Why not save a step?
Today is Carl Sagan’s Birthday.
I remember watching “Cosmos” with my dad when it first aired on Public Television many years ago. Sagan’s lyrical way of explaining complex scientific concepts were as memorable as that accent that has resulted in “billyuns” of imitators.
I remember also that it was the first time I saw anyone openly suggest that it might be OK to think of a world without god.
I wasn’t an atheist then. I wasn’t even an agnostic. I was and always had been trubled by contradictions in the world that didn’t seem to mesh with the concept of god. I was still searching for what would reconcile those contradictions.
There was no compelling evidence for god but I remained convinced that because so many people believed god was out there, I just had to look harder.
What Sagan did in his understated way was suggest that if I looked hard enough, I might reach a different conclusion than the one I always assumed I had to reach.
Here’s what Sagan said in the book “Cosmos:”
In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from? And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?
For a long time, my reasoning for the existence of god was simply “well – the universe couldn’t have come from nothing, could it?”
The inevitable conclusion, it seemed, was that some sort of god created it. I never accepted that it was the Christian god or a Hindu god or Zues but I figured someONE had to get the whole thing started. It was, of course, a humancentric thing to do.
The follow up question that I would avoid asking was “well where did god come from?”
Because I knew the answer was at best a wishy washy “god has always been” and at worst “I dunno, I suppose another god created him/her/it.”
As Sagan pointed out, if god can be assumed to always exist, why can’t we assume the same thing of the universe? Either way, we have to accept that something happened without any apparent outside cause. Either god was there and created the universe or the universe was there because it just was.
And, in due time, the universe created god.
God became an uneccessary part of the equation. It was a little like simplifying 1+1+0 = 2 to 1+1 = 2.
I’ve always been a fairly logical individual and the god equation was one that never worked for me. I was still, as many others were, predisposed to look for the answer that included god.
And it was an astrophysicist with a poetic mind who first suggested to me that I could come to a different conclusion and if I did, I would not be alone.
Thanks for showing me the way, Carl.