I post this as a response to some of the wonderful imagery of the cosmos contained in Chowbok’s post on death:
Beyond the planets — the blackness is not an empty void — but a sea of trillions and trillions of cosmic particles bouncing and playing their special dance across the expanse of time. Lit by dust, a photonic orchestra plays for us, we, the congealed mass of proton and electron wonders that inhabit this universe must surely be struck by the extraordinary symmetry of the whole incredible thing!
“We are made of star stuff,” Sagan said. Our bodies contain the very elements of the stars.
I say ‘Wow.’
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
— Carl Sagan, quoted in “In the Valley of the Shadow” PARADE magazine (10 March 1996)
Was Sagan an atheist? He said ‘No’.
Sagan, however, denied that he was an atheist: “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know.” In reply to a question in 1996 about his religious beliefs, Sagan answered, “I’m agnostic.”
Sagan maintained that the idea of a creator of the universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe. — Wikipedia