Cosmos Explains Why Big Business Is Often the Foe of Science
Jason Shankel talks about the most recent episode of the new Cosmos and makes an important point. Not only are creationists going to hate Cosmos now, but so will climate change deniers, and Ayn Rand style libertarians.
This week’s episode of Cosmos tackles the Rock of Ages, the age of rocks and getting the lead out of our commitment to the environment. The episode takes the form of a fable, a cautionary tale about the dangers of letting any institution, but most especially science, fall into the clutches of the Argument From Authority and the ulterior motives of self-declared experts.
After a brief recap of the formation of the solar system and the accretion of our own world, Tyson describes Bishop Ussher’s famous attempt to provide a precise, begat-based estimation of the age of the world. Ussher’s Biblical arithmetic, which places the date and time of creation at Saturday, Oct 22nd, 4004 BC at 6:00 PM (presumably Eden Standard Time) stood for years as the authoritative age of creation until scientists began examining the geological layers of the Earth.
But as the layers of stone replaced the sequence of begats, we found that calculating the precise age of the Earth is beyond the scope of the geological record. Layers that normally take centuries to form can form in an instant during a catastrophic flood. And the active geology of the Earth means that the lowest accessible layers of the geological record are still far younger than the Earth itself.