Carl Sagan – pale blue dot

September 7, 2007 at 10:27 pm | Posted in astronomy, Carl Sagan, science, space | 7 Comments

Kevin Rose just posted this link on Pownce:

This is a great clip to put everything into perspective.  Your life, your job, your worries, politics, the world…



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  1. Yes, it is interesting. Perspective is interesting and I imagine there are currently some 6.5 billion or so perspectives. Can everyone’s be right? Can anyone’s be right? How do you choose the right perspective (so to speak)?

    From what I understand of him,Carl Sagan was an atheist. Even atheists believe in something, even if it is that there is no God. To me that is great faith. Faith/belief that there is no God and that we are the result of what my be characterized as a statistical improbability (evolve from a sort of primordial soup…that sort of thing).

    How do YOU find comfort in this world? It appears there are no others like us in the entire known universe. No other “creatures” for lack of a better word. Carl Sagan seems at times to lament the fact that we seem to be on our own.

    I believe, as humanity goes, we are indeed the only life in the universe (granted…it is possible that I am wrong, and I have yet to work out the religious reasons why life may not be out there). However, just because life could be out there does not mean it is…but I digress.

    So how does a person who does not believe in God put things into perspective? How does one reconcile his or her own seeming insignificance amongst billions of others and the billions before them? Can we be here by accident? Do we live for some 60 – 100 years and die and cease to exist?

    I do not see my insignificance. I do not see anyone’s insignificance. I see the grandness of the design of the universe and I have to think and believe that it was created.

    Justin, I know you said something about people who promote religion falling short on your list, but in essence, Sagan was espousing a religious type belief if nothing more than the “all we have is each other” belief. His beliefs are different than mine to say the least, but they are beliefs nevertheless.

  2. Sorry about leaving my name off of that post Justin…was too busy collecting my thoughts to enter my name….

  3. Its very sublime………
    So sublime that he simply negates the very idea of the existence of God in his message to “mankind”.
    How very clever…
    How very subtle…
    How very very secular of Carl..
    How very demonic….

  4. From what I understand of him,Carl Sagan was an atheist. Even atheists believe in something, even if it is that there is no God.

    Most atheists do not “believe that there is no God”: we don’t believe IN God. It’s not like we run around squinting our eyes in an effort to not believe. We just don’t believe, just like you probably don’t turn invisible.

    How does one reconcile his or her own seeming insignificance amongst billions of others and the billions before them?

    There’s nothing to reconcile: we are both cosmically insignificant but also near and dear to each other with all sorts of towering concerns here on earth. These aren’t contradictions: they are insights of different perspectives on things.

    His beliefs are different than mine to say the least, but they are beliefs nevertheless.

    Why are believers so obsessed with this point? Non-believers do have lots of individual beliefs and convictions (though “God does not exist” is not always one of them, as many seem to think). But what does that have to do with whether or not one makes unjustified leaps of logic and evidence?

  5. Wow! Let me just say, I’m always surprised at what generates the most “buzz” on my blog. I posted the link to this video right before I went to bed, not even thinking about it. Funny how things work sometimes.

    First of all, @ the one who thinks of Sagan as demonic: WTF? Demonic? Give me a break! It is one thing to believe in God and look to him to solve all of your problems, forgive you for your trespasses, and make you feel as if your sole existence in this world is part of some greater cosmic “plan”, but to also believe in evil spirits and demons is just a plain waste of yours and my time. There is no discussion with people like you.

    @Bill G., yes perspective is relative and I am sure there are an infinite number of perspectives. But consider the cosmic perspective that Sagan points out. The pale blue dot that can be found among the billions of light years of the known universe. That is an indisputably different perspective than any of us on Earth could ever hope to comprehend – even Sagan himself.

    Further, I agree with Bad. But I’ll take it a bit farther, while I don’t believe IN God or any other higher or ultimate being, I do believe in and have faith in human reason (don’t worry, I’ve already bought the domain). Any semblance of honest and objective reasoning would lead anyone to the same conclusions that I myself have come to. Yet, we are all so indoctrinated with our religious upbringing that for many, obtaining an objective perspective is sometimes next to impossible.

    How do you conclude that there aren’t others like us in the Universe? That’s like the flat guy in flat world saying that there is no one else in the Universe that isn’t flat. He doesn’t know what not being flat is. One big problem I see with extra-terrestrial science today is that we are seeking life like that that can be found here on Earth. We are the flat guy looking for other flat guys. To say that we are alone in this infinitely large Universe is nothing less than self-centered.

    Why are you trying to fuse religion and science?

    “…and I have yet to work out the religious reasons why life may not be out there”

    You can have your religion and pray all you want (it doesn’t bother me). But please respect the distinction between science and religion. One consists of evidence-based, logical reasoning whereas the latter is intangible with little fact to support it. You might even go so far as to say that science liberates the human mind while religion does nothing but control and restrain.

    I don’t see how Sagan’s words can be interpreted as religious belief. It sounds like to me that you believe the notion of not believing in God means that that individual has to believe in something. Well if that is the case, let that something be reason, evidence, and the power of the human mind.

  6. Yes justin. That was what I was getting at. We all have beliefs of some sort, whether it is in God, in ourselves, or the dynamic human spirit, or really whatever.

    My post was not to point out that I am a believer in God, but to ask what it is that non believers in God think. What do they expect after death? What do they see as there reason for existence? I am genuinely curious.

    I believe that we are alone in the universe. That is my belief. I concede that there may be others, but I serioulsly doubt it.

    “Why are you trying to fuse religion and science?” That is simple Justin. As a Christian I believe that God created all and thus Science, or at least what we study as Science. I am a huge fan of science and really have liked it since I started watching Star Trek in the 60’s. I see no problem involving God in Science therefore.

    BAD, my apologies. Every definition I have read of the word ATHEISM means No GOD…perhaps literally GODLESS.

    You see now the problem with typing on a page. It is not always possible to convey the intent of the message. I am profoundly aware that my beliefs are not everyones. I am not trying to hit someone over the head with it, nor force it down their throats. I am explaining my views as they relate to the subject. I respect Justin more than perhaps he or anyone knows. He is exceedingly smart and driven, and as far as I have seen, respects all people he comes in contact with. Truly, I wish more Christians could learn from him that way. But..I can also say that I believe him to be seriously wrong on some things. It is inevitable.

    I accept that. To the extent possible (and not always succeeding) I also treat folks with dignity and respect, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.

    Perhaps I strayed a bit from the original idea Sagan had about the Pale Blue Dot. Perhaps not.

    Sagan was a very intelligent fellow too. I suppose I read more into his narration than he intended to be read. That happens often with me. Maybe it is a character flaw. I know not.


  7. On the contrary, I don’t see any problem with typing on a page. You can’t argue that we’re all the more stimulated after this discussion. We don’t have to agree in order to learn and grow.

    No character flaws Bill, just your perspective versus my perspective versus someone else’s. Thanks for the great discussion — I’ll try to be more provocative since I’m beginning to learn what draws people to post a comment. 🙂

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