Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson is stirring up plenty of controversy, and now a Fox Network station in Oklahoma is adding fuel to the fire.
During the premiere episode of the series, Tyson discussed intolerance of church dogma. In the last ten minutes of the show, the popular scientist began talking about evolution. Tyson was showing viewers footprints left by ancient ancestors to humans.
Just as he began talking about locomotion and evolution, KOKH Fox 25 cut to a promotional ad for their news program. Viewers in Oklahoma were shown the station logo, which flashed to a promo for the upcoming 9 p.m. newscast. Stories included a young boy who has developed a passion for big game hunting.
KOKH switched back to Cosmos, just as the segment on evolution was ending.
The promo for the newscast ran as Tyson discussed the significance of the footprints.
"We are newcomers to the Cosmos. Our own story only begins on the last night of the cosmic year... Three and a half million years ago, our ancestors - yours and mine - left these traces." He then pointed to the footprints before continuing. "We stood up and parted ways from them. Once we were standing on two feet, our eyes were no longer fixated on the ground. Now, we were free to look up and wonder," Tyson narrated.
Station managers say cutting into the program was accidental. They blame the 20-second edit on "operator error." One viewer, named Adam Bates, uploaded the edit to YouTube.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, has elicited opposition from religious groups who feel the show is too critical of religion. The first series of the show talked of history of the Universe lasting billions of years. But, over the course of the episode, the 20 seconds edited out by the cut were the only direct mention of evolution. This has caused many critics of the network to claim the edit was intentional. While the network said the cut was unintentional, they would not elaborate on what caused the incident to happen.
On March 12, managers of KOKH tweeted, "Sunday, during @COSMOSonTV, a local news promo was aired over a portion of COSMOS content. This was an operator error & we regret the error."
Tyson recently told comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert that science is true "whether or not you believe in it."
At least five schools in Oklahoma that receive public funding teach creationism. A Senate bill in that state will provide teachers a legal basis for teaching creationism in additional schools.