Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson criticized those looking to infuse science classes with creationism in an interview with Bill Moyers on Friday, linking them to a tendency throughout history to substitute the concept of God for any phenomenon scientists have yet to figure out.
“If that’s where you’re going to put your God in this world, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance,” deGrasse Tyson told Moyers. “If that’s how you’re going to invoke God. If God is the mystery of the universe, these mysteries, we’re tackling these mysteries one by one. If you’re going to stay religious at the end of the conversation, God has to mean more to you than just where science has yet to tread.”
Moyers told the host of the revived Cosmos that some “religious people” told him they were scared whenever deGrasse Tyson’s predecessor, Carl Sagan, stated, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” because they felt Sagan was dismissing the belief in an afterlife.
“Do you have any sympathy for people who seem to feel, only feel safe in the vastness of the universe you describe in your show if they can infer a personal God who makes it more hospitable to them, cares for them?” Moyers asked deGrasse Tyson.
“In this, what we tell ourselves is a free country, which means you should have freedom of thought, I don’t care what you think. I just don’t,” deGrasse Tyson replied. “Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there’s one God, two Gods, ten Gods, or no Gods. That is what it means to live in a free country.”
But that can cause problems, he continued, when people try to prioritize their religious views over objective data when it came to science education.
“Then I’m going to stand there and say, ‘No, I’m not going to allow you in the science classroom,'” deGrasse Tyson said. “I’m not telling you what to think, I’m just telling you in the science class, ‘You’re not doing science. This is not science. Keep it out.'”
Watch Moyers’ interview with deGrasse Tyson, as aired Friday on Moyers and Company, below.