Naturalism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "naturalism" (showing 1-30 of 217)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Christopher Hitchens
“About once or twice every month I engage in public debates with those whose pressing need it is to woo and to win the approval of supernatural beings. Very often, when I give my view that there is no supernatural dimension, and certainly not one that is only or especially available to the faithful, and that the natural world is wonderful enough—and even miraculous enough if you insist—I attract pitying looks and anxious questions. How, in that case, I am asked, do I find meaning and purpose in life? How does a mere and gross materialist, with no expectation of a life to come, decide what, if anything, is worth caring about?

Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don't believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart's content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others—while in the meantime it is precisely those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity—so the answer to the first question falls into two parts. A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called 'meaningless' except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be expended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities… but there, there. Enough.”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

John Muir
“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”
John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Thomas A. Edison
“Study, along the lines which the theologies have mapped, will never lead us to discovery of the fundamental facts of our existence. That goal must be attained by means of exact science and can only be achieved by such means. The fact that man, for ages, has superstitiously believed in what he calls a God does not prove at all that his theory has been right. There have been many gods – all makeshifts, born of inability to fathom the deep fundamental truth. There must be something at the bottom of existence, and man, in ignorance, being unable to discover what it is through reason, because his reason has been so imperfect, undeveloped, has used, instead, imagination, and created figments, of one kind or another, which, according to the country he was born in, the suggestions of his environment, satisfied him for the time being. Not one of all the gods of all the various theologies has ever really been proved. We accept no ordinary scientific fact without the final proof; why should we, then, be satisfied in this most mighty of all matters, with a mere theory?

Destruction of false theories will not decrease the sum of human happiness in future, any more than it has in the past... The days of miracles have passed. I do not believe, of course, that there was ever any day of actual miracles. I cannot understand that there were ever any miracles at all. My guide must be my reason, and at thought of miracles my reason is rebellious. Personally, I do not believe that Christ laid claim to doing miracles, or asserted that he had miraculous power...

Our intelligence is the aggregate intelligence of the cells which make us up. There is no soul, distinct from mind, and what we speak of as the mind is just the aggregate intelligence of cells. It is fallacious to declare that we have souls apart from animal intelligence, apart from brains. It is the brain that keeps us going. There is nothing beyond that.

Life goes on endlessly, but no more in human beings than in other animals, or, for that matter, than in vegetables. Life, collectively, must be immortal, human beings, individually, cannot be, as I see it, for they are not the individuals – they are mere aggregates of cells.

There is no supernatural. We are continually learning new things. There are powers within us which have not yet been developed and they will develop. We shall learn things of ourselves, which will be full of wonders, but none of them will be beyond the natural.

[Columbian Magazine interview]”
Thomas A. Edison

George Santayana
“My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.”
George Santayana, Soliloquies in England & Later Soliloquies

Stephen Crane
“When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples.”
Stephen Crane, The Open Boat

Daniel C. Dennett
“But recently I have learned from discussions with a variety of scientists and other non-philosophers (e.g., the scientists participating with me in the Sean Carroll workshop on the future of naturalism) that they lean the other way: free will, in their view, is obviously incompatible with naturalism, with determinism, and very likely incoherent against any background, so they cheerfully insist that of course they don't have free will, couldn’t have free will, but so what? It has nothing to do with morality or the meaning of life. Their advice to me at the symposium was simple: recast my pressing question as whether naturalism (materialism, determinism, science...) has any implications for what we may call moral competence. For instance, does neuroscience show that we cannot be responsible for our choices, cannot justifiably be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished? Abandon the term 'free will' to the libertarians and other incompatibilists, who can pursue their fantasies untroubled. Note that this is not a dismissal of the important issues; it’s a proposal about which camp gets to use, and define, the term. I am beginning to appreciate the benefits of discarding the term 'free will' altogether, but that course too involves a lot of heavy lifting, if one is to avoid being misunderstood.”
Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained

Pierre-Simon Laplace
Napoleon, when hearing about Laplace's latest book, said, 'M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its creator.'

Laplace responds, 'Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (I had no need of that hypothesis.)”
Pierre-Simon Laplace

Michael Denton
“The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.”
Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis

Robert J. Sawyer
“There is no indisputable proof for the big bang," said Hollus. "And there is none for evolution. And yet you accept those. Why hold the question of whether there is a creator to a higher standard?”
Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Isaac Newton
“How came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art, and for what ends were their several parts?
Was the eye contrived without skill in Opticks, and the ear without knowledge of sounds?...and these things being rightly dispatch’d, does it not appear from phænomena that there is a Being incorporeal, living, intelligent...?”
Isaac Newton, Opticks

Michael J. Behe
“In the abstract, it might be tempting to imagine that irreducible complexity simply requires multiple simultaneous mutations - that evolution might be far chancier than we thought, but still possible. Such an appeal to brute luck can never be refuted... Luck is metaphysical speculation; scientific explanations invoke causes.”
Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

Nikola Tesla
“Science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call 'soul' or 'spirit,' is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the 'soul' or the 'spirit' ceases likewise.

I expressed these ideas long before the behaviorists, led by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson in the United States, proclaimed their new psychology. This apparently mechanistic conception is not antagonistic to an ethical conception of life.”
Nikola Tesla, Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla

William A. Dembski
“The very comprehensibility of the world points to an intelligence behind the world. Indeed, science would be impossible if our intelligence were not adapted to the intelligibility of the world. The match between our intelligence and the intelligibility of the world is no accident. Nor can it properly be attributed to natural selection, which places a premium on survival and reproduction and has no stake in truth or conscious thought. Indeed, meat-puppet robots are just fine as the output of a Darwinian evolutionary process.”
William A. Dembski, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design

Pierre-Simon Laplace
“We ought to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its antecedent state and as the cause of the state that is to follow. An intelligence knowing all the forces acting in nature at a given instant, as well as the momentary positions of all things in the universe, would be able to comprehend in one single formula the motions of the largest bodies as well as the lightest atoms in the world, provided that its intellect were sufficiently powerful to subject all data to analysis; to it nothing would be uncertain, the future as well as the past would be present to its eyes. The perfection that the human mind has been able to give to astronomy affords but a feeble outline of such an intelligence.”
Pierre-Simon Laplace

H.P. Lovecraft
“I am, indeed, an absolute materialist so far as actual belief goes; with not a shred of credence in any form of supernaturalism—religion, spiritualism, transcendentalism, metempsychosis, or immortality.”
H.P. Lovecraft

Isaac Newton
“Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”
Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

Walt Whitman
“I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is course, and stuffed with the stuff that is fine, one of the nation, of many nations, the smallest the same and the the largest”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Ruth Hurmence Green
“The natural is so awesome that we need not go beyond it.”
Ruth Hurmence Green, The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible

Robert J. Sawyer
“It is either coincidence piled on top of coincidence," said Hollus, "or it is deliberate design.”
Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Gary Snyder
“But if you do know what is taught by plants and weather, you are in on the gossip and can feel truly at home. The sum of a field's forces [become] what we call very loosely the 'spirit of the place.' To know the spirit of a place is to realize that you are a part of a part and that the whole is made or parts, each of which in a whole. You start with the part you are whole in.”
Gary Snyder, The Gary Snyder Reader, Volume 1: Prose, Poetry and Translations 1952-1998

Michael J. Behe
“The most essential prediction of Darwinism is that, given an astronomical number of chances, unintelligent processes can make seemingly-designed systems, ones of the complexity of those found in the cell. ID specifically denies this, predicting that in the absence of intelligent input no such systems would develop. So Darwinism and ID make clear, opposite predictions of what we should find when we examine genetic results from a stupendous number of organisms that are under relentless pressure from natural selection. The recent genetic results are a stringent test. The results: 1) Darwinism’s prediction is falsified; 2) Design’s prediction is confirmed.”
Michael J. Behe

David G. McAfee
“If there is a Creator-God, it has used methods of creation that are indistinguishable from nature, it has declined to make itself known for all of recorded history, it doesn't intervene in affairs on earth, and has made itself impossible to observe. Even if you believe in that God... why would you think it would want to be worshiped?”
David G. McAfee, Mom, Dad, I'm an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer

Gustave Flaubert
“My foregrounds are imaginary, my backgrounds real.”
Gustave Flaubert

“The smaller the creature, the bolder its spirit.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Wolfgang Ernst Pauli
Einstein has a feeling for the central order of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws. We may take it that he felt this simplicity very strongly and directly during his discovery of the theory of relativity. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the contents of religion. I don't believe Einstein is tied to any religious tradition, and I rather think the idea of a personal God is entirely foreign to him.”
Wolfgang Ernst Pauli

Gary Snyder
“Will be but corpses dressed in frocks,
who cannot speak to birds or rocks.”
Gary Snyder

Phillip E. Johnson
“Materialism sets us free from sin-by proving that there is no such thing as sin. There's just antisocial behavior, which we can control with measures like laws and educational programs.”
Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds

Robert J. Sawyer
“No one disputes that seeming order can come out of the application of simple rules. But who wrote the rules?”
Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Stephen Crane
“Nevertheless, he had, on a certain star-lit evening, said wonderingly and quite reverently: "Deh moon looks like hell, don't it?”
Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

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