I recently caught up on the Cosmos episodes so far. I liked the episode on evolution where Neil told the story of how wolves turned into dogs. Glad he included the part of "self-selection" and the wolves choosing to domesticate humans (much like cats have trained humans to be their servants). I've said before that I don't understand why creationists insist that apes shouldn't be around anymore if humans descended from them. Dogs clearly descended from wolves, and yet both species exist today.
Then Neil contrasted how polar bears evolved from brown bears (grizzlies) through natural selection, and he rebutted the Intelligent Design argument that the human eye is too perfect to be randomly created. Anybody who wears glasses or contacts can tell you that the eye is not perfect at all, and human eyesight is very poor compared to other animals' eyes, like those of raptors or fish. Humans don't have the best sense of smell, sense of hearing, and plenty of other stuff. It's only our brains that helped us dominate the planet, when physically speaking we're pretty disadvantaged and underpowered. Not that creationists will listen to Neil, of course, but perhaps there are some rational folks who can be reached by this show. Plus science doesn't have to be incompatible with religion. Some scientists are religious, but they know that their faith can't and shouldn't be proved. Religion is personal and shouldn't be publicly argued or shoved onto other people at the expense of education.
I recently read about a Louisiana school district which harassed a kid for being Buddhist and kept Bible-thumping in open defiance of the separation between church and state. I mean, WAKE UP, people, this is not a Christian country, and other people have as much right to practice their own faith as you do. (And there are many secular people who have no faith at all too.) It's not a war on Christians; it's a recognition of equal rights and courtesy to your neighbors. I wish Christians could just be happy in their own faith and self-satisfied about going to heaven, instead of trying to convert other people. I keep getting pamphlets in the mail and people knocking on my door. Of course not all Christians are like that, and they want teachers to stop indoctrinating their kids too.
But I digress. The Cosmos episode featuring Isaac Newton mentioned that he was into mystical stuff like alchemy despite his scientific bent, and Wikipedia says he was also an unorthodox Christian who managed to dodge the religious requirement to become an ordained priest to be a Fellow at Trinity College (at Cambridge). I liked that the episode showed how scientists could be petty and jealous as any other flawed people. It's ridiculous sometimes how egos get in the way of science. I remember in high school that I wrote a paper about Edmund Halley and how he helped Newton publish his Principia, but it's a dim memory now. It was nice to see the friendship highlighted with warmth and humor, though I am getting tired of the focus on European history.
I hope that the rest of the episodes will branch out more and be good. I wish the show was on PBS so there wouldn't be so many commercials.