"And I quote..."
I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation... Disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. Charles Darwin I know that I am mortal by nature, and ephemeral; but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies I no longer touch the earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia, food of the gods. Claudius Ptolemy, 2nd century astronomer We are now on the eve of the second transit of a pair, after which there will be no other till the twenty-first century of our era has dawned upon the earth, and the June flowers are blooming in 2004. When the last transit season occurred the intellectual world was awakening from the slumber of ages, and that wondrous scientific activity which has led to our present advanced knowledge was just beginning. What will be the state of science when the next transit season arrives God only knows. Not even our children's children will live to take part in the astronomy of that day. As for ourselves, we have to do with the present ... William Harkness, of the US Naval Observatory, before observing the Venus transit of 1882 Let this, then, be the ground of my faith: all that we know, now and forever, all scientific knowledge that we have of this world, or will ever have, is an island in the sea of mystery... We live in our partial knowledge as the Dutch live on polders claimed from the sea. We dike and fill. We dredge up soil from the bed of mystery and build ourselves room to grow. And still the mystery surrounds us. It laps at our shores. It permeates the land. Scratch the surface of knowledge and mystery bubbles up like a spring. And occasionally, at certain disquieting moments in history (Aristarchus, Galileo, Planck, Einstein), a tempest of mystery comes rolling in from the sea and overwhelms our efforts, reclaims knowledge that has been built up by years of patient work, and forces us to retreat to the surest, most secure core of what we know, where we huddle in fear and trembling until the storm subsides, and then we start building again, throwing up dikes, pumping, filling, extending the perimeter of our knowledge and our security. Chet Raymo When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions. That is the heart of science. Carl Sagan Creationism cannot offer a scientific hypothesis that is capable of being shown wrong. Creationism cannot describe a single possible experiment that could elucidate the mechanics of creation. Creationism cannot point to a single piece of scientific research that has provided evidence for any supernatural intervention into natural law. Creationism cannot point to a single prediction that has turned out to be right, and supports the creationist case. Creationism cannot offer a single instance of research that has followed the normal course of scientific inquiry, namely, independent testing and verification by skeptical researchers, because it has no research program, no hypotheses, no predictions. Creationists can point to no source of their theory, no basis for their claims, other than the authority of the Bible. Science consists of posting testable, falsifiable hypotheses; making predictions about what is not yet known; performing critical experiments or observations that can disprove certain alternative hypotheses and lend credence to others; seeking explanations in natural rather than supernatural causes; trying to falsify hypotheses rather than to prove them; remaining skeptical until independent investigators are able to corroborate new claims; and subjecting one's ideas and data to the merciless criticism of other scientists. Creationism has none of these qualifications. Douglas J. Futuyma Our diminished sense of the sacred has resulted not from the growth of knowledge but from the failure of traditional religions to incorporate scientific discovery into a framework of spirituality and religious worship. Chet Raymo The more I have studied him, the more [Isaac] Newton has receded from me. It has been my privilege at various times to know a number of brilliant men, men whom I acknowledge without hesitation to be my intellectual superiors. I have never, however, met one against whom I was unwilling to measure myself, so that it seemed reasonable to say that I was half as able as the person in question, or a third or a fourth, but in every case a finite fraction. The end result of my study of Newton has served to convince me that with him there is no measure. He has become for me wholly other, one of the tiny handful of supreme geniuses who have shaped the categories of human intellect, a man not finally reducible to the criteria by which we comprehend our fellow beings. Richard Westfall I look forward to the invention of faster-than-light travel. What I'm not looking forward to is the long wait in the dark once I arrive at my destination. Marc Beland ...man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on. Winston S. Churchill When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. Isaac Asimov Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering. Arthur C. Clarke I have read all the writings of Aristotle several times from beginning to end and I assure you that I have not found anything in them which could be what you are telling me. Go, my son, and calm yourself. I assure you that what you took to be spots on the sun are only flaws in your glasses or in your eyes. Fr. Baseaus, Jesuit scholar, upon hearing from his student Christoph Scheiner about his observations of spots on the sun (cr. 1611). In 1995, one of my colleagues ended a seminar on developmental biology by summarizing his own recent work but then mocking its limited scope, quipping that "for the really big things, like telling right from left, all we can say is that the embryo still relies on God." What he meant was that for all our understanding of embryonic development, some basic questions, like how a few cells lay down an axis along which the left and right sides of the body differentiate, remain unanswered. We might as well just say that God did it. Like everybody else in attendance, I appreciated his self-deprecating modesty. Only three years later, I had occasion to remember his words with a chuckle. The mechanism by which the vertebrate embryo tells right from left was finally discovered in 1998. I suppose you could say that God has lost another job, but for anyone who had seriously followed the progress of the life sciences, this small advance in our understanding was just another page in a long story. Any idea that life requires an inexplicable vital essence, a spirit, an elan vital, has long since vanished from our lives and laboratories, a casualty of genetics and biochemistry. Kenneth R. Miller
(in Finding Darwin's God)
Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious. Albert Einstein
A few other quote pages I enjoy...
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