at origin of life.

Doesn't The fact (not theory) of Evolution explain all?

The dodge is that the origin of life is abiogenesis and not part of the fact (not theory) of Evolution
"Huh? Evolution presupposes stepwise explanations but the first step is somehow beside the point and unimportant to the theory?

The beginnings question is not irrelevant or superficially tangential to evolution. It is the foundational premise the entire house of cards that is evolution is built on. Evolution is completely contingent upon abiogenesis. No abiogenesis, no evolution.

Appealing to conflation amounts to fatuous hand-waving."

Ol' Froth said...

And they are two different things. How life arises from non-life isn't the same as how life adapts and evolves. The first is most likely a chemisty question, the second is biology. Regardless, just becuase we don't understand something today, doesn't mean "goddidit."

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

So when does abiogenesis end and Evolution begin?
At the last universal common ancestor?

Does evolution require a starting organism capable of Movement, Reproduction and Digestion?

Ol' Froth said...

Its an interesting question, and one that hasn't been answered yet, IMHO. However, that doesn't mean that an answer won't be found.

The mechanisim of evolution and natural selection is well understood. The fact that abiogenesis isn't well understood doesn't invalidate evolution.

Zeus0209 said...

Anyone can theorize how and when gravity began, but aren't we all quite certain that it now governs indiscriminately? I harbor the same degree of confidence in evolution.

I'm no astrophysicist, but I can't help wonder if the marble that went and did a great big bang 13.8 billion years ago hadn't, in its previous life, simply been a contracting universe. And before that, it was an expanding universe, and before that...

Is it a misapplication to try and use the governing process law of evolution (a tool completely dependent on time) as a tool to explain the birth of universe? A universe in which time, if you can conceptualize, may have no influence at all.