Neil deGrasse Tyson is the world-renowned America astrophysicist who waxes philosophical—yet approachable—on all things science and space. To his credit, he is also a lecturer, author, radio personality, TV host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, director of the Hayden Planetarium and research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. As eloquent as he is engaging, Dr. Tyson has captured the imagination of the public the world over with his wisdom. Here are seven of his best sermons on science – from state addresses and conferences to interviews on talk shows.
1. Beyond Belief, 2006
This clip is from the Beyond Belief Conference in 2006, where Dr. Tyson rebuked evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ assertions that one should abandon religious beliefs and embrace science. Tyson claims that many of the brightest scientists from the past have believed in God and that it’s possible to hold faith and still be an active participant in science. He also discusses Intelligent Design (ID) theory, which posits that physical and biological systems are the result of artificial intervention and not natural process, and its importance in the classroom.
2. Beyond Belief 2006, “Greatest Science Sermon Ever”
In another clip taken from Beyond Belief and dubbed by some as the “greatest science sermon ever”, Dr. Tyson talks about his journey as an astrophysicist. He reminisces about his youth and his first overwhelming experience at the Hayden Planetarium, when he realized that the universe “wanted him” to be an astrophysicist. Dr. Tyson’s exceptional speech likens his career to a spiritual calling and is inspirational for everyone – science-career focused or other.
3. “The Poetry of Science” with Richard Dawkins
Though they can be at odds with each other at times, videos like this prove that Dr. Tyson and Dr. Dawkins, two of the greatest scientific minds alive, can come together and discuss their respective scientific fields to explain life. Each brings their knowledge to the table to discuss the Cosmos and the origins and inspiration of life, all culminating in the resounding mutual affirmation that science is the true reality of the universe and not just an option.
4. Testifying before the US Senate Science Committee
In 2012, Dr. Tyson testified before the US Senate Science committee, ardently advocating against cutting funds from the NASA space shuttle program. This video captures his passionate defense of scientific research and the importance of education, as well as the need for further—not decreased—funding.
5. On Aliens and ET
As an expert on all things space, Dr. Tyson also has some very interesting thoughts on UFOs, ET and aliens. He shares them with the audience in this lecture.
6. On Pluto’s Place in the Universe
Dr. Tyson is a very vocal opponent of calling Pluto a planet. Much to the chagrin of Pluto enthusiasts like and Seth Meyers, Tyson has worked tirelessly to remove Pluto from its planetary peers like Venus and Mars. Here, Dr. Tyson squares off against Meyers on Late Night with Seth Meyers about the topic.
7. Keynote Speech, 28th National Space Symposium, 2012
Dr. Tyson’s Keynote Speech at the National Space Symposium sums up all of his scientific brilliance in one talk. Though he doesn’t really deliver much new material – hearkening back to previous points he has raised – it’s still a powerful example of his rhetoric and passion for his craft.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our collection of Tyson’s most mind-blowing tweets as well as Carl Sagan’s letter to Neil when he was a teenager.