by Neil Degrasse Tyson
“Letters from an Astrophysicist” is an interesting book if you want a thoughtful, non-partisan perspective on American life. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of this comprehensive book. But the book is less an exercise in corresponding and more an opportunity to get the perspective of deGrasse Tyson on issues that matter to contemporary Americans. Dr. Tyson is opposed to dogmatic religion (one imposes one’s beliefs on the world instead of trying to understand the world as it is), thinks modern philosophy is largely useless (so many words about the various meanings of words) and is most interested in teaching the young how to think for themselves and approach the world scientifically.
There’s something of irony behind Neil deGrasse Tyson’s decision to publish excerpts from his collective correspondence. Letter writing is well-known as a dying art while astrophysics is abounding in new theories and insights. The book is precisely what the title suggests a compendium of various letters written by him, in response to the multiple questions he received over the past few decades, or for a newspaper editorial. One marvels at his communication and writing skills while we also recognize how he has impacted scores of people in his role as a science educator. Neil, of course, is consistent throughout his responses always respectful and courteous, whether it’s appreciation or hate mail. He repeatedly invokes the “cosmic perspective” and is unapologetic of his views on religion, particularly Christianity. His deep care for the future of the country and the universe stand out, as he explains the importance of education and critical thinking for the next generation.