Monday, April 15, 2013

Carl Sagan's opinion of my work

It was interesting to find out today that the late Carl Sagan cited my work in his book The Demon Haunted World, which was published a year before his death. The reference to "demons" refers to me, of course, as a so-called believer in non-empirical reality. When I read the passage--a rather lengthy one--I was amazed that such rant could pass for prose. But then again, I am not a famous scientist.

When I was writing my book, I Am with You Always: True Stories of Encounters with Jesus, an engineer friend asked me, with obvious agitation, "How do you know if the experiences are real?" I was silent, having nothing to say. I could see that my friend and I lived in different worlds. For me, a person's experience is never real in the sense that he wanted it to be. I gave up years ago expecting anything of enduring meaning to be measurable. I love. Is that real? I dream. Is that real? Once you surrender the need for empirical reality, there's a still a lot left that's far from demonic. I pay my taxes, I change my oil, and I gaze at the stars, but that's not where I live. The longing I feel when I gaze at the stars is the place where I live. I don't understand how anyone can presume to dismiss that felt sense of meaning that cannot ever be produced on demand.

I struck what I considered to be a rather even approach to the religious experiences that I reported in IAWYA, and in Blessed Among Women, both of which have been republished under Ave Maria Press under different titles (See I assumed a phenomenological stance, but I let my reader know that I had had my own mystical experiences. If Carl Sagan had ever experienced his first out-of-body experience, or just a single encounter with Light, he would have softened his attack on those who believe in something they cannot see through the lens of a telescope. When I hear today of parallel universes, and of other mystical-sounding realities at the edge of the known universe, I cannot understand why Sagan would dismiss without hesitation the foundation upon which so many people, of so many faiths, live meaningful lives.

Perhaps, before too long, I will be able to have a conversation with Dr. Sagan about empirical vs. non-empirical reality. I predict he and I will we be a lot smarter then.

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