The host of Seth MacFarlane's new series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, argues that while religion and science can be compatible, religious scriptures like the Bible should not be confused with scientific textbooks, something he says “enlightened religious people” understand.
Cosmos—which features an introduction by President Obama—has already stirred controversy with a lengthy segment in the first episode which deliberately pits religion against science, providing an animated story about the Catholic Church's persecution of the 16th-century monk and astronomer Giordano Bruno, which TIME argues provides a clear message to viewers: "there is a right side and a wrong side of intellectual history, and Cosmos is not afraid to say that science is on the right one."
In a recent interview with WNYC host Brian Lehrer, Tyson added to the controversy, addressing people of faith who confuse religious texts with scientific works:
If you start using your scripture, your religious text as a source of your science, that’s where you run into problems, and there is no example of someone reading their scripture and saying ‘I have a prediction about the world that no one knows yet because this gave me insight let’s go test this prediction and have that theory turn out to be correct.
As an example, Tyson notes the creation story in Genesis that seems to describe the Earth being created before the sun, then moves on to dispel the six-day creation interpretation (a far from settled interpretation in Biblical studies), saying,
None of that is consistent with any scientifically derived information about the world. So enlightened religious people know this, and don’t try to use the Bible as a textbook, using a Western example.
Despite his scientific qualms with religion, Tyson emphasizes that he believes religion and science are indeed compatible, citing the roughly one-third of “fully-functioning, productive” American scientists who profess to personally believe in God.
Here is the full audio:
H/T The Blaze.