Friday, December 21, 2007


Real Ghosts

Alan Boyle of MSNBC has more about Carl Sagan, in an article entitled "Religion vs. Science VS. Politics," including comments by Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow.

On the issue of the proposed Science Debate 2008:

Sagan's name has come up as the kind of person who could moderate Science Debate 2008 - if the idea could ever get off the ground. "I'd have loved to see Sagan host this," one commentator opined in response to Matthew Chapman's essay on the debate movement.

Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow and the keeper of the "Cosmos" flame, agrees that her husband would have been engaged in the political debate - just as he was during the debates over nuclear war and global warming back in the 1980s. The current times are similarly dire, she said. ...

Druyan would love to see someone of Sagan's stature try to turn the agenda toward scientific topics - and that's why she was one of the first advocates to sign up in support of Science Debate 2008. "I really feel like it's been so long since we had an exponent of science, doing it the way Carl did it - without tearing anybody down, but being very direct," she said.

She doesn't think the confrontational approach taken by Dawkins and other militant atheists is doing the trick. In fact, that approach runs the risk of closing off the dialogue and drawing even sharper battle lines. "The frontal assault on religion has not resulted in the degree of communication that was possible even a few years ago," she said.
In her own entry in the blog-a-thon, Druyan said:

He believed that science must always remain scrupulously faithful to the most rigorous possible methodological standards but that we shouldn't shrink from the spiritual implications of its insights. He dreamed of a civilization rooted in our dawning understanding of nature, where skepticism and wonder went hand in hand. He didn't want to humiliate or demean the believer. He was always ready to communicate.
This isn't meant as a backhanded criticism of the "New Atheists" (I'm not shy about direct criticism, as any observer might notice). It's only fair though, in this political season, when the shouting will reach category 5 intensity, that the quieter voices, including those echoing out of the past, should have a moment of our thought.

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