Thursday, June 03, 2010

Daily Show FAIL

Last night’s featured guest on the Daily Show was acclaimed actor, Morgan Freeman.  He was there to promote his new series on the Science Channel, Through the Wormhole.  Apparently the show is an examination of cutting edge astronomy and cosmology.  Cool.

The interview was going pretty well until the very end when Mr. Freeman started talking about the edges of scientific understanding.  Stewart asked him if cosmologists were “sure” about some of their theories on the Big Bang and other early universe ideas.  Freeman said that there are some disagreements (true) and then said something to the effect of, “Scientists go to the cutting edge of their understanding, and then they hit the God factor.”

I was taken off guard by this comment but thought he must be about to dismiss the “God of the Gaps” arguments made by believers.  (“God of the Gaps” arguments are used by many believers to fill in the holes of their understanding of the world; where there seems to be a gap in understanding, God fills the gaps.  For example, don’t understand how thunder works?  Thunder is caused by God.  As our understanding of the universe has grown, the gaps in which god can be used have become smaller and smaller.)

As the show continued, I saw, to my shock, that Freeman wasn’t criticizing the God of the Gaps arguments, he was employing one!  What’s worse, he was claiming that scientists, when faced with the limits of their understanding, were the ones invoking a supernatural cause, God.  He was claiming that the scientists were saying “goddidit.”


Of course the overwhelming majority of astronomers and cosmologists DON’T invoke God when they don’t have all the information.  Most are content to admit “I don’t know.”  The urge to know is what drives them to study, investigate and learn.

Apparently Morgan Freeman hasn’t learned that.  And Stewart didn’t call him on it.  Bah.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Interesting. I was watching the interview but got bored and turned it off before he got into the "God factor."

Actually, I thought Freeman was having trouble articulating why he was involved in the first place. Stewart asked if he had always been passionate about science and Freeman sort of hemmed and hawed. I suspect this may have been a case of the network bringing someone in who would provide some prestige to the project without examining whether he really believed in it.

As for Steward, I think it would have been pretty difficult to go after Morgan Freeman. I don't think everything he does needs to be hard-hitting.