Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

— Oscar Wilde

“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, while we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.

— A A Milne

I was much too far out all my life.
And not waving but drowning.

— Stevie Smith

If we were less arrogant we might see ourselves for what we are – children sent on an errand, who first forget our instructions and then realise we have forgotten the way home.

— Lindsay Clarke

Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.

— Steven Wright

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.

— Michael Crichton

We are none of us infallible – not even the youngest of us.

— W H Thompson

To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent.

— Robert Copeland

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

— Oscar Wilde

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

— Carl Sagan

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

— Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.

— Bertrand Russell

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.

— Ernest Benn

Science yields well-motivated beliefs, but it does not deliver complete and absolute certainty about them.

— John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth

We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them.

— Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

The existence of even an infinite number of universes would not of itself guarantee that one of them had life-generating capacity, as if all possibilities would have to be present in that vast ensemble. After all there are an infinite number of even numbers, but none of them possesses the property of oddness.

— John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.

— Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Every person who gives birth to Christ within allows Christ to shine through into creation.

— Nicholas Vesey

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel prizewinner and discoverer of Vitamin C

The ambience here is order and beauty. That is what frightens me when I am first alone again. I feel inadequate. I have made an open place, a place for meditation. What if I cannot find myself inside it?

— May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery.

— Leonard Cohen

The best songs to me — my best songs — are songs which were written very quickly. Yeah, very, very quickly. Just about as much time as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it.

— Bob Dylan

Do you think I care for you so little that your betraying me would make a difference?

— Dr Who

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

— Tolstoy

Jesus was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

— C S Lewis

Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on for ever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.

— Kenneth Boulding, 1910-93, economist, poet, mystic, Quaker, philosopher

The assent of many voices is not a valid proof for truths.

— Descartes

Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, order more tunnel.

— Sir John Quinton

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

— From Isaiah 43

You can prove anything with evidence.

— Steve Turner

History repeats itself. Has to. No-one listens.

— Steve Turner

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

— Israeli diplomat Abba Eban.

Just to be clear, there are plenty of examples from the history of science where few theorists have doubted something that has ultimately proved to be quite wrong.

— Jim Baggott, How Fairytale Physics betrays the Search for Scientific Truth, p258

Every generation tends to see society going to the dogs as standards of education, behaviour, speech and pretty much everything else decline. In fact, what many people see as decline is simply a move away from the norms they are accustomed to.

— Anon, Scientific Alliance

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

— C S Lewis: Screwtape Letters

Economists have as much effect on the economy as weather forecasters have on the weather.

— Anon – quoted in Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

— Albert Einstein

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God. In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”

— Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGO’s, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good… Christians, black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write, and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be a better place without it.

I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and it suppresses individuality. Anxiety – fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things – strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought…. Christianity, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God… liberates. … Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

— Matthew Parris, The London Times 27.12.08

The easiest and least stressful path to success is to adopt the status quo viewpoint without question.

— Fred Heffer, On the creep of political correctness, even at Eton. Daily Telegraph, 1 Dec 2020