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by Mike Nixson
I am watching the remake of the series Cosmos. Carl Sagan, the host of the original series is a hard act to follow. He had the science down right but there was a real passion in his serach for not only facts but the truth and the process for getting there. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a good job in the new series although he won't be imitated as effectively. For a lot of believers it brings up a lot of disturbing and challenging issues, not the least of which is how to reconcile the interpretations of a book written by errant men with an observable universe created by an inerrant God. Many opt to accept interpretations that contradict the empirical evidence of God's handiwork. I think there is a name for that.
Like Sagan's previous work on the original Cosmos, the new series shares a wonder about the nature and process that is called science. Unlike all dogmas, science is constantly changing and challenging it's own conclusions and discoveries. Dogmas once established cannot be questioned by those who hold the belief or the dogma fades quickly into oblivian, usually to be replaced by another dogma. It seems to me that the last 5,000 years of civilization has been a struggle to see the Universe the way it is as opposed to the way we imagine we'd like it to be with belief usually winning over science. (Sagan did a wonderful job explaining how the Pythagoreans turned Greek philosohy into mystical directions that influenced Western philosphy and religion for 2000 years; you'll have to watch the original series to get at that gem.) Imagine is a kind word however. Imagination is good - as long as we don't get carried away believing everything we imagine to be true (psychologists call that a delusion) but often dogmatic beliefs come with an agenda and that agenda usually involves subordination of one group to another.
We do seem to be making progress. On balance I think the overal condition of mankind (both physically and spiritually) is much better than any prior period in our 5,000 year history. But there are forces who would have it otherwise, at least spiritually. I recently came across an essay written by John Taylor Gatto comparing the nature of government schools (sometime erroniously called "public" schools - just more propoganda) to prisons. He should know. He was New York City and State teacher of the year and by all accounts a good teacher. He eventually realized the system was more evil than any good individual could overcome and now works to inform and educate the sheep about the nature of government schools. The purpose of government schools is to educate the masses well enough so they can operate the Man's machinery but remain dumb enough so they don't question the Man or any the government in general (a branch of the Man's business operations). In many respects we've arrived. Most people know very little about the nature of the society or the physical world in which they live but ask them about a character on their favorite TV show and they can talk at length. If only they could tell you what the Scientific Method was about.