I was wondering how many here who became an atheist in their teenage years or adulthood would list Carl as a major contributor to that shift.

It was while watching Cosmos that the camel's back finally broke for me. There had been a lot of thoughts floating around in my head for some time concerning religion and it's problems, but I wasn't really able to take that final leap until I sat down and listened to Carl so elegantly give voice to some of those things that had been stirring in my mind. It was definitely one of those "light switching on" moments. From there it was on to Bertrand Russell, Robert Ingersoll, back to Sagan's own books and then on to Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Hitchens, Myers, ect.

So, anyone else here that can name Carl as the number one or first outside influence responsible for switching on the light? How did it happen? What work influenced you most?

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I stopped believing in god on my own but Sagan's work certainly helped me to become more confident in my understanding of this worldview. His way of communicating science has, I think, yet to be matched even by Dawkins.
For me, I grew up watching cosmos as a small child, well before being exposed to any formal notions of religion, so I was always under the impression that "God" is a metaphor or a non-personal, mysterious force of the universe, but not a medder, not a force controlling people or arranging the results of baseball games.

I've become somewhat resigned to the reality that not too many people seem to be very intellectually curious about the world or the universe, but I like finding places like this site where people are still asking "Why?"
I've enjoyed Sagan's work since I was in my early teens, and even though I was a Christian at the time I first read 'Contact', I loved it. I read some of his non-fiction and I found the science and the open-mindedness and the FUN (the dragon in the garage idea, I loved) was a familiar comfort and a joy to have around... even as I was moving from Christianity to secular humanism. I've always respected Sagan. He's always.... been there. Well his work, anyhow. So rather than being the REASON for my paradigm shift, his work came along for the ride with me. I'm sure it influenced me in some ways, or confirmed my own changing beliefs.... but I'm grateful I've always known his work. If the man were alive today, I'd write him fanmail and a thank-you letter.
When I was much smaller, perhaps about two or three years old, my parents used their brand new VCR to tape Cosmos. I had only the vaguest memories of watching those tapes at that age, but when a professor (I think it was a 'History of the Scientific Revolution' class) started running some episodes, I suddenly realized that I knew the narration word for word.

So, while I can't quantify it, I think it's fair to say that Sagan had some influence over my early thought processes.
I never really had a firm belief in any god. Sure, as a young teen I tried to experiment with the concept, but it was wholly unsatisfying. As James said, Sagan's work only reaffirmed that rational thought was the way to go.
Without question. Huge fan. The seeds of doubt were sown when I was a kid and saw his work on PBS.
I have been a fan of Carl Sagan since he appeared on several Johnnie Carson shows and perhaps before. I read all of his books and got to meet him at a physics conference at Cornell. I was a Catholic "believer" at the time, but somehow I was not troubled by Sagan being an atheist.

Through the years, however, his emphasis on requiring evidence for belief made me think more and more about my religious faith. Still I would not admit to myself that I was an atheist. About 10 years ago, at about 58 years of age(!) I finally faced the fact that I simply can't believe in a supernatural being for which there is no EVIDENCE.

I attribute my freedom to Carl Sagan. Thanks, Carl.
It's funny looking back at my road to rational sobriety. My grandfather ,about twenty years ago, told me that I needed to pay close attention to this guy he had been seeing on TV and reading articles about. My grandfather would go on and on about how eloquent and beautiful the words were coming from this man. This guy was no other than Carl Sagan. We watched every episode of Cosmo's together and now that they are being aired again we are still watching (Granddad is 84 now). I was the biggest Sagan fan and even though I still would attend church from time to time (holidays, weddings, funerals, etc.) I couldn't help but think about the things Sagan had to say about life, beauty, the cosmos, love while sitting in a pew. Not one time did I ever hear a sermon that would even come close to making me feel the awe and overwhelming joy of having been fortunate enough to live and have the human experience. So I guess one could say he influenced me. I bought Sagan's book "THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD" in 1997. For me, I think this book cemented my worldview and haven't looked back since.
Awesome, that is the book that catapulted me into atheism! (Most atheists don't list this as their most influential book, it seems.) I liked Carl before that too...I remember the book Cosmos always being on the bookshelf and this picture of a groovy looking guy on the back. Later I was really confused in science class and he was the only source that made it understandable and interesting. (It was about a year after this that he died, and I was sad.) I saw the movie Contact and realized it was from a book by him and then I looked through some of his essays in Billions and Billions...

When I saw the Demon Haunted World I was right in the middle of what I call my experiment with paganism (though I still had a "prove it!" attitude about a lot of it). It looked interesting but I kind of knew that it would probably eradicate my silly beliefs. I finally picked it up over a year ago, and my nonreligious conversion went very quickly, even though it really didn't take on God, but just showed me that everything has a simple explanaton.
I was raised as an Atheist, but somewhere in the back of my mind I always assumed he was one. As a kid,
I remember my Atheist parents turning on the Cosmos, and Sagan strolling out in front of a wall-o-stars talking about things hard to imagine. It's one of my warmest, fuzziest childhood memories.
I have always loved science so that little seed in me that eventually stood against religion has taken its hold because of people like Carl Sagan. I remember always watching Bill Nye the Science Guy when I a small child, but there has always been that special something about Carl that even now I aspire to emulate. I guess you could say he was a poet with science and a good example of what a real scientist can be.




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