Carl Sagan quotes page 1
1934-1996, American astronomer, author and science
Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.
The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with
three matches, the other with five.
It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English - up to
fifty words used in correct context - no human being has been reported to have learned
Every thinking person fears nuclear war and every technological nation plans for it. Everyone
knows it's madness, and every country has an excuse.
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty
in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions,
then those in power work for us.
Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a
galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more
galaxies than people.
Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term,
but it is suicidal for nations in the long term.
We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers,
our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.
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.
Frederick Douglas taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many
kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.
Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him
live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and
such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our
searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.
In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my
position is mistaken," and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old
view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because
scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot
recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time
arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and
technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster.
Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you're in love, you want to tell the world.
The politicians and the religious leaders and the weapons scientists have been at it for a long
time and they've made a thorough mess of it. I mean, we're in deep trouble.
We have found that scientific laws pervade all of nature, that the same rules apply on Earth
as in the skies, that we can find a resonance, a harmony, between the way we think and the
way the world works.
An organism at war with itself is doomed.
The question (Do you believe in God?) has a peculiar structure. If I say no, do I mean I'm
convinced God doesn't exist, or do I mean I'm not convinced he does exist? Those are two
very different questions.
My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody
who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic.
Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.
It is all a matter of time scale. An event that would be unthinkable in a hundred years may be
inevitable in a hundred million.
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
In a democracy, opinions that upset everyone are sometimes exactly what we need. We
should be teaching our children the scientific method and the Bill of Rights.
I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we
float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space,
every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring - not because of exploratory or
romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: Staying alive.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
It's a lazy Saturday afternoon, there's a couple lying naked in bed reading Encyclopedia
Brittannica to each other, and arguing about whether the Andromeda Galaxy is more
"numinous" than the Ressurection. Do they know how to have a good time, or don't they?