Here’s Neil deGrasse Tyson at the 2006 “Beyond Belief” meeting. Tyson tends to keep a low profile about atheism, apparently preferring to be known for science communication rather than attacks on faith, but make no mistake about it—he’s an unbeliever.
In this 39-minute video, he makes no bones about his claim that religion is a “science stopper,” using examples from physics and astronomy that he sees as the precursors to the modern intelligent-design movement’s god-of-the-gaps arguments. You’ll be familiar with some of his examples, but perhaps not with Tyson’s “militancy.” And you’ll learn a lot of good stuff from the history of physics.
The “strident” part starts at 10:30, when Tyson contrasts the pervasive religiosity of the American public with the pervasive atheism of scientists, showing that more than 90% of the former believe in God but that just 15% of members of the National Academy of Sciences accept the notion of a personal God (actually, I think the figure is closer to 2%). Referring to the latter figure, though, Tyson says that everyone missed the big story about this disparity: why isn’t the percentage of scientist-believers zero? (He mentions this later in the talk, too.) Tyson clearly thinks that science promotes unbelief.
I haven’t seen him that assertive about religion since, but then he usually talks to the public, not to an audience of skeptics and secularists.
Note: if the video below doesn’t work, go here.
For a related discussion, see Tyson’s article”The perimeter of ignorance” from Natural History in 2005.
h/t: Grania Spingies