As we are putting the finishing editorial touches on The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos, documenting the many distortions in the popular series with Neil deGrasse Tyson, there comes a timely confirmation that this is important work we’re doing. An article at Forbes profiles Bart Campolo, "humanist chaplain" at the University of Southern California who is also the son of a well-known liberal Evangelical pastor, Tony Campolo.
This comment from the younger Campolo was striking:
Today, Bart Campolo is as animated by his social-justice values as ever. But he no longer sees a religious narrative as the source of those values. He relishes the explanations and speculations of empirical science about the origin and nature of things: "To me, science’s story is even more amazing than any religion’s creation story," he tells me. "And Neil deGrasse Tyson is as inspiring as any preacher I’ve heard."
It’s certainly not my place to judge Bart Campolo (pictured at left), in any way, shape, or form. But his putting Dr. Tyson in the same context as a pastor with a compelling sermon tells you something about Tyson’s mission. As Casey Luskin, Jay Richards, and I observe in the book, Cosmos is far from a straight-up presentation of physics and cosmology. While never admitting as much, the series is really an extended recruiting seminar for an evangelizing faith, science-flavored materialism, aimed at impressionable young people.
We would have much less reason to object to Cosmos were it not underhanded in pursuing its agenda. Let them make their case? Sure! By all means. But be honest and accurate in presenting your evidence. That, Cosmos is not.
Meanwhile as I’ve already noted, our own criticisms of the series aside, Tyson was caught in an egregious, defamatory, and repeated fabrication of a quote he attributed to President George W. Bush. That scoop and others bearing on Tyson’s truthfulness were thanks to the reporting of Sean Davis at The Federalist.
To update you on the situation, Tyson subsequently felt like he had no choice to relent and admit, sort of, that he erred. But as Davis points out, the apology ("My bad") is not adequate, to say the least. Regarding other falsehoods, he asks the public to take his word for it. Writes Sean Davis:
To sum up: Tyson fabricated a quote from a newspaper headline and to this day has offered zero evidence that this headline exists, other than his memory (you’ll just have to take it on faith). Tyson fabricated a quote from a member of Congress and to this day has offered zero evidence that this quote has been uttered, other than his own insistence that it was privately said in his presence (you’ll need to take that one on faith, too). Nor has Tyson offered any evidence whatsoever to independently corroborate his jury duty story, which, to my knowledge, has at least four different versions (you’ll need to take Tyson’s story about that on faith, too).
Finally, we have a quote that Tyson fabricated about President George W. Bush that Tyson then deliberately used to cast the president in the worst possible light, all so he could get an attaboy ego boost from the know-nothing seal clappers who paid $70 each to be in his audience. And what does he say after weeks of obfuscation and nonsense justification for blatant fabrication in service of an ideological agenda?
I would ask Bart Campolo this. If your father — handy with a sermon too, I would guess — played loose with the facts this way and then shrugged it off, do you think he would get away with it so easily?