Happy Carl Sagan Day

Those who know me know that I tend to replace religious-themed cursewords with references to science and astronomy. I do this because when you have a religious upbringing, and more importantly, a difficult-to-curb habit of taking the lord-you-don’t-believe-in-anymore’s name in vain, you need to fill that void in your vocabulary somehow.

Turns out I’m not the only one who likes to allude to Carl Sagan as a kind of Christ figure: the Fuck Yeah! Carl Sagan tumblr is stuffed to the gills with photos of “What Would Carl Sagan Do?” shirts and tattoos of the good man replacing Jesus in a religious tableau. Some would say it rather defeats the point of atheism to hold up a scientist as a sort of spiritual icon… but that’s exactly what Carl Sagan was, and continues to be.

I’ve written before about finding spiritual fulfillment through science and technology. If Sagan left us with anything, it is the reminder that there is enough around us in our natural world that can inspire a lifetime’s worth of awe. For me, the presiding message of Cosmos –that we are all connected, that we owe our existence to the spin of electrons and the bindings on amino acids, that there is a line to be drawn from the first single-celled organisms to us– is tremendously powerful and emotionally uplifting. So, yes, I think it’s appropriate to think of Carl Sagan as something on the order of a messenger from the stars.

And so, a Merry Saganmas to one and all. Go make some apple pie.

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