Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Gift of Wonder: "Carl Sagan's Gospel of Scientism"

America, the US Jesuit Catholic weekly, has brought to light an piece that was written more than 25 years ago in response to Carl Sagan's classic "scientist" TV series/book "Cosmos". Entitled "Carl Sagan's Gospel of Scientism", the author, William J. O'Malley, was a priest and English and Religious Studies teacher, and it is a remarkably intelligent and thoughtful piece.

Keep in mind that when O'Malley wrote this review article, the phrase "Intelligent Design" was still respectable in theological circles. Discovery Channel had not yet emptied it of all usefulness by misapplying it to creationism masquerading as a quasi-scientific theory.

O'Malley's beautifully expressed sense of wonder at the amazing universe which Sagan describes in such mind-blowing detail impels him to respond in praise of the "Designer".

And surely this is what both the Carl Sagan's and the Michael Behe's of the world miss. Neither science nor scripture are at the core of religious faith in a "Creator". The central--perhaps the only--plank in the universal and primeval belief in a divine "Designer" is the sheer wonder whenever we contemplate the Cosmos.

2 Comments:

At Thursday, December 13, 2007 8:05:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The central--perhaps the only--plank in the universal and primeval belief in a divine "Designer" is the sheer wonder whenever we contemplate the Cosmos.

So very true. Even before the beautiful words of the Psalmist praising the glory of God's creation were put down in written form humanity had gazed in awe at the universe.

Of course, that awe was reflected in traditions older than Judaism and Christianity but for me as a Christian finds its fulfillment in the One through whom and for whom all things were created.

I remember reading Cosmos and Dragons of Eden in the 70's and while no one quite took Sagan seriously from a strict scientific point of view his writing style was very engaging.

 
At Thursday, December 13, 2007 8:58:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

I had the same experience reading Bill Bryson's short history of the world. Both men experience and describe the wonder, but then dismiss it as having no internal or transcendant significance.

 

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