Neil deGrasse Tyson Destroys Creationist Nonsense with Lesson on How Fast Light Travels

neil-degrasse-tysonI was raised to try not to judge people who think differently than I do, and for the most part I believe I do a decent job of that.  Granted, I’m pretty harsh when it comes to my criticisms of Republicans, but I didn’t start out that way.  When I first got into politics I was much more polite and cordial to my conservative counterparts.  Then again, years ago conservatives weren’t as insane as they are today.  I really never thought proven science would suddenly become “opinion” simply because it doesn’t coincide with the ideology conservatives want to be real, but isn’t.

Though when it comes to these creationists who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, I’ve essentially lost all my patience.  The more I think about a reality where someone can see the overwhelming amount of evidence which clearly tells us that our planet is much older than 6,000 years, yet still believe that the Earth is that young, the more I can’t come to any other conclusion than these people are insane.

Wouldn’t they have to be?

Take yesterday’s episode of Cosmos where Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how fast light travels and how the light from distant objects in space is hundreds, thousands, millions or even billions of years old.  And we know this because the speed at which light travels is something that can be scientifically proven and is indisputable.

Which would mean that if the Earth and the universe is only 6,000 years old, the oldest light we could see from any distant object couldn’t be older than 6,000 years.  And as Tyson pointed out, that wouldn’t even get us but a fraction of distance inside our own Milky Way galaxy, let alone to other galaxies which we know exist and we know are much further than 6,000 light years away.

Heck, our very own galaxy is 100,000-120,000 light years across.  Meaning, of course, that it would take light traveling from one side to the other 100,000-120,000 years to span the entire distance.

Here’s a preview for the episode, which you hopefully saw yesterday or have waiting on your DVR because it was excellent:

My mind can’t even grasp how delusional someone must be to either doubt the speed at which light travels, or to somehow believe that fact – yet still claim that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.  You would have to be completely and totally out of your mind to believe that.

I can’t say enough how thrilled I am that Cosmos was relaunched.  Especially in this country as we continue to face a growing amount of people who seem to suddenly think that proven science is just “a matter of your opinion.”  I really hope other scientists come forward with even more shows that seek to educate people on facts to counter the millions of people who believe in these ridiculous myths.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Jerry Graybosch

    Apparently, the speed of light was originally much much faster. Then light got tired and slowed down. But it’s rested now and maintaining it’s present speed.

    • Vinay Choytun

      No scientific evidence for this!

  • Michael

    Gawd just put all the light in the exact right spot so that it would travel this way and get here at the perfect time for us to enjoy, because all the stars exist just for us to look at.

  • Gary Menten

    Which idiotic Creationist rebuttal makes you laugh harder?
    A. That God created ready-made beams of light between the Earth and the rest of the universe or:
    B. That the speed of light was much faster when the earth was created by God 6,000 years ago.

    • Keyser Soze

      Light is actually a trick from the Devil to turn people away from God. In fact, the Devil’s true name is “Lucifer”, which literally means “light bearer”

      • K4FLH

        I hope that was a satirical comment Keyser.

      • Sadly we can not be sure under Poe’s Law of the internets..

      • Keyser Soze

        Satire is a trick from the Devil to confuse people and turn them homosexual

      • Keyser Soze

        Satan is the “Father of All Lies”. What is Satire, other than a Lie?

      • 2Smart2bGOP

        I feel sorry for you.

      • Tony

        Why? People are too serious. Lighten up and try to understand sarcasm and satire.

      • 2Smart2bGOP

        I always try to find the “twinkle in the eye” but in looking through keysers posts on this thread, I don’t believe he/she is using satire/sarcasm. It all rings too closely to what I have heard from fundamentalists for years.

        “Satan is the “Father of All Lies”. What is Satire, other than a Lie?” I think he/she really believes this. And if he/she believes that “Satire is a trick from the Devil to confuse people and turn them homosexual,” then I stand by my original statement. I feel sorry for him/her.

      • Keyser Soze

        Even the word “Satire” is similar to Satan, only 3 letters different. And even closer to Satyr, which is an ungodly Pagan demon

      • MaryAnn


    • Gary Menten

      I wish someone would answer my question though; which Creationist “explanation” makes you laugh hardest?

      • Dan Bourne

        Adam & Eve – Since we are all white and share the same DNA apparently since we all have the same mother and father… So basically we are all inbred according to that story & and then how would other races even come about?? Makes it sound like the whole world is the product of 2 anglo Saxons – ridiculous

      • Gary Menten

        I was actually referencing my earlier question about creationist how creationists explain that light from stars and galaxies that are more than 6000 light years away from us could be visible…but whatever makes you laugh hardest is best.

      • Vinay Choytun

        Speaking snake and woman coming from the rib of a man!

  • Keyser Soze

    I try not to judge people who ARE different from me. But i ABSOLUTELY judge people who THINK differently than I do. Ideology is literally the number one thing thats its ok to negatively judge people over. Its not like race, gender, or sexual orientation that people are born with and dont choose. People actively CHOOSE to believe dumbass shit, and they deserve to be publicly mocked for it.

    • Jenny

      And I think it should be — religion — treated with ridicule, and hatred, and contempt.

      And I claim that right. – Christopher Hitchens…

    • Jake

      Indeed. May I point everyone to the Crusades cerca 1099 to present?

  • Rebecca

    It’s actually impossible to reason with these people who can’t rationally think without the filter of “faith” making sure their fragile view of the world doesn’t shatter.

    It is also impossible to pin one of these people down because they either move the goalposts on a question just to avoid the fact they are wrong, straw-man the hell out of you, or blabber their fantasies until you go away and then they claim victory.

    You want to know how to deal with creationists and other bible-misinterpreters? Go to 4chan and learn how to deal with the idiots there and the trolls. You’ll learn some tactics.

    • Gary Menten

      “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

      ― Thomas Paine

    • Dan Bourne

      Funny how the “Sheep Effect” completely controls some people – They won’t believe truths proven to them by intelligent individuals but they will believe ridiculous magic from a 2000 yr old book written 300 years after Jesus died. Kinda like the folks who voted for G W Bush – “I like him cause he’s a dumbass like me”. Instead of electing someone smart who can actually speak English…

  • Randy Vogel

    Maybe the creationist need their own science channel (FOX Science for Dummies) comes to mind.

  • Maria DelCoco

    I chuckled to myself last night during that segment of Cosmos when he as explaining why the earth wasn’t only 6000 years old.

  • Pipercat

    Don’t worry, some Conservative/Christian/Right wing excuse tank will come up with a snappy response. Just give them a couple of days.

    • Gary Menten

      They came up (hilarious) with answers to this ages ago; see my comments at the top of the page.

  • Steve Z

    Those dumb anti-science fucks don’t care what this series says. We’re a nation chock full of stupid superstitious people and our country is no more enlightened than Afghanistan. No amount of reason will make them come to their senses because the bible ‘tells’ them it’s not true.

    • Gary Menten

      You have a point there. The difference being that America is a nation chock-full of superstitious people and which possesses the means to destroy the world with nuclear weapons….which is an unsettling fact.

  • crzymrsd

    It would be easier to convince people that science facts aren’t an opinion if Discovery and History Channels weren’t putting ridiculous shows on that are complete fiction. No wonder people are confused the very channels that used to educate facts are now pouring money into shows that should belong on SyFy and HBO.

    • Dan Bourne

      Read a book then genius – or maybe a magazine. Do you need to be spoon fed information?? DB

      • Gary Menten

        Agreed that nothing beats reading, but he does have a point. There is a lot of bullshit and pseudo-science on TV, including on channels whose names imply that their programming isn’t pseudo-science and bullshit.

  • Jim Bean

    Next week Neil deGrasse Tyson will reveal the secrets of dark matter. The scientific community is on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

    • Steve Z

      And Paul Ryan and the other crypto-racists will say dark matter lacks ambition and work ethic and was really born in Kenya.

    • Gary Menten

      Perhaps you haven’t heard but Cosmos isn’t aimed at the scientific community; it’s aimed at making science understandable to ordinary people who actually WANT to UNDERSTAND more than they do now.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      he simply opened the bible and saw all the dark( see: idiotic/conflicting/violent) bavardage inside

  • Jim Bean

    “Then again, years ago conservatives weren’t as insane as they are today.” Really? What did they believe years ago (or vice versa) that they don’t now?

    • Gary Menten

      For once we agree on something. Conservatives were just as insane years ago as today. They simply didn’t have the internet to promote their delusions.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      they were just as scumbagish; but now they have advanced in media coverage to further their financial and control agendas
      ” conserve”……..??? what are the “conserving”???

  • One of the “explanations” creationists use is that the speed of light was much faster at the creation and is “decaying.”

    I addressed this in a short essay,Stones and Bones: “Are Constants Constant.”

    • Gary Menten

      I haven’ done the math on this, but given a 6,000 year time frame proposed by creationists, and that the farthest galaxy we’ve spotted is 13.1 billion light years away, this idea would suggest that:

      A. The speed of light was originally about 13 billion times faster than it currently is and:

      B. Assuming a constant rate of decay over time, the current speed of light should have reached zero a long time ago.

  • 2Smart2bGOP

    For those who believe, no proof is necessary.
    For those who don’t believe, no proof exists.

    And those who disregard facts in favor of faith dishonor both.

  • convolution

    Oh, scientific evidence does not support my belief? That evidence was put there to test my faith.

    • Kawika Mac

      Ahhhhh … but we all know: “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.”

      • PRIME79

        And around and around we go.

  • JTWJ

    I am so tired of these anti-science troglodytes. I wish they would just withdraw from society, find caves to live in and leave the rest of us in peace.

    • Gary Menten

      Unfortunately, there is no law that can forbid stupidity and so they have just as much right to be here as we do. This is why it’s important that we educate ourselves and our children in the scientific method, and especially, teach them to think for themselves.

  • Swen.Ardere

    I absolutely judge religious people who choose to believe superstitious myths even in spite of evidence. They are screwed in the mind.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      and screwed in the wallet by religion

  • The mathematical probability that random mutation and natural selection ultimately produced complex living kinds from a simpler kind is infinitesimally small even after many billions of years. Stay true to yourself and God and the science will work it’s self out.