Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)

Posted on November 9, 2011 by

If he were still alive, today would be Carl Sagan’s 77th birthday. Unfortunately, Carl Sagan died of pneumonia at 62 as a result of complications from myelodysplasia in 1996.


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Carl Sagan was a voice for science and rationalism. He made science “cool” (much more so than the actors on the “Big Bang Theory” ever will), he knew how to bring science to people who might not otherwise understand such daunting concepts, and he entertained while he educated.

I remember watching “Cosmos” and being fascinated by all the interesting facts and information about the galaxy. His show, along with David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” were two of my favourite shows on television when I was growing up and learning about the world and the universe around us. Both men opened my eyes to new wonders every week.

I read Carl Sagan’s book “Contact” when it was published in the late 1980s and later watched the movie about the book “Contact”, starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey in 1997. “Contact” (the movie and the book) once again allowed Carl Sagan to teach and  entertain.

As a staunch “non-believer” in religion of any kind (and particularly staunchly against religion’s influence on society), one of Carl Sagan’s quotes rings true to me. It explains quite nicely the fallacy of religions and allows me smile inside whenever someone “preaches” to me that I should/must believe in a god:

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.

Unfortunately, in a world that every day seems to have more need of a calm, clear voice for science and rationalism, we can only wonder what else Carl Sagan may have accomplished if he were still alive and promoting science and rationalism over mythology and fear.


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