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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine Quotes

Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
(13 Nov 354 - 28 Aug 430)

African Christian theologian and philosopher who was Bishop of Hippo.

Science Quotes by Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine (25 quotes)

...it is not to be taken in the sense of our day, which we reckon by the course of the sun; but it must have another meaning, applicable to the
three days mentioned before the creation of the heavenly bodies.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
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...That day in the account of creation, or those days that are numbers according to its recurrence, are beyond the experience and knowledge of us mortal earthbound men. And if we are able to make any effort towards an understanding of those days, we ought not to rush forward with an ill considered opinion, as if no other reasonable and plausible interpretation could be offered.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
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...We must be on our guard against giving interpretations that are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Genesis in the Literal Sense
Science quotes on:  |  Expose (16)  |  Give (201)  |  God (535)  |  Guard (18)  |  Hazardous (2)  |  Interpretation (70)  |  Oppose (24)  |  Ridicule (17)  |  Science (2067)  |  Unbeliever (2)  |  Word (302)

Nisi credideritis, non intelligitis.
Unless you believe, you will not understand.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Ubero Arbitrio (On Free Choice of the Will) [386], Book I, chapter 2, section 4 (Augustine quoting from Isaiah 7:9).
Science quotes on:  |  Bible (91)  |  Research (590)

Because words pass away as soon as they strike upon the air, and last no longer than their sound, men have by means of letters formed signs of words. Thus the sounds of the voice are made visible to the eye, not of course as sounds, but by means of certain signs.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In 'Origin of Writing', Christian Doctrine, Book 2, as translated by J.F. Shaw, collected in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Volume II: St. Augustin’s City of God and Christian Doctrine (1907), 536.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (190)  |  Eye (222)  |  Form (314)  |  Last (19)  |  Letter (51)  |  Linguistics (28)  |  Pass (93)  |  Sign (58)  |  Sound (90)  |  Strike (40)  |  Visible (38)  |  Voice (51)  |  Word (302)

But how is it that they [astrologers] have never been able to explain why, in the life of twins, in their actions, in their experiences, their professions, their accomplishments, their positions—in all the other circumstances of human life, and even in death itself, there is often found such a diversity that in those respects many strangers show more resemblance to them than they show to one another, even though the smallest possible interval separated their births and though they were conceived at the same moment, by a single act of intercourse.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Civitate Dei (The City of God) [413-426], Book V, chapter I, trans. H. Bettenson (1972),180-181.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrology (41)  |  Twins (2)

For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In Marcus Dods (ed.), J.F. Shaw (trans.), The Enchiridion of Augustine, Chap. 9, collected in The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: A new translation (1873), Vol. 9, 181-182.
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Hence, a devout Christian must avoid astrologers and all impious soothsayers, especially when they tell the truth, for fear of leading his soul into error by consorting with demons and entangling himself with the bonds of such association.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Genesi ad Uteram (On The Uteral Interpretation of Genesis) [401/415], Book II, chapter 17, section 37, trans. J. H. Taylor (1982), Vol. I, 72-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrology (41)  |  Truth (928)

I do not study to understand the transit of the stars. My soul has never sought for responses from ghosts. I detest all sacrilegious rites.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Confessions [c.397], Book X, chapter 35 (56), trans. H. Chadwick (1991),212.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (204)  |  Star (336)

If I am given a sign [formula], and I am ignorant of its meaning, it cannot teach me anything, but if I already know it what does the formula teach me?
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In De Magistro (400s), Book 1, chap 10, 23. As quoted in Ettore Carruccio, Mathematics And Logic in History And in Contemporary Thought (1964), 152.
Science quotes on:  |  Formula (80)  |  Give (201)  |  Ignorant (40)  |  Know (556)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Sign (58)  |  Teach (188)

If you do not ask me what time is, I know it; if you ask me, I do not know.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Attributed as quoted by Locke, quoted in Alfred W. Benn, review of the book 'Metaphysik' by F. Erhardt, Mind (1894), 3, 547.
Science quotes on:  |  Time (595)

It is not necessary to probe into the nature of things, as was done by those whom the Greeks call physici; nor need we be in alarm lest the Christian should be ignorant of the force and number of the elements—the motion, and order, and eclipses of the heavenly bodies; the form of the heavens; the species and the natures of animals, plants, stones, fountains, rivers, mountains; about chronology and distances; the signs of coming storms; and a thousand other things which those philosophers either have found out, or think they have found out. … It is enough for the Christian to believe that the only cause of all created things, whether heavenly or earthly … is the goodness of the Creator, the one true God.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In Marcus Dods (ed.), J.F. Shaw (trans.), The Enchiridion of Augustine, Chap. 9, collected in The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: A new translation (1873), Vol. 9, 180-181. The physici are natural philosophers.
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People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In Circulations: Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases, 1.
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The believer has the whole world of wealth (Prov. 17: 6 LXX) and “possesses all things as if he had nothing” (2 Cor. 6: 10) by virtue of his attachment to you whom all things serve; yet he may know nothing about the circuits of the Great Bear. It is stupid to doubt that he is better than the person who measures the heaven and counts the stars and weighs the elements, but neglects you who have disposed everything “by measure and number and weight” (Wisd. 11: 21).
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Confessions [c.397], Book V, chapter 4 (7), trans. H. Chadwick (1991), 76.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (204)  |  Bible (91)  |  Men Of Science (130)

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Mathematician refers to astrologer. From De Genesi ad Litteram (400s), Book 2, xviii, 37. As quoted in Morris Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture (1953, 1964), 3.
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The greatest evil is physical pain.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Soliloquies, I, 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Evil (79)  |  Pain (101)

The truth is rather in what God reveals than in what groping men surmise.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Genesi ad Uteram (On The Uteral Interpretation of Genesis) [401/415], Book II, chapter 9, section 2 I, trans. J. H. Taylor (1982), Vol. I, 59.
Science quotes on:  |  Truth (928)

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Science quotes on:  |  Book (257)  |  Page (30)  |  Read (145)  |  Travel (61)  |  World (898)

There is another form of temptation even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. ... It is this which drives us on to try to discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which men should not wish to learn.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
In Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan (1977).

These works [the creation of the world] are recorded to have been completed in six days … because six is a perfect number … [and] the perfection of the works was signified by the number six.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
From De Civitate Dei (early 400s), as translated by Marcus Dods, collected in The Works of Aurelius Augustine (1871), Vol. 1: 'Of the Perfection of the Number Six, which is the First of the Numbers Which is Composed of its Aliquot Parts', The City of God, Book 11, sect. 30, 474. Also seen translated as “Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because God created the world in six days; rather the contrary is true. God created the world in six days because this number is perfect, and it would remain perfect, even if the work of the six days did not exist.” [Note: 6 can be exactly divided (excluding itself) by 1, 2 or 3. It is a perfect number because those possible divisors also add up to a sum of 6.]
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Thus there can be no doubt that the world was not created in time but with time. An event in time happens after one time and before another, after the past and before the future. But at the time of creation there could have been no past, because there was nothing created to provide the change and movement which is the condition of time.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Civitate Dei (The City of God) [413-426], Book XI, chapter 6, trans. H. Bettenson (1972), 436.
Science quotes on:  |  Creation (242)

To this I may add another form of temptation, manifold in its dangers … There exists in the soul … a cupidity which does not take delight in the carnal pleasure but in perceptions acquired through the flesh. It is a vain inquisitiveness dignified with the title of knowledge and science. As this is rooted in the appetite for knowing, and as among the senses the eyes play a leading role in acquiring knowledge, the divine word calls it “the lust of the eyes” (I John, 2: 16) … To satisfy this diseased craving … people study the operations of nature, which lie beyond our grasp when there is no advantage in knowing and the investigators simply desire knowledge for its own sake. This motive is again at work if, using a perverted science for the same end, people try to achieve things by magical arts.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
From Confessions (c.397), Book X, Chap. 35 (54-55), as given in Henry Chadwick, Confessions: A New Translation by Henry Chadwick (1991), 210-212.
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Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand; since “except ye believe ye shall not understand.”
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
From Tractate 29, as translated by Marcus Dods in Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo), The Works of Aurelius Augustine: A New Translation (1873), Vol. 10, 405.
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Wherever it was, I did not come to know it through the bodily senses; the only things we know through the bodily senses are material objects, which we have found are not truly and simply one. Moreover, if we do not perceive one by the bodily sense, then we do not perceive any number by that sense, at least of those numbers that we grasp by understanding.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
De Ubero Arbitrio (On Free Choice of the Will) [386], trans. T. Williams (1993), 45.
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Research (590)

Yes indeed: the human mind, so blind and languid, shamefully and dishonourably wishes to hide, and yet does not wish anything to be concealed from itself. But it is repaid on the principle that while the human mind lies open to the truth, truth remains hidden from it. Yet even thus, in its miserable condition, it prefers to find joy in true rather than false things. It will be happy if it comes to find joy only in that truth by which all things are true—without any distraction interfering.
— Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine
Confessions [c.397], Book X, chapter 23 (34), trans. H. Chadwick (1991), 200.
Science quotes on:  |  Research (590)  |  Truth (928)

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would 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. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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