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Interchange – The New Cosmology or Upbeat in the Anthropocene

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Or Big History, or, Epic Science, or Religion 2.0…Today’s show is kin to last week’s, Honey From a Weed…but instead of seeing the human as capable of flourishing in concert with the natural, in this story, humanity sings itself beyond limitation.

“[T]he new cosmologists attempt to recast the universe as a distinctly human drama, a story in which we comfortably feel ‘at home.’ But this move is a wrong one, for it collapses an unfathomably vast and alien cosmos into something far less wondrous. It encourages a mood of self-aggrandizement, a kind of cosmic smugness that is contrary to wonder and, I think, demonstrably unscientific….Put differently, the new cosmology is, quintessentially, paradigmatically, an Anthropocene narrative, and a problematically upbeat one at that.” (Sideris, Consecrating Science, 9)

Much of this is of course not new. Throughout we’ll hear clips from a talk given by Wernher von Braun at Taylor University in 1972. Von Braun was the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Germany and the father of rocket technology and space science in the United States. He was also a Nazi. Along with several hundred other German scientists he came to the United States to build the dream of space travel as a kind of spoil of war.

Incidentally, Taylor University, where von Braun spoke, is a private, evangelical Christian college in Upland, Indiana, which was founded in 1846.

GUEST
Lisa Sideris is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, where her research focuses on religion, science, and environmentalism. She is the author of Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection (Columbia University Press, 2003). Her new book is Consecrating Science: Wonder, Knowledge and the Natural World (University of California Press, 2017).

RELATED
Surviving the Anthropocene: Big Brains and Big Money at the Smithsonian by Lisa Sideris
Surviving the Anthropocene Part 2: Of Omega Points and Oil by Lisa Sideris
Religion 2.0: “The New Theism: Shedding Beliefs, Celebrating Knowledge” by Michael Dowd
Climate Change And The Astrobiology Of The Anthropocene by Adam Frank
“Sipping the Kool-Aid” of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (Jenny Lewis)
Poor Birds, Poor Bees, Poor Men: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” (Interchange, featuring Lisa Sideris and Christoph Irmscher)

MUSIC
“The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis
“Heretics” by Andrew Bird
“John Saw That Number” by Neko Case
“Back to the Sea” by The Thermals
“Oceania” by Björk

CREDITS
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Board Engineer: Bryce Martin
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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