Salon’s film critic Andrew O’Hehir interviews the actual creator and author of the recent Cosmos TV series– not Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was just the on-screen host, but Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan.
I particularly appreciated this Q&A:
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.]
You know, that stuff just leaves me cold. I’m sorry; it doesn’t really do anything for me. But the idea, you know, that we are, in my view, a species in search of fulfillment is something very real. And we used to get it from theory, you know, that we were literally special. That we were created apart from all of nature. We can’t get that anymore once you understand a mountain of evidence from DNA and many other independent causalities, which seems to create our oneness with all of life. I think we’re being brave. We’re looking at reality as it really is, we’re being brave enough and grown-up enough to know how tiny we truly are. “Cosmos,” in the original and in this incarnation, is intended to teach and familiarize the broadest possible audience with some of the insights and methods of science and some of its heroes, but also to make you feel what science is telling us. Personally, I think that’s important. We’re embracing these challenges that can only be solved through science. We’re looking at the universe and trying to understand how it’s put together, and you can’t see that without science. There’s only one way to see that.