I recently posted a Carl Sagan quote to my facebook profile in honour of their 'A' week. Since posting this quote, my old "southern baptist minister" has made several comments which I am attempting to rebuttal. He is a very smart man and I am honestly afraid that he may outwit me. I could use any support/advice that anyone would be willing to share. I am still new to being an atheist, s my knowledge is on the subject is not as highly tuned as I would like. Anyway, here is what has transposed thus far:
is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in
delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." ~ Carl Sagan
true. And how ironic that Carl Sagan persisted in the satisfying and
reassuring delusion that he could grasp the universe as it really is.
Me: I tend to disagree. He looked upon the universe with no pretensions and
drew his conclusion upon evidence. To see something as it really is based upon what you can observe and test is truly the furthest from delusion that a man could be. The delusion would be in somebody believing something they have been told without question and never seeing what the evidence shows.
Pastor: It is not only delusional, but arrogant, to believe for a moment that
we can "grasp the universe." There is no evidence to support such a belief. Indeed, all the evidence runs to the contrary. And to establish what is observable and testable as the only measure of what "really is" is both nihilistic and silly. Is love real?
is neither arrogant nor delusional to "believe" that we can "grasp" theuniverse. The ability of people to do this very thing allows you to communicate with me over the internet. Perhaps you have a different definition of "grasp"? I view Sagan's use of "grasp" as "working towards a thorough understanding of". There is much we know and have learned about the world and the universe around us. Also, what do you mean by, "All the evidence runs to the contrary"? As for love, love is an emotional state, and there is plenty of evidence that this emotional state exists. People who claim to be "in love" behave in markedly different ways from people who do not. Studies of the brain show that certain areas are activated by feelings of love. The process by which the mind loves another is a complex chemical cocktail of endorphines that acts as a reward mechanism for spending time with your loved one or offspring. The reward mechanism fills the lovers with a profound sense of peace and contentment. This essentially becomes an addiction, which is understandable.
Pastor: Grasp means to comprehend, not to move toward comprehension. If we
merely observe the world around us, all evidence points to the reality that we do not understand ourselves, much less the cosmos. Sagan is considered a genius for merely scratching the surface of astronomy! I think it's self-congratulatory to define ultimate enlightment as the mastery of that one subject in which you happen to be an expert. What hubris! You think he grasped love? None of his three wives thought so. No wonder he wanted to reduce love to some chemical reaction! Do you think reducing such things as love, or peace, or contentment, down to a chemical compound is "grasping the universe as it really is?" If so, I
feel sorry for you, my friend, and sorrier yet for anyone with the misfortune of loving you.
BTW - Sagan was not an athiest, but an agnostic. He argued that science was ill-equipped to answer the question of God's existence, and that for science to disprove God would require undeniable evidence of an infinitely old cosmos.
Well, here's wishing you the best chemical reactions possible. :-)