Tag Archives: carl sagan

Happy Carl Sagan Day

Those who know me know that I tend to replace religious-themed cursewords with references to science and astronomy. I do this because when you have a religious upbringing, and more importantly, a difficult-to-curb habit of taking the lord-you-don’t-believe-in-anymore’s name in vain, you need to fill that void in your vocabulary somehow.

Turns out I’m not the only one who likes to allude to Carl Sagan as a kind of Christ figure: the Fuck Yeah! Carl Sagan tumblr is stuffed to the gills with photos of “What Would Carl Sagan Do?” shirts and tattoos of the good man replacing Jesus in a religious tableau. Some would say it rather defeats the point of atheism to hold up a scientist as a sort of spiritual icon… but that’s exactly what Carl Sagan was, and continues to be.

I’ve written before about finding spiritual fulfillment through science and technology. If Sagan left us with anything, it is the reminder that there is enough around us in our natural world that can inspire a lifetime’s worth of awe. For me, the presiding message of Cosmos –that we are all connected, that we owe our existence to the spin of electrons and the bindings on amino acids, that there is a line to be drawn from the first single-celled organisms to us– is tremendously powerful and emotionally uplifting. So, yes, I think it’s appropriate to think of Carl Sagan as something on the order of a messenger from the stars.

And so, a Merry Saganmas to one and all. Go make some apple pie.

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!

(Art credit: Sara Mayhew.)

Praying at the Altar of Darwin: A “Finding ‘Eden'” B-Side

“The same spiritual fulfillment that people find in religion can be found in science, by coming to know if you will the mind of God.” -Carolyn Porco

There came a point where I just had to stop engaging with Rick Dakan about things. It wasn’t that I didn’t value his opinion, or him as a colleague, but in the end he was right: Child of Eden was deeply subjective for me. I don’t find that to its discredit–if anything, that makes it more valuable in my eyes. But it becomes something over which it’s difficult to have a satisfying debate. I saw things in Eden no one else would see for the same reason I can look at The Passion of the Christ and see torture porn instead of a testament to faith.

For the record, I do think The Passion of the Christ is thinly-veiled pornography, or as Christopher Hitchens puts it, “an exercise in sadomasochistic homoeroticism” (God is Not Great, Hatchet Book Group, 2007, pg 111). But I recognize it’s not for me, that its iconography has a significantly different impact for evangelical Christians. I might have judgments about a religion where faith is expressed by watching a representation of its central figure beaten and tortured to death with the best of Hollywood’s gore effects, but that’s neither here nor there at present. What is “here” is that watching that movie with my biological father eradicated any remaining traces of my belief in the Christian God.

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Finding ‘Eden': Can Games Be Spiritual Experiences?

Reposted from PopMatters Moving Pixels.

“Do you think a game can be a religion?” a friend asked me recently. The question came as part of a conversation we have had about fandoms and content worlds for more than a year now, and it emerged without consideration to works such as Jason Rohrer’s Chain World or the Left Behind games. Valuable foregrounding points though these titles are, they weren’t on my friend’s mind. Final Fantasy VII was.

We agreed in fairly short order that, as religions and fandoms both tend to organize themselves around stories and looking to characters as models for behavior, a case could indeed be made for games as religion. But what a discourse such as ours should really be exploring is whether games, denotatively, can function spiritually for the player. That is, whether there is some systemic quality to games that can generate a deep-seated emotional experience, quite apart from the creation of elaborate narratives and rules for conduct which are more accurately the hallmarks of organized faith. Can games reach us emotionally on a level that we might term a “spiritual experience”?

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Dun worry Sailor Moon its k

“i spek for earth lol”

But… wait. Doesn’t this mean Crystal Tokyo is in danger of a time paradox? Quick, let’s get the sailor of the ninth planet to reverse ti– FUCK.

…Yeah, okay, I’m going to bed now.

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