7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (Hardcover)
Although I am the first to acknowledge I could not write a book of the quality of any (or almost any) I review, I usually do not feel so much in the presence of a great thinker as I did when reading this book. Perhaps the last time I felt it was when reading Darwin's
The Origin Of Species
I can say this after just having read and been so impressed by Dawkins
The God Delusion
but it was in a different way. This book may have often gone over my head, both in the science presented and the caliber of Sagan's thought. Dawkins at least gave me the illusion I might be able to carry on a conversation with him without feeling completely tongue-tied. Not the Dawkins' couldn't go over my head and I suspect in his scientific works he would, however much he addressed them to a popular audience, but reading Sagan is something else indeed. Like a visit to some distant galaxy.
The Selected Q&A that appear at the end of this book may give one a feeling of just how sharp Sagan was: one thing to compose lectures such as comprise this book, quite another to field such a variety of questions.
Just for the lessons in astronomy alone as well as what is known that may suggest life elsewhere (which as a good scientist Sagan was quick to acknowledge he knew no evidence of), this book was worthwhile reading. That Sagan seems to have been as widely read in world religion was impressive. His concerns about nuclear winter were ... alarming. As he observed, how many of us seem to be "in denial" about this danger. And it is with that concern that these lectures end, not in some far off galaxy that have a planet that has life but with Sagan's grave concern about, as he said, "the tragic reluctance to come to grips with the bankruptcy of the nuclear arms race". Reminded here by Sagan of the extreme dangers of nuclear winter to many forms of life on Earth (Sagan suspects "roaches and grass and sulfur-metabolizing worms ..." may survive), what to make of political leaders who consider any limited proactive nuclear strike?