Carl Sagan, healer of my soul

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Astrophysics revolutionized my faith.  I blame Carl Sagan. Before him, my universe was tiny and young and moderately interesting.  But in the midst of his sometimes-irritating “BILL-ions and BILL-ions and BILL-ions,” the big-ness of time and space started to really hit me.  It provoked me to re-think so much of my story about the world and myself and where we came from and where we’re going.

I am made of “star-stuff.” I am part of how the cosmos is knowing itself. And the particles of my body may someday be part of a star or a planet or maybe even some alien person gazing up and the stars and wondering if I ever existed.

Realizing all of this, I have never felt so blessed and so loved.

Reality — whatever it is — deserves my loyalty.  That’s the religion Carl Sagan taught me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s upcoming reboot of the classic COSMOS miniseries has me jumping up and down (“geeking out,” as it were) to watch it with my kids.

Are you a Carl Sagan fan?  Why or why not?


  1. Seamus King says:

    I find Carl Sagan more inspiring than any pastor I have ever heard preach. When I want to hear something that respects me as a human being and feeds my mind, as well as my soul, I turn on the original “The Cosmos.” His compelling vision of our place in the universe has shaped the way I see my spirituality (or faith, or whatever you want to call it) in such a dramatic way. When I lost faith in the church and Christianity, I spent several years struggling to figure out what is knowable and what is good. He took my hand and said, “Here. Let me show you.” An atheist single-handedly saved my ability to have faith. How’s that for cognitive dissonance?

    1. My experience with Sagan was similar! I think wonder and awe are central to postmodern religious sensibility. I couldn’t have remained a Christian if it meant continuing to believe that the universe is a cheap disposable wrapper that burdens my soul while it waits to escape to heaven.

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