The greatest minds that have ever walked the planet in terms of science also resorted to a 'higher intelligence' at the limits of their knowledge.
Our ignorance is God; what we know is science. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
There is a degree of commonality between a religious scientist that sees investigating nature as a way to get closer to his 'god' of choice and a
scientist that wants to get closer to nature by simply examining it as an atheist.
It's only when people are so content with the answer "god did it" that they stop researching that intelligent design starts to become an issue.
In that context, the intelligent designer is an ever present chasm of ignorance and magic, whereas it should be an ever reseeding ocean of ignorance
that science is illuminating.
If taught scientifically literately then 'intelligent design' does not have to be anti science; it in fact could be a good way to engage religious
people in the way the scientific method works. And their religiosity will tend to drop off the more they understand about the world.
Tyson gives a very good talk about this here.
[Tyson quotes Ptolemy]
“I know that I am mortal by nature, and ephemeral; but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies I no longer touch
the earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia”
- Ptolemy, 450 AD.
Brief background: Claudius Ptolemy was a Greek-Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer,
astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule. Ptolemy was the author of several scientific
treatises, at least three of which were of continuing importance to later Islamic and European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now
known as the Almagest "Mathematical Treatise".
He's got this sort of religious feeling at the limits of his knowledge, and this is a trend that will continue for thousands of years to follow
this...[and] this quote I just read to you is Ptolemy invoking intelligent design.
Tyson goes through Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton and other great minds in this history of science and what happened when they reached the limits of their
knowledge. He outlines where and how these men reached the limits of their knowledge, and how they pretty regularly invoked the concept of intelligent
design and a creator in order to explain it.
"Intelligent design is basically a god of the gaps."
He also talks about the religiosity of the population and scientists.
"...As you become more scientific, yes, you're religiosity drops off, but it asymptotes, but not at zero, to some other level."
He also goes through the history of scientific discovery in different parts of the world. He speaks of the period of great discovery in the Islamic
world from 800 - 1000 AD, and then how it was cut off and never recovered. Then of Europe during the scientific revolution, and of the USA during this
century and how we may be on the edge of a shift, where "revelation replaces investigation."
I love the way Tyson speaks and thinks. He has the same passion that Sagan did, and the same sort of open, genuine interest in the mystery and the
humanity in these discoveries and the understanding of our universe.
To quote a bit more from the talk:
I don't know what you know about Issac Newton, but from what I have read of his, it tells me there is no greater genius to ever have walked this
earth. I don't know if you've ever felt this about someone, but if you just read what he wrote, line by line by line, this guy was deeply plugged into
the machinery of the universe. He is un-impeachably brilliant.
Let me read some of Newtons writings. And he did this all before he was 26. When he talks about motion, there is no reference to god. When he talks
about his two body force that he deduced, this universal law of gravitation there is no mention of god. As he understood it. He was on top of it. He
was there. Even though, before that the understanding of the motions of the planets was given unto god, as no one could explain it. So what you have
is Isaac Newton abandoning all reference to god. Until he realized if all you do is calculate the two body problem, the sun and earth, the moon and
earth, etc, then the sun and earth are closer to mars, and then closer to the sun again, then here, and there, and all these mini tugs get way too
And he realizes that applying these simple explanations to the solar system can not explain it. So what does he say? He's at his limits. He can not
account for how we have stayed this way. God is no where until you get to the general showroom, later in his work, I quote "But it is not to be
conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions. This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could
only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."
So there we have one of the greatest scientists of the millennium invoking intelligent design, at the limits of his knowledge. And I want to put on
the table that you have people that want to put intelligent design into the classrooms, and yet you also have the most brilliant people that ever
walked this earth doing the same thing. So it's a deeper challenge than simply educating the public [...]
Intelligent design, whilst real historically in the history of science, is still a philosophy of ignorance diametrically opposed to the spirit of
Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt
- Richard Feynman
How can you expect the general population to do any better at not resorting to ID as an explanation for complex things they do not understand, when we
also have the best scientists to have ever walked the Earth doing exactly the same thing in the past?
It's a deeper issue than simple eduction and teaching facts.
Tyson sums it up succinctly in this clip in the following quote. He actually has a go at the JREF forum skeptics at the end! He seems genuinely pissed
off at them.
Some still use science to argue against religion or God when 35% of scientists believe in a personal god or are religious, and
over 7% of the elite top scientists at the national academy also believe in a
The talk is about eight minutes and is here:
I sceptic, The Amazing Meeting 6
57:10 Religion and Science
1:02:50 Intelligent Design
1:03:30 Stupid Design (classic)
1:05:10 Birth of Atheism
1:07:30 Religion among scientist
1:12:26 Bible in the Classroom
"The current atheist fervour that has taken on over the past seven years is highly unfair. It's dis-respectful. Until that number is 0 atheists have
NOTHING to say to the general public about god or religion. These 7% are elite scientists among us in the national academy of sciences, who are
religious and pray to a personal god.
There is no tradition of scientists picketing outside the sunday school door. Likewise there should be no emergent tradition of religion being
introduced into the science classroom
"I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy
— Neil deGrasse Tyson —
edit on 8-10-2012 by ZeuZZ because: (no reason given)