Too bad Cosmos has so far turned into a "ratings disaster," as a headline on Drudge summarized. Fox spent a lot of money on this slick pop science excursion, intended to counter evolution skeptics and advocates of intelligent design. Neil deGrasse Tyson took aim Sunday night at the view that "Living things are just too intricate… to be the result of unguided evolution." This, of course, grossly distorts and simplifies what ID theorists say, but never mind.
Despite its many flaws that we’ve noted here so far, had the series really taken off as Fox hoped, that would have been a ripe opportunity to put the evolution debate before a very wide viewership. So the missed opportunity is regrettable.
Don’t worry, we’ll keep watching, and telling you what we think. In part that’s because what we have said so far has sent Darwinists into fits. That counts for something. Salon staff writer Andrew Leonard, for one, didn’t just insinuate but all but stated outright that for Tyson’s historical revisionism on Giordano Bruno, our mild-mannered colleague Jay Richards, who commented here, would like to see Neil Tyson burned at the stake! Writes the unsubtle Mr. Leonard:
Maybe it’s just me, but reading between the lines of this piece I detected what seemed to be a tinge of regret that unbelievers can no longer be punished for straying from the Gospel with purging fire.
A few comments on Twitter by Jay produced a long, sputtering outpouring of a post from PZ Myers, the briefly "happy" but now once again thoroughly dyspeptic atheist. Myers must have a light teaching load this semester. There’s nothing of substance in PZ’s post, for all its prolixity, thus nothing to respond to.�
Confusing intelligent design advocates with creationists and the "Christian Right," in typical fashion, writer David Arel at the Huffington Post exulted about how Cosmos makes us cower like "a frightened, cornered animal that knows it is about to die." As Cosmos likely continues to tank in its ratings, "the creationist lobby will simply stop at nothing to protect the industry that they have created" since "Cosmos frightens [us] more than anything has in a very long time."
Keep on dreaming, Mr. Arel. Why anyone would be terrified by what we’ve aptly called "this big fat, lumbering Christmas turkey" is a good question. David Arel is, like PZ Myers, long on excessive rhetoric and short on substance. Responding to this tweet from Jay Richards
— Jay W. Richards (@FreemarketJay) March 17, 2014
… Arel does venture:
Tyson touched on how many species have evolved an eye, but did leave out the fact that there are over 40 known independent eye evolutions, something that very clearly discredits any intelligent design.
But this is just the lamest comment ever. The reason evolutionary biologists believe in "40 known independent eye evolutions" isn’t because they’ve reconstructed those evolutionary pathways, but because eyes don’t assume a treelike pattern on the famous Darwinian "tree of life." Darwinists are accordingly forced, again and again, to invoke convergent "independent" evolution of eyes to explain why eyes are distributed in such a non-tree-like fashion.
This is hardly evidence against ID. In fact the appearance of eyes within widely disparate groups speaks eloquently of common design. Eyes are a problem, all right — for Darwinism.
Had Cosmos scored higher with viewers, it would have provided a convenient occasion for talking about such matters. It’s for that reason that we were rooting for Dr. Tyson and are sad to see him stumble. Well, it’s not over yet. Only two episodes have aired so far, out of a total of thirteen. There is still some, if not much, cause for hope that Cosmos will rally.