Sagan's Words Accentuate the Beauty of 2010 Hubble Images

By The Intersection | June 3, 2011 9:35 pm

This is a guest post by Jamie L. Vernon, Ph.D., a research scientist and aspiring policy wonk, who recently moved to D.C. to get a taste of the action

I needn’t expound on the perfection of Sagan’s words as an accompaniment to the 2010 Hubble images.

Rather, I’ll leave it to you to enjoy this YouTube Doubler that I created.

You’ll need to press play for both videos in rapid succession. I recommend starting the Hubble video first.

While you watch, keep in mind that there is no one today who is as effective as he at communicating the conflict between science and religion. How many scientists did he create? How many atheists did he nurture? Who can do this with similar effect today? I say no one is, but many can, if they so choose.


YouTube Doubler

Comments (7)

  1. doublenerds

    Stunning, thank you!

  2. Surely not ‘conflict between science and religion’, but conflict between science and some religions. A conflict made worse by a blurred understanding of all religions, theology and philosophy by some scientists – Carl Sagan included.

  3. Just by way of an example of the need to understand religion and science properly before one goes about making statements like ‘conflict between science and religion’ can I present Father Ruđer Josip Bošković whose life and work was referenced by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Croatia …, and audio file is also available from Vatican Radio –

    Also when comparing the ‘number of scientists’ Carl Sagan created, it may be worth remembering the number of scientists the Church nurtured and sponsored. A little research is needed here, but I’m sure you’re up to the task.


  4. Ian. Give me a religion and I will give you that science with which it conflicts. Yes, the Catholic Church has at times advanced science. However, it has simultaneously contradicted and in some cases suppressed science. Cases in point include evolution (until recent years), the science of HIV prevention, persecution of Galileo, etc. Need I say more?

  5. @4, On Galileo – could he prove the earth spun, could he prove the earth rotated the sun? If he could then why are stellar parallax and Foucualt’s pendulum some 100 years later cited as scientific proofs of these phenomena? Also why was Galileo persecuted by the Church? Could it be because he insisted on the reinterpreation of Scripture and insulted the Pope in the process?

    If the Church stifled Galielo’s works then why was the aforementioned Bošković allowed to study them for his work on atomic theory?

    And yes, let’s talk about HIV/AIDS. What has the Church taught and done to make matters worse? Would Dr Edward C. Green agree with you? Read his book ‘Broken Promises’ for the answer. This link will also help –

    On Evolution – What about Evolution? What did the Church say all those years ago to stifle debate on evolution – could it be that it insists on the presence of a creator and continuous creator? Does the Church truly care how things evolve? Did they suppress Augustine’s thoughts on evolution? Surely the bigger question is around the origin of life and what do scientists have to say on this?

    You need to know that science, which is a search for truth, cannot by definition contradict theology which is also a search for truth. If there is a contradiction then either the science is wrong or the theology is wrong.

    Need I say anymore?

  6. Ian. My understanding is that there is no “search” for truth in religion. It is as God intended. When science contradicts the teachings of the church, the church must change its position. Therefore, the only “search” being conducted is by science. When has the Church ever produced evidence that forced science to change. I’ll tell you. Never.
    To return to my earlier point, show me a religion that relies on a supernatural being and I will show you its conflict with science.

  7. @6 James, If your understading is that there is “no ‘search’ for truth in religion” (and again I would ask you to be specific here as there are many religions) then that is something for you come to terms with. Not me. By making such a statement you imply that you have researched every religion and understand its context.

    You say “When has the Church ever produced evidence that forced science to change. I’ll tell you. Never.” When did I, or the Church, say that science should be forced to change because of something its theology has taught? Perhaps you could provide examples? If the science is accurate and the theology is honest then where should the conflict arise?

    By all means return to your earlier point is you wish, but in doing so can I assume you are happy to accept that your understaning of the Galileo affair, and the Church’s poisition on HIV/AIDs and evolution was misinformed?

    As an addendum you may also wish to address the question of whether there is a supernatural being, since I think that is your real question. For this you will need to know a little Augustine of Hippo, or Peter Abelard, or Roger Bacon, or Thomas Aquinas, namely – uncaused cause, metaphysical arguments for an unconditioned reality, an absolutely simple reality, a unique, unrestricted reality, and a continuous creator of all else that is.

    If not then let us invoke a little atheist spirituality to recognise the five transcendentals of Being, Truth, Love, Goodness (namely Justice), and Beauty as a manifestation of absolute simplicity. That is to say, if Truth itself, Love itself, Goodness itself, and Beauty itself are all manifestations of absolute simplicity, then there can only be one Being itself.

    Indeed would you be open to the existence of an all-powerful Reason?


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