Just days after creationist groups complained their views had been excluded from Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," it seems they finally got some airtime on the show. But they might not be too pleased with how it all went down.
Creationist Danny Faulkner of the Christian group Answers in Genesis said during a March 20 appearance on "The Janet Mefferd Show" that Tyson seemed to shy away from any mention of creationism in his Fox series. "Consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem," Faulkner said.
But Tyson proved Faulkner wrong in last Sunday's installment of "Cosmos" when he addressed -- and soundly attacked -- one of creationism's core tenets: That the universe, based on biblical sources, is only about 6,500 years old. Just check out the "Cosmos" video above.
In the episode, entitled "A Sky Full of Ghosts," Tyson uses the example of the Crab Nebula, which is about 6,500 light years away from Earth, to debunk this creationist belief. As he explains, we can see the light of celestial beings much, much further away than the Crab Nebula, which proves that our universe is much older than a few thousand years.
"If the universe were only 6,500 years old, how could we see the light from anything more distant than the Crab Nebula?" Tyson asks during the episode. "We couldn’t. There wouldn’t have been enough time for the light to get to Earth from anywhere farther away than 6,500 light years in any direction. That’s just enough time for light to travel a tiny portion of our Milky Way galaxy."
Scientific evidence indicates that the universe is actually about 13.8 billion years old.
Tyson's comments may have been a bit out of character for the celebrated astrophysicist. In a March interview with The Huffington Post, Tyson said he typically doesn't make it his business to correct people's scientific misconceptions.
"As an educator, I try to get people to be fundamentally curious and to question ideas that they might have or that are shared by others," he told HuffPost Science. "In that state of mind, they have earned a kind of inoculation against the fuzzy thinking of these weird ideas floating around out there. So rather than correct the weird ideas, I would rather them to know how to think in the first place. Then they can correct the weird idea themselves. I don't just tell them no. That's pontifical."