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Meditation 635
Quotations XLV

"I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking." Dorothy L. Sayers

On the other hand, an apt quotation can stimulate the mind towards original thought. A quotation better serves as the starting point for a discussion, not as a means for closing it. We will continue to publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the forty-fifth in an apparently unending series. Quotations are indexed by author and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one. Quotations are also available as a set of downloadable pdf files (menu to the left.) Suggestions for previously unused quotations are always welcome.

  1. I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine. Bertrand Russell

  2. Where skeptical observation and discussion are suppressed, the truth is hidden. The proponents of such borderline beliefs, when criticized, often point to geniuses of the past who were ridiculed. But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. Carl Sagan

  3. The opposition to teaching evolution is, of course, almost always given a religious reason. That may usually be its real basis, but I think it is often a mask, perhaps unconscious, for underlying anti-intellectualism or antiscientism. George Gaylord Simpson

  4. Today, evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are not based on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles. James D. Watson

  5. The fact that Newton and Michael Faraday and other scientists of the past were deeply religious shows that religious skepticism is not a prejudice that governed science from the beginning, but a lesson that has been learned through centuries of experience in the study of nature. Steven Weinberg

  6. Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it. Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory. Jimmy Swaggart

  7. If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain. Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

  8. All men by nature desire knowledge. Aristotle

  9. I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey. I believe that whenever a human being, of even the highest intelligence and culture, delivers an opinion upon a matter apart from his particular and especial line of interest, training and experience, it will always be an opinion of so foolish and so valueless a sort that it can be depended upon to suggest to our Heavenly Father that the human being is another disappointment and that he is no considerable improvement upon the monkey. Mark Twain

  10. I never cease being dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe. Leo Rosten

  11. No passion so effectively robs the mind of its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. Edmund Burke

  12. Proof is not anecdotal. Proof is scientific. Show me the research. Mark Levine

  13. To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting. Stanislaw Leszczynski

  14. I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education. Wilson Mizner

  15. The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. Brendan Gill

  16. Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club. Thomas H. Huxley

  17. One's first step in wisdom is to question everything - and one's last is to come to terms with everything. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  18. The wisest mind has something yet to learn. H. L. Mencken

  19. When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it - this is knowledge Confucius

  20. If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. Isaac Asimov