Carl Sagan on the Belief in God

I think it's impossible to be a scientist and to confront, even occassionally, the grandure, subtlety, elegance and magnificience of the universe without feeling a sense of reverence and awe, but that's very different from concluding that there's a god who issues punishments and rewards after your dead or that prayer works or that the bible is written by anybody but fallible human beings.


The word god is used to cover so many different points of view... First of all, you can be religious without believing in god. buhdists, certainly religious without without having any notion of god. Secondly, the word god, it's amazing how diverse the definitions are. Let me give two extremes. One is the sort of god that I gathered by osmosis during my childhood, which is an outsized white male with a long white beard who sits on a throne in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow. Now that kind of anthropocentric god there is, as far as I can tell, no compelling evidence for at all. None.

At the other extreme, there's the kind of god that Einstein and Spinoza talked about, not too different from the sum total of the laws of nature. Now there are laws of nature, and not only that they apply everywhere, to a quazar ten billion light years away as to the Eastern seaboard of the United States. And it's a very remarkable fact that the same laws do apply so generally. It could have been a different set laws applies in every county. So that kind of god of course exists. Who would deny that there are laws of nature.

So I claim you learn absolutely nothing about a someone's belief and if you ask them "Do you believe in God?" and they say yes or no. You have to specify which of the countless kinds of god you have in mind. I don't myself like to use the word in that context, because it doesn't illuminate at all. If I say I believe in god or if I say I don't believe in god, and I say no more, you've learned nothing about what my belief system is.


A very political commentary on the subject. Beautiful rhetorically.

Folksonomies: religion atheism god

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Religion (0.962002): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Carl Sagan (0.811168): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Universe (0.719203): dbpedia | freebase
God (0.711246): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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 Fresh Air Archive: Charles Haden and Carl Sagan
Audiovisual Media>Audio Recording:  Sagan , Carl and Gross, Terry (12-16-1999), Fresh Air Archive: Charles Haden and Carl Sagan, NPR Fresh Air, Retrieved on 2011-06-04
Folksonomies: science religion wonder


04 JUN 2011

 The Scientist Takes No Position on God

Atheism is not a scientific position, just as belief in a God is not. Scientists find spiritual fulfillment in natural laws. It's interesting to note that the scientist taking no position on god bares a remarkable resemblance to not believing in god.
Folksonomies: science religion god
Folksonomies: science religion god