Science As “Informed Worship”

Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log feature at msnbc has an interesting read today. Boyle interviews Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan and editor of a book gathering ten lectures the astronomer gave in 1985 on the confluence of science and religion.

This bit from Sagan:

If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing? Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship. My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, then our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, then our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival in an extremely dangerous time. In either case the enterprise of knowledge is consistent surely with science; it should be with religion, and it is essential for the welfare of the human species.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Science. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Science As “Informed Worship”

  1. Anne says:

    Catching up on some NCR reading.
    Todd, did you read the article by Rich Heffern entitled
    ” Looking for Company Beyond the Skies” (NCR 10/20/06)
    I love Carl Sagan’s description of the universe he had discovered from his work in astronomy. This was just before he died.
    “There is a place with four suns in the sky- red, white, blue and yellow; two of them are so close together they touch, and star-stuff flows between them. I know a of a world with a million moons. I know of a sun the size of Earth and made of diamond…The universe is vast and awesome, and for the first time we are becoming part of it.”
    Good read by Heffern.

  2. Nathan Prophet says:

    Sagan’s suggestion that “science is, at least in part, informed worship” has been used and abused by many ‘religionists’ to prove some point. Carl Sagan was an atheist; therefore, he did not believe any kind of god exists. So, what does his suggestion mean? What part of science is informed worship? Worship of what?

  3. Todd says:

    My sense would be Dr Sagan viewed the beauty of the universe (the quoted quality of “intricacy”) as an invitation to explore, to think, to reason. However one admires the natural world (an admiration akin to the human meditation on music, art, or a loved one) one does not simply start and end there. Reverence for the universe implies also a searching and fearless quest for understanding.

    Sagan certainly accepts the inspiration of beauty and wonder in the universe. It was his inspiration to be a scientist, as it was for many of his colleagues.

    As a person of faith, I agree that curiosity and intelligence are part of the God-given palate of human talents, and that scientists give glory to God through their exploration of the natural universe, in no less a way that a composer or artist explicitly writes sacred music or creates sacred art.

  4. white widow says:

    Never saw this before ..
    This article has some good information!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s