Science Quotes 


quotes by scientists

"The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

- Albert Einstein

"The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero."

- Ilya Prigogine (Chemist-Physicist)
Recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry
I. Prigogine, N. Gregair, A. Babbyabtz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28

"The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see," Davies adds, "even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life -- almost contrived -- you might say a 'put-up job'."

- Dr. Paul Davies
(noted author and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Adelaide University)

" surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values."

- Professor Steven Weinberg
(Nobel Laureate in High Energy Physics [a field of science that deals with the very early universe], writing in the journal "Scientific American".)

"This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."

- Isaac Newton
("General Scholium," in Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton. 1687)

16O has exactly the right nuclear energy level either to prevent all the carbon from turning into oxygen or to facilitate sufficient production of 16O for life. Fred Hoyle, who discovered these coincidences in 1953, concluded that "a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology."

- Hoyle, Fred. "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20. (1982), p.16
(for more of these coincidences click here)

"If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one... Faced with the enormous sum of lucky draws behind the success of the evolutionary game, one may legitimately wonder to what extent this success is actually written into the fabric of the universe."

- Christian de Duve. "A Guided Tour of the Living Cell" (Nobel laureate and organic chemist)

Probably the leading paleontologist alive today, Simon Conway Morris, the scientist who discovered the significance of the Cambrian explosion of animal life, writes in his seminal book, Life's Solutions, that he is "convinced" that nature's success in the lottery of life has "metaphysical implications."

"I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing."

- Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy)
Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.

"As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming."

- Professor Freeman J. of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton

"...The capacity of DNA to store information vastly exceeds that of any other known system: it is so efficient that all the information needed to specify an organism as complex as man weighs less than a few thousand millionths of a gram. The information necessary to specify the design of all the species of organisms which have ever existed on the planet...could be held in a teaspoon and there would still be room left for all the information in every book ever written..."

- Dr. Michael Denton (Australian microbiologist)

"Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word 'miraculous' without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word."

- George Ellis (British astrophysicist)
Ellis, G.F.R. 1993. The Anthropic Principle: Laws and Environments. The Anthropic Principle, F. Bertola and U.Curi, ed. New York, Cambridge University Press, p. 30

"We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in."

- John O'Keefe (astronomer at NASA)
Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 200.

"Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say 'supernatural') plan."

- Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics)
Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.

"It is, for example, impossible for evolution to account for the fact than one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together."

"It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design."

- Anthony Flew
Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author, and debater

"It has occurred to me lately -- I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities -- that both questions [the origin of consciousness in humans and of life from non-living matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality -- that stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals. In them the universe begins to know itself."

- George Wald, (Noble laureate and professor of biology at Harvard University)
wrote this in an article entitled "Life and Mind in the Universe" which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal the
International Journal of Quantum Chemistry: Quantum Biology
, symposium 11 (1984): 1-15.

"There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter -- not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms out of which our individual minds have grown, exist as thoughts."

- Sir James Jeans
knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer who helped develop our understanding of the evolution of stars, wrote this in his book The Mysterious Universe (Cambridge, 1931).

As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather, Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?

- George Greenstein (American astronomer)
Greenstein, George. The Symbiotic, Universe: Life and Mind in the Cosmos. (New York: William Morrow, (1988), pp. 26-27

"What turns a mere piece of matter from being mere matter into an animated being? What gives certain special physical patterns in the universe the mysterious privilege of feeling sensations and having experiences?"

- D.R. Hofstadter

"When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics."

- Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics)
Tipler, F.J. 1994. The Physics Of Immortality. New York, Doubleday, Preface.

"When I went to the moon I was a pragmatic test pilot. But when I saw the planet Earth floating in the vastness of space the presence of divinity became almost palpable and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident."

- Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14 Astronaut)

"A life-giving factor lies at the centre of the whole machinery and design of the world."

- John Wheeler (American physicist)
Wheeler, John A. "Foreword," in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler. (Oxford, U. K.: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. vii.

"Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan."

- Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias, co-discoverer of the radiation afterglow
(Quoted in Walter Bradley, "The 'Just-so' Universe: The Fine-Tuning of Constants and Conditions in the Cosmos," in William Dembski and James Kushiner, eds., Signs of Intelligence. 168)

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world. We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible, to the gravity that glues us to an Earth that would otherwise send us spinning off into space, or to the atoms of which we are made and on whose stability we fundamentally depend. Except for children (who don't know enough not to ask the important questions), few of us spend much time wondering why nature is the way it is; where the cosmos came from, or whether it was always here; if time will one day flow backward and effects precede causes; or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans can know."

- Carl Sagan
(From an introduction to "A Brief History of Time"  by Stephen Hawking)

"As long as you are occupied with the mathematical sciences and the technique of logic, you belong to those who walk around the palace in search of the gate... When you complete your study of the natural sciences and get a grasp of the metaphysics, you enter into the inner courtyard and are in the same house as [G-d the King]."

- Moses Maimonides

"This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth... [But] for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; [and] as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

- Robert Jastrow
(God and the Astronomers [New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1978], 116.   Professor Jastrow was the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute, now director of the Mount Wilson Institute and its observatory.)

"As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency - or, rather, Agency - must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?"

- George Greenstein (astronomer)
Greenstein, G. 1988. The Symbiotic Universe. New York: William Morrow, p.27.

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption ... For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation.  The liberation we desired was simultaneous liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality.  We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom."

(REPORT, June 1966. "Confession of Professed Atheist," A. Huxley)

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