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Oklahoma Fox affiliate cuts evolution from 'Cosmos' premiere

In what Oklahoma City's Fox 25 called an operator error, the station aired a local news promo over the show's content that discussed evolution.

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Host Neil DeGrasse Tyson appears on the panel for "Cosmos" at the FOX Winter 2014 TCA, on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

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Viewers in Oklahoma who tuned into watch 'Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,' hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, missed about 15 seconds of the show, which just happened to be the one part where Dr. Tyson mentioned evolution.

Instead, a local news promo was aired in the few seconds time slot. 

The station apologized, chalking it up to an "operator error."

"Many believe this was done intentionally in an attempt to shield our viewers from this subject matter," said Fox 25 in a statement. "That is not the case." 

The new Cosmos series is a follow-up to Carl Sagan's award-winning series, 'Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." When it aired in 1980 it became the most widely watched series in the history of public television until Ken Burns's 1990 miniseries on the American Civil War.

Tyson's first episode earned some rave reviews. "It was lovingly done, fun to watch, and had me wanting more," wrote astronomer and popular science blogger Phil Plait on Slate.

The Los Angeles Times called it "a sweeping, smart exploration, a celebration of scientific inquiry."

But the show also had its detractors, particularly among those who reject evolutionary biology.

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"Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, if the first segment is any indication, will attempt to package unconditional blind faith in evolution as scientific literacy in an effort to create interest in science," wrote a blogger for Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry that promotes the view that the universe, our planet, and its inhabitants came into existence about 6,000 years ago. "We hope that future segments will spend more time showing actual scientific observations—such as the brief part of this episode showing where earth is in relation to the rest of the universe."  

Others from the same school of thought, like Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner objected to the series' adoption of the theme, "The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be."

According to Faulkner, "There is not a bit of science in that statement. When Sagan said it 34 years ago and then wrote it in his book, a lot of people were saying, 'Wow! What a profound scientific statement,' but it’s actually a philosophical statement."

Unlike his good friend "Science Guy" Bill Nye, who last month engaged in a high-profile debate with Answers in Genesis director Ken Ham, Tyson declines to debate creationists. When the new 'Cosmos' host does speak on the conflict, he often breaks out what is perhaps his most famous quip: "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."


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