Carl Sagan, the iconic scientist behind the original Cosmos TV show, may be gone now, but he left behind voluminous archives of writings and interviews. One such interview was recently sampled for the latest episode of PBS’ Blank on Blank series. Taken from a 1985 interview Sagan did with renowned journalist Studs Terkel, it touches mainly on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and the differences between science and religion.
“You take those together – lots of places, lots of organic matter, lots of time, and it seems very hard to believe that our poultry little planet is the only one that’s inhabited,” Sagan told Terkel, noting that Earth is located far off in the “boondocks” of the Milky Way galaxy.
Terkel mentioned similarities between science and religion. Sagan acknowledged that both disciplines were after the same thing (“the question of our origins”) but was unsparing in pointing out the scientific flaws of the Bible.
“The natural world around us shows that the Earth, for example, is about 4.6 billion years old, nothing like 6,000 years old. So a literal reading of the Bible is simply mistaken. It’s just wrong,” Sagan said. “As a work of science, it’s flawed. It’s the science of the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C., and we’ve learned something since then.”
Watch the episode, complete with illustrations of Sagan’s aliens and planets, below.