Last week’s Carl Sagan Day celebration, organized by secular students from Northwestern, UChicago, and DePaul was simply unbelievable.
Professor Vandervoort talked about his early academic relationship with the young, audacious, and visionary Carl Sagan. He was brought to tears on the stage as he was talking. Professor Olinto amazed us with the newest discoveries in space science and physics, from the discovery of thousands of planets to dark matter/dark energy and detection of high energy particles bombarding Earth. And Professor Beck-Winchantz reminded us that we all have an eagerness for scientific discovery, and that science is not just an ivory tower profession, but that it should and does belong to all of us. He encouraged us to participate in citizen science projects, and showed us an inexpensive, awe-inspiring way of sending a camera into near-space and back.
More importantly, events like these outline the incredible work that secular students can do to inspire others and to promote the wonderful tradition of humanism and scientific skepticism, a tradition that Carl Sagan championed throughout his life.
It’s an event sponsored by the Alder Planetarium. There’s going to be apple pie from scratch. There will be many wonderful space talks by awesome science professors. What is it?
It’s Carl Sagan Day, a celebration of Carl Sagan’s lasting legacy. Come to DePaul University on November 1 at 7PM.
Carl Sagan brought the Universe to millions of people around the world. He showed us that we are small and insignificant, but that we can make life meaningful through the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. And he brought us a compelling story about not just us–but everything there ever was. We are stardust harvesting starlight, starstuff contemplating the stars.
You don’t have to go to a place that supports supernatural nonsense (e.g. church) to enjoy magnificent choral music. Kenley Kristofferson has brought the magic of this musical genre to nonreligious people around the world. I previously covered his three-movement Carl-Sagan-inspired choral suite called Cosmos, which is now available to download in mp3 format.
And of course, you don’t want to miss this:
There are many religious people who insist that if only you give their religion a try, you’ll see that being religious is an indescribably sublime and transcendent experience, that these experiences can give you a completely fresh perspective on life and our place in the greater scheme of things…
But what about the other way around? Many ex-believers like me have found so much more beauty, meaning, and purpose outside of religion. No, it isn’t like being born again (Who wants to stay as a child anyways?), but it’s like growing up to be a more mature and understanding person. It’s about the feeling of knowing that you’re living honestly and truthfully with as few delusions as possible. And it’s a peace and understanding that transcends all religion and culture, that gives you a certain reference frame in which the world seems less mysterious but far more elegant and beautiful.
The video below pretty much captures what many of us have been trying to express.
The history of the Cosmos, as revealed by science and science only, is the greatest story ever told. It is our shared past. It is our shared framework propelling us into the future. It gives us a sense of belonging, a sense of humility, a sense of feeling so incredibly small. It tempers our arrogance, and makes our human conflicts and arguments seem too local.
This was his answer. We are stardust.
One of the most famous physicists of all time, Richard Feynman, offers his reflections. It’s a solemn, transcendent experience.
There are a handful of people on this planet that will be missed forever. Carl Sagan is one of them, and here’s why:
His ability to captivate millions of people, to imbue in his audience a love of science, reason, and philosophy, and to explain the universe in simple, understandable terms is just magnificent. He is also the best person I know to have attended the University of Chicago.