[This article edited December 2016 to be more clear that I am not categorizing all Muslims into the radical grouping]
Carl Sagan died in 1996, and shortly thereafter so did his religion, if you use modern politics as a gauge. Carl Sagan's religion is based on simple, easy-to-understand principles:
- Science is the best problem solving tool we possess and it can be applied to every problem.
- The Golden Rule - treat other people well.
Based on these two ideas, which most people would have a hard time disagreeing with, Carl Sagan creates a beautifully-woven ideology which he espouses in his TV Series, Cosmos. Carl Sagan said something striking regarding world politics during the Cold War. He was discussing possible nuclear self-destruction when he said that "we accepted the products of Science, but rejected its methods". On numerous occasions I had thought this about religious extremists, such as radical Islamists. They have no problem using the technology of the West - our airplanes, stinger missiles, machine guns, explosives, computers, etc. But fanatical Islam would never be able to produce them anew since they are about as anti-science as people get. They spend their time praising Allah instead of trying to understand how the world works. It didn't occur to me that we in the West are almost as guilty of this sin as the fanatical Muslims. Carl Sagan died after the fall of the USSR but before the War on Terrorism. It was a brief window of time when the outlook for the human race was optimistic. With all of the irrationality and abuses of government, the fear, and the proliferatioin of WMD - Carl Sagan may be turning in his grave. It's probably better for him that he did not live to see the world as it is - he died believing humanity was on the right track. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these days we need a Carl Sagan more than ever.