Speaking for Earth: Carl Sagan’s Scientific Spirituality

What: Speaking for Earth: Carl Sagan’s Scientific Spirituality
Where: 30 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138, 4th Floor
10:00 am Sunday April 20th

Facebook Event Page

Can science and spirituality be mixed? What might the combination of the two look like? And what is “spirituality” anyway?

All these questions and more will be addressed in my talk on Sunday, exploring the legendary work of Carl Sagan through the lens of his spiritual views. If you’re a fan of the new (or old!) Cosmos, this will be a great chance to discuss Sagan’s worldview!

Talk hosted by the Ethical Society of Boston.

About James Croft

James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently writing his Doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

  • Jeff See

    Why does fascination and wonder have to carry the ‘spirituality’ tag? Why does the human experience need that extra component? Why do people constantly have to sully the purity of scientific exploration with remnants of the dark ages?

    Am I callous for asking, or does it seem to others that some people will wave the wand of mysticism around in hopes that it finds something legitimate to stick to, to remain relevant, or to help some feel as though they lost little as possible when leaving the supernatural for truthful scientific pursuit?

    • James Guillory

      I have a similar problem with spirituality. When I was a Christian I kept trying to be ‘spiritual’ because everyone said that is what you were supposed to be. And I could do it for a periods of time. But then my brain would turn on and I would look at the claims of spirituality and think bullshit.
      Now as an atheist, I sometimes try to recapture that spiritual feeling. I try to understand the appeal of natural spiritualism, such as claimed for native american spritualism, or European druids. I can feel wonder, and awe, and excitement, and sadness. But what the hell does this ‘spiritual’ thing mean?
      Is it just a name for emotion, or is there some deeper mysterious meaning? I just keep coming back to thinking its all bullshit.

      • Jeff See

        I agree with you. I think it’s the sum of all of those things, placed in a wrapper of the supernatural, to give people a handy little word to sling about.

    • jflcroft

      I will be addressing these questions directly in the talk! Note that they could be posed directly to Sagan: he used the word quite comfortably, though he is recognized as one of the greatest – perhaps the greatest – proponents of scientific skepticism ever!

      • Jeff See

        That, would be awesome. Especially if Sagan weren’t dead. Hard to pose questions to the dead, no?

        Also, there’s no way I’m making it to the talk. I live in WV. That’s a bit of a drive to pay to listen to someone talk. You COULD address it here, but I suppose that would chink away at your pay-day.

        • jflcroft

          The talk – as with pretty much every talk I’ve ever given – is free and I will not be paid for it. The distance, however, I cannot help with ;)

          • Jeff See

            Oh, so, basically you’re holding out in this comment section because,,,,?

            You’ll excuse me if you’re starting to sound a bit like a snake oil salesman – “if you’ll just come this way, I’ll give you the answer”. But you say you aren’t charging for the show. Selling a book, perhaps? What is your angle? If it’s worth hearing, why are you not speaking it every chance you get, especially since it’s “free”?

            This IS a blog, after all, yes? Why not use the format?

          • jflcroft

            I’m totally confused by this comment. I am speaking at the Ethical Society of Boston about a figure I greatly admire and respect because, as an academic and activist I find these ideas interesting and important to share. I enjoy public speaking, and think that Humanism is a worldview many people would benefit from hearing about if it is conveyed in a passionate and convincing way.

            The event, as with all events at the Ethical Society of Boston, is free and open to the public. I am not selling a book (although, if I was, what’s wrong with a book talk?). I was letting you know that the talk is free because you, and others, might have been under the mistaken impression that you would have to pay to get in.

            No one is forcing you to attend, and there is no ulterior motive. I do this because I believe in it and because I enjoy it. I do speak about Humanism “every chance I get”. I just love doing it.

            Finally, it is common for bloggers to publicize upcoming engagements.

          • Jeff See

            I’m internet jaded, and skeptical, and perhaps paranoid. Thanks for your explanation, even though you didn’t have to. I still would like to know the answer to my original “why, or specifically why is it needed?”, but if you’re saving that gem for your talk, then I guess I’ll have to wait for a later blog. And there’s nothing wrong with selling a book. I was shooting in the dark. “Come here and I’ll tell you” was simply what I was going off of. It struck me as similar to a timeshare ‘talk’.

            Thanks for letting me ruffle your feathers, so to speak. I still find it interesting that such a subject as humanism is bringing about those who would wax so,, I dunno. It seems to be seeking an answer that is an awful lot like what it left behind. I find that confusing, at best.

          • jflcroft

            I have addressed these topics on my blog to some degree – this link might help: