Hope Springs Eternal - Quotes
As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
As it is, we are merely bolting our lives - gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in - because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, "It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what's happening now." How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environments - from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies - how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?
On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way.
The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
A Man Without a Countr
Nothing we have is worth hurting anyone else for. It's all fleeting people. Stop seeing race, colour, sex, religion, etc... They are all just people, and if you try to love them you won't lose anything.
Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.
Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Thus our presence selects out from this vast array only these universes that are compatible without existence. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense, the lords of creation.
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life... that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
Pale Blue Dot
After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color and bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked - as I am surprisingly often - why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a though, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?
Life is, in fact, a battle. On this point optimists and pessimists agree. Evil is insolent and strong: beauty enchanting but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in very great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally, unhappy. But the world as it stands is no illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of a night; we wake up to it again and again for ever and ever; we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it. We can welcome experience as it comes, and give it what it demands, in exchange for something which is idle to pause to call much or little so long as it contributes to swell the volume of consciousness. In this there is mingled pain and delight, but over the mysterious mixture there hovers a visible rule, that bids us learn to will and seek to understand.
(contributed by beccalita)
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
The brightest light is invisible, it shines through your deeds and warms the Universe.
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
(contributed by marcie)
How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r fulfilled, and each wish resign'd...
Eloisa to Abelard
If you could have the arms of Hercules, legs as swift as the wind. If you could leap shoulder high above the rim, have the kick of a dolphin, the reflexes of a cat. If you could have all these, you would have the body, you would have the tools. But you would not have greatness until you understand that the strongest muscle is the heart. To me, that's the soul of the Olympic Games.
Anybody can see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman that she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl she used to be. A great artist can look at an old woman, protray her exactly as she is... and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be... more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo see that this lovely young girl is still alive, prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older that eighteen in her heart... no matter what merciless hours have done. Look at her. Growing old doesn't matter to you and me- but it does to them. Look at her!
Jubal Harshaw in Stranger in a Strange Land
(contributed by Kate C)
If God brings you to it, God will bring you through it.
Man is a fraction of the animal world. Our history is an afterthought, no more, tacked to an infinite calender. We are not so unique as we should like to believe. And if man in a time of need seeks deeper knowledge concerning himself, then he must explore those animal horizons from which we have made our quick little march.
The sudden departure of several quintillion atoms from a universe they had no right to be in anyway caused in wild imbalance in the harmony in the Sum Totality which it tried frantically to retrieve, wiping out a number of subrealities in the process. Huge surges of raw magic boiled uncontrolled around the very foundations of the multiverse itself, welling up through every crevice into hitherto peaceful dimensions and causing novas, supernovas, stellar collisions, wild flights of geese and drowning of imaginary continents. Worlds as far away as from the other end of time experienced brilliant sunsets of coruscating octarine as highly-charged magical particles roared through the atmosphere. In the cometary halo around the fabled Ice-System of Zeret a noble comet died as a prince flamed across the sky.
The Colour of Magic
There are more stars known to exist right now than the total number of all the grains of sand on every beach in the entire world. With those kinds of odds, it would seem downright naive for someone to go to a beach in, say, some out-of-the-way inlet in Baffin Bay, stoop to pick up only one tiny grain of sand, and declare that that grain alone was the only place where life could exist.
Perhaps we are looking at this from a wrong perspective; this search for the truth, the meaning of life, the reason of God. We all have this mindset that the answers are so complex and so vast that it is almost impossible to comprehend.
I think, on the contrary, that the answers are so simple; so simple that it is staring us straight in the face, screaming its lungs out, and yet we fail to notice it. We're looking through a telescope, searching the stars for the answer, when the answer is actually a speck of dirt on the telescope's lens.
For I dipped into the Future, far as human eye could see; saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
Sometimes I don't want to see the puppeteers, sometimes I just want to see the magic therein, and sometimes I just want to pry open the atoms and know why they spin.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,
And moments aye divided by keen pangs
Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
Scorn and despair - these are mine empire:
More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!
Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
Humans are not only storytelling animals, we are also pattern-seeking animals, and there is a tendency to find pattern even when none exists. To most of us the pattern of the universe indicates design. For countless millennia we have taken these patterns and constructed stories about how our cosmos was designed specifically for us. For the past few centuries, however, science has presented us with a viable alternative in which we are but one among tens of millions of species, housed on but one planet among many orbiting an ordinary solar system, itself one among possibly billions of solar systems in an ordinary galaxy, located in a cluster of galaxies not so different than billions of other galaxy clusters, themselves whirling away from one another in an expanding cosmic bubble that very possibly is only one among a near infinite number of bubble universes. Is it really possible that this entire cosmological multiverse exists for one tiny subgroup of a single species on one planet in a lone galaxy in that solitary bubble universe?
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
The spacious firmament on bigh
With all the blue etherial sky
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And published to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball
What though no real voice, nor sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found,
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine
The Age of Reason, Part 1
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Mortal through I be, yea ephemeral, if but a moment
I gaze up at the night's starry domain of heaven,
Then no longer on earth I stand; I touch the Creator,
And my lively spirit drinketh immortality.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Why is it that almost every human culture yet discovered has found it necessary to believe in an afterlife of some sort, but not a 'before-life?' Why are there so many versions of Heaven, Paradise and The Great Beyond, but almost none about The Great Before...
Where Were You Before You Were You?
The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an island in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.
When the moon shall have faded out from the sky, and the sun shall shine at noonday a dull cherry red, and the seas shall be frozen over, and the icecap shall have crept downward to the equator from either pole... when all the cities shall have long been dead and crumbled into dust, and all life shall be on the last verge of extinction on this globe; then, on a bit of lichen, growing on the bald rocks beside the eternal snows of Panama, shall be seated a tiny insect, preening its antennae in the glow of the worn-out sun, the sole survivor of animal life on this our earth - a melancholy bug.
The Math Book
Science is about explaining the world, and religion is about interpreting it. There shouldn't be any conflict.
But attempting to understand God must come from a timeless perspective - not creator God making something happen as a cause and effect. Because time is part of the physical universe. This God cannot be inside time and must be a timeless entity... I can't tell you what God is but what he is not. God is not a cosmic magician, not an old man in the sky, not a being within time at all. The closest definition I have is from theologian Paul Tillich: 'God is the ground of being. The rational ground in which the laws of the universe are rooted.' He is not an entity who is going to intervene in ruling of the world. But he is what stops the world from going berserk.
I always look on the black side of life. That way, you won't be disappointed and I'm cheerful if it doesn't work out. I'm a cheerful pessimist.
If you get a drill and drill down 5km beneath the ground, it's teeming with life - millions of tiny living fossils. They resemble the earliest life forms and suggest that life started under the Ground. The bible talks of Eden as a sunny parkland with white fluffy clouds, but it probably ascended from the region that we now associate with Hell.
Anything you don't understand, Mr. Rankin, you attribute to God. God for you is where you sweep away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges to our intelligence. You simply turn your mind off and say God did it.
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 religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be Blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n.
An Essay on Man
... humans are, by nature, a forward-looking species always seeking greater levels of happiness and satisfaction. Unfortunately, the corollary is that humans are all too often willing to grasp at unrealistic promises of a better life or to believe that a better life can only be attained by clinging to intolerance and ignorance, by lessening the lives of others. And sometimes, by focusing on a life to come, we miss what we have in this life. It is a different source of hope, but it is hope nonetheless: hope that human intelligence, combined with compassion, can solve our myriad problems and enhance the quality of each life; hope that historical progress continues on its march toward greater freedom and acceptance for all humans; and hope that reason and science as well as love and empathy can help us understand our universe, our world, and ourselves.
Why People Believe Weird Things
When I talk to audiences about the size and age of the cosmos, people often say, "It makes me feel so insignificant." I answer, "The bigger and more impersonal the universe is, the more meaningful you are, because this vast, impersonal place needs something significant to fill it up." We've abandoned the old belief that humanity is at the physical center of the universe but more come back to believing we are at the center of meaning.
What can be more soul shaking than peering through a 100-inch telescope at a distant galaxy, holding a 100-million-year-old fossil or a 500,000-year-old stone tool in one's hand, standing before the immense chasm of space and time that is the Grand Canyon, or listening to a scientist who gazed upon the face of the universe's creation and did not blink?
..a world absent monsters, ghosts, demons, and gods unfetters the mind to soar to new heights, to think unthinkable thoughts, to imagine the unimaginable, to contemplate infinity and eternity knowing that no one is looking back. The universe takes on a whole new meaning when you know that your place in it was not foreordained, that it was not designed for us, indeed, that it was not designed at all. If we are nothing more than star stuff, how special life becomes. How inspiring it is to share in the sublimity of knowledge generated by other human minds, and perhaps to even make a tiny contribution toward that body of knowledge that will be passed down through the ages, part of the cumulative wisdom of a single species on a tiny planet orbiting an ordinary star on the remote edge of a not-so-unusual galaxy, itself a member of a cluster of galaxies millions of light years from nowhere. For me, the Hubble Telescope Deep Field photograph WFPC2, revealing as never before the rich density of galaxies in our neck of the universe ... is as grand a statement about the sacred as any medieval cathedral.
There is... in our day, a powerful antidote to nonsense, which hardly existed in earlier times - I mean science. Science cannot be ignored or rejected, because it is bound up with modern technique; it is essential alike to prosperity in peace and to victory in war. That is, perhaps from an intellectual point of view, the most hopeful feature of our age, and the one which makes it most likely that we shall escape complete submersion in some new or old superstition.
Reality is determined not by what scientists or anyone else says or believes but by what the evidence reveals to us.