“What is your concept of God?” asks Carl Sagan – part 1

“What is your concept of God?” asks Carl Sagan – part 1

Posted on August 27, 2013

I recently finished a book by Carl Sagan named, “The Varieties of Scientific Experience. A Personal View of the Search for God”. This book is a compilation of speeches made by Carl Sagan and published after his death. In this book Carl Sagan talks about the concept of God, among other things and draws a distinction between two possible mental images that many people may have. These mental images are mutually exclusive according to Carl Sagan. Before I get to these concepts, let me talk about how I stumbled upon this author.

How I came across Carl Sagan’s work

Sometime this year, I watched a Ted Talk by Brian Cox, “Why we need the explorers” and Brian Cox finished the talk with a quote from Carl Sagan. The quote impressed me a lot and along with it was an image of earth called, “Pale Blue Dot”. I googled the image and made it as my desktop background. The quote and the image of earth from nearly 4 billion miles away is shown below.



The image of the Earth as a pale blue dot suspended in space gave me a great perspective of the vastness of the universe and in turn made me ponder on the greatness of the Creator of this universe. So, I became curious to know what some of the scientists who may have pondered on this topic, especially Carl Sagan had to say about the Creator.

Picking the right book

It was not easy to decide on which book to read. There were 10+ books written by Carl Sagan and many more on this subject. After much deliberating, I used the simplest criteria of picking up the most recently published book. After reading the book, all I can say is that I made the right choice. The title of the book summarizes so well what the book is all about. The varieties of scientific experience. A personal view of the search for God. In my personal view it is more of a new understanding of God through scientific experience rather than the search for God.

Blurred lines of understanding

While reading this book, there were many times when I put down the book to ponder on the subject. Which means I thought through some of the things mentioned here and had some insights of my own that gave me a deeper understanding or maybe a different understanding from what the author intended. In other words my thoughts were triggered by what the author wrote but the understanding these thoughts gave may or may not match exactly with what was written in the book. Either way, there is a new and improved understanding of God which, if I go back and re read the book, I may not find the same exact meaning. So, the lines of understanding have blurred and I am hoping in a good way.

In human history as science progressed, understanding of God also changed. I will give a few examples of that in my follow-up post on this topic and also talk about how my own understanding of God improved after reading this book.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


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