Monday, January 09, 2006

Philosophy at the Breakfast Table

Over tea and toast at the breakfast table this morning, Jeff read to me a few paragraphs from Broca's Brain , a book by Carl Sagan. From the point of view of a scientist and an atheist, Sagan was discussing the different cultural and religious theories considering the origins of the universe.

Sagan's perspective is that it's all a little presumptuous for humankind to believe they can comprehend the beginnings and mysteries of the vast and awesome cosmos, and he says so.

But he did offer a passage from a Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda (X:129) explaining what humans can know about creation which Sagan figured offered a "more realistic view of the matter":

Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world's formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows--or perhaps he knows not.

It's food for thought for the rest of the day...I have to say that the thought of even the gods being a little mystified about it all is oddly compelling.


erikku said...

Thought provoking indeed. Does God wonder who created him?

All I really know of Sagan and his works is Contact. It's one of my favorite movies.

Mike said...

My deepest thought at the breakfast table is wondering why I ain't bought chair cushions for those hard wood chairs yet.

If that's food for thought for me, I'm gonna be chewing the rest of the week. ;)

nisha said...

While I, too, enjoyed the movie, have you read the book 'Contact'? There were a few passages in the book which the movie didn't contain, and which made the story even more remarkable.... I won't say anything more, except that I'm falling madly in love with Carl Sagan, the more I read of his work. :)

PS Please tell Jeff that I will soon be returning "The Demon Haunted World" to him, as I plan on reading it in the next week or so.

Ms.L said...

This very thing is being discussed on a homeschooling list I am on.It's all very interesting to me:)

Laura said...

I don't know if I can handle an attempt at being un-egotistical enough to be comfortable with the idea that we're here just because or by accident.

I think humans as a whole need to believe in some greater purpose or we'll just disintigrate.

part of what makes us, Human, is our umm, *ahem* humility, in that arena. :)

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angel, jr. said...

I just remember Sagan being made fun of by the "Far Side" comic. I don't know much else about him.

Crystal said...

Philosophy as a whole is "oddly compelling", and sometimes I miss those light teenage/college years of hanging out with friends and debating the deep stuff just for fun. I take the scientist point of view, biology is divine in itself but that doesn't mean it needs to have a "creator". Beauty and Miracles can happen randomly too, but most people can't accept that.

Bill said...

Its human nature to question our creation and to fight that is almost as egotistical as making guesses. Of course scientists too try too determine the origins of creation. "Big Bang Theory" ring a bell Sagan? Plus I believe that the excerpt is a little out of context. You see in hinduism there are many "Gods", but they are incarnations or avatars of the Oversoul/Worldsoul called brahmin. That is why Hindu Gods always come in pairs of male and female couples. These couples the replicate even more forming a sort of heirarchy of Gods, which fits perfectly into the HIndu caste system and belief in reicarnation. So by saying that the Gods are a little mystifyed only means that they are onlyy a part of Brahmin and do not know its intentions. Plus I don't believe God wondered who created him. He always was. Its mind blowing, that something has just always been. No beggining, just has always been., But then again God is supposed to be mind blowing no? Sorry for the rant.:)

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Tim Rice said...

Philosophy can be fun looking at things from all different thoughtful angles. But origins I think will always be a mystery whether viewed through the eyes of science or faith.