Book of Mormonisms

Did they really say THAT?

Recognizing Truth

“How can we recognize truth? It is, of course difficult. But there are a few simple rules. The truth ought to be logically consistent. It should not contradict itself; that is, there are some logical criteria. It ought to be consistent with what else we know. That is an additional way in which miracles run into trouble. We know a great many things- a tiny fraction, to be sure, of the universe, a pitiful tiny fraction. But nevertheless some things we know with quite high reliability. So where we are asking about the truth, we ought to be sure that it’s not inconsistent with what else we know. We should pay attention to how badly we want to believe a given contention. The more badly we want to believe it, the more skeptical we have to be. It involves a kind of courageous self discipline. Nobody says it’s easy. I think those three principles at least will winnow out a fair amount of chaff. It doesn’t guarantee that what remains will be true, but at least it will significantly diminish the field of discourse. ”

 Carl Sagan, Varieties of scientific experience, pages 229-230 

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2 Responses to “Recognizing Truth”

  1. MCQ said

    I like that quote, I’m a Sagan fan from way back. I used to watch “Cosmos” with my mom when it was first airing on PBS. I then got the book and read it cover to cover.

    Sagan is always careful not to overstate. He never says we know anything 100%. He is also careful to admit to the vast ocean of things we don’t know, which shows heis wise. I don’t remember if he had much to say about God or religion in what I read of him. My guess is that he would be skeptical, but would admit that science cannot tell us much for certain about God.

    I remember part of his book set out to disprove astrology. He felt it was fairly easy to prove that astrology was invalid based on observable data. I don’t think he would say the same about God.

  2. coventryrm said

    Carl Sagan has two books that have been published by his wife Ann Druyan, one called “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” and the one the quote is from “Varieties of scientific experience” he very much talks about God in the later and mostly the origins of man in the other. If you liked his Cosmo stuff I am sure you would enjoy these as well.

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