I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed;
That’s from The Bible; Deuteronomy 30:19.
I’ve just watched the final episode of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage“. There’s a load of fanboyism surrounding “Cosmos” – and indeed anything to do with Sagan – but I believe that the hype is justified. Few things have ever so inspired me.
According to Sagan, “the cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be”. A series of 13 1-hour episodes clearly can not tell us all that, but Sagan explainsenough about the Big Bang, space, life, and the history of humanity and science to leave ones mind filled with copious measures of understanding… and wonder. In my opinion, Sagan’s goal with Cosmos is to convey the context of humanity’s existence and, in doing so, inspire us to continue moving forward; building on the past. I think he was successful.
The final episode of “Cosmos” – the one I watched this evening – is called “Who Speaks for Earth?”, and it opens with the Bible quotation which I included before. I don’t consider The Bible to be sacred1, but I’m not afraid to enjoy certain passages, and I think this particular verse fitted Sagan’s message perfectly – as must he2. Although the choice might not have been provided by God, it is the same: either we can use our science and technology for our continuation and improvement, or we can use it to for our destruction3. It is ours to make4.
Photo Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
- I’m an atheist. ↩
- Yes, I’m writing in the wrong tense. I don’t care. ↩
- By nuclear war, for example. ↩
- I realise that we are in much less imminent danger than was the world at the time of the creation of “Cosmos”, but it’s still possible (maybe even likely) that the human branch of the tree of life will fall by its own hand. We – meaning humanity – have to unite. As Sagan says towards the end of the episode: “…an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.” He’s right you know. ↩