The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

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by Carl Sagan
     
 

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Carl Sagan’s prophetic vision of the tragic resurgence of fundamentalism and the hope-filled potential of the next great development in human spirituality 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,… See more details below

Overview

Carl Sagan’s prophetic vision of the tragic resurgence of fundamentalism and the hope-filled potential of the next great development in human spirituality 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.

Editorial Reviews

Wray Herbert
Yet this is not a dour book. Far from it. Sagan was fundamentally an optimist, and The Varieties of Scientific Experience is mostly a joyful, celebratory meditation on nature and the expansiveness of the human spirit. The volume was published on the 10th anniversary of Sagan's death in December 1996. For those who have sorely missed his clear and wise voice, it will be received as a gift.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
On the tenth anniversary of Sagan's death, this work pulls together the views of an outstanding scientist on an outstanding topic of our time-science and religion. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sagan's 1985 Gifford lectures, edited by his widow. Launched in 1888, this Scottish university lecture series invites speakers to explore how the natural world illuminates issues of theology. The noted American astronomer took it as an opportunity for a broad examination of the relationship between science and religion. Drawing on Thomas Carlyle's dictum that wonder is the basis of worship, Sagan begins with a series of astronomical images, displaying the vast scope of the universe as revealed by science. He then cites Thomas Paine, noting that our idea that God is intimately concerned with the doings of creatures on one tiny planet betrays a limited conception of the deity. Beginning with Copernicus, science has steadily demonstrated the insignificance of Earth and its creatures in the grand design of the universe. In his view, the adoption by some cosmologists of the anthropic principle-the argument that the universe appears to be designed to support intelligent life-is a retreat from the lessons of Copernicus and his scientific heirs. Sagan extends this line of argument by examining several ideas common to his work: scientific evidence for the chemical origins of life on Earth, the likelihood of multiple inhabited worlds and the question of possible contact with aliens. (He remains skeptical that such contact has occurred.) He examines the "God hypothesis" from the viewpoint of science, noting that an omnipotent God could have left an early statement of some modern scientific discovery as unambiguous proof of His existence. The lectures end on a sober note, with Sagan considering the possibility of humankind's destroying itself in a nuclear war. A lively set of exchanges with audiencemembers is a welcome bonus. A fitting memorial to one of the great popularizers of scientific thought. Agent: Katherine Cluverius/ICM
From the Publisher
"Ann Druyan has unearthed a treasure. It is a treasure of reason, compassion, and scientific awe. It should be the next book you read."
-Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

"A stunningly valuable legacy left to all of us by a great human being. I miss him so."
-Kurt Vonnegut

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101201831
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/02/2006
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
335,645
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Ann Druyan has unearthed a treasure. It is a treasure of reason, compassion, and scientific awe. It should be the next book you read."
-Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

"A stunningly valuable legacy left to all of us by a great human being. I miss him so."
-Kurt Vonnegut

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