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Meditation 579
Quotations XLII

"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-third 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.).

  1. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

  2. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God? George Deacon

  3. Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power Eric Hoffer

  4. The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. If you take your children for a picnic on a doubtful day, they will demand a dogmatic answer as to whether it will be fine or wet, and be disappointed in you when you cannot be sure. The same sort of assurance is demanded, in later life, of those who undertake to lead populations into the Promised Land. Liquidate the capitalists and the survivors will enjoy eternal bliss. Exterminate the Jews and everyone will be virtuous. Kill the Croats and let the Serbs reign. These are samples of the slogans that have won wide popular acceptance in our time. Even a modicum of philosophy would make it impossible to accept such bloodthirsty nonsense. But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. For the learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline, and for the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy. Bertrand Russell

  5. Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. Friedrich Nietzsche

  6. It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all. Denis Diderot

  7. If Christ is the answer, perhaps you should rephrase the question. John Tyrrell

  8. It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either. Mark Twain

  9. Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. George Eliot

  10. I am not young enough to know everything. Oscar Wilde

  11. Astrology proves just one scientific fact: there's one born every minute. Patrick Moore

  12. The business of proving evolution has reached a stage when it is futile for biologists to work merely to discover more and more evidence of evolution. Those who choose to believe that God created every biological species separately in the state we observe them, but made them in a way calculated to lead us to the conclusion that they are the products of an evolutionary development are obviously not open to argument. All that can be said is that their belief is an implicit blasphemy, for it imputes to God an appalling deviousness.Theodosius Dobzhansky

  13. Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. Voltaire

  14. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead. Will Rogers

  15. It is the experience of living that is important, not searching for meaning. We bring meaning by how we love the world. Bernie S. Siegel

  16. Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. H.G. Wells

  17. Scientific theories are judged by the coherence they lend to our natural experience and the simplicity with which they do so. The grand principle of the heavens balances on the razor's edge of truth. Pravin Lal

  18. I would have made a good Pope. Richard M. Nixon

  19. Faith is a fine invention
    When gentlemen can see,
    But microscopes are prudent
    In an Emergency.

    Emily Dickinson

  20. Belief and sincerity do not define truth; it exists despite belief and sincerity. Joshua David Mather