Awesome Carl Sagan Quotes

I bought a small eBook recently chock-a-block full of Sagan’s best quotes. I wanted to highlight some of my favourites. I haven’t read all of Sagan’s books (some 30-odd) but I haven’t yet met a Sagan book that I didn’t like… a lot! If anyone was ever going to be my hero, Carl Sagan would be one of them:

On argumentation:

(1) – “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.” 

On history:

(2) “You have to know the past to understand the present.”

On evolution:

(3) “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”

On drugs:

(4) – “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

Misc:

(5) You are worth about 3 dollars in chemicals.

(6) We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.

(7) The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard, who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by ‘God,’ one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying…it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.

(8) The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support libraries.

I man-love Carl Sagan…

Favourites? Mine are (1) and (6). Has anyone read more than one Sagan book? If so, which one of those are your favourites? I can’t decide between Broca’s Brain and Pale Blue Dot. Both marvelous insights in science, skepticism, and astronomy with the added delight of them being beautifully written english.

Favourite Quotations from the Anti-Christ

I recently finished reading Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ, and my, oh-my, was it a great book! Granted, I only understood about half the book, and to top that embarrassment of,  had to look at the dictionary for half the words he used (thank god — sic — Kindle has a built-in dictionary), yet it was still a riveting read. I can’t remember the last time an atheist’s words were this memorable, beautiful, and powerful. Let me tell you, Nietzsche can throw a verbal barrage unlike no one I’ve ever read before. Below are some of my favourite quotes from the book in order:

1 – “The histories of saints present the most dubious variety of literature in existence; to examine them by the scientific method, in the entire absence of corroborative documents, seems to me to condemn the whole inquiry from the start – it is simply learned idling.

2 – “The ‘salvation of the soul’ in plain English: the world revolves around me.”

3 – “If any one were to show us this Christian God, we’d be still less inclined to believe in him.”

4 – “Such a religion as Christianity, which does not touch reality at a single point and which goes to pieces the moment reality asserts its rights at any point, must be inevitably the deadly enemy of the “wisdom of the world,” which is to say, of science — and it will give the name of good to whatever means serves to poison, calumniate and cry down all intellectual discipline, all lucidity and strictness in matters of intellectual conscience, and all noble coolness and freedom of mind.”

5 – “Man has had to fight for every atom of the truth, and has had to pay for it almost everything that the heart, that humans love, that human trust cling to.”

6 – “The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an idee fixe by no means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves no mountains, but instead raises them up where there were none before: all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a mental asylum.”

7 – “Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.”

8 – “Faith means the will to avoid knowing what is true.”

9 – “I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian church the most terrible of all accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption. The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul.”

What’s your favourite quote? I can’t decide between 4 and 8.

Random Awesome Quotes

Just three days until Random Rationality is released. Until then, here are twenty random and awesome quotes!

“How fortunate that men do not think.”

Adolf Hitler

“Universal truth is not measured in mass appeal.”

Immortal Technique

The time will come when you will see, we are all one.”

The Beatles

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”

Unknown

In the end we discover the only condition for living is to die.

José Saramago

“I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.”

Unknown

You cannot reason a man out of that which he was not reasoned into.”

Benjamin Franklin

“The first principle is you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

“The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

Arthur C. Clarke

We long to be here for a purpose, even though despite much self-deception. None is evident.

Carl Sagan

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Plato

As long as you still experience the stars as something above you, you still lack a viewpoint of knowledge.”

Frederick Nietzsche

“Depressions and mass unemployment are not caused by the free market but by government interference in the economy.”

Ludwig von Mises

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.”

Carl Sagan

“There are many things given to us in this life for the wrong reasons. What we do with such blessings, that is the true test of a man.”

Gnannicus

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

There is no such thing as a self-made man. We are made up of thousands of others. Every one who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”

George Matthew Adams

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” 

Gandhi

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of poison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing, then to have answers that might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, and I’m not absolutely sure about everything, and there are many things I know nothing about. I don’t have to know an answer, I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it is as far as I can tell, and so all together I can’t believe the special stories that are made up about our relationship to the Universe.

Richard Feynman