The other day I reviewed the new documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy. The documentary begins with the following quote from Carl Sagan: “Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It’s just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it’s like democracy.” Carl Sagan was a fantastic popularizer of science, one with […]
Irrational? Faith from Ignatius of Loyola to Carl Sagan
The philosopher Wilfrid Sellars famously distinguished between the “manifest image” of the world — i.e. the way the world presents to the average person — and the “scientific image” — i.e. the way the world presents to the scientist. Evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin wonderfully captured the chasm between the manifest and scientific images in an influential […]
A day after Pluto, a look back at the Pale Blue Dot
The other day I picked up Carl Sagan’s classic 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space at a used bookstore. (“Used bookstore” is my euphemism for the bookshelf at the back of our neighborhood Goodwill.) It’s been a great read, both for Sagan’s mellifluous prose and the time-stamped nature […]
Cosmos meets Logos: If Carl Sagan had been a conservative Christian
I don’t know if you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What would the original ‘Cosmos’ have been like if Carl Sagan had been a conservative Christian?” Well now you know. Check out this very clever satire by Reasonable Doubts Podcast with Sagan’s doppelganger being voiced by Jeremy Beahan who, based on this performance, could have […]
Does the Copernican Principle favor atheism?
The other day I linked folks back to an article I wrote three years ago titled “You’re not special because the universe is really, really big.” This resulted in Jeff Lowder taking note of this humble, old article and offering a comment. (As an aside, the article is tickled pink to be receiving all this attention […]
“And if there’s life on other planets…” Reflections on God and E.T.
This song hit number 1 for a record number of weeks in the summer of 1976. … Sorry, I think I mixed up my notes. That was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Let’s see. Okay, here it is. Ahem… This blog post hit number 1 at the CP blogging website for a couple days in the summer of 2009! *** Is it […]
Carl Sagan’s old time religion
I would like to say some more about Sagan’s Pale blue dot fallacy but before doing so let’s say something about Sagan’s (ir)religiosity. It is often assumed that Sagan was an atheist. (Here I am assuming the standard definition of atheist as one who believes there is no God where “God” is defined broadly as […]
You’re not special because the universe is really, really big
Today we’ll start with one of my all time favorite youtube bits, one which offers a magisterial 2 minute journey through the comparative sizes of various celestial bodies. You must watch it before you continue: Star Size Comparison Clearly size is the issue here. We start off with the moon and end up with a star […]