Inaccuracy, Eurocentrism, and Antitheism in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

Inaccuracy, Eurocentrism, and Antitheism in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

“Whatever is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded or revised.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos Episode 13: “Who Speaks for Earth?”

Since first reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan one year ago, I have revered him. I admire his worldview and his way of expressing it. I’ve dedicated many blog posts to him and to the curiosity that he has inspired in me. I’ve shared dozens of his quotes, many of which carry the same sentiment as the one above. This dedication to the truth, this unwillingness to accept facts only because they were propagated by an authority figure, is what brings me to write that Carl Sagan was wrong.

Atheists Do Have Idols

Before you all start with it in the comments: I know Carl Sagan wasn’t perfect. No one is. I once got a comment on my post The Dawkins Problem which read,

A great rule for all freethinkers should be: no gods/no masters/no idols/no heroes. If you elevate someone to such a level you are still religious and not yet a full freethinker—and you will be let down.

To have no idols and no heroes is an unattainable task. Freethinkers are humans, and humans have idols. One of mine was, and is, Carl Sagan. So yes, when I realized that the stories he tells in his book and TV show are inaccurate and Eurocentric, I was let down. Having idols and being let down by them is part of life. To be an atheist is not to remove yourself from the world and the emotion that comes with being human. No one lives purely on logic.

To Be a True Sagan Fan Is to Call Him Out

Even as someone who admires Carl Sagan, I’ve always been cautious not to think of him as unquestionable and inerrant. I wrote a post last winter on why atheists revere him, explaining that

. . . he is probably the best proponent of skepticism and the scientific method that I have ever seen. Reading his works, you’ll understand that you can apply the same Baloney Detection Kit to everything from creationism to astrology to fascism. He lived a life dedicated to discovering truth and explaining to the layperson why the scientific method is our best tool for doing that. Part of this, ironically, is knowing not to believe anything just because an authority figure said so; one of the best things to hear from a scientist is ‘Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.’

Why Atheists Revere Carl Sagan

Sagan’s dedication to discovering what’s true, discarding beliefs that you may be emotionally attached to, and not believing things on authority is what brings me to refute his own factual errors. In this way, I think that making this post calling him out is a way of paying homage to him and the skeptical worldview that he promoted.

Why I Believed (and Spread) Misinformation

One year ago, I published a post called Is Religion the Enemy of Science? (As I’m about to explain, most of the content of that post is incorrect to some extent. Thus, I’ve made it password protected so that you can only view it if you’ve read this post. The password is “Sagan”.)

During the time that I made that post, I was at a point when I was getting away from the anti-theistic mindset that I had in my earlier atheist days. I was done wanting to learn things simply to disprove Christianity, but I just wanted to learn for the fun of it. Cosmos was exactly what I had been looking for. In my review of it, I said,

Carl Sagan (and his bestselling book and record-breaking TV series) is exalted not only in the atheist and scientific communities, but also by the general public. This is noteworthy to me because Cosmos is neither a religious book or an anti-religious book. It’s just an honest book. But with honesty (and with wonder at the Cosmos) comes the truth that in a lot of ways, organized religion has held society back throughout history.

Book Review: Cosmos by Carl Sagan

This coincidental portrayal of the church as evil appealed to me because it appeared to be coming from an unbiased source who was simply stating the fact that religion is objectively anti-science. And Sagan was so openly passionate about not accepting things just because they coincided with his worldview that I had no reason to think that he would do it himself. I would have accepted whatever he said (because I had no reason not to), but because what he said coincided with my worldview, I decided it was my duty to make it known. What I didn’t know was that he was wrong.

What Was Sagan Wrong About?

I learned that Sagan was bad at history thanks to a comment on my post Is Religion the Enemy of Science? guiding me toward this blog post. In it, Greek history buff Spencer McDaniel breaks down all of the factual errors in the Library of Alexandria segment of Cosmos Episode 13: “Who Speaks for Earth”. (However, if you want a breakdown, I would recommend this Reddit post which is a few miles shorter and more digestible. I’ll be referring more to this thread later.)

Basically, Sagan says that the Library of Alexandria was a research institute, it was “once the brain and glory of the greatest city on the planet Earth,” and that science was born there, among other things. He lists a few Greek thinkers and claims that they studied at the Library. He also portrays the Library as a purely secular endeavor, untouched by the poison of religion. He explains that the culture surrounding the Library slowly deteriorated due to the Alexandrian society’s reliance on slavery and unwillingness to share science with the masses. He shares the story of Hypatia and explains that a Christian mob came in 415 A.D. to “flay [Hypatia’s] flesh from her bones”. Without her, Sagan says, there was no one to stop the mob from burning down the Library.

Sagan laments the loss of the Library and wonders what books we may have today if they hadn’t been lost. He feels that this hatred of learning and freethought is what set science back one thousand years, and the spirit of inquiry was only found again during the Renaissance.

Outside of this segment, in the episodes/chapters “Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” and “The Backbone of Night”, Sagan generally spends a lot of time praising the minds of lesser-known Greek thinkers like Eratosthenes, Democritus, and Aristarchus. My post Is Religion the Enemy of Science? basically regurgitated these ideas, listing out the Greek thinkers and mourning the loss of scientific advancement from 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. (It’s a shame that this whole post missed the mark, because it took me all day to write. I was so proud of it!)

(Sagan loved Alexandria and specifically Democritus so much that he and Ann Druyan named their children Alexandra Rachel Druyan Sagan and Samuel Democritus Druyan Sagan after them.)

As for correcting Sagan’s errors about Hypatia and the Library of Alexandria, I don’t know enough about the facts and don’t have the time in this post to go through it all. If you have some time, though, this podcast does a great job (well, as far as I can tell) of setting the facts straight. Tim O’Neill, the guy in the podcast, also has a blog called History for Atheists where he debunks a lot of atheist myths like this and Jesus mythicism. I’m surprised I had never heard of him before, since you know I love to debunk anything that’s untrue, especially when it’s popular among atheists! The information in the podcast is also in this post.

(In short, Christians did not burn down the Library, Hypatia and many of the thinkers Sagan listed never worked there, and the situation as a whole was a lot more complex than the segment let on. The Library also wasn’t quite the secular research institute that Sagan dreamt it was.)

Scientists Are Not Historians

One of the things that frustrates me the most is that I don’t know exactly how this misinformation ended up in Cosmos. The show, which inspired the book, was written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter. It’s possible that Sagan himself didn’t research and write the segments about history, but he is responsible regardless. It’s his name on the cover, and he is the one who tells the story in the show. Notably, none of the three writers are historians.

It’s completely understandable that Carl Sagan wasn’t an expert in history. I’m sure there’s plenty that he was bad at. I wouldn’t really expect a scientist like him to also be a pro at history, except that he perpetuated a scientific myth in a book that—by the way—had no sources. Cosmos has an appendix For Further Reading organized by chapters, but it is not a legitimate references section to tell us where the author got his claims. However, in multiple places, his audience has noticed that he repeats a lot of the information in Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. According to O’Neill, Gibbon was an anti-Christian deist who wrongly blamed the downfall of Rome on the Church. And since Cosmos is a source that so many atheists have taken as truth (as I did), this misinformation has made its way into atheist culture unquestioned.

A Reddit user put it this way: “Part of the problem with r/atheism is that they get their history from scientists and not historians. It’s why we see so much of The Chart, and so many posts blindly denying Jesus’ existence.”

“The Chart” and the Atheist Persecution Complex

O’Neill calls Sagan’s version of the story of the Library of Alexandria a moral fable. It’s an amazing story which tells a simple cautionary message with the scientists as the protagonists and the Christians as the antagonists. It serves as evidence that Christians are simply against freethinking. If only the story were true.

Part of this fable is what many Reddit users in the thread I linked above call “The Chart”. I didn’t know what “The Chart” meant, but presumably the reason people call it that is that it’s just so ubiquitous in atheist circles that once you recognize it, you see it everywhere. And if someone mentions it, you know what they’re talking about.

The Chart (from the Reddit thread)

Other than clearly describing history this way, Sagan literally includes a version of this chart in Cosmos. I also shared his Chart in my faulty post from last August.

Elsewhere in the Reddit thread was some mention of the 2009 film Agora, which I believe tells the (false) story of Hypatia and the burning of the Library of Alexandria. It was at this point that I realized all these sources point to something I’d never considered: an atheist persecution complex. It seems we have a bit in common with the Christians after all.

Western Bias in Cosmos

If I’m being honest, I don’t know everything about the Middle Ages, the fall of Rome, and how much the Church stifled learning. (As I write this, I realize no one probably expected me to know all that. But you already know I found a book on it that I’m ordering ASAP!) I have learned that what we often dub the “Dark Ages” was actually the Golden Age of Islam, where much scholarly work was being done—and not just “preserving the Greek tradition”. I have more to learn regarding what’s problematic about The Chart. However, I can tell you that watching and reading parts of Cosmos a year later, I can see a lot more Western and Greek bias than I did the first time around.

I first read Cosmos in July of 2020. I was in the early stages of a worldview shift where I was reckoning with the reality of the white supremacy around and within me. While a couple of the margins of my book include notes on Sagan being too focused on the accomplishments of Western science, I hadn’t fully grasped just how Eurocentric it was.

Most of the history sections of Cosmos include Sagan lamenting that the scientists like Eratosthenes and Democritus aren’t better known today. In one section, he lists the supposed inventions of Theodorus of Cyrene, wondering bitterly, “Why are there no monuments to this man?”

It was Cosmos where I gained the interest in lesser-known scientific figures. I had heard much about Copernicus and Galileo, but never about Aristarchus of Samos, who allegedly proposed heliocentrism and inspired Copernicus 1,800 years later. It was this new curiosity about underrated scientific figures that led me to buy Dick Teresi’s Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya immediately when I found it at the store. So it is ironic that Lost Discoveries made me realize just how Eurocentric Sagan’s book and show are.

On the Shoulders of (Non-Western) Giants

I’m sure I knew deep down that non-Western civilizations have always done just as much, if not more, science as Western civilizations. Right now, I am only 90 pages into the 367-page Lost Discoveries, and I have already learned so much about the scientific and mathematical achievements of Egypt, Babylonia, China, India, and more. As a matter of fact, according to Teresi, many of the Greek thinkers not only built their knowledge from that of the ancient Egyptians, but they credited the Egyptians in their work. It amazes me that this passed by Sagan and didn’t make it into Cosmos. How could Alexandria have possibly been the birthplace of science when its own scholars were openly citing ancient thinkers?

As I said, Sagan emphasizes that Aristarchus had proposed heliocentrism long before Copernicus, who credited Aristarchus. Actually, Teresi points out that Copernicus’s equations look almost suspiciously like those by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, an Islamic astronomer who lived about 300 years before Copernicus. While Aristarchus did live first, one might have expected al-Tusi to at least be mentioned in the Cosmos segment. Furthermore, the Indian astronomer Aryabhata proposed a heliocentric model in 499 A.D., and it was expanded upon by another Indian astronomer named Bhāskarāchārya one hundred years after. However, the idea of the Sun being the center of the Solar System is very ancient; our first source dates back to an Indian text from the 8th century B.C.


Evidence also suggests that Aryabhata, Bhāskarāchārya, and other ancient Indian scholars proposed a form of calculus over 1,000 years before Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz simultaneously and independently developed it. Sagan wrote that Newton’s work was “a concordance and calibration of the chronologies of ancient civilizations, very much in the tradition of the ancient historians Manetho, Strabo, and Eratosthenes.”

In the first episode/chapter of Cosmos, Sagan makes a point to show the way that Eratosthenes of Alexandria calculated the circumference of the Earth with nothing but his own mind and some sticks. Sagan claims, “[Eratosthenes] was the first person to accurately measure the size of the planet.” It may be true that his name is the earliest one we have, but the Chinese demonstrated an interest measuring the size of the planet for calendar-making purposes using an instrument called the gnomon as early as 2300 B.C. However, it seems that Sagan’s segment on Eratosthenes, while Greek-centric, was mostly made to emphasize the fact that anyone can do science, even with next to no technology, if they have a little curiosity and drive.

While I only had the time to share a couple of examples, there are 18 Greek thinkers whose accomplishments I listed in my post last year. I bet that none of them were the first to come up with those ideas. Now it is obvious that nothing can truly be original, but I just wish that Sagan had paid more tribute to the even more ancient scholars in other civilizations. I thought it was really cool that Sagan traveled to places like Greece and Egypt to tell the tales in Cosmos. How much cooler it would have been if he had visited other places around the globe that had nurtured early learning.

Is Religion Actually the Enemy of Science?

Secular humanism is a worldview—it’s my worldview—but every worldview has its biases. As it is impossible not to have idols and emotions, it is impossible not to have biases. While Sagan initially appeared to be a great objective source, his blend of an atheistic and Eurocentric bias actually damaged his credibility.

He praised Alexandria and Ionia because (he believed) they were great secular hubs. According to Sagan, people came to the Library of Alexandria to do science purely for science’s sake, and to discover what must be true if nature is not explained by the will of gods. This wasn’t actually true, but even if it was, it would be troubling. One of the biggest problems with historians recognizing non-Western science as science is that much of it was done in the name of religion. For most of history, the priests were the ones who conducted science. The ancient Indians made great strides in geometry in order to build grand and complex altars, and the Islamic thinkers were dedicated to knowledge as part of their religion.

Since when is science invalid if it is tied to theism? Is rejecting that science nothing more than tainting an objective view with an anti-theistic lens? Let’s not abandon honesty just for the sake of being secular gatekeepers.

I hold Carl Sagan to a high intellectual standard. I still look up to him. I truly hope, and optimistically believe, that he did not purposely mislead readers in what continues to be one of my favorite books of all time. This is not because he was a famous white man who was capable of no wrongdoing, but because he was so openly passionate about skepticism and the pursuit of truth. When watching the clips about the Library of Alexandria, and the Ionian scientists not getting their fair share of credit for their ideas, you can tell that he is visibly upset. Throughout the book and the show, Sagan condemns slavery and colonialism, and he praises the idea of diverse societies where ideas are exchanged from people all over the world. I just wish that he had done more to include these ancient and diverse people who equally deserved his praise.

26 thoughts on “Inaccuracy, Eurocentrism, and Antitheism in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

  • August 15, 2021 at 9:52 am

    religion is indeed the enemy of science at best, one can say that science was invented to find god but it failed, and then it continued in spite of the ignorance that religion depends on.

    “Throughout the book and the show, Sagan condemns slavery and colonialism, and he praises the idea of diverse societies where ideas are exchanged from people all over the world. I just wish that he had done more to include these ancient and diverse people who equally deserved his praise.

    what would “more” have been 41 years ago?

  • August 15, 2021 at 10:39 am

    I’m a retired educator.

    The world is very complicated. I often found myself giving my students a somewhat over-simplified version because that would be easier for them to understand.

    I never expected Sagan to get history right. I am not at all surprised that he often presented over-simplified versions. That’s pretty much how it has to work.

    • August 20, 2021 at 2:28 pm

      “How is it that hardly any major religions looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead, they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”
      Carl Sagan The Pale Blue Dot

      • August 20, 2021 at 4:47 pm

        The religious apologists are not smart enough to understand that.

  • August 15, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    “Religion is indeed the enemy of science at best.”

    Thats an absolute statement supported neither by Rebekah’s own post nor history. The relationship between religion and science is at times complicated (to my dismay), but it’s widely known and accepted that Muslim scientists and Christian universities contributed greatly to Western science. As with most things in life, it’s not a strict black and white scenario.

    • October 9, 2021 at 7:24 am

      “Religion is indeed the enemy of science at best.”
      implies that up to say 1800 CE all scientists suffered from split personality disorders and nowadays at least 10%.
      It’s also stupid from a strategic point of view. Practising christians like Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller and Judge Jones (from the famous Kitzmiller-Dover trial) have done a lot to fight IDiocy.
      (Disclaimer: I’ve been an unbeliever for the greatest part of my life)

  • August 16, 2021 at 11:27 am

    As the person who made the comment you referenced– “A great rule for all freethinkers should be: no gods/no masters/no idols/no heroes. If you elevate someone to such a level you are still religious and not yet a full freethinker—and you will be let down.”—I stand by it. I concede that I rarely, if ever, live up to it though. But I insist it’s a valid and valuable ideal to keep in mind.
    You state, “To have no idols and no heroes is an unattainable task. Freethinkers are humans, and humans have idols.” But should we? I’d say having idols means being religious. Insisting that because a person does something you value really well—makes music, paints, plays a sport, organizes a movement, inspires you with their words—doesn’t mean they are good in all other areas of their life. Some of my favorite writers, musicians, thinkers, and social leaders have made horrid choices in their personal lives. If I idolize them, I fail to call them out on their missteps and simply fall in line. If I “kill my darlings/heroes/gods”, ala the punk ethos, I am not as disappointed when they fail to live up to expectations I never set for them. I don’t “cancel” them (and burn their work, work that may be enlightening or edifying despite its creator), I instead accept that they are human and all humans are imperfect and that they can and should do better as should I.
    Regarding another thread in your article and the comments, is religion the “enemy” of science? I studied religion exhaustively for many years (in secular and religious schools and in in-depth personal studies) and was religious in many different ways (from the fundamentalism of my youth to the “Progressive Christianity” of my twenties to Universalism and ultimately to atheism) and though it is true that science has been created and expounded as well as protected by religious communities throughout history, notably the Muslims of the middle ages, it’s also true that religious communities have censored and silenced their scientists often when that science goes against theology. Even my most liberal/progressive religious friends who understand and support science participate in a bit of cognitive dissonance when they try to balance their religious faith with their scientific beliefs. The two are mostly incompatible. While it’s possible to participate in religion for its historical rituals and practices and be otherwise mostly secular and thus compatible with science, to be really religious and accept the doctrines of any of the world’s religions seriously one has to turn the rules, theories, and methodologies of science off to some degree. A deeply religious person will give up belief in a scientific theory that contradicts their faith before they will give up their religion and hence they are interested in science secondarily and only when it doesn’t intrude on their faith.
    Anyway, I enjoyed this post and always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    • August 16, 2021 at 1:23 pm

      Can you give examples of where you think religiln and science are mostly incompatible?

      • August 16, 2021 at 2:52 pm

        Sure. Sticking just with Christianity (to keep things simple), I’d say miracles are the big one; the very concept of a miracle is that something happens that is outside of the parameters of the scientifically possible. Most of the ideas in Christianity that are incompatible with science spill out from there, be it the virgin Birth, Lazarus being raised from the dead, the sun stopping in the sky to allow for battle. God in the OT is a supernatural deity (YWH) and Jesus as presented in at least 3 of the 4 gospels is a supernatural deity; both intervene in human affairs in a way that is outside of science and the possible. The soul is likely incompatible with modern ideas of consciousness and mind, but that’s a whole other debate. I imagine based on your prior comment that you likely fall on the more liberal or progressive end of your religion (maybe not, and if not forgive me for assuming). If so, you very likely interpret all of these things in ways that are not incompatible (on their surface) with science; maybe you think all of the miracles are parables or literary tools for expressing deep truths. Maybe Jesus for you didn’t “literally” rise from the dead and God is more panentheistic. I know many pastors, academics, and theologians that still consider themselves part of the church but who have reinterpreted their faith so that their understanding of every creed, scripture, and practice uses the same words but means very different things than the original church ever did (I myself did this too near the end of my religious life). However, all of those folks will admit if pressed that the majority of their congregants aren’t in pace with them in these matters. Most are far more open and “progressive” in their faith than the average person in the pew. The average person in the pew of most churches either (a) goes out of habit and tradition and doesn’t give the concepts under discussion much thought outside of the service if even then; or (b) believes in their religion in a very traditional, literal, fundamentalist way. The preachers want to keep their jobs and ensure their messages never push either camp too hard out of their box. And no matter what the religion is capable of being, it is what it is in fact that has an impact and the majority of religious people hold beliefs that aren’t compatible with science.
        At the end of the day, science and religion are two completely different methodologies of pursuing truth. Science employs the scientific method and tests hypothesis, jettisoning anything that the research disproves and never canonizing anything as true in perpetuity. Religion depends on truths that are revealed through scripture, revelation, and inspiration. These truths are the same yesterday, today and forever. You take the former on facts, the latter on faith. This is not to say that religious people are stupid, ignorant, or any such insult. Most of my closest friends and family are religious in some way and I’ve learned a lot from devout Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddihists. I just often find myself wondering how they maintain their religious faith in light of their other knowledge and think it’s purposeful cognitive dissonance in most cases. I’ve had many a pastor/cleric tell me in some way or other that the faith they have makes them happier and more content and that without it they would be very depressed. So I infer they do what they have to mentally to hold on to that faith.

        • August 20, 2021 at 2:10 pm

          Miracles are indeed one of the few things about religion that doesn’t conform to science. I’d argue though that miracles, by their definition, are outside scientific norms, not opposed to science. Trying to work them into a scientific framework IS an affront to science.

          • October 9, 2021 at 7:37 am

            It’s a matter of definition. A long time ago a christian of the same age as me (we were both students) told me he thought a chicken egg hatching a miracle. Back then I was baffled and didn’t understand; now I do.
            Religious claims (think of YEC) can and do collide with science, but not necessarily so. As an example I’d offer the Resurrection (according to biology dead bodies don’t come alive anymore), but I’ve always wondered: why would I care? It’s not my problem.
            Moreover one such an example doesn’t prove anything of course. On the contrary, the point of pastafarianism is to show that it’s always possible to make religious beliefs compatible with science. The counterargument then is that such religious beliefs are not testable. Well, yes, that’s the point of them. The biggest problem with creacrap is that it does make testable claims.

        • August 20, 2021 at 2:18 pm

          I don’t think science and religion are two different methodologies for pursuing the same truth. They are two different methods with two different motivations and aims. I am on the (very) progressive end of my religion, and haven’t yet encountered a scientific principle to which I’ve thought, “I wish I could believe that, but my faith tells me not to.” Origin and age of the universe, evolution, sex and gender–science leads the way, always. It observes what is and, through rigorous experimentation, determines as best it can what was and what, in all probability, will be. There’s no reason at all to claim that the mystical writings of ancient authors recording their spiritual experiences outweigh that.

          In my (overly simplified) life, science describes reality, religion gives it (mine) meaning. They aren’t opposed.

          • August 20, 2021 at 4:53 pm

            Hey, more power to you if you’re happy and content (and a good person) via the system you have.
            It’s really not my mission in life to turn others off of religion. Religion just doesn’t work for me. I tried to make it work for me for a very long time and when I realized how much I was working to adapt it into something I could swallow, I left it and felt happier. Giving up on beliefs like “heaven” and “the soul” were in some ways sad but felt real, genuine, and honest for me.
            I wish I could turn people off of “harmful” religion though, as many, many people use religion for very bad things even if that isn’t the root of their particular religion. From family members of mine who stopped trying to really live life after their spouses passed because they’re ready to join them in heaven to those who dislike LGBTQ folks “because the Bible”, I’ve seen lots of bad though I know many folks just like you who interpret their faith progressively.
            I think you’re making a separation between “religion” and “science” in your life where the one gives the why and the other the how, as you said, but in my opinion nothing can happen that is outside of the possible. Science is all that is possible; we may not understand all of science yet, but nothing can happen outside of its rules and I think the very definition of a miracle is something that isn’t supposed to happen but does. I don’t believe in anything supernatural—gods, demons, ghosts, et. al.
            I also think folks like you are in a particular minority. Well-versed in the history and scripture of yours (and presumably other) religions AND in history and science, interpreting your faith so that all pieces are comfortable with one another. I don’t think the majority of religious people are like that, not historically and not currently. There’s a reason why one of the biggest blocks of COVID19 vaccine resisters are white evangelicals, why other denominations and religions remains the biggest opponents to gay and women’s rights, the reason those who try to ban abortion and block stem-cell research are religious, etc. I think the modern progressive interpretation of any religious tradition is mainly in the academic and clerical sections of a given religion and that when it is more widespread within the congregation itself it tends to be in small denominations and churches that aren’t exactly experiencing a growth market at the moment.

          • October 9, 2021 at 7:42 am

            “I wish I could turn people off of “harmful” religion though”
            As an unbeliever my bigger wish is to turn of atheists off of “harmful” ideas like jesusmythology and other historical nonsense. What Rebekah describes on this page is not even half of what I’ve met on internet. Pastor Ken might recognize Matthew 7:3. My secular version: skepticism above all means being skeptical of your own views – something many self declared rationalists forget.

      • August 16, 2021 at 5:32 pm

        The Chriatian church leads the assault on medicine and science in the fight against the covid pandemic.

        • August 20, 2021 at 2:11 pm

          Not because of any overarching religious principles. The majority of Christians and churches are 100% in favor of modern medicine and science in the fight against COVID-19. Those opposed are wrong, period.

        • October 9, 2021 at 7:45 am

          The christian church? Since when is there only one?
          Ah, never mind the facts when campaigning against religion, huh? Creacrappers don’t either when fighting the religion of evilution.

      • August 16, 2021 at 6:09 pm

        Maybe we can start with creation theory and work our way up through history to today’s church and its open assault on the CDC and WHO.

        There are several questions posed in this post but I think mainly Rebekah wants to know what Sagan got wrong and why he didn’t give the church more credit for the advancement of science and mathematics.

        • August 20, 2021 at 2:13 pm

          Creation theory as a scientific explanation for the origin of the universe is bullshit. Genesis is a book of myth and remembrance, of etiology, and of ancestral stories. It shouldn’t be taken literally, and plenty of Christian churches don’t.

          • January 28, 2024 at 7:58 pm

            Even in the Middle ages people did not read Genesis literally for example one one Bishop said this that humans came from light and matter
            A. C. Sparavigna – “Robert Grosseteste’s Thought on Light and Form of the World.” International Journal of Sciences
            Vol.3, April 2014 (4)
            William of conscious Genesis about God creating Adam from dust and, instead of taking this literally, considered how life may have arisen in simple forms from inanimate matter and then gain in complexity over time, eventually giving rise to humans. He even said that if this had happened once it could, in the same circumstances, happen again. Sound familiar? And this was in the twelfth century. You can guarantee that an ignoramaus like Walker has never even heard of William of Conches.

        • October 9, 2021 at 7:48 am

          Even in the USA the majority of christians are not creacrappers. Maybe we should not start with them. Or maybe you love your myths as much as creacrappers do.

      • April 22, 2023 at 7:15 am

        The question is bogus unless you consider science s worldview not simply a method of understanding. One need not use science for all understanding.

  • October 16, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    Sagan was overrated.
    The bible is ridiculed and looked over but if you actually look into to it it has a solid foundation in observation history and some poetry.
    But then again too many “freethinkers” have a strong aversion to anything slightly religious and are too full of themselves to even give it a try.
    They read fiction and love fiction, and would read a book of fairy tales but can’t admit they have a bias

    • June 3, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      I respectfully disagree with your notion that Sagan was overrated. He lived in an era where there were more Astrology publications than Astronomy publications and our environmental crusades had barely started. As a scientist with a flair for public speaking and Joking with Johmmy and Ed, to speaking before congress . . . Sagan was the right amount of rated.

  • June 3, 2024 at 2:11 pm

    I am a 40 year catholic and a 40 year devotee of Carl Sagan and his life’s work.

    My love for God’s gift of the universe and a planet we must take care of comes from both sources.

    I lean more towards the science and my faith tells me that the stories and parables all have reasonable scientific explanations that do not take away from the core message of the stories. There are items I have chosen to dismiss from my faith out of respect for a better world. I don’t believe in magic.

    I think it is amazing that a 40 year old book/miniseries still holding up so well today (literally showed episode one to a 13 year old last week in awe) and only requires a few updates and revisions.

    I do believe Sagan/Druyan/Soter demonstrated a bit of a western bias. With any luck Seth MacFarlane with produce a 4th season that explores more eastern work. He is very passionate about ensuring Sagans work lives forever.


What do you think?