Voice of Reason

I miss Carl Sagan. He was such a gentle and reasonable man, eloquent and passionate, but never strident, never shrill. He took immense joy in the simple fact that we humans live in a breathtakingly beautiful natural world, a universe of bottomless wonder and complexity, and that from this dance of atoms and forces arose beings that could come, in time, to understand it: that we, born of the ashes of suns, are the mirror in which the awakened Cosmos can behold itself.

He would have been a welcome voice in the recent debate about the relationship of science and religion: he was firm in his atheism, but not harsh, and his opposition to the grip of religion upon the minds of the word’s people was motivated by a genuine love of humanity, and by his feeling that it was simply time for us to put aside the comforting illusions of childhood and take our place among the stars.

Well, it turns out that his voice will be heard in this discussion after all; according to a story in today’s paper, his widow, Ann Druyan, has published a long-lost series of lectures that Sagan gave in Glasgow in 1985 about this important topic. The book is called The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, after William James’s book The Varieties of Religious Experience.

I’m going to order a copy.

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  1. Just for you… I found this for you.

    Posted February 16, 2007 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Wow, Maven, thanks!

    Yup, that’s Sagan at his best. What a loss.

    Posted February 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm | Permalink