My Jan 10, 1996 Response Letter to Carl Sagan Part 1

Recently I have been revisiting my correspondence in 1995 with the famous astronomer Carl Sagan who I had the privilege to correspond with in 1994, 1995 and 1996. In 1996 I had a chance to respond to his December 5, 1995letter on January 10, 1996 and I never heard back from him again since his cancer returned and he passed away later in 1996. Below is what Carl Sagan wrote to me in his December 5, 1995 letter:

Thanks for your recent letter about evolution and abortion. The correlation is hardly one to one; there are evolutionists who are anti-abortion and anti-evolutionists who are pro-abortion.You argue that God exists because otherwise we could not understand the world in our consciousness. But if you think God is necessary to understand the world, then why do you not ask the next question of where God came from? And if you say “God was always here,” why not say that the universe was always here? On abortion, my views are contained in the enclosed article (Sagan, Carl and Ann Druyan {1990}, “The Question of Abortion,” Parade Magazine, April 22.)

I was introduced to when reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT written in 1968. 

Here is the letter I wrote to Dr. Sagan in response to the letter he wrote to me:

Dr. Carl Sagan, Cornell University, Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Space Sciences Building, Ithaca, New York, 14853-6801

January 10, 1996

Dear Mr. Sagan,

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write me back on 12-5-95. My response comes in five parts. I imagine you will find part four the most intriguing. 

Are we so different from Animals? Or are we?

In my 8-30-95 letter I used Douglas Futuyma’s quote: “Whether people are explicitly religious or not they tend to imagine that humans are in some sense the center of the universe. And what evolution does is to remove humans from the center of the universe. We are just one product of a very long historical process that has given rise to an enormous amount of organisms, and we are just one of them. So in some sense there is nothing special about us.” This seems to dovetail nicely with your quote from SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS : “Why are we so different from animals? Or are we? Most of the philosophers conventionally judged great thought that humans are fundamentally different from other animals because of an immaterial ‘something’ for which no scientific evidence has been produced, that resides somewhere in the body of humans and in no one else on earth. Only a few argue, as Charles Darwin did, that the differences between our species and others are only differences of degree.”

(Charles Darwin)

Earlier in Darwin’s life he did not argue against the existence of an immortal soul. In fact, he held the Biblical view, but later he became an agnostic because he rejected 2 pieces of evidence I will talk about later. What is the Biblical view? Moreover, if science never comes up with evidence to back up the existence of the soul we can not rule out the possibility it exists. ††

(Carl Sagan and Anne Druyan pictured)

Image result for carl sagan ann druyan
Image result for carl sagan humanist of the year

Are you proclaiming too much prematurely?

On April 18, 1981 in your speech to the AHA you made it clear that you rejected the atheistic position. You thought it was unwise to proclaim too much before enough data are in. You mentioned as cases in point “those committed atheists who believe there is compelling evidence that no god exists” (July/August 1981 issue of The Humanist, page 6).

That same point could be made concerning the existence of the soul. Do you have compelling evidence that the soul does not exist?

Will Scientism work with metaphysical questions?

I reject the view that only that which can be proved by science is true. God can not be proven by science. Is that why you are an agnostic? In your 12-5-95 letter you commented, “if you say ‘God was always here,’ why not say that the universe was always here?”

I am under the impression that the second Law of Thermodynamics pushes us to the conclusion that our universe had a beginning. But I did not want to spend time on that point. Instead, it should be emphasized that “God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality)” (John 4:24, Amplified Bible). In other words, scientism will not work when it comes to metaphysical questions. 

What two pieces of evidence did Darwin wrestle with?

(Charles Darwin)

If you want evidence then you will only be given the same evidence that Charles Darwin had. I am going to quote 2 passages, and they both have a common message. That message has 3 points: 1) The conscience tells us of God’s existence. 2) Creatioon tells us the same. 3) If we reject both of those then God will eventually remove conviction from our hearts. 

Don’t hold this against me, but I got this first passage out of the current issue of CREATION MAGAZINE:

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep [#1] inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons...Formerly I was led by feelings such as those…to the firm conviction of the existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that [#2] whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. [#3] But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…(Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1911, Vol. a, page 29).

Romans 1:18-21 Amplified Bible:

18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is [#1] evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, [#2] being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. 21 For even though [a]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [b]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their [#3] foolish heart was darkened.

Charles Darwin became an agnostic because he chose to reject the two pieces of evidence God gave him. Take a minute and read the enclosed letter to the editor of THE HUMANIST MAGAZINE. Where did our conscience come from if not from God? In your book SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS you quote Darwin’s wife warning him of the dangers of scientism on page 47. Wouldn’t it be wise to heed her advice????

Since Scientism will not work with metaphysics then what alternative does the skeptic have?

You have chosen to be known as a skeptic. Did you know that the word “skepticism” is derived from the Latin “scepticus (inquiring, reflective, doubting). A skeptic has an inquiring mind. It intrigues me that Christ spoke of those who were honest inquirers. Some can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman. They are unwilling to surrender their will to God. In fact, I read some amazing comments by some unbelievers to the effect that they would not be willing to serve God because they would not want to give up their independence. They would rather reign in hell. In John 7:16-17 Christ spoke to the doubters of His day: “My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me. If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know–have the needed illumination to recognize, can tell for himself–whether the teaching is from God, or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority,” ((Amplified Bible). Adrian Rogers comments on this verse: “In plain English, this says that if a mansurrenders his will completely, God will reveal Himself to that man.” This is a recipe to get a revelation: #1 ingredient — an open Bible (best to read a chapter a day in the Gospel of John). #2 ingredient — an open heart (take 2 minutes before reading every day and pray “God, I don’t know whether You exist or not, but I want to know. And because I want to know, I will make an honest investigation, I will follow the results of that investigation wherever they lead me, regardless of the cost.” 

Professor Peter Kreeft of the philosophy Department at Boston College wrote on page 291 in the book DOES GOD EXIST? published by Prometheus Books the following comments concerning the “prayer of the skeptic”: “Who could quarrel with that experiment? It’s like fairly testing the hypothesis that someone is in the closet, tied up, by knocking on the door. If the hypothesis is true, you may hear a reply. Why hesitate to knock?

The analogy is not perfect because I’m the case of the closet you can open the door and look with your eyes, while in the case of the invisible God you cannot. But you can still speak and listen with your mind and heart, and this constitutes a fair test, because the hypothesis maintains not only that God wants to reveal Himself to you, to set up a relationship of love and faith for a lifetime and beyond. 

The hypothesis claims that ‘all who seek, find.’ So test it. Seek. I can only think of two reasons for hesitating: the fear that you will find nothing, and the fear that you will find something. Honestly, like love, casts out fear.” 

Maybe you are at the point in your life where you are willing to try this. What do you have to lose? In 100 years everything we have now will be gone anyway. 

It has been an honor to correspond with you. I know somewhat about the physical and spiritual challenges you face, and I will continue to pray for you. Best wishes. 

Everette Hatcher III

P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221

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