Quotes

The Cosmic Perspective: 10 Stirring Quotes By Carl Sagan

Image © Shutterstock

Editor's Note:

Who doesn’t love a good quote? For more like this, check out our quotations archive.

In trying times, it helps to step several feet back — or several light years — and remember the relative size of this stage our entire lives play out on. Carl Sagan was a huge help in this regard, relating 20th century scientific discoveries in a tone both poetic and humorous, unlocking the public’s understanding of the vastness of our cosmos.

Though he departed our world back in ’96, Sagan left behind an impressive canon of works exploring science, spirituality, and the mysteries of human existence. If you’re looking for answers, he may have them, and if you’re looking for even bigger questions… well, you’re about to hit the mother lode. The following quotes represent just a tiny slice of Sagan’s wit and wisdom, but still enough to help turn down the volume on all the lamenting and sabre-rattling from fellow Earthlings that constantly threatens to overwhelm us.

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994
“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Cosmos, 1980
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1995
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”

Contact, 1985
“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, 1997
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”

Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, 1979
“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search For Who We Are, 1992
“Nature is unsentimental.

Death is built in.”

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, 2006
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1995
“Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate–with the best teachers–the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses. Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society.”

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994
“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.”