Wonderful interview with Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Grab the ipod (or listen to the “live streaming) while you can — a truly wonderful discussion between Philip Adams and Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow, on Late Night Live.

Ann discusses with Philip everything from the numinous, scepticism and wonder, god (that is the Spinoza and Einstein idea of god, being shorthand for the sum total of the laws of the universe), the fight against science in the U.S. right now (“this horrible, ridiculous infantile period”) against a theology that comes right out of the middle ages . . . .

Would we be witnessing “this horrible, ridiculous infantile period” if the voices of Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould were still broadcasting and publishing?

Ann also describes a moving last conversation between Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan.

Also discussed:

The Voyager project, and the music, sights and sounds of life on earth being carried out to a lifespan 1 billion years from now . . .

Pioneering work in the Greenhouse effect on Venus and realization of its applicability to Earth. . .

The ridicule and jealousy Carl experienced from his contemporary scientific community because of his popularization of science . . .

How Carl is one of those very few who lived up to his image and reputation when face to face — Nelson Mandela being one other such rarity . . .

Wonderful word images of our place in the universe . . .

How humanity is still very young with science, and how we are still going through a post-Copernican stress syndrome (only 400 years to date of systematic science) . . .

How we are only just now beginning to get some inkling of nature . . . How the humbling experience of all this makes Ann see how proud we should be to be human beings . . .

How science is compatible with religion, but incompatible with fundamentalism, with faith, with belief in absence of evidence.

Asked about her theological position, Ann replies that she doesn’t know anything and that is her theological position — The little that we know about the universe is only a tiny percentage of what there is to know. We know virtually nothing about our surroundings, they being mostly shrouded in dark matter.

Thought: If this is what hydrogen molecules can produce given billions of years of evolution, all the love, joy, feeling, wonder and awe, . . . Ann has no interest in jumping to conclusions about what is “there”, but wants rather “to know” (not “to believe”) how things came to be. She has no interest in projecting her fears or needs for a loving parent on to it all. Happy to withhold judgment and continue to watch in fascination as our little bit of understanding expands.

You’ll be the poorer for not listening to the interview — about 20 minutes.

Also the Cosmos is now available on DVD! Now I know what I want for Christmas. Check the Late Night Live site for details.

3 problems with recognizing the state of Israel’s “right to exist”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Historical Palestinian refusal to recognize the state of Israel has generally been portrayed in the western mainstream media as a sign of an Arab anti-Jewish hatred and wish to drive Israel “into the sea”. What is not often conveyed by western leaders and media are the reasons Palestinian and other Arab peoples have often refused to recognized Israel, and the fact that on several occasions they have conditionally offered to recognize Israel.

  1. Israel is a Jewish state, meaning it is a racial state, and this means that other racial or religious minorities do not in practice have equal citizenship rights. The world has come to deplore other states such as apartheid South Africa and nazi Germany using race in preference to truly democratic principles as the essential rationale for their existence.
  2. Recognizing Israel as a new state would mean accepting Israel’s refusal of the right of return for the refugees and their descendants who were expelled from territories Israel now controls from past wars. In other words, ethnic cleansing will be accepted as a legitimate fait accompli.
  3. To recognize Israel carte blanche means accepting their occupation and control over much of the West Bank, and ongoing “bantustan-ization” of Palestinians. Both Palestinian and Arab leaders have publicly agreed recognize Israel in her pre-1967 war borders. But Israel refuses to recognize any such borders as final, arguing it has both security and biblical-historical justifications to expand its “living space” (cf. lebensraum).

This is not to deny that there is a widespread anti-Jewish sentiment among many Arabs. But anti-Arab racism on the part of many Jews is just as tangible. Western media works against peace in the Middle East as long as they simplify Arab reasons for unconditionally accepting Israel’s right to exist (i.e. with present borders, a race-based state, ethnically cleansed) as a matter of irrational hate against Jews. Western media also works against peace while it refuses to openly criticize the real wrongs (and racism) of Israel. The above stumbling blocks to Arab recognition of Israel are discussed more openly and constructively in Israel than they are in the black-and-white simplistic reporting of mainstream English-language media.