Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Diverging lessons from a 'Pale Blue Dot'’

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Published: Thursday, June 26 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Science is simply the archaeology of God's creation. We look to put back together that which was built long ago.

I have no argument with someone who has no faith. But there are many who take from the world about them a sense of awe and a reverence for God.

slowdive
Salt Lake City, UT

a welcome surprise to see some of Jung cited in this column. though, do recall, Jung never believed experiencing the divine required No mediation via Org Religion. if anything, and echoing William James, he felt the Eastern traditions (having to mind/consciousness) prob had a better grasp on the Big Picture than any Western churches.

John Marx
Layton, UT

I'm not sure these two stories make for a good comparison.
The significance and uniqueness of the pale blue dot photograph is indicated by the name. At that distance the earth is only a dot. Only a speck of light. To Sagan that challenged the idea that earth, humanity, or a religion was at the center of the universe.
But at 1000 miles you can still see a lot of detail (you can see this perspective on Google Earth). At 1,000 miles the earth can still fill your field of vision. It can fill your whole perspective.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Daniel Peterson twice alludes to Carl Sagan’s atheism. Sagan was no religious traditionalist and he didn’t believe in an anthropomorphic deity. But from my readings about him, I can't call him an atheist. He was in fact fascinated with questions of religion and science.

GameTheory
Salt Lake City, UT

I think you completely misunderstand Carl Sagans "Pale Blue Dot." His view of the world wasn't diminished by the picture of the pale blue dot. He was simply saying that wars are fought over simple and unimportant things. Religions fight and kill over extremely vain and selfish world views. In reality we are all here together on this tiny blue dot. It is up to us to try to make it a better world. It's not up to God and the world isn't going to fix itself.Tell me if I'm wrong but I think this is rather a correct idea and nothing to ridicule. Carl Sagan's atheistic views are irrelevant to the idea that we, in fact, are a microscopic piece of dust in the scheme of the Universe. Our fights are silly. Who's religion is right or wrong? Defending the faith? whats to defend against different perspectives? so trivial.

Verdad
Orem, UT

The amazing thing to me, John Marx, is the thought that Carl Jung might actually have been looking at the surface of the earth from roughly a thousand miles out . . . while his body lay in a Swiss hospital in 1944. That wouldn't seem to fit Carl Sagan's model of the universe.

John Marx
Layton, UT

@Verdad,
The validity of out of body experiences are a different topic though. The article is comparing the views derived from seeing the world "from a distance." But the comparison doesn't work IMO because the perspectives in the two are radically different. One is from a distance of one thousand miles, the other from a distance of 3.7 billion miles.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

We all have a fervent desire to know if there is someone out there who can define our existence...someone tangible who can give comprehension to unrecognizable reality...someone who can provide us with meaning and deliver confidence that we will indeed continue to exist, even after death?

Our fear of the unknown has precipitated the invention of a supernatural deity who can provide us with this desired hope. Religion is a social construct...the communal byproduct of an anthropomorphic deity socially created to give us optimism and meaning to events in life beyond our control.

Unfortunately, religion has been high-jacked by those who would exploit our fears of the unknown in an effort to acquire power and purchase dogmatic control over men and women of good faith. Power is an intoxicating elixir and there are willing charlatans ready to relieve us of our temporal fears in order to secure that power.

What's worse, we are most willing to surrender our reason and compromise our rational abilities...all in an effort to preserve comfort, security, and hope for a meaningful existence...one that will continue even beyond the grave.

We are indeed spiritual creatures programed to believe.

Verdad
Orem, UT

Your position, GameTheory, and the position that you apparently attribute to Carl Sagan, is that it's trivial and unimportant to distinguish what is true and what is false in conflicting religious claims. But that is, itself, a claim regarding religious claims, and an implicit statement that such claims are essentially false. As such, it seems self-contradictory -- but also an unwitting attempt to privilege your particular point of view over others.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Reading stories like this makes me wonder what possible set of facts could ever disprove religion. My guess is the answer for some is none.

Religion’s ability to render any discovered fact compatible with faith is mind boggling. If we think of what religion was telling people throughout history about the natural world, and how many of those propositions have been demonstrated to be false, this question and answer becomes painfully obvious.

So when I hear religious leaders today tell us to “have faith” in their words as they are coming from God and are therefore true (as religious leaders have done since time immemorial), I immediately think “have faith based on what?” What evidence do we have that religion has ever been a reliable source of knowledge (vs. the literally mountain of evidence going the other way)?

So when Dr. Peterson casually dismisses Carl Sagan’s “atheism” as going against “thousands of confident religions” I’m left wondering what is the standard by which we judge one’s confidence to be justified?

Jung’s experience is interesting… don’t see how it points to the existence of Yahweh though.

Michigander
Westland, MI

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor.2:9).

These things are what will be in the "new heaven" of Rev.21:1, Isa 65:17, and 2 Pet.3:13 - also called the "Eternal Blue Sky Land" by the American Indians.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Verdad,

"Your position, GameTheory, and the position that you apparently attribute to Carl Sagan, is that it's trivial and unimportant to distinguish what is true and what is false in conflicting religious claims. But that is, itself, a claim regarding religious claims, and an implicit statement that such claims are essentially false...."
______________________________

Trying to distinguish what’s true or false in religious claims may not seem trivial to those who adhere to those conflicting claims. But it is futile to try to prove the unprovable and can even be dangerous. We live in a world where people sometimes kill other people in the name of religion.

Not accepting religious claims at face value does not necessarily imply that the claims are essentially false.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Tyler D,

I think the simple point is that science and faith have no need to be at war. Many in both fields find something fulfilling in the other.

I think the moral teachings of Jesus (as well as others) to bear up over time. Century in, century out.

happy2bhere
clearfield, UT

I hope we all realize that in this vast universe, if one were to look back at the Milky Way Galaxy, (our home galaxy), from far enough away, it would also appear as a small dot. Somehow I think that Sagan is equating size as some indicator of whether or not there is a God. To my mind the size of the universe is the indicator, not the smallness of our particular planet. Of which LDS theology says there are numbers of beyond counting anyway.

sharrona
layton, UT

RE: Tyler D, “Jung’s experiences” had a very strong influence on Edgar Cayce which some of the information from his trances were derived from.
At seven Cayce began school, Mrs. Ellison(a Mormon teacher) was boarding at his aunt's house. During this time period Edgar had his first experience playing with “spirit children.”

Cayce was introduced to Christianity but he was also exposed to the world of the occult. He was a Campbellite (Restoration movement) an off-shoot Presbyterian denomination. He began to read his Bible and at one time wanted to be a minister. As a child he often visited a place in the nearby woods to read his Bible. At age 13, while sitting at his regular reading place in the woods, an “angelic” woman appeared in white clothing with wings on her back who told him, “Your prayers have been heard. “Tell me what you would like most of all, so that I may give it to you.”

Biblical Christians are critical of Cayce's source and views on issues such as reincarnations and the Akashic records. i.e.., (All souls will eventually mature and evolve towards the perfect, like Jesus the Christ)

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Twin Lights – “I think the simple point is that science and faith have no need to be at war.

I would (with certain qualifications) agree but only because whenever they do fight, science wins… always. At some point capitulation (as far as discerning facts about the natural world) is seems order if for no other reason than to save future embarrassment.

@Twin Lights – “I think the moral teachings of Jesus (as well as others) to bear up over time.”

I would generally agree – a few things (IMO) that were put into his mouth notwithstanding (e.g., Matthew 5:18-19 and pretty much the entire Book of Revelation).

@sharrona – ““Jung’s experiences” had a very strong influence on Edgar Cayce”

And on much of the New Age community, however, you can find many more examples going back centuries in the eastern religions which I think makes that point that many “religious experiences” do not affirm the validity of any belief system.

These experiences appear to be universal and just like there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim math, these experiences are not the monopolistic domain of religion.

GameTheory
Salt Lake City, UT

Verdad,

"But that is, itself, a claim regarding religious claims, and an implicit statement that such claims are essentially false"
That is of course true that its a claim regarding religious claims. I didn't say that any claim was false however. That is your defensive assumption. But i will say that arguing the case between Zeus being real or not, is trivial. Only nobody bothers to do that anymore, they have just moved on to arguing for other gods; the two arguments being both equally impossible to disprove. I hope you would agree with mine and Carl Sagans view that it really is quite silly to literally kill each other over this. eh?

Michigander
Westland, MI

Is it possible that in the new heaven and the new earth in eternity, that as we have now been conformed to the perfect image of the Son of God (Jesus Christ), that the earth will be conformed to the exact same size as the Sun created by God that of course will be no more in that eternal day. This will be needed in order to accommodate, with no crowding, of all the billions of the redeemed souls from Adam and Eve down to the last soul born on the earth in the 1000 year Peaceful Reign upon earth while men and women are still in the flesh and blood state.

Michigander
Westland, MI

Could it also be possible that the new earth will be a giant that will fill up the new heaven of eternally crystal blue color?

TheProudDuck
Newport Beach, CA

I could never understand why Dr. Sagan, whose logic was rigorous when he wanted it to be, concluded that physical size = significance.

As my math teacher used to say: Show your work, Carl.

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