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Demon Haunted World

Apostolic Apologetics: Demon Haunted World


Below is a small amount of commentary I have made regarding Carl Sagan's book "The Demon Haunted World". This is by no means comprehensive, though it addresses the point which was trying to be made. I received this book as a gift from an atheist acquaintance of mine, and he was using it, and Sagan, to argue the philosophy of atheism by way of scientific advocacy. This method of trying to rationalize atheism is quite common, and below I make just a few comments which I fail invalidate this approach to logically justifying atheism.


At the University of Chicago I also was lucky enough to go through a general education programme devised by Robert M. Hutchins, where science was presented as an integral part of the gorgeous tapestry of human knowledge. It was considered unthinkable for an aspiring physicist not to know Plato, Aristotle, Bach, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Malinowski and Freud - among many others. In an introductory science class, Ptolemy's view that the Sun revolved around the Earth was presented so compellingly that some students found themselves re-evaluating their commitment to Copernicus. The status of the teachers in the Hutchins curriculum had almost nothing to do with their research; perversely - unlike the American university standard of today - teachers were valued for their teaching, their ability to inform and inspire the next generation.
(Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World, Page 10)


Note how Sagan calls human knowledge a tapestry. This accurate metaphor he claims, science is one part of.
He then goes on to say it is "unthinkable" for a Physicist not to know the great Philosophers, musicians, and literary giants of history (among others).
This is something many atheists take for granted.

Hippocrates introduced elements of the scientific method. He urged careful and meticulous observation: `Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time.'
(Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World, Pages 16-17)


Having already developed a sense of what the great "tapestry" of human knowledge is, it can hardly be said that this paragraph on Hippocrates applies only within the realm of science, but also to that of human knowledge as a whole.

"While medicine in the Islamic world flourished, what followed in Europe was truly a dark age. Much knowledge of anatomy and surgery was lost."
(Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World Page 17)

Why was it lost? Sagan omits a profound detail in this comment. The blame for this no doubt rests on invading Germanic tribes into the Roman Empire. The preservers Sagan fails to mention, were not the hardly existing secular doctors, but the Church (which was abundant) even under occupation through and beyond the collapse of the Empire.