Friday, December 15, 2006

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon

Announcing the Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon

Dec 20th marks a decade that the great scientist Carl Sagan passed over to SummerIsle. To commemorate this event, Joel Schlosberg is hosting a Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon!

This is for you, Carl:

Carl Sagan made a huge difference in our world. His accomplishments run the gamut from obscure elements of planetary science, all the way to factors which influence the survival of our species. He inspired millions with his groundbreaking PBS series, Cosmos; he explained the wonders of the world through a number of best-selling books, and authored scientific publications and pieces for the popular press; he was always in the public eye, never dodging a chance to explain the universe through interviews, press conferences, and guest spots on television talk shows. With his friendly and oftentimes humorous approach, he rendered some of the most complex issues understandable to a scientifically tin-eared public.

Carl showed us the universe was remarkable and awe inspiring. It did not need the policing of superstitions to make it more wonderful. He taught us that we could be spiritual, even devoutly so, yet not be tied down to a dogmatic or archaic religion. In Cosmos, arguably one of the greatest science series ever produced, Carl spent considerable time delving into the history of science. We learned how badly intolerance impacted the well-being of civilization. What struck home for me was the brutal murder, in 415 AD, of the Alexandrian philosopher, Hypatia. By all accounts she was beautiful, and rose to intellectual stardom in a world dominated by men. She was targeted by an early Christian Church Archbishop, Cyril:

"In great personal danger, she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work, she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her works obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint."

Here is a prime example of empowered religious intolerance, gleefully stamping out beauty and intelligence. Carl points out that the 'new learning' was feared by early church founders, who considering such knowledge "Pagan" and in need of eradication. It was a revelation to learn, that during times of oppression, scientists were burned along with heretics and witches. How tragic that is! Can someone tell me if such fanatical oppressors have ever been right about anything?

Look at what's happening in the US and the world: scientists who study global warming are ridiculed; environmental regulations are cut back for short term financial gain; extinction advances on a near cataclysmic scale; the teaching of 'evolution', one the most beautiful and enlightening concepts ever revealed--the pillar of biology, and by extension all other sciences--suffers unrelenting attack from religions and political extremists. The very planet that birthed us, our 'Mother Earth", is unrelentingly being defiled.

Once again, Alexandria is poised to be ransacked and destroyed, our library burned. But now, not only do we have each other, we are armed to the teeth with the words and deeds of Carl Sagan. And if someone wants to lay a finger on Hypatia, it will be over our dead bodies!

1 comment:

helensotiriadis said...

it was a good day to pay tribute to carl. i'm so warmed by the response.

this is a cool blog!