Neil deGrasse Tyson is a renown scientist whose videos and commentaries often go viral.
And as such, people expect that when Tyson is talking about the universe he’s talking about it in a scientific manner. But that isn’t always necessarily the case, and the results could cause confusion and further division between the faith and science communities.
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Recently, a clip featuring Tyson talking about his the “most astounding” fact about the universe gained some traction on social media. In a segment discussing the claims made by Tyson, theology professor Keith Plummer made some astute observations that often get overlooked when Christians address similar points made by scientists.
Plummer’s remarks begin around the 2:30 mark, immediately after Tyson’s claim. Continue reading below, or WATCH:
“First, I think it has to be said that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a very competent astrophysicist. He knows his stuff in terms of science,” Plummer began. “But it’s always important when you’re watching something like that to make a differentiation between what they’re saying that’s scientific and what they’re saying that’s philosophical,” he said.
After pointing out that Tyson was making the “assumption of materialism” Plummer warned people to think critically about what they are watching. “What happens is people hear a renown scientist making such a declaration and therefore think this must be a scientific declaration. But what it is actually is just a statement about the nature of existence,” Plummer explained.
“And to say that the universe or the cosmos is all that ever was—that matter and energy and time – are all that ever was… isn’t something that science itself could ever conclude without assuming that already,” he continued. And so, while I’m not anti-science I do want to be careful and I want other people to be careful about confusing science and philosophy.”
Plummer went on to explain that when Tyson – and people like Tyson’s mentor Carl Sagan – make immeasurable statements like that, they are really saying that we humans are “reducible to matter. Arational matter. Atoms.” He argues that to make this kind of a claim is problematic because “that’s just a philosophical starting point, it’s not a scientific conclusion.”