Asimov Quotes
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07-12-2014, 04:41 PM
Asimov Quotes
I was perusing Wikiquotes today (and what's wrong with that? Surely you can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday), and I was happy at the treasure trove that is Isaac Asimov's page. I thought I'd share the many, many gems about knowledge, science, atheism, and rational inquiry on the one hand, and religion, superstition, and other forms of folly on the other. (I will not distinguish between what he wrote as fiction, and what he said IRL.)

Quote:There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.

Quote:People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.

Quote:There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Quote:[Creationists] make it sound as though a "theory" is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.

Quote:But suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?

Quote:I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.

Quote:There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.

Quote:There are limits beyond which your folly will not carry you. I am glad of that. In fact, I am relieved.

Quote:I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t suppose it very hard.

Quote:If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.

I would also want a God who would not allow a Hell. Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don't believe that infinite evil can be said to exist even in the case of Hitler. Besides, if most human governments are civilized enough to try to eliminate torture and outlaw cruel and unusual punishments, can we expect anything less of an all-merciful God?

I feel that if there were an afterlife, punishment for evil would be reasonable and of a fixed term. And I feel that the longest and worst punishment should be reserved for those who slandered God by inventing Hell.

Quote:To be sure, the Bible contains the direct words of God. How do we know? The Moral Majority says so. How do they know? They say they know and to doubt it makes you an agent of the Devil or, worse, a Lbr-l Dm-cr-t. And what does the Bible textbook say? Well, among other things it says the earth was created in 4004 BC (Not actually, but a Moral Majority type figured that out three and a half centuries ago, and his word is also accepted as inspired.) The sun was created three days later. The first male was molded out of dirt, and the first female was molded, some time later, out of his rib. As far as the end of the universe is concerned, the Book of Revelation (6:13-14) says: "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." … Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.

Quote:Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Quote:If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.

Quote:I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.

Quote:He believes in that mummery a good deal less than I do, and I don’t believe in it at all.

Quote:For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science, that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat’s are really deadly. [For context, the "curse" amounted to flipping a switch and turning off the technological marvels upon which society relied.]

Quote:Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

Quote:There's something about a pious man such as he. He will cheerfully cut your throat if it suits him, but he will hesitate to endanger the welfare of your immaterial and problematical soul.

Quote:Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Quote:He is a dreamer of ancient times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others.

Quote:Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.

Quote:It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word “intuition.”

Quote:I know nothing of that directly; I only know what I have been told by other young ones who couldn’t have known directly either. I want to find out the truth about them and the wanting has grown until there is more of curiosity in me than fear.

Quote:I fear my ignorance.

Quote:The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.

Quote:I’ve lived most of my life already and I suppose I can argue myself into believing that I have no great cause to love humanity. However, only a few people have hurt me, and if I hurt everyone in return that is unconscionable usury.

Quote:If an interaction is too weak to be detectable or to exert influence in any way, then by any operational definition, it doesn’t exist.

Quote:Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?

No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?"

"Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."

Quote:Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field.
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07-12-2014, 05:57 PM
RE: Asimov Quotes
Thanks for mining those. They were great.
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07-12-2014, 06:00 PM
RE: Asimov Quotes
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
~Isaac Asimov

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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07-12-2014, 06:08 PM
RE: Asimov Quotes
(07-12-2014 04:41 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  I was perusing Wikiquotes today (and what's wrong with that? Surely you can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday), and I was happy at the treasure trove that is Isaac Asimov's page. I thought I'd share the many, many gems about knowledge, science, atheism, and rational inquiry on the one hand, and religion, superstition, and other forms of folly on the other. (I will not distinguish between what he wrote as fiction, and what he said IRL.)

Quote:There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.

Quote:People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.

Quote:There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Quote:[Creationists] make it sound as though a "theory" is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.

Quote:But suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?

Quote:I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.

Quote:There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.

Quote:There are limits beyond which your folly will not carry you. I am glad of that. In fact, I am relieved.

Quote:I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t suppose it very hard.

Quote:If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.

I would also want a God who would not allow a Hell. Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don't believe that infinite evil can be said to exist even in the case of Hitler. Besides, if most human governments are civilized enough to try to eliminate torture and outlaw cruel and unusual punishments, can we expect anything less of an all-merciful God?

I feel that if there were an afterlife, punishment for evil would be reasonable and of a fixed term. And I feel that the longest and worst punishment should be reserved for those who slandered God by inventing Hell.

Quote:To be sure, the Bible contains the direct words of God. How do we know? The Moral Majority says so. How do they know? They say they know and to doubt it makes you an agent of the Devil or, worse, a Lbr-l Dm-cr-t. And what does the Bible textbook say? Well, among other things it says the earth was created in 4004 BC (Not actually, but a Moral Majority type figured that out three and a half centuries ago, and his word is also accepted as inspired.) The sun was created three days later. The first male was molded out of dirt, and the first female was molded, some time later, out of his rib. As far as the end of the universe is concerned, the Book of Revelation (6:13-14) says: "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." … Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.

Quote:Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Quote:If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.

Quote:I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.

Quote:He believes in that mummery a good deal less than I do, and I don’t believe in it at all.

Quote:For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science, that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat’s are really deadly. [For context, the "curse" amounted to flipping a switch and turning off the technological marvels upon which society relied.]

Quote:Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

Quote:There's something about a pious man such as he. He will cheerfully cut your throat if it suits him, but he will hesitate to endanger the welfare of your immaterial and problematical soul.

Quote:Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Quote:He is a dreamer of ancient times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others.

Quote:Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.

Quote:It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word “intuition.”

Quote:I know nothing of that directly; I only know what I have been told by other young ones who couldn’t have known directly either. I want to find out the truth about them and the wanting has grown until there is more of curiosity in me than fear.

Quote:I fear my ignorance.

Quote:The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.

Quote:I’ve lived most of my life already and I suppose I can argue myself into believing that I have no great cause to love humanity. However, only a few people have hurt me, and if I hurt everyone in return that is unconscionable usury.

Quote:If an interaction is too weak to be detectable or to exert influence in any way, then by any operational definition, it doesn’t exist.

Quote:Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?

No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?"

"Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."

Quote:Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field.

Your best quote was: "People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it..."

The second mouse gets the cheese.
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