Klinghoffer Reacts to “Cosmos” Episode 5

The fifth episode of Cosmos: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY aired last Sunday night, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It didn’t strike us as particularly offensive to creationists. The episode was titled “Light! –Our Window on the Universe.”

We didn’t notice any specific references to evolution, nor did we see any outright remarks about intelligent design. But we lack the special sensitivity of the Discoveroids. They are, after all, in the vanguard of an all-out assault on science itself, as is overwhelmingly made clear in their mystical manifesto, the wedge strategy. It’s inevitable, therefore, that they would find every episode of the series intolerable.

The job of posting the first attack on the latest episode was given to David Klinghoffer, the Discoveroids’ journalistic slasher and poo flinger. He has just written On Cosmos, Neil Tyson Enlists a Chinese Philosopher in the Argument Against Faith — No, Make that Fate, which appears at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Last night’s installment of Cosmos, “Hiding in the Light,” again beat the drum for its theme of science versus faith, with science cast in the recurring role of martyr to sinister, narrow-minded, probably religiously conservative forces.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What a horrible experience it must have been for David to watch the thing. Then he says:

Neil Tyson opened with an interesting depiction of a Chinese philosopher, Mo Tze also spelled Mozi, presented as a forward-looking advocate of scientific reasoning, insisting on proof, “questioning authority,” arguing “against blind obedience to ritual and authority,” etc. He is credited with an early description of a camera obscura, relevant to the episode’s theme of light and its properties.

What was offensive about that? Let’s read on:

One of Mozi’s essays is said by Dr. Tyson to have been “Against Faith” — that’s what it sounds like Tyson says, although I evidently misheard, as I would guess most viewers did. Mozi did argue against fate and fatalism. One of the essays attributed to his school is “Rejecting Fatalism,” not “Faith.”

That’s it? That’s Klinghoffer’s objection? Surely there’s more. We continue:

After his death, bad guys are shown burning his works and burying his followers alive. Books or people being burned for trying to advance science is now a standard motif in Cosmos.

Yes, and it’s an outrage! Things like that never happened. Or if they did, it was all in the worthy cause of Oogity Boogity. Here’s more:

I asked our new friend and contributor Dr. Stephen Webb for his view. Was Mozi the standard-bearer of Cosmos­-style materialism that Tyson seems to imply? Webb missed the episode, but replied:

[Klinghoffer quotes Webb:] I’ve taught Chinese religion before, and everyone knows that Mozi was more religious than Confucius. Mozi actually appealed to Heaven (Tian) as an active agent in the world, which Confucius did not. He urged the state to encourage religious practices, another thing that Confucius didn’t! The Communists liked him because he criticized Confucius’s emphasis on tradition and the family. The Communists argued that his belief in ghosts and spirits was purely pragmatic, but no scholars today doubt the sincerity of his belief in the supernatural. His texts [Mozi’s] were suppressed, but the reason had to do ONLY with the victory of Confucianism and the fact that he was such an outspoken critic of Confucianism. Who writes these episodes anyway?

Confucius never appealed to Heaven? He was a secularist? And Mozi’s work was suppressed by the followers of Confucius? Ah, those wicked secularists!

But that didn’t sound right to your Curmudgeon. Somewhere in our misspent youth we were curious enough to study the world’s religions, and we remembered that Confucius was very much involved in invoking Heaven. So we looked it up. Sure enough, in the Wikipedia entry on Tian (or 天, or “heaven”) they have a section on Confucius where they tell us, with quotes from the Analects of Confucius which we’ll omit:

The concept of Heaven (Tian, 天) is pervasive in Confucianism. Confucius had a deep trust in Heaven and believed that Heaven overruled human efforts. … Confucius honored Heaven as the supreme source of goodness: … Confucius believed that Heaven cannot be deceived: … Confucius believed that Heaven gives people tasks to perform to teach them of virtues and morality: … Perhaps the most remarkable saying, recorded twice, is one in which Confucius expresses complete trust in the overruling providence of Heaven: …

Klinghoffer isn’t doing very well so far. Maybe it’ll get better. Moving along, he says:

Tyson also lectures us, “Science needs the light of free expression to flourish. It depends on the fearless questioning of authority, the open exchange of ideas.”

Is there a problem with that? Klinghoffer thinks so. He tells us:

He’s right, but about when would you say that scientific culture, as represented in academia and the media, decided that adherence to authority is actually the more “scientific” attitude? Somewhere after 1859, I guess.

Lordy, lordy. As you know, 1859 was the year when Origin of Species was published. In the Discoveroids’ view of things, that’s when “adherence to authority” took over science, and the pure freedom of thought that had previously prevailed was lost.

There’s a bit more, but we’ve hit the key points. So there you are, dear reader. That’s the Discoveroids’ view of things. Isn’t it wonderful?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

12 responses to “Klinghoffer Reacts to “Cosmos” Episode 5

  1. I knew immediately that the Discotooters would come out whining about being oppressed by authority. Poor ‘tooters, they can’t get no respect.

  2. Steve Webb is wrong about another thing. The burying of scholars and burning of books was carried out by the first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who was of the dictatorial Legalist school. They burned books that did not contain practical knowledge, and primarily targeted Confucian scholars since Confucianism dominated the intellectual class.

  3. Kaddidlehopper didn’t mention that NDT stated that Mo Tse’s works were burned by the Emperor because he challenged “authority.” That Kaddidlehopper automatically merged secular political authority with religious authority is telling.

  4. docbill1351

    Note that NONE of the Discovery “follow the science” Institute’s comments have been about the science. Nope, every review has been about religion because, you see, ID is scientific, not religious.

    Riiiiiiiiiight.

  5. I was wondering what the DI would find to complain about in the latest episode….

    I have to admit, I truly value living in a culture that allows freedom of thought and expression. Do the religionists really want us to revert back to enforced group think?

  6. I really liked the segment where they showed that if the universe was really 7000 years old, we could only see objects as far out as the crab nebula. This was I though a huge punch in the nose to creationists in general, and they instead harped on ancient Chinese scholars? And complained yet again about how religious or political authorities were prone to burn, kill, or mutilate people with opposing views?

    I always feel like their biggest complaint about such actions is they weren’t there to light the damned fire.

  7. Oops, think I referenced the wrong episode lol. I blame a shortage of sleep recently…but my light the fire comment stands.

  8. Rob asks, “Do the religionists really want us to revert back to enforced group think?”

    It appears so. They say they want to save America from the wrath of God. Evidently, they believe God will punish us for our “wicked ways”, such as teaching evolution, allowing same-sex marriage, allowing abortion, dancing, drinking, gambling, fornicating, not attending church, and farting in public.

  9. Well, if Americans like farting in public so much I totally understand God has to punish the USA. The other reasons are too lame for Him to bother.

  10. http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/215791683929 At the 5:17 mark (38:40 remaining), Tyson refers to Mozi’s book. It’s called “Against ….” Now, I don’t want to say what the next word is after “against”, so as not to “lead the witness”. What do you think he says? Perhaps it’s best to ask this question to others who don’t have skin in the game.

  11. Perhaps it is better to say what you mean?

  12. Isn’t my question clear? What do you think Tyson says is the title of the Mozi book? — and maybe ask some friends what they think he says. (I made the mistake of hearing someone else’s opinion of what Tyson said before I listened to it, so my “hearing” got biased.)