During 'Cosmos' Episodes, Fox Affiliates Keep Replacing Evolution References With Random PSAs
Since Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiered in March, the show has been slammed by creationists. In mid-March, a Fox TV affiliate in Oklahoma interrupted a portion of Cosmos and aired a news promo over a segment in which Tyson referenced evolution. Now, it looks like a similar incident occurred during last Sunday's episode, during which another portion on evolution was interrupted, this time by a PSA on seatbelt safety. The station airing the program was WVUE, New Orleans' Fox network affiliate.
Fox Tweeted an apology, and WVUE president Sandy Breland told Nova: "It was a mistake. We certainly regret the error." They plan to re-air the episode Thursday. Was it a coincidence? We'll never know, but what we do know is that Cosmos just can't seem to catch a break. Here are some of the major struggles the show has faced since debuting not even two months ago...
Attacks From the Discovery Institute
The Discovery Institute is an organization whose mission is to defend religion against scientific explanations, and its members have been very vocal about Cosmos. Senior fellow Jay Richards told the Federalist:
The series is sullied by the unscientific agendas of its producers.
This may have been inevitable. Cosmos is a reboot of the 1980 PBS series of the same name, hosted by late astronomer and atheist evangelist Carl Sagan. The Cosmos redux is hosted by American astronomer and Sagan disciple Neil deGrasse Tyson, with help from Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane, creator of the vulgar animated series Family Guy and American Dad! The atheist MacFarlane is one of Christianity’s not-so-cultured despisers, so I expected a lot of bad materialist philosophy and shots at Christianity and religion. What I did not expect was the mistreatment of history.
And the Institute's Casey Luskin has accused the show of engaging in "attempts to persuade people of both evolutionary scientific views and larger materialistic evolutionary beliefs, not just by the force of the evidence, but by rhetoric and emotion, and especially by leaving out important contrary arguments and evidence."
Climate Change Is Another Touchy Subject
As if the whole evolution debate weren't enough, creationists also take issue with the subject climate change. Jeff Meyer writes on News Busters:
In its first episode, the rebooted “Cosmos” series took a cheap shot at religious individuals by featuring cartoonish churchmen as cartoon villains. While we shouldn’t be shocked that Mr. Tyson made anti-religious comments, one would think that Mr. Meyers would want to walk a fine line as his show just premiered on NBC. Instead, Meyers and deGrasse Tyson chose to take a cheap shot at religious people and claim they don't believe in science i.e. liberal causes like global warming.
According to this recent report, however, there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is no longer just a "liberal cause."
Creationists Are Demanding Equal Air Time
I was struck in the first episode where [Tyson] talked about science and how, you know, all ideas are discussed, you know, everything is up for discussion –- it's all on the table -- and I thought to myself, 'No, consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem.
Tyson addressed the request for equal air time in an interview with CNN, saying, "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.... You don't talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let's give equal time to the flat-earthers."
Good point. And while Tyson has addressed the deniers, he would rather not join them in the debate, unlike his predecessor, Carl Sagan. Tyson told Inquiring Minds, "Carl Sagan would debate people on all manner of issues. And I don't have the time or the energy or the interest in doing so. As an educator, I'd rather just get people thinking straight in the first place, so I don't have to then debate them later on."