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If God Meant to InterfereAmerican Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right$
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Christopher Douglas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702112

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702112.001.0001

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Science and Religion in Carl Sagan’s Contact

Science and Religion in Carl Sagan’s Contact

(p.183) Chapter 6 Science and Religion in Carl Sagan’s Contact
If God Meant to Interfere

Christopher Douglas

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the account of Carl Sagan, who, unlike the New Atheists of recent years, sought middle ground in the struggle between science and religion. An astronomer by training and probably best remembered for his 1980 PBS documentary Cosmos, Sagan wrote several popular science books and a 1985 novel called Contact, in which the religious reverberations of the Fermi Paradox were very much on his mind. The novel tells the story of the brilliant radio astronomer Ellie Arroway, who picks up a coded transmission from the Vega star system twenty-five light-years away; the palimpsest structure of what they call “the Message” contains a blueprint for what becomes known as “the Machine.” Earth's international, cooperative decision to build the Machine comprises the novel's political, religious, and philosophical discussions.

Keywords:   Carl Sagan, New Atheists, Cosmos, Contact, Ellie Arroway, Fermi Paradox, Machine

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