2007-12-17

Wonderful interview with Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow

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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.

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Neil Godfrey

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