Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I watched a couple of episodes of Cosmos yesterday and was once again taken with the beauty of Sagan's ideas and the poetry of his writing. The video posted in the last entry is genuinely moving. If you didn't watch it, you should. I came across a couple of other things he said that I thought were interesting and wanted to share them here. Over the next few postings I'm going to be exploring a few big questions which my mind was set turning around while watching his program. These might set the tone.

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise
But a galaxy rise
A morning filled with four hundred billion suns
Rising with the Milky Way

A couple more pertinent quotes from Carl Sagan-

I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
- Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World

You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe.
- Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact

If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?....For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?
- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession because of a few bad apples? There are at least two important differences, it seems to me. First, no one doubts that science actually works, whatever mistaken and fraudulent claim may from time to time be offered. But whether there are any miraculous cures from faith-healing, beyond the body's own ability to cure itself, is very much at issue. Secondly, the expose' of fraud and error in science is made almost exclusively by science. But the exposure of fraud and error in faith-healing is almost never done by other faith-healers.
- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths.
- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

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