Mathieu Debic's Reviews > The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan
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's review
Jun 03, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: essays, natural-sciences, non-fiction, philosophy
Read in May, 2012

In this collection of talks Dr. Sagan gave in the mid-eighties at the Gifford Lectures (the same lectures that led to William James' "Varieties of Religious Experience," from which Sagan's book riffs its name) he clearly, concisely, and convincingly lays out his personal view of religion and religious experience as well as his views on how science can, contrary to popular belief, be just as useful to us in the search for the truth about the universe as can religious tradition.

One aspect of Dr. Sagan's books that I really appreciate is their lack of condescension towards readers that might not share the author's views. Unlike many of the so-called "New Atheists," always quick with pithy remarks and ultimata leaving no room for religious belief and intelligence in the same brain, Sagan isn't particularly interested in disproving or even challenging religious beliefs head-on. His genuine and primary concern is the answer to the big questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything, and with seemingly infinite patience he leads the reader, whatever his or her personal religious or scientific views might be, down a path that shows science to stand a stronger chance of finding these answers than fossilized traditions.

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