Carl Sagan


Carl Sagan’s Secular Scientific Spirit

An OLLI course at the Reuter Center (UNCA)

Spring 2023 (March 30-May 4)

Course Description:

Eminent astronomer and author Carl Sagan (of “Cosmos” fame), was a popular interpreter of science and skepticism. His work on the Voyager spacecraft parallels his exploratory voyages into matters of religion. In this class we will venture with Sagan on his journeys to the far reaches of reason and belief. With a freethinker’s framework, we will engage his most creative questions that impact the future of both science and religion.

Recommended Texts: The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark; The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God


Week One: (March 30): Introduction to the Life and Work of Carl Sagan

Video:  “We are children of the stars”

Week Two: A Scientist’s Search for God/Supernatural

Video:  Pale Blue Dot (from Carl Sagan.com)

Week Three: Candles of Critical Thinking Confronting the Demons of the Dark

Video:  “Center of the Universe” (“Lost Lecture” at Cornell

Week Four: Nones & Nonsense: Calling Baloney Baloney (the challenge of pseudo-science)

Video:  Baloney Detection Kit (Shermer)

Video:  Skepticism (last interview 1996)

Week Five: Ann Druyan and Sasha Sagan: The Next Generation

Video: Sasha Sagan (2:30-17:40) and Ann Druyan (science communicator, producer of Cosmos), 26:00: speech at FFRF convention, Boston, 2021)

Week Six: (May 4):  Contact: is there intelligent life. . .on earth?
Beyond the Boundaries of Belief

Video:  Star Trek (Voyager?)

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