Sunday, February 18, 2007
The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan
An elegant and smoothly written series of lectures delivered by Carl Sagan in 1985 at the University of Glasgow. Carl talks about the origins of religious beliefs, and even has a chapter entitled, "The God Delusion." I wonder if Richard Dawkins was in the audience and received his inspiration for his book of the same title. Sagan gives examples of things I have intuited for many years: the origin of religion was an attempt by primitive peoples to explain things they knew they could not do, and therefore concluded that those things must be produced by a vastly superior being; that in many early societies, life was pretty crummy, but order and obedience was maintained by the promise of a much better life in some version of heaven (and, of course punishent for the disobedient in some version of hell); and, most interestingly he directly addresses the "problem of evil." Highly recommended for rationalists, free-thinkers, and anyone who has an open mind about god(s) and religious beliefs.