Neil deGrasse Tyson argues science and religion are not ‘reconcilable’

Neil deGrasse Tyson argues science and religion are not ‘reconcilable’ January 21, 2014

In an extended conversation about science, religion and the universe, Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson argues science and religion are not compatible.

In an interview with Bill Moyers last Friday, Tyson explained why he doesn’t believe science and faith are compatible.  Tyson said he refuses to give credit to those who are trying to reconcile science and religion. “The track record is so poor,” he said, “that going forward I have essentially zero confidence that there would be fruitful things to emerge from the effort to reconcile them.”

In the interview, Tyson also criticized those trying to teach creationism in the science classroom. Tyson linked those who support creationism to a tendency throughout history to substitute the concept of God for any phenomenon scientists have yet to figure out.

“If you have a religious philosophy that is not based in objective realities that you then want to put in the science classroom, then I’m going to stand there and say no, ‘I’m not going to allow you in the science classroom.'”

Tyson went on: “Educated religious people are perfectly fine with that,” he said. “It’s the fundamentalists who want to say that the Bible is the literal truth of God and want to see the Bible as a science textbook who are knocking on the science doors of schools… Enlightened religious people are not acting that way.”

Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and host of the upcoming Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiering Sunday, March 9, 2014 on Fox.

Neil deGrasse Tyson




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  • Science marches on, religion looks backward. End of story.

    • Ann Perry

      You are so right, Mr. Brenner! End of story, indeed!
      And I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing Dr. Tyson’s “Cosmos!”

  • bill wald

    Tyson is right for the wrong reason. “Science” should be limited to hypothesis which can be falsified. If a hypotheses can not be demonstrated as false then neither can it claimed as true. Most observational astronomy is an art, not a science. Same with historical investigations. Many rational people don’t accept the Warren Commission report on JFK as being correct. And the idea that history becomes science if the topic subject material is older than the invention of writing doesn’t compute.

  • I believe Tyson had said earlier that he didn’t want pigeonhole himself with an “-ism” (like “atheism”). Maybe this is an indication of his wanting to get more active in the debate.

    • TheNotchyToad

      I don’t think so. He has made his point on that with an analogy that he doesn’t golf but he isn’t going to join an anti-golf club and argue against golf, it’s just as silly to do the same thing with religion. He’s too intelligent to get drawn into a debate about what exists and what doesn’t. All that does is lead to one side leaning on faith and another on intuition with no way to prove the other right or wrong. He will stand up when it puts education at stake however as in this case.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I think of religion as the precursor to science. There was a time when only priests were interested in studying the lights in the night sky. Whenever they discovered that what they thought of as true was actually wrong, they kept it to themselves and revealed it as a “sacred mystery” only to others initiated into the priesthood. Modern science opens things up to those outside the priesthood, but there is plenty of stuff that scientists keep close to their chests.

    BTW, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a dapper replacement for Carl Sagan. He does an excellent job of making arcane ideas accessible to a lay audience.

  • John Piermont V. Montilla

    religion must first reconcile with other silly religions before science can begin to seriously entertain the merger

    • Phillip Woon

      Nope, no merger. You cannot merge a myth with science, which is truth

  • UncleB

    Arrogant American Science – they learn a little, open doors that show them the paths to much more, should humble themselves as they witness how very little they really know, and these sick egomaniacs decide the know enough to “Conclude” much as the ‘Flat Earth Societies’ did. How anybody can ever think in terms of the Spiritual side of mankind and the Scientific Method is beyond me?
    Creationists suffer the same arrogance! A few lines in a particular ancient text allows them to ‘conclude” – what egomaniac nonsense is this?

  • John Piermont V. Montilla

    Arrogant? Arrogance has been the foundation of religious thinking since it’s foundation and it is science that breaks this arrogance that allowed many mysteries to be unlocked and discoveries of knowledge to unfold. Curiosity, inquiry and discovery is what science is all about and it is never arrogant because every new knowledge discovered is accepted by the scientific community without killing the discoverer whenever it’s contrary to old knowledge. Old knowledge is humble enough to be part of history. And Which spirituality are talking about.?

  • Indrid Cold

    the title of this article is deliberately incendiary. Tyson is saying that so-called “creation science” is incompatible with real science. he is not making claims about the compatibility of science and religion.

  • James

    This guys is one of the worst clowns to ever present an argument. I mean, this is just embarrassing.

    Its astonishing how dishonest his presentation of what people belief is. Old bearded man in the sky? Science corrected genesis? 1600 years ago Augustine said genesis was obviously allegorical–that its main thrust was suns and moons are not gods. Man was created out of the earth. The universe had a beginning and Augustine said, as most Christians thinkers, it is very old.

    So he sets up straw men that no one believes and knocks them down–what a child. As many professional atheist debaters have said..these street corner atheists are presenting the worst arguments in the history of western civilization and should just shut up because they are not helping.

    Funny how atheists, even Einstein who fudged his equations to allow for an eternal universe–which is patently absurd considering all stars would have burned out by now–thought the universe had no beginning. This is what bias does to even the intelligent

    God of the gaps? Pop out a lego universe that builds people out of nothing Mr Wizard. Its like this guy was born yesterday and no grasp of the issues he is talking about. Acting like only 7 people in the history of humanity–and they were ignorant fools–destroys his credibility. All he has done has proved he has no business speaking on these questions.

  • John Piermont V. Montilla

    @disqus_5oPeet89nv:disqus you don’t know and understand what your talking about.