Parent reviews for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Common Sense says

Update of Sagan classic is smart, visually spectacular.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews
Adult Written byShirley G. June 5, 2017

Very anti-God

I was thrilled with a couple episodes, informative in a visually stimulating way. Then the host managed to darken the whole series by beginning to sprinkle in his anti-religion opinions. As a Christian viewer he made me feel like I was not welcome to view, my beliefs were ridiculous and that I must not be an intelligent individual if I believe in any God. It is a shame because aside from that it was a wonderful show but no family who believes in any type of God should be supporting this franchise. I am incredibly offended.

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Adult Written byPaul Y. March 2, 2018

Good coverage on climate change; a small amount of atheist and anthropocentric bias; good at instilling a sense of wonder and inspiring young scientists

This is an excellent series for instilling a sense of wonder in relation to the natural world and the importance of science for understanding it. It also helps shed light on the human story in relation to the Earth story. The graphics and writing are excellent. It's pays homage to Sagan's vision and expands on it well. I learned quite a bit.


The coverage on climate change was excellent and unexpected, and given the power of the climate denial lobby in the U.S., it showed some courage to advance it. They could have mentioned the GHGs from industrial agriculture, but I am glad enough for the inclusion of an analysis of fossil fuels, and the call for renewable energy.


Are there biases on the show? Yes three I could discern. In the first episode the Roman Catholic's burning of Bruno was depicted in a literally cartoonish manner (with demonic looking animations), ignoring the more complex history of the RC church's history on this point, which culminated in a priest (Fr. LeMaitre) being one of the visionaries of modern cosmology, and the integration of this "new story" of science into the church canon. The science versus religion narrative of the show was too simplistic, in other words. The reality is more nuanced and complex, and many Christians have embraced modern cosmology and evolution. Not all are biblical literalists.


A second bias, though not over-done, was the periodic mention of how women scientists were maligned -- again, in a literally cartoonish depiction of male colleagues. This seemed a bit over-emphasized in places. All scientists have to go through peer review and criticism; it's not always the result of gender discrimination, as argued by the feminist narrative of history.


A third subtle bias is the anthropocentrism of the show's repeated emphasis on humanity, when in fact we are one of 8.7 million species, and our intelligence and technology is not proof of any superiority. In fact, if aliens were to come here, I suspect they would not be impressed by the fact that we are causing the sixth great mass extinction on earth. Climate change was mentioned but the show gave short shrift to the mass extinction and generally to the treatment of non-human animals -- though it did correctly note that humans are animals of a kind (as Darwin proved) -- but Darwin also said there is no higher or lower in evolution, and it's not a moral hierarchy. See the book Created from Animals by philosopher James Rachels.


Anthropocentic bias is common to our species to this day, so much so that it is reflected in scientific accounts of the cosmos. What we need is Copernican revolution in thinking, to realize that our traits do not make us superior, only different -- and our abilities bring with them moral responsibility towards other animals not so endowed.


Overall, this is a great show for inspiring young scientists and an appreciation for the natural world and the Enlightenment vision of understanding it through mathematics and scientific principles. It is a good popular telling of what author Thomas Berry calls "the new story."

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Parent of a 4-year-old Written bylrc98 August 22, 2014

Still worth it for younger kids

While my 5 year old didn't understand the concepts fully, she still learned quite a bit and was fascinated by the imagery.

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Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written byMattmchugh April 16, 2014

Beautifully done, solid content, and Tyson makes its accessible

For those who remember Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," this update goes more for eye-candy graphics than big, ponderous ideas. That's not meant as a criticism, since the visuals really draw in younger viewers. The celestial CGI looks great and the animated segments featuring historic figures from science are fun to watch and informative. In many ways, the show seems to be made to appeal to kids, though it's certainly sophisticated enough to keep adults interested.

Even with the top-quality production, the real star is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Like Sagan, he radiates wonder and enthusiasm; unlike Sagan, he's never monotone (sorry, Carl, but sometimes you were!). Tyson projects the perfect mix of intelligence and likability, giving the eloquent script -- written by Sagan's widow and original series writer, Ann Druyan -- just the right voice. He's like your favorite uncle, telling exciting stories about things that would seem dull from any other source.

Personally, I'm finding it a pleasure to have something this good to watch with my kids. I think smart kids over 8 will be able to follow most of it, and tweens and up will definitely learn something. Be warned that, while not disparaging of personal faith in any way, the show does not shy away from noting how religious doctrine is often at odds with science. To its credit, it shows that thinkers such as Giordano Bruno, Galileo, and Newton -- who ran afoul of the religious leaders of their day -- were motivated not by atheism but by deeply held beliefs that they were exploring the full scope of creation -- something worth remembering in age where, sadly, many people still seem to think science and religion remain at odds.

-- mm

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Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written bySWHighlander April 6, 2020
Parent of a 4 and 8-year-old Written byKerem G. February 21, 2020

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Adult Written bynicolew2 October 13, 2014

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