“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Don Vito Corleone made this famous offer, Don Carlo Saganeone made us even better one:
So we can succumb to superstition, greed, and stupidity or reach for and go to the stars, feed and clothe all our brothers and sisters…
I think Uncle Carl would be displeased at our failure to continue on after the few moon landings, but he would be ecstatic about the incredible successes of the Mars Rover missions and all of the marvelous science of the nearly past two decades now since he died, and I can’t help thinking that although our planet is still rife with religious superstition and repression, he would be thrilled about the steamrolling New Enlightenment movement.
I think with the power of the Internet and the ubiquity of social media powered by the “gloves are off” attitude of discussing and dissing religion nowadays we have the chance to realize a lot of his dreams for humanity in ways he could never foresee during his heyday.
At the time of his work with the interplanetary probes in the 60’s and 70’s: Mariner, Pioneer, and Voyager and his award winning 1980 Cosmos series, this global secular discussion of which my blog is but one tiny example, did not, could not exist. And he died just a good 10 years before the pro-science, anti religion perspectives he championed in “Demon Haunted World” became echoed again and again in the works of the New Enlightenment writers.
Carl was the Godfather of the New Enlightenment and its superstition fighters and science educators. He paved the way for them all: Dawkins, Hitchens, Attenborough, Harris, Krauss, Dennet, Tyson, Nye…
And although Jacob Bronowski’s landmark “Ascent of Man” preceded Cosmos by a few years, Sagan’s blockbuster made science and science history respectable and mainstream.
Carl didn’t just promote science and diss pseudoscience, he pulled no punches with religious absurdity at a time when it was not at all commonplace. He took real risks and pulled it off through the genuine sincerity of his delivery and the unassailable logic of his prose.
It will take decades more, if not centuries to overcome the entrenched Cultural Inertia™ of the underlying religious assumptions that have colored, no, darkened our worldview for millennia.
There was a time when religion (superstition and stupidity) ruled the world, as Carl noted:
“… from the collapse of classical civilization to the time of the the Italian Renaissance.” They didn’t call it the “Dark Ages” for nothing.
We can choose which path to take, we can retrench into old superstitions like the absurd science denial of Creationism and the misogyny and homophobia of the patriarchal religions or we can educate, and delight in the wonders of our universe and extend a stable and fulfilled life to all.
We have the tools. We need the perspective.
Don Carlo had it. We need it.
“Listen to your Godfather, he made you an offer you shouldn’t refuse.“