Salon: Interview by film critic Andrew O’Hehir of Comos writer and executive producer Ann Druyan. Neil deGrasse Tyson was the visible host, but he didn’t write the show; Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan, did.
You’ve been pretty outspoken over the years about your views of religious myth and its relationship to science. You’ve talked at times about the desire to reclaim some of the sense of mystery or daring or even spirituality that could hypothetically be associated with science. Is this show to be considered as part of that struggle, as an attempt to recapture the mystery and power of science in the public imagination?
That’s beautifully said. And you know, I could speak to that. Yes, I mean, what always has surprised me personally is that the revelations about nature and the universe that science has presented to us are not just, you know, more likely to be better approximations of natural reality than we’ve gotten from any other source, but they’re also way more spiritually satisfying than anything we’ve ever been able to make up. You know, our interpretations of nature that are not rooted in nature at all and that are anthropocentric are kind of the infantile idealized visions of us as the center of the universe. As the children of a very disappointed father. [Laughter.]
I’m fascinated by the reference to Druyan’s
brilliant rereading of the story of the Garden of Eden, which she sees as the story of humanity’s escape from “a maximum-security prison with 24-hour surveillance.” Adam and Eve’s capital offense is that they seek knowledge and ask questions, precisely the qualities that define the human species. At least in that story, God appears to demand a subservient and doctrinaire incuriosity, and many of his followers continue to insist on that path to this day.
And am not sure where her exegesis was published, but I’ll try to track it down.