"Atheism..., that bugbear of women and fools, is the very top and perfection of free-thinking. It is the grand arcanum to which a true genius naturally riseth, by a certain climax or gradation of thought, and without which he can never possess his soul in absolute liberty and repose."
"It is well worth the efforts of a lifetime to have attained knowledge which justifies an attack on the root of all evil--viz. thedeadly atheism which asserts that because forms of evil have always existed in society, therefore they must always exist; and that the attainment of a high ideal is a hopeless chimera."
"I had a strong curiosity to be satisfied if he persisted in disbelieving a future state even when he had death before his eyes....I asked him if the thought of annihilation never gave him any uneasiness. He said not the least.... "Well," said I, "Mr. Hume, I hope to triumph over you when I meet you in a future state; and remember you are not to pretend that you was joking with all this infidelity." "No, no," said he. "But I shall have been so long there before you come that it will be nothing new."
"Science ... has won for us a great liberty in the physical world, a liberty from superstitious fear and from disease, a freedom touse nature as a familiar servant; but it has not freed us from ourselves."
"For the scientist the formulation of questions is almost the whole thing. The answers, when found, only lead on to other questions. The nightmare of the scientist is the idea of complete knowledge. He shudders to think of such a thing. Compare this with the certainty that belongs to religion, and you will see how different science is from religion. Religion replaces doubt with certainty. Science holds an infinity of doubt, and implies a faith. Faith in what? Perhaps in nothing; just a capacity to have faith; or if there must be faith in something, then faith in the inexorable laws that govern phenomena."
"The very hope of experimental philosophy, its expectation of constructing the sciences into a true philosophy of nature, is basedon induction, or, if you please, the a priori presumption, that physical causation is universal; that the constitution of nature is written in its actual manifestations, and needs only to be deciphered by experimental and inductive research; that it is not a latent invisible writing, to be brought out by the magic of mental anticipation or metaphysical mediation."
"Science asks no questions about the ontological pedigree or a priori character of a theory, but is content to judge it by its performance; and it is thus that a knowledge of nature, having all the certainty which the senses are competent to inspire, has been attained--a knowledge which maintains a strict neutrality toward all philosophical systems and concerns itself not with the genesis or a priori grounds of ideas."
"Knowledge signifies things known. Where there are no things known, there is no knowledge. Where there are no things to be known, there can be no knowledge. We have observed that every science, that is, every branch of knowledge, is compounded of certain facts, of which our sensations furnish the evidence. Where no such evidence is supplied, we are without data; we are without first premises; and when, without these, we attempt to build up a science, we do as those who raise edifices without foundations. And what do such builders construct? Castles in the air."
"It is generally supposed that they who have long been conversant with the ocean can foretell, by certain indications, such as itsroar and the notes of sea-fowl, when it will change from calm to storm; but probably no such ancient mariner as we dream of exists; they know no more, at least, than the older sailors do about this voyage of life on which we are all embarked. Nevertheless, we love to hear the sayings of old sailors, and their accounts of natural phenomena which totally ignore, and are ignored by, science; and possibly they have not always looked over the gunwale so long in vain."
"Whether he sleeps or wakes,--whether he runs or walks,--whether he uses a microscope or a telescope, or his naked eye,--a man never discovers anything, never overtakes anything, or leaves anything behind, but himself. Whatever he says or does, he merely reports himself. If he is in love, he loves; if he is in heaven, he enjoys; if he is in hell, he suffers. It is his condition that determines his locality."
"What an admirable training is science for the more active warfare of life! Indeed, the unchallenged bravery which these studies imply, is far more impressive than the trumpeted valor of the warrior."
"Linnæus, setting out for Lapland, surveys his "comb" and "spare shirt," "leathern breeches" and "gauze cap to keep off gnats," with as much complacency as Bonaparte a park of artillery for the Russian campaign. The quiet bravery of the man is admirable."
"He who is conversant with the supernal powers will not worship these inferior deities of the wind, waves, tide, and sunshine. Butwe would not disparage the importance of such calculations as we have described. They are truths in physics because they are true in ethics."