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'm a big fan of Carl Sagan. I read a demon-haunted world and it was nice to find support for my views. He could also find wonder in objective reality.

"A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."

-Carl Sagan, 1994, "A Universe Not Made for Us", Pale Blue Dot
Absolutely Sagan did influence me! I've been a skeptical thinker my entire life, obsessive to the point of madness about imagining everything I could from as many separate points of view as I could concieve existed. It wasn't until I was 14 I admitted to myself the very real possibility that there was in fact no god whatsoever.

When I was 17, my mother bought me Sagan's book, Brocah's Brain, at a garage sale while we were vacationing in the Ozark Mountains. His way of thinking and the topics he raised, they just flowed into my skulll. He summed things up for me in so many ways, I owe my optimism and hope for the future of our species to this man.

I would call him one of the greatest human beings to have ever lived, for his inspiring mind and his way of speaking. Now that I am nearly 30, I am more in touch with my inner skeptic than ever before. Sagan has taught me to celebrate in this way of thinking, and I am.
Sagan was the turning point for me. I had been agnostic for years untill I read the gifford lectures in "varieties of scientific experience" I put that book down knowing I would never be the same. I felt wonderfull.s free and inspired. I was now, and knew I always would be, an atheist.
Totally. He taught Bill Nye, who did the T.V. Series "Bill Nye the Science Guy" that I watched as a child and became obsessed with science because of it. I'm guessing the show was inspired by sagans Cosmos to popularize science. I later saw cosmos as an adult while I was questioning which religion was right...and after thinking about some things he said and asking christians and a jew some reasonable questions, and having experimented with a Ouija board and had nothing happen, I stopped believing the validity of religion.
Actually, Penn and Teller's Bullshit was the breaking point for me.

Sagan showed me the poetic beauty of the natural universe and opened me to the numinous experience of a rational reality.
I think..yes, but not only my atheism but also skeptical thought, starting Cosmos, gave me a global vision of world and life, but the book that help me to see clearly was Demon haunted world
I am 44 and have known about Dr. Sagan since I watched Cosmos on PBS when I was a teenager. I have always been interested in astronomy and general science, but Dr. Sagan helped me realize that I get a certain satisfaction and joy when I hear of a scientific advancement. I get excited and immediately spread the word. I did not even consider religion at that point. I was raised by a godless father and a mother who believes in prophetic dreams. Religion to me was where you go to get married. Dr. Sagan helped me see that there is a hope for the future of humanity. As a teen, I was either very depressed or very reckless and stupid. Of course, there were times I was stupid and depressed at the same time. Anyways, I watched all of Cosmos and bought and read some of his books. This made me thirsty for more. I bought a subscription to science news magazine which I received weekly. If you will pardon the pun, I read them religiously. Then I bought my first computer. I spent hours and hours with this computer and computer related reading material. Anyway, it was years later that I seriously turned to religion. It lasted maybe 3 months or so, but it focused my attention to what was impeding scientific progress. That was religion. In those three months, I got a flavor of suppression of free thought. That is about when I went looking for a label for myself and I learned that I was by definition an Atheist. Religion and religious people have always had very little influence on me, and it is still the case. I am now an Atheist who happens to be a Carl Sagan fan.
I was raised without religion. I was not instructed, or educated in anything related to religion except what my teachers taught me about Christmas in school plays and the Charlie Brown cartoons. I did not think about my position on religion till much later in my life. When I discovered Dr. Carl Sagan and his series, Cosmos, I was mesmerized. I was hooked on scientific discoveries. I bought a subscription to Science News Magazine and read almost every issue from cover to cover for a few years. Dr. Sagan awakened in me a thirst for the joy of celebrating scientific discoveries. I never knew his position on religion. I always thought of him as the best teacher. I thought about religion when I had a bad experience and thought religion would be the answer. Boy was I wrong. That led me to the idea of atheism. At first, I thought atheism was a good fit for me, but I did not have any strong feelings about religion. As I had more misgivings about religious people, I formed an opinion that grew ever stronger that they were all hypocrites, that religion was bunk. I was generally honest, but I lied to someone very important to me for a very long time. When they found out, my whole life unraveled. The experiences I have had since then has cemented my distaste of religion, racism, and hate. Through my experiences, I have learned how important truth and dignity are in one's life. I have always believed that you should treat others as you want to be treated. I have learned that being truthful in everything is a sign of the utmost character virtue. I tried being truthful with those that hate me, but that did not help. They are waiting for me to admit I was wrong and that I regret what I have done, but I will never admit it. One reason I will not admit it is that they will not believe it. So, I have learned to lie openly. Fight the oppression. I used to run away, but I found out I have no where to go. So, I live with the hate day in and day out. I have learned to hate. I have become what I have such a distaste for. Dr. Sagan showed me joy. Everyone else showed me hate. All I can say is FUCK YOU!!!
I was influenced by Sagan during the time that I was searching for answers. I feel that he is a giant among our community and I appreciate the profound nature of his wisdom.

My hero.  He validated my truth.

Carl Sagan also said there are no flying saucers or any other kind of alien visitors from outer space.

Carl faced his death with unflagging courage & never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief & precious life is.

Written by his third wife Anne Druyan




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