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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (Taschenbuch)This was the last book Carl Sagan wrote before he died of cancer. I can still remember hearing on the radio of his passing as I was driving along one dark December night. I remember feeling all the air go out of my lungs & how depressed I was.
In the book Sagan details his fight against cancer as well as a retrospective look back over his magnificent life. The book takes us almost to the very end of his life (the final chapter was written only a few months before he lay on his deathbead). He talks about big numbers, big ideas, big questions and big problems faced by the human race.
Two of the biggest issues he tackles in this book are global warming / environmental issues and nuclear war. These are hardly new topics for Sagan - he has discussed both many times in previous books. However, his insights on these matters are always trenchant, fresh & worth reading.
He discusses at great length how politics play far too great a role in environmental protection issues & how politicians always tend to pick the one scientist out of a million who supports their agenda while ignoring all the other scientists who unite in a chorus of admonishments and warnings re: technology vs. environment issues.
He also repeats his earlier warnings against our complacent attitude towards nuclear weapons in the post Cold War era. His appeals to reason are passionate as he contemplates the thought of someone doing the unthinkable. His points on these issues should cause all of us a moment of pause to think them through.
The one thing I did not care for was Sagan's implicit view that science and religion are mutually exclusive. This is why I did not give the book 5 stars. There are many scientists who believe in God, and there are many who do not. Placing an artificial dichotomy between the two is not only incorrect but is rather silly. The Yale physicist Henry Margeneau, for one, has stated that he has not observed this vast bias towards atheism among scientists. Now, some scientists are anti-religion, no doubt. But there are also multitudes out there such as the legendary Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson who would consider themselves agnostics but would also be pro-religion. Now, if Sagan chooses not to believe in God, that is his business. However, to attempt to compel us to believe that his views are representative of every other scientist on the planet is unwarranted. One would expect such an assumption from lesser minds such as Richard Dawkins, but coming from Sagan it is disappointing.
At any rate, I do not want to end on a negative note. That Sagan did a heroic job bringing science into the mainstream and making it "fun" there can be no doubt. I am quite sure that I am only one of millions of people whom he inspired during his lifetime. In fact, he was one of the first personages who spurred in me a yearning interest in science and for that I am in his debt. Read this books along with his others and you will find yourself in Carl Sagan's debt as well.
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