The Cosmos: The Electric Boy (Part 10)

The Cosmos Series

The Cosmos: The Electric Boy (Part 10)

By Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.

I must say that I was thrilled to see the title for the ninth episode of The Cosmos. The reason for my excitement was that I knew that the ‘Electric Boy’ was none other than Bible believing creationist and celebrated genius, Michael Faraday. Our narrator, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, opens this segment by asking, “Can you see me? Can you hear me? How? I could be thousands of miles away. Yet, when you turn on whatever device is bringing my image and voice to you, I’m there instantaneously. How is that possible?”

Dr. Tyson continues, “To our ancestors, it would have seemed like sorcery. To them, the speed of communication was only as fast as the swiftest horse or sailing ships. Our messages travel invisibly at the speed of light. How did we attain such mythic powers? It all began in the mind of one person, a child of poverty of whom nothing was expected.” Now we see a view of the earth from space with communication satellites in view. “In fact, our narrator continues, if this man had not lived the world we know might not exist today.” And the credits begin to roll.

“Sooner or later, our narrator explains, someone would have likely figured out some of his discoveries. However, if Michael Faraday had not lived, we might be living as our ancestors did in the 17th century unaware of armies of invisible servants awaiting our commands. This is the story of how we made electrons do our bidding.” Dr. Tyson notes, “In a way, it begins with the greatest genius that ever lived, Isaac Newton.” Now I’m both excited and flabbergasted. I’m excited by the inclusion of two of the greatest scientists of all time being mentioned repeatedly throughout this series. Evidently, you cannot tell the story of modern science without including at least two devoted Bible believing creationists. I am stunned by the fact that today Dr. Tyson and other evolutionists ridicule anyone who, like Faraday and Newton, believed the Genesis account to be the truth with regard to the creation and early history of mankind.

We now find our narrator walking in a field next to an old building. He tells us that this is Woolsthorpe, Newton’s ancestral home. We are told that Newton, “who figured out the motions of the planets around the sun wanted to know why the planets acted that way. How do all the apples know how to fall?” We are also told that another genius was puzzled by another aspect of this mystery. Now the animators take us to a scene where a young Albert Einstein is sitting next to his father while his dad shows him the interaction between a compass and a magnet. Dr. Tyson tells us that young Albert was fascinated with the way the magnet could move the needle without touching it. Cut to a picture of the adult Albert Einstein telling us, “this demonstration made a lasting impression on me as a child; something deeply hidden had to be behind these things.”

It is here that we are introduced to a genius that Dr. Tyson says is of the same stature as Newton and Einstein. He tells us, “This man who solved the mystery that stumped Newton also laid the foundation for Einstein’s revolutionary insights and for the way we live now.” We see another shot of the earth from orbit and the animators continue the story. It’s 1791 in a squalid slum in the suburbs of London. A man is coughing and a woman is in labor on a bed. There are two small children huddled together on the floor and we hear the narrator tell us, “Michael Faraday was born.” Cut to a schoolroom with a sour and strict looking teacher walking between the desks. Dr. Tyson says, “He showed little promise at school.” Evidently, little Michael had a speech impediment that the school teacher misreads as insolence. She sends Michaels older brother out to the store so he can purchase a cane for the teacher to use on Michael. The next scene shows Michael’s mom with his elder brother with in tow. They open the door to the schoolhouse where they find Michael cowering in the corner. Our narrator says, “History does not record that Michael Faraday ever attended school again.”

Now Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday took his family’s fundamentalist Christian faith to heart. It would always remain a source of strength, comfort and humility for him.” Don’t think that Dr. Tyson really believes what he just said. The producer of this new and allegedly improved reboot of the Carl Sagan classic is vocal atheist, Seth MacFarlane. For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. MacFarlane, he is the wildly successful cartoonist who created Family Guy and a movie built around a potty-mouthed talking stuffed animal named Ted. While MacFarlane is an avowed atheist, he is seems to go out of his way to mock and ridicule Christianity. I distinctly remember Dr. Tyson paying lip service to the fact that Isaac Newton was a devout Christian in an earlier episode. While it seems that they feel they must at least mention the fact that both Newton and Faraday were men of faith, I could not help thinking that Dr. Tyson was being somewhat hypocritical reading those particular words in the script.

We pick up the story of young Faraday when he is thirteen and is sent to work at a book bindery. “By day, our narrator tells us, he bound the books and by night he read them. It was the beginning of a life long fascination with electricity.” Now we see Dr. Tyson walking down a present-day city street. He says, “At twenty one, Faraday yearned to escape to a larger world. His big break would come when a customer gave him a ticket to a sensational new kind of entertainment, science for the public.” We go back to animation as Dr. Tyson tells us, “It started right here at London’s Royal Institution of Great Britain. Humphry Davy was one of the leading scientists of his day. He discovered several chemical elements including calcium and sodium. He was also a consummate showman thrilling audiences with demonstrations of electricity.”

Faraday gets his big break

Animators now show us one of his demonstrations using a series of batteries in the cellar he throws a switch making the connection that causes a bright light to glow in their midst. Dr. Tyson narrates what the animators show us. “Faraday was too busy taking notes to applaud. He created a transcript of Davy’s lecture and bound it into a book.” Now Dr. Tyson holds that very book up to the camera saying, “Perhaps such a gift would bring him to the attention of the great man.” Now the animators show us a 21 year old Michael Faraday standing with book in hand in front of the Royal Institution. Dr. Tyson says, “Maybe his gesture could be the means of escape to a larger universe.”

Cut to an animated scene of Sir Humphry Davy performing an experiment. He is telling a colleague, “Ampère tells me that poor Dulong lost and eye and 3 fingers working with this.” Davy pours the substance onto another substance and the result is an explosion that nearly blinds Davy. Now we see Davy sitting at his desk with both eyes bandaged. This unfortunate accident caused Davy to remember young Faraday so he sends for him. He compliments Faraday on his good memory and tells him that he is in temporary need of a secretary. Faraday gladly accepts the position although, at this same time, Davy is telling him to stick to book binding because “science is a harsh mistress.” We are told that Faraday made himself indispensible to Davy. This temporary job became a permanent one as the Royal Institution was to become Faraday’s lifelong home.

“By day, he assisted Davy in the lab at night he retired to his little apartment where his beloved bride Sarah was waiting.” Now we see Humphry Davy and the chemist William Wallace experimenting with a mysterious phenomenon. Our narrator tells us, “One that would have potentially far-reaching implications.” It was the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Davy told Faraday to finish tidying up and then take a look at the magnet and electrical current they had set up. Dr. Tyson tells us “up till now, electricity was nothing more than a source of entertainment. It could cause flashes of light or turn a compass needle briefly, but it had no practical application.” Faraday immediately set about designing the experiment, devoting every moment of his spare time to the problem. If Faraday succeeded, he would be would be putting an undiscovered army of electrons at the command of human whim.”

Dr. Tyson asks, “How does a revolution begin? Sometimes it doesn’t take much, a piece of metal, a bowl of mercury, a bit of cork.” Now the animators show us Faraday calling up to his wife through a speaking tube so she can send his young nephew downstairs to observe what he was about to do. He tells his nephew, “Why don’t you do the honors Georgie,” and with that, Georgie presses the switch that completes the circuit and a wire begins moving in a circular motion in the middle of a bowl filled with mercury. We see Faraday become very excited as he begins to dance around the room with his nephew. Dr Tyson tells us, “This was the first electric motor converting electric current into continuous mechanical motion. Looks pretty feeble, right? But that turning spindle is the beginning of a revolution!” Now the animators show us a series of inventions, a fan, a sewing machine, an icebox, filling the screen with all sorts of updates for these inventions from a window unit air conditioner to a trolley car to a huge radio antenna.

We are told, “Try to imagine the businesses, industries, technologies, transformations of the way we live that have their beginnings in that ecstatic moment in Mr. Faraday’s laboratory. News of his invention spread quickly and suddenly Davy’s assistant was the toast of London.” Dr. Tyson continues, “Davy didn’t take it well. He had, after all, discovered all those elements, now people were saying his greatest discovery was Faraday.” We return to animation as our narrator tells us that Davy meant to silence Faraday by giving him the job of improving Great Britain’s glassworks. Davy tells Faraday, “These damn Bavarians are running circles around us.” Faraday protests telling Davy, “I know nothing of glassmaking” and Davy tells him, “then you will learn Faraday, we all know what a quick study you are.” Davy tells him to “analyze the composition of the glass and work backwards to see how they made it. It shouldn’t take you long,” but it took Faraday four years to learn that crafting perfect optical glass for telescopes was a craft as well as a science. The masters in Bavaria kept their secrets under lock and key and Faraday never did learn their secret. He did keep a single glass brick as a souvenir of this failure. Our narrator tells us, “Years later, it would change the course of his life, and ours.”

The death of Sir Humphry Davy finally brought an end to this foolish Bavarian glass project and Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday, a boy from the slums, succeeded him as the Director of the Laboratory. He initiated a series of Christmas lectures in the sciences for young people beginning in 1825 and continuing to this present day.” We now see examples of some of the lecturers from the past including Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins. Animation shows us Michael Faraday showing the wonders of electricity in one of the first Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. Now we are told that Michael Faraday was not about personally profiting from his inventions or his own fame. Our narrator continues telling us that Michael Faraday only wrote the first sentence of an entry that would be many pages long. The animators show us Faraday performing an experiment in front of his colleagues that showed the conversion of motion into electricity via a magnate. Dr. Tyson tells us, “This is the first generator; from here electricity would become available on demand.”

Now we are back to animation and it’s 1840. Faraday is 50 years old when he is stricken with memory problems. His memory loss was coupled with bouts of depression. Dr. Tyson tells us, “He never really fully recovered, but his greatest achievements still lay ahead.” Now we are once again in the land of animation where Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday had immersed himself so deeply in electrical and magnetic experiments that he came to visualize the space around the magnet as filled with invisible lines of force. A magnet was not simply some magnetized bar of iron you could see, it was also the unseen something in the space around the bar. And that something he called a field, a magnetic field. Faraday believed in the unity of nature.”

The electric boy also believed, In the beginning God…

It is here that that Dr. Tyson gives us some insight into the worldview of Michael Faraday. When an avowed agnostic speaks to us about the unity of nature, he is doing what most evolutionists do. He is deifying nature. Rather than give the glory and honor to the God of nature, their materialistic worldview and secular mantra prevents them from making such statements. I know that Michael Faraday along with William Clerk Maxwell and Isaac Newton were all committed men of faith. They saw the universe as being the result of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Creator. Faraday’s faith in the Word of God informed him that the living Word of God, John 1:1-3, spoke the universe into existence in six literal 24-hour days, Gen. 1:31-2:1. It was nature’s God who was the true force that held everything in the cosmos together. He was the source of the unity that Michael Faraday believed had to be demonstrated in nature. All three men knew what the Apostle Paul said concerning the Messiah. He told them:  

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence, Col. 1:15-18

We are told that once Faraday had demonstrated the connections between electricity and magnetism, he wondered if a third force such as light might be involved. Dr. Tyson continues, “If he could show a connection between these three invisible phenomena, one of nature’s most intimate secrets would at last be revealed.”

The animators are able to show us the re-creation of Faraday’s experiment that leads to the discovery of that third invisible force. Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday knew that light can travel as a wave. Waves of light gyrate randomly in all directions. But there’s a way to isolate a single wave of light, its called polarization. Faraday wanted to see if a single ray of light could be manipulated by the invisible magnetic field.” He ingeniously invented an eyepiece that Dr. Tyson said, “Acted like a picket fence to see the light. Light could only pass through it if it was somehow moved by a magnet.” We see an animation of Faraday placing a mirror on a table using it to reflect a light through a magnetic field towards his eyepiece. If he could see the light go around the picket fence in his eyepiece, it meant the magnetic field had somehow moved the light.

Dr. Tyson explains, “This is difficult to understand, but don’t feel bad. Scientists would not be able to explain this for another hundred years.” Now our narrator reviews the litany of substances that Faraday used to prove that a magnetic field could influence light, but none of them had any affect on the light. He tried all sorts of minerals, salts, crystals, acids, gases all without any success. Then we are told, “In desperation, he decided to try the glass brick (the one left over from the ill-fated Bavarian glass experiments). It did the trick.” We are told, “It was a dramatic breakthrough like seeing the cosmos for the very first time through a telescope. By showing that an electromagnetic force could manipulate light, Faraday had discovered a deeper unity of nature. He had opened the door for Einstein and all the physicists who came after him to glimpse the interplay of hidden primal forces of the universe. Even as he approached the summit of his genius, he was plagued by depression and doubts about his ability to retain even the simplest thoughts.”

At this time, we see the animators recreate a scene where Faraday is writing to a friend and telling him about his memory problem. This time, his wife Sarah must finish the letter leaving a postscript concerning Michael’s difficulties. It must have been time to pay homage to the “electric boy.” Remaining true to form, the producers could manage   only humanistic praise for this man of faith. Dr. Tyson says, “As a young man, Faraday had risen from poverty in one of the most class conscious societies the world has ever known to become the most celebrated scientist of all time. By age 40, he had invented the electric motor, the transformer, the generator, machines that would change everything about the home, the farm, the factory. Now at 60, decades after the fertile periods of the greatest physicists, plagued by memory loss and melancholy, he fearlessly probed deeper into the mysterious invisible forces.”

“The world thought Michael Faraday was a has-been. Despite his depression, he remained as passionately curious as ever. Having discovered the unity of magnetism, electricity and light, Faraday needed to know how this trinity of natural forces worked together.” Now we are back to animation and Faraday is busy in his laboratory. This time he is using magnets and iron filings to figure out something that existed in the space between the filings and shapes they made. The patterns were the footprints of invisible fields of force that reached into the space around anything magnetic. Now, Faraday understood that a compass was responding to a force field that stretched from the North Pole.” He continued, “Earth itself is a giant magnet and like any other magnet, its lines of force extend far out into the space that surrounds it. They’re everywhere all around us. They’ve always been, but nobody ever noticed them before, nobody human that is.”

More evolutionary brainwashing
“Birds are the last living descendants of the dinosaurs.” Dr. Tyson says this with the confidence of a true believer. Once again, there is information that is left out of this declaration of dinosaur progeny. The earlier version of this ‘just so’ story told us that scales of the reptiles evolved into feathers, and so on and so forth. As is the case today, the evolutionary faithful promote this as if it were true, as if they actually saw these changes through personal observation or they derived it from evidence in the fossil record. Neither of these is true. Never mind that birds are uniquely designed for flight. Consider the following excerpt from Stanford University regarding the evolution of flight.

The evolution of flight has endowed birds with many physical features in addition to wings and feathers (Emphasis added). One of the requirements of heavier-than-air flying machines, birds included, is a structure that combines strength and light weight. One way this is accomplished in birds is by the fusion and elimination of some bones and the “pneumatization” (hollowing) of the remaining ones. Some of the vertebrae and some bones of the pelvic girdle of birds are fused into a single structure, as are some finger and leg bones -- all of which are separate in most vertebrates. And many tail, finger, and leg bones are missing altogether. Not only are some bones of birds, unlike ours, hollow, but many of the hollows are connected to the respiratory system. To keep the cylindrical walls of a bird's major wing bones from buckling, the bones have internal strut-like reinforcements.


The pneumatization of bird bones led to the belief that birds had skeletons that weighed proportionately less than those of mammals. Careful studies by H. D. Prange and his colleagues have shown this not to be the case. More demands are placed on a bird's skeleton than on that of a terrestrial mammal. The bird must be able to support itself either entirely by its forelimbs or entirely by its hindlimbs. It also requires a deep, solid breastbone (sternum) to which the wing muscles can be anchored. Thus, while some bones are much lighter than their mammalian counterparts, others, especially the leg bones, are heavier. Evolution has created (Emphasis added) in the avian skeleton a model of parsimony, lightening where possible, adding weight and strength where required. The results can be quite spectacular: the skeleton of a frigatebird with a seven-foot wingspan weighs less than the feathers covering it! [Ehrlich, Paul R., Dobkin, David S., & Wheye, Darryl (1988). Adaptations for Flight. Accessed 6.7.14. Stanford University.]

Consider the following example of one of the more well-known ‘just so’ stories of evolution.

The case would have been even grander if paleontologists could have found a more ancient creature endowed with more primitive feathers—something they searched for in vain for most of the next century and a half. In the meantime, other scientists sought to illuminate the origin of feathers by examining the scales of modern reptiles, the closest living relatives of birds. Both scales and feathers are flat. So perhaps the scales of the birds' ancestors had stretched out, generation after generation. Later their edges could have frayed and split, turning them into the first true feathers. (Emphasis added)

It made sense too that this change occurred as an adaptation for flight. Imagine the ancestors of birds as small, scaly, four-legged reptiles living in forest canopies, leaping from tree to tree. If their scales had grown longer, they would have provided more and more lift, which would have allowed the protobirds to glide a little farther, then a little farther still. Only later might their arms have evolved into wings they could push up and down, transforming them from gliders to true powered fliers. In short, the evolution of feathers would have happened along with the evolution of flight. [Zimmer, Carl (2011). Feather Evolution. National Geographic 2011. Accessed 6.7.14.]

The National Geographic article went on to explain that similarities in bone structure between the theropods and birds caused some evolutionists to change their reptile-to-bird story to a dinosaur-to-bird story. Once again, there are huge problems with the evolution of flight as well as the transition from scales to feathers. While feathers have been suggested as having evolved from reptilian scales, there are numerous objections to that idea, and more recent explanations have arisen from the paradigm of evolutionary developmental biology. [Prum, R.O., & Brush, A.H (March 2003). “Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird?Scientific American 288 (3): 84–93. Accessed 6.7.14.]  

The dinosaur-to-bird connection is the current popular theory with theropods replacing reptiles in this ‘just so’ story. Creationist Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. in spectroscopy (Physical Chemistry) writes in an article entitled ‘Feathered’ dinos: no feathers after all!  

From time to time, evolutionists produce a transitional-series-du-jour. One of the most prominent recent claims is that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, a supposedly carnivorous group that included T. Rex and Velociraptor. However, even a number of evolutionary paleo-ornithologists (fossil bird experts), such as Alan Feduccia, Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, have been harshly critical of the dogmatic way in which the theory has been promoted. They partly blame this dogma for the notorious Archaeoraptor hoax of 1999–2000.  

Another big problem is the hugely different avian lung design. The alleged first bird Archaeopteryx had the classic avian through-flow lungs, while the alleged feathered dino Sinosauropteryx had a clearly reptilian bellows lung. And it was younger than Archaeopteryx, according to the evolutionists’ own dating methods and contrary to evolutionary expectations. As Feduccia likes to quip, “You can’t be older than your grandfather.” While evolutionists claim that a trait might persist in a lineage well after a descendant lineage has evolved, the evidence they are claiming dates the version with a fully-formed avian lung prior to the other. When did the avian lung, then, evolve? And the main point was that evolution was alleged to be supported by the order of fossil succession, but clearly this is not so. [Sarfati, J. (2012). ‘Feathered’ dinos: no feathers after all! Journal of Creation 26(3):8–10. Accessed 6.9.14.]



The problem with such ‘inferred’ relationships is that the actual evidence for these connections is missing. This is the reason that paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) and Niles Eldridge formulated their Theory of Punctuated Equilibria (or sometimes Equilibrium). Creationists are often maligned by the defenders of Darwin of misquoting Dr. Gould. These evolutionary apologists accuse creationists of quoting Dr. Gould and other evolutionists out of context. Let me be very clear about this, Dr. Gould was not commenting on the lack of evidence in order to disprove the Theory of Evolution. He simply stated the truth that most transitional fossils were missing from the fossil record. That is the reason he wrote the following.

The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils ….We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study. [Gould, Stephen J. (1987). "Evolution's Erratic Pace," Natural History, vol. 86 (May 1987), p. 14.]

This was something that Dr. Gould repeated in his other writings. Creationists have a different model that is biblically based. Our phylogenetic tree(s) are not connected to a series of as yet unknown common ancestors. They actually do reflect what we find in nature. The picture below is based on the creationist model as described in the Genesis account. Rather than a tree with a growing number of branches traced back to a microorganism, we have an orchid where each branch is separated by kind. The bacterial stem would show other related kinds of microorganism connected by progeny, not some inferred relationship of common ancestry that does not exist in nature.

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