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Most Inspirational Carl Sagan Quotes About Life

These quotes are from Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan was an American astrophysicist, active from 1960 to 1996. He was a popular figure that represented all the fields of science and captured the public imagination, especially with his show Cosmos and his famous “Pale Blue Dot” speech. Among other things, Carl Sagan was known for his insight and poetically phrased musings on science and the universe.

Carl Sagan was a prominent, respected man and is a key influence on Digital Nihilism.

Here are 10 of the greatest Carl Sagan quotes.

1. “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.”– Carl Sagan

We are all unique, and we face unique challenges. What is easy for one may be difficult for another; what is obvious to me may be beyond comprehension to you. We lack the awareness to understand the complexity of others and we lack the information to have adequate insight into the challenges others face, but we often rush to judgment. With greater wisdom, perhaps we can see that everyone, self-actualized to their highest good, adds so much to the story of humanity and the experience of the universe.

2. “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” – Carl Sagan

It’s always interesting to watch some academics delight in dismissing the ideas of spirituality, only to reacquaint themselves with them decades or centuries later. For example, some prominent quantum physicists embrace the concept that all things, animate and inanimate, have consciousness and what differs is the level of sophistication: eerily similar to the Shinto belief system, which the same scientists may have haughtily dismissed even a decade ago. The more we learn about the universe, its infinite expanse, its infinite dimensions, its infinite timelines, et al., the more and more it seems possible that truths beyond our wildest comprehension and imagination are possible.

3. “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan

Everything that’s ever been created was first imagined. Too often we live in a society that denigrates imagination in favor of practicality and tradition. We would not be headed for Mars were it not for hundreds of years of science fiction breaking down our mental resistance to the possibility; many of the quantum physicists studying string theory and dimensions were most likely inspired by shows like The Twilight Zone. Fiction is a part of the human evolutionary muscle; it drives us forward and we devalue it at our own peril.

4. “Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?” – Carl Sagan

Always remember that the most learned people of any time period have been proven wrong. Galileo was convicted of heresy for his theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. Socrates was poisoned for corrupting the youth. “Smart men” whose positions in society are defined by the status of being arbiters of what is correct and incorrect are often terrifying apostles of anti-intellectualism, because their status is intertwined with their incorrect dogmas being accepted as truth. Wise people are apparent, because most often their concern is with truth, and not with self-aggrandizement.

5. “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

Not only is this true in terms of our technology and our civilization being led by imagination, the more we discover through science, the more this seems to be literally true. If simulation theory is proven to be indeed correct, it is very possible that we will develop our own Matrix-like simulations; thus our imaginations will quite literally carry us to worlds that never were.

6. “We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

It’s so true that human life is brief and impermanent, full of obsession about things that don’t matter before, after, or during it. We should recognize the brevity of existence; and once you do that, you will begin to question how we should ever be expected to waste our brief existences on things that do not, in the cosmic scheme of things, have any significance whatsoever. If a butterfly’s purpose is to be beautiful and flutter; so, too, should ours be, perhaps.

7. “You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.” – Carl Sagan

The Earth is quite crowded, but once humanity has ventured into the stars, we will surely be homesick. Faced with otherworldly threats, we will forget about the shallow divisions we focus on today and simply be thankful to see others of our own species. Even more, we will most likely miss all the plants and animals that are unique to Earth — even the spiders and wasps that scare us today, will be missed as we cultivate ecosystems devoid of everything we’ve ever known.

8. “A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.” – Carl Sagan

So true that religions, married to institutional power and dogma, have failed to adapt to the majesty of the increasingly known universe. Once upon a time, they pictured a man in the clouds; but we reached the clouds and found nothing; and from there they pictured a far off star, and so on and so forth. We learn more and more that this universe is not only infinite, but its parent universe is infinite, and likely has its own parent. The question of “God” becomes more and more mysterious the more science unravels.

9. “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” – Carl Sagan

The universe is a bleak and infinite void; in its eyes, we are infinitely small, its concern for us is even less than our concern for the hopes, dreams and ambitions of microbial cells. As difficult as it may be to understand and appreciate one another, we are all that exists in the universe that has any capacity or desire to do so. We are all in this together — 99% the same in a universe where nothing else shares a shred of similarity to any of us.

10. “Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.” – Carl Sagan

The universe is an infinitely expanding ouroboros. Only as we, culturally, ascend to higher levels of understanding and civilization, do we unlock the ability to explore more and more of the universe. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Education improves every aspect of our society, from acrimonious politics to economic independence, to appreciation of the arts, to reduced competition and violence, to empathy and psychological understanding of one another. If we’re to tackle the challenges to come, as Carl Sagan says, we need our minds wide awake.


That does it for the top 10 Carl Sagan quotes. I really invite you to ponder on these Carl Sagan quotes and absorb them, because I think there’s a depth of meaning in each of these quotes that really goes beyond a brief read.

I’ll be posting more quotes soon, both from Carl Sagan and other prominent thinkers, as well as more content related to philosophy and spirituality, so be sure to check back again from time to time.


  • Ryan Night

    Ryan Night is an ex-game industry producer with over a decade of experience writing guides for RPGs. Previously an early contributor at gamefaqs.com, Ryan has been serving the RPG community with video game guides since 2001. As the owner of Bright Rock Media, Ryan has written over 600 guides for RPGs of all kinds, from Final Fantasy Tactics to Tales of Arise.

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