The late great astronomer and astrophysicist describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos. Exhibiting a breadth of intellect nothing short of astounding, Sagan presents his views on a wide range of topics, including the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, creationism and so-called intelligent design, and a new concept of science as "informed worship". Originally presented at the centennial celebration of the famous Gifford Lectures in Scotland in 1985 but never published, this book offers a unique encounter with one of the most remarkable minds of the twentieth century.
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By David T. on 13-11-17
Sagan's lectures about the possibility of God
This audio book is mostly a transcript of Sagan's Gifford lectures from 1985, where Sagan discusses his views on the question of if there is a deity. According to Druyan (from the appendix), she felt the need to publish these now with the growing “extreme fundamentalism violence” and when the United States is in a state of “phony piety”. I partly assume this book was published a few years ago to cash in on the new Cosmos series and the then huge popularity of the new atheist literature. Compared to the modern new atheist movement, this book is far less of an anti-religious polemic but more of a discussion about why when Sagan looks up at night he doesn't see the work of a interventionist deity. (For this reason, I think the book might be a better introduction to some reasons why there might not be a god, than something like End of Faith).
As for the book itself, a major reason Sagan doesn't believe in a god is because of the vastness of space. I can see his point, take a minute watch a youtube video or get a book such as Sizing up the Universe which shows the sizes of the planets relative to the sun and the sun relative to some of the large stars. The earth is just a minor spec in our solar system and our solar system is just a spec in our galaxy and our galaxy is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. It definitely puts things into a different perspective, it could cause a loss of faith. If everything was created by a deity and humans were the culmination of creation, then everything else sure seems like a waste. Of course to a theist this could have the opposite effect and confirm how magnificent god is, it all depends on your mindset.
The book is far more than just this one argument though and I don't want to list them all out now. I enjoyed it a bunch, I really liked the Q&A where Sagan was questioned by theists and while disagreeing with them, he seemed to at least respect their opinion and give real answers. This is the least offensive agnostic/atheist book I've read. As for the arguments and book itself, I previously read Pale Blue Dot which contained many of the same arguments (although not as focused), and really if you've read then many parts of this are redundant.
The narration is like the other Sagan books on Audible, it's not world class but average and get's the job done.
Also I wrote this during 20 anniversary stuff so:
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By chris on 06-07-18
very thought provoking and intelligent presentation on hard questions and ideas shared by all cultures