44 Carl Sagan Quotes About Earth, Love & Humanity

Carl Edward Sagan was a space and planetary scientist who became known for his popular books and television series. His book Cosmos was released in 1980 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired in 2013 and won a Primetime Emmy.

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory,
The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Science of Spacetime, and
Cosmos and Culture: The Cosmos in the Human Imagination.

Sagan is best remembered for his work in popular science and for his work in popularizing science. He was a strong proponent for rational thought and public engagement with science, and these became his legacies with the world.

44 Carl Sagan Quotes

The only evidence is the testimony of the witnesses (or the witnesses’ own statements).

While there is no other god or gods other than the physical one, and this physical one is not much different than the one in the bible, we do have an understanding of the universe that is much grander. We also have a scientific method that allows for us to make predictions and test those predictions. The bible only has predictions and no method to test the predictions. It doesn’t make much sense to me why people want to believe in something that is not testable or based on evidence.

Scientists believe the universe came into existence at a Big Bang. All the galaxies came from that one event. We also believe God created the universe. Scientists would like to say God is a sloppy manufacturer. God started a universe, but it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. He’s not happy but he’s going to keep trying.

The world of science is not as stable as the world of politics or religion. In science, the community of scientists are always looking for better ways to address their particular field of enquiry, and they can never know, at any given point in time, whether their new ideas will be adopted into the canon and become part of what people accept as the truth.

I would be thrilled in a future life if there are opportunities to continue learning about the world and if I have the chance to discover how history turns out.

8th of 44 Carl Sagan Quotes

Understand is joyous. Our mind is like a muscle. When our mind is in use we feel very good.

The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.

You can’t expect to be around someone for an entire lifetime. I’ve been around people my whole life, and as much as I want to help them, and even though I want them to help me, we will lose track of each other.

“This is an exquisite arrangement of plants and animals and all the components of this environment are intricately connected and dependent on the entire environment.” – Carl Sagan


The celibacy of the clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.

It is true that some people are laughed at, but others are respected for their achievements. Columbus and Fulton were laughed at but ultimately their efforts made a great difference in history. The Wright brothers are remembered in history because of their contributions with the invention of airplanes. On the other hand, Bozo the Clown did accomplish something, but he did it for children, and it doesn’t make him a genius.

This is an example of a paraphrase.

14th of 44 Carl Sagan Quotes

But it turns out that when you reach a certain level of understanding, you realize that the universe is way more complicated than you thought it was.

There are many ways of looking at scientific discoveries. I do not think I would feel like the kids in those elementary schools did when they learned about DNA. The discovery of the double helix and the discovery of the structure of DNA were big things for kids back then, but I doubt they felt the same way about it as many adults do today.

No, science does not do us a service in deflating our conceits. It does not, however, help us understand why the Universe exists.

The universe is what it is. You might try to make it different, or change it, but if you do, you will have to understand what you have changed, and you will no longer be able to make statements about the universe.
The universe will do what it will do; you might persist in delusion, but the universe isn’t going to change on your whim, no matter how reasonable you think you might be.

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

In the last years of his life, Carl Sagan believed that the Earth was just one of a myriad of planets, and the other planets were far more technologically advanced than mankind. He further believed that the future of mankind would not be decided by our race against our competition, but our race against our own mortality. The universe is truly a lonely and empty place.

When I read this quote for the first time, I thought this is great! It is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition. A universe without ambition is a universe without life, which I think is not what Sagan was looking for.

I think that we can measure the integrity of a person by how they treat people who are weaker than them. The higher the level of integrity, the more strength you have to be open and honest to others and yourself.

22nd of 44 Carl Sagan Quotes

When you do the thing yourself, even if you’re the last person on earth to see the light, you’ll never forget it.

Many of us do not know what happened to the early members of the human race. Some people think that these people left the planet to never return, some people think that they are still here and hiding.

The universe is so vast and I’m so small that the only reason I matter is that I share a fundamental commonality with everybody else in this whole universe.

When there is so much to see and experience, we can only enjoy it by loving what we see and experience.

For most people, a star is a big ball of glowing gas that will burn out in a few billion years. Carl Sagan was one of the brightest minds in science and his books are still read today. Sagan was always a very good student but he did not know much of the specifics of the universe. Many of the things he had to learn on his own as he was growing up.

An apple pie recipe requires an understanding of the makeup of our universe.

The most important thing in life is how well you choose your ideas.

We have to perform a critical analysis of the information we are provided and not let our beliefs prevent us from examining it. We can only learn with our minds.

The world has become a battlefield of nuclear weapons, with people and countries at the ready with weapons of mass destruction.

31st of 44 Carl Sagan Quotes

The universe is indifferent. We are too insignificant in the grand scheme of things to be of consequence.

Carl Sagan says we are living in a world of ignorance and that this is a toxic combination of power. As a society we won’t survive to experience the chaos of change.


In the spirit of answers that are more like links to wikipedia entries, here is one in German.

It’s not about who’s more humble, it’s about how humble you are. I’m not trying to make myself “humble” by trying to convince myself that I’m wrong about certain things, I just don’t think I’m humble enough to believe that I know what’s true and what’s not in general. I would rather remain humble and teach my kids to be humble as well.

I think books are like cities and cities are like books, and what happens in one large city is also broadcast as video in a single large American city, and perhaps other large cities, in a single year, and maybe all kinds of cities in the world will be broadcast as video with equal value in a single large American city in a single year.

I think this is a false dichotomy. I believe that as long as we have the desire and ability to create and build, that we will survive. I believe that as long as there are places on Earth to keep us safe, we will continue to live.

Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many different kinds of slavery and many different kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.

This quote is relevant in a few ways. First, it indicates that Sagan does not endorse the notion of an afterlife, but merely wishes to live the life he has been given. Second, it indicates the degree to which his view of the universe is rooted in empirical science. That is, he was interested in only those things that can be observed and measured, using empirical methods. Third, it shows Sagan’s willingness to consider other ways of knowing and thinking, which can be applied to the study of religion, as well.

38th of 44 Carl Sagan Quotes

Some people would say that Carl Sagan had a great imagination. I think that would be true. If we can think ourselves into the future, it shows a great deal of imagination and creativity.

39. Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with a basic understanding of how the world works.

As we can see, the original is an exact match for the paraphrase. The one on the bottom is only a general paraphrase, it does not make use of the same word order in the original as the paraphrase above.
To find a phrase that is a match for the original, we’ll need to look at the different words in the sentence.

You know, I get a little worried when people start calling him “The Carl Sagan of physics” — because I’m pretty sure that’s been done.

The truth may be difficult for some people to face. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict their deeply held beliefs. It may not be something that they want to acknowledge. But the truth is always there.

There are dumb questions, tedious or otherwise, and questions which are hard to get out of one’s head. But every question is a cry for understanding. There are no dumb questions.

Many elements of modern life–transportation, food, medicine, communication, and education–are all dependent on science.


I hope you enjoy this collection of Carl Sagan quotes. Share these with your friends. Let’s spread the word and bring more love into the world.

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