Carl Sagan, Classic Agnostic

From a terrific new Point of Inquiry podcast interview with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan and editor of his posthumous collection The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God:

D.J. Grothe: Would you say that he – even if he was, in quotes, “spiritual” – was he in any way anti-religious?

Ann Druyan: He was certainly anti-fundamentalist. He was anti-superstition. He was anti-believing in things without the proper amount of evidence for their existence. He was against all those things, and he thought all of them were pernicious, [that they] exerted a really negative influence on human existence. And among those beliefs, I think he thought a belief in the afterlife was especially poisonous, because of how it robbed life and death of their natural significance. And how it prevented so many people from living in the present. So yes, he had all those beliefs, but he was a classic agnostic, in that he truly believed that we don’t know the answers to any of these questions. He saw no evidence for the traditional view of God. But he also believed it was too much to state flatly, based on our pathetically small knowledge of nature and the universe, how the universe came to be, and who was involved – if anyone – in making it come to be.