Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A…

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for… (edition 2006)

by Carl Sagan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,125257,293 (4.28)14
Title:The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
Authors:Carl Sagan
Info:Penguin Press HC, The (2006), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, american, science, cosmology, religion

Work details

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 14 mentions

English (24)  Portuguese (1)  All (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
About this book: quoting from the book's back cover, Sam Harris, author of, "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation," said, "Carl Sagan was an unrivalled master at communicating the breadth and beauty of science. It is not an accident that he was also one of the twentieth century's most incisive critics of popular delusion. In "The Varieties of Scientific Experience," the transcript of Sagan's Gifford lectures, Ann Druyan [the book's editor and Sagan's wife] has unearthed a treasure. It is a treasure of reason, compassion, and scientific awe. It should be the next book you read."
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  uufnn | Oct 1, 2016 |
ეს არის სეიგანის მიერ ედინბურგში ჩატარებული ჯიფორდის 1985 წლის ლექციები, რომელიც სეიგანის მეუღლემ ენ დრიანმა 2006 წელს გამოსცა მისი სიკვდილიდან 10 წლის თავზე.
ლექციების თემები მრავალფეროვანია: მეცნიერება, რელიგია, ღმერთი, სკეპტიციზმი, უხო ცივილიზაციები, პოლიტიკა, სიცოცხლე, ბირთვული საშიშროება და ა.შ. თუმცა სეიგანის გამოკვეთილი მესიჯი რომელიც ყველა თემაში ვლინდება არის სკეპტიციზმის და ფხიზელი გონების აუცილებლობა, რომლის გარეშეც თანამედროვე ეპოქაში დიდ გამოწვევებს და საშიშროებებს ვერ გავუმკლავდებით.
როდესაც მეორად ავტომობილს ვყიდულობთ ბუნებრივია საგულდაგულოდ ვამოწმებთ საბურავებს, ძრავს, ავტომობილის საერთო მდგომარეობას, მოტყუებული რომ არ დავრჩეთ, მაშინ რატომ არ უნდა შევამოწმოთ და გავარკვიოთ იმაზე მეტი რასაც მთავრობა და რელიგიური ავტორიტეტები გვეუბნებიან? რატომ ვუჯერებთ მათ გაცილებით ადვილად? განა ჩვენი მომავალი მეტად არ არის დამოკიდებული მათ მოქმედებაზე? ამ ნაწილის რეზიუმედ ჯორჯ კარლინის ციტატა კარგად ჩაჯდებოდა "უთხარით ხალხს რომ არსებობს უჩინარი კაცი რომელმაც შექმნა სამყარო და მათი დიდი უმრავლესობა დაგიჯერებთ. უთხარით მათ რომ საღებავი სველია და ისინი შეეხებიან რათა დარწმუნდნენ"
სეიგანი ჩვეული ინტელექტუალური, სკეპტიკური და მეცნიერული აკურატულობით განიხილავს ისეთ საკითხებს როგორიცაა: ამოუცნობი მფრინავი ობიექტები და უცხო ცივლიზაციის ვიზიტები, ადამიანთა გატაცება და ა.შ. ღმერთის არსებობის "მტკიცებულებები" რელიგიის როლი და ფუნქცია, კაცობრიობა და ბირთვული ომის საფრთხე. საინტერესოა ასვე კითხვებიც ლექციების ბოლოს და სეიგანის პასუხები. ( )
  Misha.Kaulashvili | Aug 22, 2016 |
I had been wanting to read this book since it first came out in 2006. First, it took me a while to procure a copy. Then, I convinced myself that I had to read James's The Varieties of Religious Experience first. For whatever reason, nas much as I was interested in James's work, I just could make any headway. (Perhaps it's because the edition I own is a bulky tome, and I just got sick of carting it around.)

But suddenly, this summer, it was time. We'd been watching Cosmos together as a family, and while I found the first episode a little tedious, I've just been rapturously in love with it since then. Additionally, some recent conversations at Impression 5 about the big questions of physics have had me eyeing the science shelves of my collection much more seriously when I get home.

So in I dove. This book started out magnificently. Full of the awe at the grandeur of the universe that Sagan was always so enthusiastic about. And the first half contains absolutely gorgeous illustrations. I can hardly imagine anyone not being swept up in Sagan's sense of wonder. Well, anyone not too busy being offended by Sagan's skeptical approach to the claims of the religions of the world. Seriously. I got done with this book thinking I had no business going to church ever again. I'm still recovering.

Anyway, a third of my way into this book, I ran around declaring that this was going to be one of my top ten favorite nonfiction books of all time. Now that I'm finished, I'm not so sure. The problem seems to be a disconnect between what I was hoping for in this book, and what Sagan's intent was in giving these lectures. I eagerly sought out this book to understand better Sagan's spiritual understanding of the universe. To get a glimpse of how his scientific quest sustained and uplifted him. But of course, Sagan's faith? belief? understanding? propelled him further -- to action.

The final chapter focused on the likelihood of the human race exterminating itself before taking the next steps into the stars. Specifically, he focused on the nightmare scenario of nuclear holocaust. Which just felt dated. I know, I know, there are still enough nuclear warheads on this plant to blow us all up several times over, but the sense of urgency seems to have passed. Maybe we're deluding ourselves, but it no longer seems as likely a scenario. It seems much more likely to me, today, that if we are going to destroy ourselves, it will be through climate change/ecosystem collapse -- another concern that was near and dear to Sagan's heart. But the central idea of his conclusion -- that we much unite our religious and scientific efforts in the name of saving ourselves, remains powerful and true.

One of the most delightful features of the book was the excerpts from the transcripts of the Q&A sessions from this lecture series that concludes the book. It was wonderful to read his responses to multiple questioners who tried to back him into various corners -- his answers were always respectful, always assertive, always thoughtful. It did a good deal to pull me out of the funk of the "we're all gonna die" chapter. But still, I am left with the disquieting feeling -- what more could I be doing to protect the future of the human race? ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
A series of nine lectures that Sagan gave in 1985 at the University of Glasgow sponsored by the same folks who do the Templeton price. They are supposed to be on Natural Theology - that is scientifically proving the notion of God - and issue that Sagan sidesteps and tries to show that you should, for many valid reasons, treat the subject of God with as much skepticism as you would any scientific theories. His point on God is really - you can't prove it - so why bother? Great lectures. ( )
  stuart10er | Sep 27, 2013 |
I was taken by Sagan when I read [Cosmos], and I am taken with him in this book, the record of his 1985 Gifford Lectures. Sagan tackles questions of religion and the future of humanity using the mixture of incisive thought and open humility that he does in his other books. His main idea is that religion, like so much human activity, is tainted by a thorough parochialism. We join the religion of our culture, not noticing the thousands of alternative true faiths. For some reason, apparitions of the Virgin Mary only show up in Catholic lands. The Abrahamic faiths progress as if humans are the only creatures in the galaxy of godlike intelligence.

Sagan is an unabashed religious skeptic. He spends one chapter picking apart arguments for God's existence. He spends another chapter looking at "extraterrestrial lore" and the mind's ability to fool itself. One alleged "flying saucer" sighting, but a highway patrolman, turned out to be a farmer's wheat silo. The fantastic detail of alien sightings and abductions and the total lack of evidence associated with them form an interesting contrast. Same with early twentieth century amateur astronomer Percival Lowell's belief that he could see canals on Mars - and the total lack of evidence from telescope photos. The human mind is very good at making itself believe whatever it wants. Thought is frail.

Instead of wishful thinking and parochial views on the cosmos, Sagan calls for a scientific approach to life in the broadest sense:

We have Ten Commandments in the West. Why is there no commandment exhorting us to learn? "Thou shalt understand the world. Figure things out." There's nothing like that. And very few religions urge us to enhance our understanding of the natural world.

Reading Sagan and other religious skeptics is good for a believer like me. It's like an enema: painful but makes me examine my beliefs.

What I like about Sagan is that although he is an atheist or agnostic, he recognizes religion's power to change the world. These lectures, given in 1985 at the end of the Cold War (not that he knew that!), are concerned with the possibility of nuclear apocalypse. We forget how vast human history is, how expansive the universe is, and get caught up in petty conflicts that can have eons of repercussions. Sagan, ever the astronomer concerned with the big picture of life, calls us to think about the progress of not American, not Chinese, not Islamic, but human civilization as a whole. Would another, more advanced race be impressed by us? Or would it pity our stupidity, our efforts to play at grand civilization with stone age minds? Were Sagan alive I suspect he would be an activist for the Long Now foundation. As it is he recognizes the powerful ability of religion to change the world for the better. And as a scientific prophet, he calls for that change:

Christianity also says that redemption is possible. So an anti-Christian would be someone who argues to hate your enemy and that redemption is impossible, that bad people remain forever bad. So I ask you, which position is better suited to an age of apocalyptic weapons? What do you do if one side does not profess those views and you claim to be Christian? … You can also ask, which position is uniformly embraced by the nation-states? The answers to those questions are very clear. There is no nation that adopts the Christian position on this issue. Not one. (209)

Amen. ( )
5 vote JDHomrighausen | Aug 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carl Saganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Druyan, AnnEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
In these lectures I would like, following the wording of the Gifford Trust, to tell you something of my views on what at least used to be called natural theology, which, as I understand it, is everything about the world not supplied by revelation.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143112627, Paperback)

Carl Sagan's prophetic vision of the tragic resurgence of fundamentalism and the hope-filled potential of the next great development in human spirituality

The late great astronomer and astrophysicist describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos. Exhibiting a breadth of intellect nothing short of astounding, Sagan presents his views on a wide range of topics, including the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, creationism and so-called intelligent design, and a new concept of science as "informed worship." Originally presented at the centennial celebration of the famous Gifford Lectures in Scotland in 1985 but never published, this book offers a unique encounter with one of the most remarkable minds of the twentieth century.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:39 -0400)

Sagan sets down his detailed thoughts on the relationship between religion and science and describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos. In 1985, Sagan was invited to give the famous Gifford Lectures in Scotland on the grand occasion of the lectureship's centennial. The result is this delightfully intimate discussion of his views on topics ranging from the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets to the danger of nuclear annihilation of our own, on creationism and so-called intelligent design to a new concept of science as "informed worship" to manic depression and the possible chemical nature of transcendence. In his trademark clear and down-to-earth voice, the late astronomer and astrophysicist illuminates his conversation with examples from cosmology, physics, philosophy, literature, psychology, cultural anthropology, mythology, theology, and more.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
105 wanted1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.28)
2 4
3 20
3.5 5
4 69
4.5 17
5 76

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,318,874 books! | Top bar: Always visible