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Carl Sagan Day

November 9, 2012
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Today is the 78th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s birth in 1934. I remember watching Cosmos on PBS as a young child, and Contact was one of the first adult science fiction novels I read outside the Star Wars universe. In addition to being a dinosaur freak at an early age, I was very much into cosmology and astronomy and Cosmos is probably partly responsible. (Before my parents bought into the lies of creationism full-force I was freely allowed to watch such things. Even after they did so, they didn’t seem to monitor what I watched or read in this regard. PBS has always been a mainstay in their household, even to this day. If something they are watching mentions the age of the earth or the process of evolution they might laugh and make a snide remark about it, but they generally don’t stop watching.)

Since discarding religious beliefs and becoming an atheist I’ve read “Demon Haunted World” which I found beautiful. To those who say that we need the hope and ritual of religion to properly appreciate and enjoy life I suggest you check out the Cosmos series, or read the book, or read “Demon Haunted World”. There is much wonder to be held in the natural world. Far more, I think, than you can ever gain through believing in myths. There is so much beauty in the way life has evolved on our planet and the way the universe functions and looks. Thank you, Mr. Sagan, for helping to inspire the love of the cosmos, science, and rational thinking in the minds of myself and so many others.

The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky. – Carl Sagan, Cosmos.

It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it. – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2012 10:40 am

    here is a wonderful thanksgiving story

    http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/thank-you-lord/

    • February 24, 2013 2:10 pm

      It is only wonderful if you believe that there is a god and that he is due your devotion and thanks. I do not believe these things, so I find it rather pointless. I chose to be thankful to those around me who support me in life and who show me love. I am thankful to those who work hard to make sure that the everyday needs of life are met for most people in my country, and in my life in particular. I am very thankful to life on earth for being what it is and giving me the chance to experience just a small part of it (though I know that any gratitude I may feel toward it is not received or returned for it is not a conscious being). I am not thankful to any supernatural being nor do I worship any such thing. In fact, if there was some being that inspired the belief in the god of Christianity then I would not be thankful to it because I think it’s a pretty bad example of morality on average and not worthy of any worship. I don’t think such a being exists, though, so I don’t have to worry about that one.

      • March 31, 2013 9:16 am

        Poignantly stated. My thoughts exactly. I am reminded of this powerful video. http://youtu.be/9nnwvoH-4XI

        Btw, loved your article about Carl Sagan. “We are star stuff”. The Cosmos series was profound. I had/have the utmost respect for Dr. Sagan. I quote him often. He is sorely missed.

        “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~Carl Sagan

        • April 14, 2013 11:03 pm

          Thank you for the comment! Carl Sagan probably contributed to the weight of knowledge about how things are rather than how my religion told me they are that eventually led to my shedding of religion. :)

          I’ve seen that video that you shared, loved it, and am enjoying it again. Thanks again!

  2. Cerberus Black permalink
    December 13, 2012 4:20 am

    Hi secret Atheist.

    I really enjoyed the article, and the blog. Well done!

    Mr Sagan was indeed the light of science, and the only one to bring it to the masses.
    He’ll always be missed.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. July 7, 2013 11:18 pm

    Carl Sagan was perhaps one of the worst example of a scientist. He spread a complete lie in the form of SETI, as it was based on Drake’s Equation. His “nuclear winter” theory was shown to be completely wrong when he urged President George H W Bush not to use force in Kuwait, as he feared Saddam Hussein to burn the oil rigs and cause a “year without summer.” (The oil rigs burned and summer came anyway).

    Why anyone would want to push Sagan forward as an example is beyond my imagination.

    But then, I know people who buy the whole story about a guy building a wood boat smaller than a football field and putting samples of all the land animals in the world on it…

    • July 31, 2013 1:51 am

      Being wrong in a few areas does not necessarily make one a bad scientist or irrational. Show me another scientist who has never been wrong. I’m not nearly qualified to argue either of the points you brought up, but what I do know is that Sagan was a champion for science education and rationalism and he brought the cosmos down to a level where almost one could understand it, and not by removing the wonder of it. That is why people hold him up as an example.

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