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Carl Sagan: ‘The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be’

(RNS) The late astronomer Carl Sagan is a touchstone for nonbelievers — atheists, agnostics and other nontheists. Here are some of Sagan’s more memorable statements, ones nonbelievers say reflect their philosophy that the universe is all there is:

  • “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.” — “Cosmos: A Personal Journey,” 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.” — “Cosmos: A Personal Journey,” 1980.
  • “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” — “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space,” 1994.
  • “The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don’t like that statement, but few can argue with it.” — “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” 1995.
  • “There are wonders enough out there without our inventing any.” — “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” 1995.
  • “Many religions have attempted to make statues of their gods very large, and the idea, I suppose, is to make us feel small. But if that’s their purpose, they can keep their paltry icons. We need only look up if we wish to feel small.” — “The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God,” 2006.


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • Once upon a time most believed that our great Planet was flat, all their belief couldn’t make it so. Praynography is on the way out. To be replaced by Logic,Common sense,Real Truth and Science, and tolerance for those that will not accept the reality of the lessons in the Cosmos. Thank you Carl Sagan for opening my eyes,ears, and mind to wondrous images of ” What if and Why not”
    Men like Mr. Sagan, and there are others many , many others whom will not have statues, or icons of them. They do not need them. The opening the Cosmos to us will be their legacy.. Hemp Solo

  • Harry: You wrote “When speaking of the cosmos it is illogical to consider a beginning.” That is a philosophical statement that cannot be proven by science. It is impossible to cross an actual infinity. If the cosmos and our universe were eternal, you could never have arrived at today.