Episode three of Cosmos was on the menu for tonight. I have to say that though I love all 13 Cosmos episodes, three has never been one of my favorites. It’s a little dreary in places, particularly all the troubles surrounding Johannes Kepler, his boring teaching style, and his search for the “harmony of the worlds” (the name of the eposode).
But in the starkness there is still beauty, wonder, and truth. Sagan tells nothing less here than the birth of modern science. In his rejection of his most cherished beliefs in favor of observational truth, Kepler sets the stage for all the discoveries to come – a direct line can be drawn from Kepler to Newton, and from Newton to Maxwell, Einstein, Heisenberg and all the rest. By showing the world as it really is, absent the gods, angels, or crystal spheres, Kepler set the stage for the naturalistic description of the the world, the great triumph and achievement of science. We can understand the world. The world makes sense. We might not like the answer, but the answer is out there, and if we look hard enough, if we ask questions honestly enough, if we’re willing to embrace the answer no matter how uncomfortable, we can find it.