Carl Sagan Lectures Published

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A personal view of the Search for God

There was some excerpts published in the Cornell University Alumni Magazine that I found particularly poignant.

In regard to the growth of huge empires out of hunter gatherer groups…I think we’re getting really close especially with the ideas of social networking sites like Facebook…

As time passed, groups have merged, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily, and the unit to which personal identification and loyalties are due has grown. The sequence is known to all of those who take courses in history of civilization at universities, in which we pass through allegiances to larger groups, to city-states, to settled nations, to empires. Today the typical person on the Earth is obviously a patchwork quilt of political, economic, ethnic, and religious identifications, owing allegiance to a group or groups consisting of a hundred million people or more. It’s clear that there is a steady trend; if the trend continues, there will be a time, probably not so far in the future, where the average person’s typical identification is within the human species, with everyone on Earth.

On religion…

We have Ten Commandments in the West. Why is there now commandment exhorting us to learn? “Thou shalt understand the world. Figure things out.” There’s nothing like that. And very few religions urge us to enhance our understanding of the natural world. I think it is striking how poorly religions, by and large, have accommodated to the astonishing truths that have emerged in the last few centuries.

I think regarding the aforementioned it’s interesting to note how the comprehension of the earth and our relation to it has been examined by David Abram in The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World…he makes the point that understanding is spiritual *and* scientific, overall it’s about being aware.

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