Cosmos Articles and Discussion Guides
See Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey for reviews of other episodes and discussion guides for further study.
“Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still”—the sixth episode of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey—takes viewers to places invisible to our ordinary senses. We see that the things that happen unseen operate according to the laws of nature and often determine why things work the way they do. Though the program touches on tidbits from a smorgasbord of basic chemistry, biology, and physics, show host Neil deGrasse Tyson peppers his educational comments with declarations that these phenomena result from or demonstrate the billions-of-years age of the universe or molecules-to-man evolution.
Juxtaposing Observable Science with Evolutionary Suppositions
Molecules in a dewdrop, neuronal connections between the nose and brain, neutrinos that can penetrate practically anything, nuclear fusion that powers the sun, the photosynthetic assembly line in a chloroplast, and even the atomic structure that makes one element differ from another—all these unseen wonders are known to us through the eyes of experimental, observational science. Tyson explores all of these in “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still.” Sadly but surely intentionally, by interjecting unverifiable evolutionary suppositions into his narrative, Tyson gives the impression that they are as incontrovertibly true as verifiable scientific observations, processes, and principles.
In the dewdrop we meet the tardigrade. Tardigrades (i.e., water bears) are tiny masters of survival. Sharing a few facts about the diverse habitats these ubiquitous invertebrates can tolerate, Tyson sprinkles in the unverifiable claim that “tardigrades have been living on this planet a lot longer than we have—about 500 million years” and that “they’ve survived all five of the recent mass extinctions on this planet.”
Tardigrade fossils are found in Cambrian rock and are still alive today. Since tardigrades are still with us, evolutionists assume they survived multiple mass extinction events. Whenever a sort of fossilized organism is missing from a layer of rock above other layers in which it is found, evolutionary scientists assume a mass extinction occurred. This concept is a purely evolutionary interpretation of the fossil layers as a record of the evolution and extinction of life. But the unverifiable millions of years assigned to the geologic column are unable to supply the genetic information for molecules-to-man evolution, or even atoms-to-tardigrade evolution. The fossil record is instead primarily a record of the rapid burial of organisms during and soon after the global Flood as described in God’s Word.
Similarly, while explaining the basics of photosynthesis, Tyson mentions “the chloroplast is a three billion year old solar energy collector.” He notes we can recreate photosynthesis in the laboratory but says “we’re not as good at it as plants are. And it’s not surprising considering nature’s been at this for billions of years, and we’ve only just started.”
Evolutionists cannot demonstrate how the genetic information to blueprint each enzyme-mediated step in the complex biochemical process of photosynthesis came about.
Evolutionists assume that cyanobacteria invented the process of photosynthesis but can only offer unverifiable just-so stories to explain how. Evolutionists cannot demonstrate how the genetic information to blueprint each enzyme-mediated step in the complex biochemical process of photosynthesis came about. The structure of the chloroplast—the photosynthetic factory that captures the sun’s energy to feed all life on Earth—is irreducibly complex, each part dependent on the other parts to function.
The evolutionary claim that the chloroplasts were originally photosynthesizing bacteria engulfed by ancestral cells falls short. As Answers in Genesis Dr. Georgia Purdom explains, “Both mitochondria and chloroplasts perform complex processes producing energy and converting sunlight into sugars (which are then used by animals and humans to make energy) and have equally complex relationships to the nucleus and other organelles in cells.”1. Read more about the many problems with this evolutionary claim in “‘Non-Evolution’ of the Appearance of Mitochondria and Plastids in Eukaryotes: Challenges to Endosymbiotic Theory.”
Echoing the evolutionary claim about flower evolution late in the planet’s history, Tyson says,
It’s hard to imagine, but plants covered the surface of the Earth for hundreds of millions of years before they put forth their first flower. That was about a hundred million years ago. Shortly before the dinosaurs were wiped out. Our world must’ve been a relatively drab looking place back then dominated by shades of green and brown.
God’s Word, however, tells us that God made all kinds of plants on Day Three of Creation Week, about 6,000 years ago. And recent discoveries of pollen grains demonstrating impressive floral diversity much deeper in the fossil record than previously believed is consistent not with the evolutionary story but with God’s Word. Read more about it in “Pollen Places Floral Roots Deeper in the Fossil Record.” The world God made was not drab but adorned with all created kinds of fully functional plants able to produce fruit (Genesis 1:11–12) for Adam and Eve to enjoy. Flowers were part of God’s original creation.
Follow Your Nose
Following the theme of tracking the unseen, Tyson takes us to the nose where he explains that every odor we sense is detectable because we have an olfactory receptor shaped to match a molecule of the substance emitting it. Recalling how a particular scent can trigger our emotional memories, he relates how the olfactory neurons connecting these receptors to the brain pass near the amygdala and hippocampus, brain centers for emotion and memory formation.
Again Tyson leaps from that which is experimentally supportable to evolutionary conjecture. He says that our capacity for scent-triggered memories “has to do with the way our brains have evolved” to facilitate our survival through early detection of dangers like fire and predators. He says, “The network of neurons that carry the scent signal from my nose to my brain has been fine-tuned over hundreds of millions of years of evolution.” Yet the Creator God of the universe designed the human genome with the capacity to produce many individualized olfactory receptors in addition to the nearly 900 “standard” ones. Read more in “The Smell of Change in Our Understanding of Pseudogenes” about God’s wise design that allows olfactory receptors to be fine-tuned as needed, not over millions of years but during the lifetime of each individual.
Basking in the Sun’s Old Light
Again placing observable principles alongside evolutionary conjecture, Tyson points out that the photons produced by nuclear fusion in the heart of the sun, because they bump into atoms so much on their trip to the sun’s surface, do not emerge for their approximately eight-minute trip to Earth until long after they are produced. (This is called the solar photon diffusion time.) But though different models used to calculate how long this would take vary from 3,000 years to 30,000 years to 170,000 years, Tyson reports that it takes 10 million years and hammers his evolutionary point by claiming that human life had not yet evolved when the photons warming our faces today were produced on the sun. Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner comments,
This is considerably longer than the estimates that I’ve seen. The most commonly mentioned time scale is 170,000 years from a 1992 paper. In that paper they mentioned that earlier estimates were 30,000 years and even 3,000 years. I don’t know where the producers of Cosmos got their figure of 10 million years for the solar photon diffusion time scale. I suppose that the longer figure gives their evolutionary emphasis on this point more punch.
As the new Cosmos series launched and began its assault those who recognize the Bible as a reliable source of information about the physical universe, Tyson claimed the Bible could not provide scientists with any information to make testable, correct predictions. We countered his accusation with numerous examples in “Can Bible-Based Predictions Lead to Scientific Discoveries?” In episode six Tyson offers his own examples of the power of evolutionary thinking to make verifiable scientific predictions. He says, “There can be no stronger test of an idea than its predictive power.” Laughably, the two examples he gives have absolutely nothing to do with either molecules-to-man evolution or the billions-of-years age of the universe.
Tyson attempts to illustrate the predictive power of Darwinian evolutionary theory by showing us Madagascar’s comet orchid, which stores its nectar—not its pollen, as Tyson mistakenly says—at the bottom of a long, thin spur. Orchids, which exist in great diversity, are typically pollinated by very specific creatures. Darwin predicted, in his 1862 treatise The Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects, and On the Good Effects of Intercrossing, that somewhere on the island of Madagascar there must exist a pollinator moth with a corresponding foot-long proboscis capable of reaching this nectar.
Though Darwin’s contemporaries scoffed, just such an insect—the Malagasy hawk moth—was discovered in 1903. This moth, which also exists on the nearby mainland, is attracted to the scent of the comet orchid. After plunging its foot-long tongue into an orchid’s spur, it raises its head, causing a sticky bundle of pollen to detach and adhere near the tongue’s base. The pollen bundle dries and changes shape such that it sticks to the stigma of the next comet orchid the moth visits. Once such an orchid is fertilized, it stops producing its attractive scent.
Tyson presents this Darwinian triumph as evidence supporting the great predictive power of the Darwinian “theory of evolution through natural selection,” but the prediction that such a pollinator must exist for this orchid had nothing to do with Darwinian evolution. This moth’s existence demonstrates nothing about Darwinian evolutionary theory. Instead, the remarkable variety among orchids and the creatures that pollinate them reveals the amazing capacity for variations within the limits of kinds created by God. You can read much more about variations within the orchid kind in “Orchids—A Bouquet of Adaptations” and see how the existence of pollinating partners illustrates a biblical understanding of creation in “God Created Plant Pollinator Partners.”
Later in the program Tyson revisits the genuine power of observational science to make predictions by recounting the discovery of neutrinos. Neutrinos are electrically neutral subatomic particles with very little mass and the ability to travel at nearly light speed even through whole planets. In 1930 physicist Wolfgang Pauli proposed the existence of such a particle to explain the apparent violation of the law of conservation of energy by certain radioactive particles in a nuclear reactor. Many years later, these nearly undetectable particles were finally discovered. Though a triumph of observational science, Tyson presents Pauli’s discovery as an example comparable to his Darwinian one: “Just as Charles Darwin knew there must be an extremely long-nosed creature in Madagascar . . . .” The story of the discovery of the neutrino is a great example of the power of science to make testable predictions on the basis of the laws of nature. And despite Tyson’s implications to the contrary, it has nothing to do demonstrating the universe is billions of years old.
Professing To Be Wise, They Become Fools
God in the Bible tells us that He made all things over a six-day period about 6,000 years ago. Because God made a logical, orderly universe that functions in a predictable manner, experimental science works. What we read in God’s Word even helps us understand what we see in God’s world—including most of the scientific principles taught in “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still.”
We glorify our Creator who designed the amazing levels of unseen complexity that make our bodies, our world, and our universe work as they do. The more science reveals about how nature works, the more we join the Apostle Paul in praising the Creator. We shake our heads sadly at those who think themselves wise but deny Him.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:20–22)
For more information:
- The Smell of Change in Our Understanding of Pseudogenes
- The Bloodhound—Natural Born Smeller
- Little Green Machines
- Power Plants
- Origin of Photosynthesis
- Shining Light on the Evolution of Photosynthesis
- Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder
- God Created Cohorts
- Doesn’t Science Disprove the Bible
- De-Nyeing Science
- Can Bible-Based Predictions Lead to Scientific Discoveries?