- The atoms of Democritus
And Newton's particles of light
Are sands upon the Red sea shore,
Where Israel's tents do shine so bright.
MS Note-Book 1757–1827 English poet:
- We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. 1893–1981 American general: speech on Armistice Day, 1948
- Though I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds, which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, always been my object to avoid writing on religion, and I have confined myself to science.
refusing permission for Edward B. Aveling to dedicate The Students' Darwin to him; following Aveling's own publication of the letter in 1897, it is sometimes incorrectly reported as a response to a request from Karl Marx to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin
Annals of Science vol. 32, 1975 1809–82 English natural historian: letter to Edward B. Aveling, 13 October 1880; in L. Feuer ‘Is the Darwin–Marx Correspondence Authentic?’ in
- Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium (1941) ch. 13 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist:
- In disputes about natural phenomena one must begin not with the authority of Scriptural passage but with sensory experience and necessary demonstrations. For the Holy Scripture and nature derive equally from the Godhead, the former as the dictation of the Holy Spirit and the latter as the most obedient executrix of God's orders. 1564–1642 Italian astronomer and physicist: letter to Christina Lotharinga, Archduchess of Tuscany
- If ignorance of nature gave birth to the Gods, knowledge of nature is destined to destroy them.
Système de la Nature (1770) pt. 2, ch. 1 1723–89 French philosopher:
- I asserted—and I repeat—that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.
replying to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in the debate on Darwin's theory of evolution
Wilberforce 1825–95 English biologist: at a meeting of the British Association in Oxford, 30 June 1860; see
- I believe it was Magellan who said, ‘The Church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than the Church’.
Magellan 1833–99 American agnostic: ‘Individuality’ (lecture, 1873); see
- The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
Strength to Love (1963) ch. 7 1929–68 American civil rights leader:
- The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretences, and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake.
Notebooks (1956) ‘Minority Report’ 1880–1956 American journalist and literary critic:
- The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) 1928– American writer:
- Science is for the cultivation of religion, not for worldly enjoyment.
c.1213–c.91 Persian poet: The Rose Garden (1258)
- 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’?
Pale Blue Dot (1995) 1934–96 American scientist and writer:
- There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls. 1900–65 American Democratic politician: speech at Hartford, Connecticut, 18 September 1952