Returning to my earlier comment about having high hopes and expectation for the "new" Cosmos series and my skepticism about it being as moving and impactful as the original... This is one of the rare instances when I can say I am truly delighted to be wrong! By the time Neil deGrasse Tyson was standing in the famous "spaceship of imagination" looking down on our planet from space, I was entranced. Tyson's delivery was just as eloquent, equally moving and thanks to major advances in science and technology, even more educational and informative than that of the late Carl Sagan. The icing on the cake was the moment at the end of the episode when Tyson produced Carl Sagan's personal calender and showed his name written in it. As Tyson recounted the snowy Saturday he spent with Sagan in Ithaca and the lasting effect it had on his life, I was literally moved to tears. I think because I was able to identify with the feeling of excitement and wonder that Tyson felt that day, at age 17. I might not have had the chance to visit Carl Sagan's lab or share a cheeseburger with him, but he had the same effect on my life as he did on Neil deGrasse Tyson's. He opened my eyes to the awesome and wonderful world of science, he inspired me to learn all I could about nature, he was my first exposure to the scientific method and he played a major roll in setting me free from the oppressive ignorance of religion.
I'll leave you with a quote from another late, great thinker and atheist, Christopher Hitchens. As always, "Hitch" sums up my feelings in a way I only wish I could.
“One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs). Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think—though the connection is not a fully demonstrable one—that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell.”
See full episodes of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" at: www.cosmosontv.com - Hosted by: Neil deGrasse Tyson