Quotes about agnosticism/atheism by way of science and nature
December 15, 2017 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Looking for quotes, lines of poetry, paragraphs, etc. about agnosticism/atheism along the lines of Douglas Adams' "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" and Dana Scully's "Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it."

That is, not meant to refute religion or theism head on, but to suggest that the beautiful complexity of nature need not be over-complicated into the work supernatural beings. I thought there was something by a heavy-hitter like Husserl, Hume, or Bruno (with apologies to Adams and Scully).
posted by cocoagirl to Religion & Philosophy (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
There will be quotes that hit both of those notes more explicitly (beauty of nature + superfluity of divine origins), but the thing that comes to mind first is Darwin at the end of the Origin. He is saying the second part without coming right out with it.

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
posted by Beardman at 7:27 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


There’s a lot of this in Guy Murchie’s Seven Mysteries of Life. I don’t know anything about his faith but he’s very big on wonder for wonder’s sake.
posted by stinkfoot at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2017


“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

—Emily Dickinson
posted by Short Attention Sp at 8:10 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, what a piece of work is man,
How marvelously wrought;
The quick contrivance of his hand,
The wonder of his thought.

Why need we look for miracles
Outside of nature's laws,
When man is what to wonder at
With every breath he draws.

But give him room to move and grow,
But give his spirit play,
And he can make a world of light
Out of the common clay.

- "The Miracle", by Malvina Reynolds
posted by Daily Alice at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2017


“The vastness of heavens stretches my imagination...Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?“

Feynman, from his lectures.
posted by nat at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I often go to Wikiquote, which collects quotations under all sorts of categorizations. Maybe the "Relationship between religion and science" collection has something suitable for your purpose.
posted by amk at 10:45 AM on December 15, 2017


You might find some good ones perusing the photos/quotes/memes posted by these and other facebook groups:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/progressivesecularhumanist/photos/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/thethinkingatheist/photos/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/AtheistRepublic/photos/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/dailystoic/photos/

Also, pinterest, google image search, the major quote collection sites...

Of course, many will be tangential, but might give you some useful ideas.
posted by dancing leaves at 2:21 PM on December 15, 2017


I've always liked this one from the TV show Bones:

"Two plus two equals four. I put sugar in my coffee and it tastes sweet. The sun comes up because the world turns. These things are beautiful to me. There are mysteries I will never understand, but everywhere I look I see proof that for every effect there is a corresponding cause. Even if I can't see it. I find that reassuring."

--Temperance "Bones" Brennan, "The Devil in the Details"
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:06 AM on December 16, 2017


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