I really like listening to the Point of Inquiry Podcast. I was very pleased when it came out. Audio is a very powerful form of communication for these types of topics because it can be rare that you get to meet people who think the same way you do in society if you’re skeptical of religion unless you’re actually part of a scientific community.
I also really appreciated Sagan’s call for compassion and understanding of religious beliefs. He understood the reality and the benefit of humility in conversation.
I find that I have a better appreciation and understanding of religious texts now and I appreciate them more precisely because I don’t take miracles literally.
I believe that mythology and stories are a wonderful way of causing yourself to reflect and to ponder common themes of life and humanity. My favorite author for this is Joseph Campbell. I now subscribe to Parabola magazine, which is a great resource for reflective writing drawn from all corners of religious and mythological traditions.
After listening to some of Campbell’s lectures and reading some of his writing and then revisiting Cosmos not so long ago, I realized that Sagan also employed story telling and mythology very well in his work. He was well-read across many disciplines, not just astronomy.
Cosmos was without question the most inspiring television I’ve ever seen, to this day. From the poignant music which helps to accentuate the fragility and evanescence of our own Earth to Sagan’s wise and caring contemplation about the future the whole series seemed perfect to me. I was just a kid when I watched it for the first time with my family, usually with my uncle.
I was never really involved with church or religion explicitly as a child, so Cosmos was really my only “creation story” and was always in my mind. Of course, I knew of Genesis, but it was simply peripheral and not critical to my views.
I never could understand why the series didn’t just keep going and going as a permanent series! I continued to watch shows like Nova, and later some shows about the universe narated by Tom Selleck, but none of those ever had the awe of Cosmos. The next best thing I found lately was “The Creation of the Universe” by Timothy Ferris, who struck me as similar to Sagan in his approach.