Carl Sagan’s love/hate relationship with ID

Photo: Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a new episode of Future IDs, philosopher of science Paul Nelson explores an intriguing tension in the thought of the famous scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan concerning his agnosticism, turning into atheism on the one hand, but on the other hand his adherence to certain ideas consistent with the theory of science. smart design. As Nelson is quick to point out, had Sagan lived long enough to see the rise of the contemporary intelligent design movement, he likely would have rejected it, especially its theistic implications. And yet, says Nelson, Sagan’s thought and arguments expounded in his Gifford Lectures and in his science fiction novel Contact strongly support the idea that intelligent design can be detected.

Nelson goes further by saying that if we take the methods exposed by Sagan for detecting radio signals intelligently engineered by extraterrestrial intelligence, and apply them to patterns in nature that identification theorists have pointed to (such as the DNA), it’s hard not to see his methodology triggering design inference. Tune in to hear Nelson’s thoughts on this significant tension in Sagan’s thinking and what Nelson believes kept Sagan from fully resolving it. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

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