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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Carl Sagan Quotes > Religion

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Carl Sagan
(9 Nov 1934 - 20 Dec 1996)

American astronomer, exobiologist and writer remembered for popularizing astronomy and science, especially with his public television series Cosmos. Its accompanying book spent seventy weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. He was an adviser to NASA for the Mariner, Voyager, and Viking unmanned space missions.



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. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.
— Carl Sagan
Pale Blue Dot: a Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Convention (13)  |  Emergence (22)  |  Faith (135)  |  Magnificence (5)  |  Religion (214)  |  Reserve (8)  |  Revelation (29)  |  Reverence (26)  |  Science And Religion (271)  |  Universe (615)

But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
— Carl Sagan
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Aggregate (9)  |  Child (208)  |  Civilization (161)  |  Confident (7)  |  Corrupt (4)  |  Couple (7)  |  Coward (4)  |  Creator (42)  |  Destroyer (3)  |  Different (132)  |  Doctrine (55)  |  Dot (11)  |  Dust (47)  |  Economic (23)  |  Everyone (27)  |  Explorer (18)  |  Father (47)  |  Hear (45)  |  Hero (30)  |  History (314)  |  Home (76)  |  Human Being (61)  |  Hunter (13)  |  Ideology (9)  |  Inventor (50)  |  Joy (77)  |  King (26)  |  Know (394)  |  Leader (22)  |  Live (230)  |  Love (193)  |  Moral (104)  |  Mote (3)  |  Mother (66)  |  Peasant (5)  |  Politician (24)  |  Religion (214)  |  Saint (11)  |  Sinner (2)  |  Species (198)  |  Suffer (33)  |  Sunbeam (3)  |  Supreme (26)  |  Suspend (9)  |  Teacher (98)  |  Thousand (123)  |  Young (83)

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. It’s very rare that a senator, say, replies, “That’s a good argument. I will now change my political affiliation.”
— Carl Sagan
From keynote address at CSICOP conference, Pasadena, California (3 Apr 1987). Printed in 'The Burden of Skepticism', Skeptical Inquirer (1987), 12, No. 1. Collected in Kendrick Frazier (ed.), The Hundredth Monkey: And Other Paradigms of the Paranormal (1991), 5.

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. 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. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'
— Carl Sagan
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Awe (26)  |  Dream (143)  |  Elegance (21)  |  Religion (214)  |  Size (56)  |  Subtlety (9)  |  Thinking (223)  |  Universe (615)

Religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. … near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.
— Carl Sagan
From 'A Sunday Sermon', in Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1975, 2011), 332-333.
Science quotes on:  |  Contention (7)  |  Core (14)  |  Doctrine (55)  |  Experience (288)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  Rational (44)  |  Religion (214)  |  Remarkable (34)  |  Resistance (24)  |  Science And Religion (271)  |  Tough (9)

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
— Carl Sagan
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Both (58)  |  Deep (99)  |  Insight (60)  |  Means (119)  |  Nonsense (33)  |  Science And Religion (271)  |  Scrutiny (13)  |  Skeptical (7)

The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.
— Carl Sagan
Contact (1997), 162.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (421)  |  Contention (7)  |  Contradiction (46)  |  Hypothesis (231)  |  Idea (457)  |  Inspiration (52)  |  Possibility (101)  |  Religion (214)  |  Revelation (29)  |  Scepticism (5)  |  Truth (764)  |  Wrong (119)

The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no in the endeavor of science. We do not know in advance who will discover fundamental insights.
— Carl Sagan
In Cosmos (1985), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (128)  |  Common (96)  |  Discovery (601)  |  Endeavor (35)  |  Fundamental (124)  |  Idea (457)  |  Insight (60)  |  Knowledge (1148)  |  Path (66)  |  Politics (81)  |  Religion (214)  |  Science (1741)  |  Suppression (6)  |  Uncomfortable (3)

Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? ... No other human institution comes close.
— Carl Sagan
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Belief (421)  |  Prophecy (7)  |  Reliability (14)  |  Religion (214)  |  Vague (11)

Carl Sagan quote Advances in medicine and agriculture
A bean farmer checks her crop in Congo. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT). CC2.0 (source)

See also:
  • 9 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Sagan's birth.
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote A Subject Called Chemistry - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote A Subject Called Chemistry - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote “Advances in medicine and agriculture” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote “Advances in medicine and agriculture” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos, by William Poundstone. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Carl Sagan.

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
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
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- 40 -
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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