August 28, 2010

Cosmos Episode 7: The Backbone of Night

Sagan begins this episode talking about his childhood years in Brooklyn. He describes how as one grows up ANYWHERE, one's world keeps getting bigger.

Sagan goes back to the Greek islands from 2,600 years ago where people first developed the scientific method.

Sagan goes even further back in time to our hunter-gatherer ancestors and wonders if they ever wondered about the stars and how they would have reasoned.

We are all children of astronomers of course, like Sagan has said in one of these episodes somewhere.

It is awe-inspiring to realize that people made simple extrapolations and realized that those little points of lights in the night sky had to be like our sun and that there might be planets and life around those stars too.

And here we are, more than 2,000 years on, and we are still searching for the answers to those questions posed a long time back. It's tough to find the answers to some questions.

I was thinking of what questions I could pose today that humanity would still be trying to answer more than 2,000 years from now.

Sagan touches upon Democritus to Pythagoras to Pluto and then returns to a classroom full of young kids in Brooklyn. It is fantastic to see the zeal kids have for science — pure, unadulterated curiosity. Slowly, as kids grow up, they get caught in various rat races and the sense of curiosity somehow becomes quiescent.

Sagan also mellifluously described how the natural curiosity of mankind ages ago would have naturally led to ideas that perhaps the Sun and the Moon were gods and so also all the other occurrences of nature.

In making that argument of course, Sagan unarguably demolishes the need or rationale for any religion in the present day ... without being too bellicose about it.

It's up to the smart people among us to realize that.

It of course amazes me that so many of us would cling to these prehistoric religious beliefs ... belief-systems which arose millennia ago while we would not be seen dead in a car more than ten years old or a cell phone more than two years old.

What is so sacrosanct about 'old' belief systems that gives them any enduring value. it's not time to throw all of them away into the dustbin like so many computers from the '80s, well, it's LONG PAST the time when we should have done that.

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