Re: Carl Sagan's no evidence claim

Joel Cannon (
Mon, 29 Sep 1997 17:25:29 -0400 (EDT)

I haven't seen "Contact" but (in this part of your review) you've
provided a good analysis of Sagan's philosophy. (and I've heard that
Sagan's philosophy is prominent in the movie).


>The algorithm: Make an assumption of God's signature--if you
>don't find it you can safely conclude God's non-existence.

The same algorithm is used by Gould in "Panda's Thumb".
And by Elliott Sober in his argument about "a trickster God".

This is one reason (among many) for why making specific "predictions"
about theistic action is difficult and/or unwise.

>the only evidence Sagan would accept is the
>miraculous violation of the laws of cause and effect.

As in the resurrection of a crucified Savior?

>Sagan assumes
>that any self-respecting deity would interrupt the natural flow of
>>his/her creation so that even the most skeptical scientist could be

Sagan's obvious error is in extrapolating from could to would -- yes,
God could act but this doesn't necessarily imply "would" because God
decides when/where/how to act (whether in obviously miraculous ways, or in
ways that we don't normally notice)

>God need not operate in the miraculous way Sagan expects him to.

"need not" but can -- and has, and does

Craig R