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Meditation 547
Quotations XLI

"I hate quotations, tell me what you know." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But as some people do like quotations and think they can be useful in succinctly communicating an opinion, we will publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the forty-first in an apparently unending series. Quotations are now indexed by author and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one.

  1. Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population. Albert Einstein

  2. Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious. Brendan Gill

  3. To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.
    Oliver Wendell Holmes

  4. The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. Isaac Asimov

  5. Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary. Milan Kundera

  6. Some advanced thinkers are of opinion that anyone who differs from the conventional opinion must be in the right. This is a delusion; if it were not, truth would be easier to come by than it is. There are infinite possibilities of error, and more cranks take up unfashionable errors than unfashionable truths. Bertrand Russell

  7. Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish. Quintilian

  8. The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell

  9. The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues. Elizabeth Taylor

  10. The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. Ralph W. Sockman

  11. Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. Bertrand Russell

  12. The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy. Steven Weinberg

  13. It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young. Konrad Lorenz

  14. Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science. Henri Poincare

  15. To believe in God or in a guiding force because someone tells you to is the height of stupidity. We are given senses to receive our information within. With our own eyes we see, and with our own skin we feel. With our intelligence, it is intended that we understand. But each person must puzzle it out for himself or herself. Sophy Burnham

  16. Only the mediocre can always be at their best. Jean Giraudoux

  17. It will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

  18. For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing. H. L. Mencken

  19. How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? - Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. Abraham Lincoln

  20. Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. Douglas Adams