The documentary series Cosmos debuted in March with as much public opposition as fanfare—with some groups openly criticizing the scientific viewpoints covered on the show, and others applauding its attempts to bring science back to the mainstream. A followup to the 1980 series of the same name, Cosmos provides scientific perspectives on a number of oft-debated topics, such as the creation of the universe, the evolution of life on Earth, and the importance of scientific knowledge and education. Not surprisingly, much of this controversy surrounding the show has been political and/or religious in its nature. Has the show hit a fault line in American culture?
Sociologists writing about the apparent political divides between supporters of science and religion often find that there isn’t a clean divide between the two. Many scientists are religious, and their findings don’t always challenge religious claims.
- Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2010. Science vs. religion: What scientists really think. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- John H. Evans, and Michael S. Evans. 2008. “Religion and science: Beyond the epistemological conflict narrative.” Annual Review of Sociology 34: 87-105
Also, in a recent post in Sociology Lens, Huw C. Davies uses theory from Foucault to cut through the “religion versus science” debate and show how both institutions vie for power through “discourses of truth.”
Stay tuned for Part II of our take on Cosmos later this week, where we’ll review work on science and race in the United States.