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On science and religion with Sagan

maht91's picture

In the chapter titled Obsessed with Reality, it was interesting that horoscopes were brought up. I have never believed in horoscopes or fortune cookies but I have always been looking forward to reading what my horoscope says for instance. On page 243, it says towards the end “We are all human,” suggesting that horoscopes tell something about what humans have in common. The truth in the end is that we are all humans. We have our differences which also makes us humans. There is nothing concrete or strong evidence that horoscopes are true.

On page 242 of the same chapter, Sagan says that it is sometimes easier to “reject strong evidence that to admit that we’ve been wrong.” This reminds me of what I go through thinking about evidence of evolution of animals and humans and evidence, even if spiritual, that God created human. I have struggled a lot with where evolution and God creation come together or if they agree or contradict each other. I looked at the evidence that the fossil records tell us and I looked back on experiences that for me proved the existence of God. It is hard to call either science or religion wrong since for me both provide good evidence. I don’t think it is right to call science light and knowledge and religion as ignorance because for me this is not accurate representation of any. How much does personal experience play in defining the boundaries of knowledge and ignorance? Who draws the limits? But this also gets me thinking, as Sagan says on page 240 that people are “starved for something to believe in,” and on page 224 “…I began to see how easy it is to be fooled by your own desire to believe,” which could be science or religion. But still that does not make one better than the other or more trustworthy.

On page 295 of the Marriage of Skepticism and Wonder, Sagan starts this chapter by court laws and taking the oath to say the truth “when we are asked to swear in American courts of law…tell the truth…the whole truth…we are bring asked the impossible.” His reasons include the unreliability of our memories, and his claim that scientific truth is “merely as approximation.” This brings me back to The Thin Blue Line and our conversation about the reliability of the law court system. Sagan, nevertheless, continues and says that “a life may depend on out testimony.” This just tells me that I need to doubt once and twice before I decide for myself what is true. It is interesting that people take it for granted when they declare the oath to say the truth not thinking that saying the truth is impossible!

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