130 Carl Sagan Quotes

Be reminded of the importance of your existence in this vast space we call the universe through these top Carl Sagan quotes! Whether you’re a science and astronomy enthusiast or not, this collection of quotes are great eye-openers to the wonders of the world and our existence.

So, be sure to join us as we explore the world that Carl Sagan tirelessly researched and wrote a bot—a world full of marvel, awe, and unpredictability.

Start exploring the wonders of the universe through the list below.

Best Carl Sagan Quotes

Carl Sagan Quote - For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion.Pin

1. “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

2. “If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

3. “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”

4. “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Carl Sagan Quote - Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.Pin

5. “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

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

7. “In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

8. “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

9. “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”

Carl Sagan Quote - Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.Pin

10. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

11. “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

12. “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?”

13. “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.”

14. “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions—binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another.”

Carl Sagan Quote - For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.Pin

15. “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

16. “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”

17. “Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic.”

18. “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious.”

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

Carl Sagan Quotes on the Meaning of Life

Carl Sagan Quote - We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.Pin

20. “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

21. “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.”

22. “See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

23. “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”

24. “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with.Pin

25. “The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”

26. “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”

27. “Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”

28. “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”

29. “To say that love makes the world go around is to go too far.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage.Pin

30. “The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage.”

31. “We are the custodians of life’s meaning.”

32. “People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs.”

33. “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

34. “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

Carl Sagan Quote - Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance.Pin

35. “Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves.”

36. “We are star stuff harvesting sunlight.”

37. “Across the sea of space, the stars are other suns.”

38. “Dreams are maps.”

39. “We have begun to contemplate our origins—starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion, billion, billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.”

Carl Sagan Quotes on Man, the Earth and the Universe

Carl Sagan Quote - The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. Pin

40. “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

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

42. “There are as many atoms in one molecule of DNA as there are stars in a typical galaxy.”

43. “The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline—one with three matches, the other with five.”

44. “I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.Pin

45. “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”

46. “Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”

47. “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous—an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

48. “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.”

49. “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.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since.Pin

50. “The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since.”

51. “Nature is unsentimental. Death is built in.”

52. “If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”

53. “Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home.”

54. “In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie.”

Carl Sagan Quote - But nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.Pin

55. “But nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.”

56. “Humans—who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals—have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain.”

57. “A sharp distinction between humans and animals is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them—without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret.”

58. “It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us.”

59. “We all have a thirst for wonder. It’s a deeply human quality.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. Pin

60. “The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know.”

61. “We inhabit a universe where atoms are made in the centers of stars; where each second a thousand suns are born; where life is sparked by sunlight and lightning in the airs and waters of youthful planets; where the raw material for biological evolution is sometimes made by the explosion of a star halfway across the Milky Way; where a thing as beautiful as a galaxy is formed a hundred billion times—a Cosmos of quasars and quarks, snowflakes and fireflies, where there may be black holes and other universe and extraterrestrial civilizations whose radio messages are at this moment reaching the Earth.”

62. “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.”

63. “An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth, scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many books, might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity, and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get it.”

64. “In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.Pin

65. “The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”

66. “It’s hard to kill a creature once it lets you see its consciousness.”

67. “It is said that men may not be the dreams of the god, but rather that the gods are the dreams of men.”

68. “When we look up at night and view the stars, everything we see is shining because of distant nuclear fusion.”

69. “We can’t help it. Life looks for life.”

Carl Sagan Quotes on Science and Spirituality

Carl Sagan Quote - When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling - that sense of elation and humility combined - is surely spiritual.Pin

70. “When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling—that sense of elation and humility combined—is surely spiritual.”

71. “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant.’”

72. “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.”

73. “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

74. “It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English—up to fifty words used in correct context, no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.Pin

75. “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.”

76. “The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths.”

77. “The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard, who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow, is ludicrous.”

78. “If by ‘God,’ one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying. it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.”

79. “It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic—that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery.”

Carl Sagan Quote - Science and religion are both bound up with it.Pin

80. “Science and religion are both bound up with it.”

81. “How pallid by comparison are the pretensions of superstition and pseudoscience; how important it is for us to pursue and understand science, that characteristically human endeavor.”

82. “We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology.”

83. “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”

84. “A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.”

Carl Sagan Quote - You see, the religious people - most of them - really think this planet is an experiment.Pin

85. “You see, the religious people—most of them—really think this planet is an experiment. That’s what their beliefs come down to.”

86. “Some god or other is always fixing and poking, messing around with tradesmen’s wives, giving tablets on mountains, commanding you to mutilate your children, telling people what words they can say and what words they can’t say, making people feel guilty about enjoying themselves, and like that. Why can’t the gods leave well enough alone?”

87. “If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn’t he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why’s he constantly repairing and complaining?”

88. “Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing.”

89. “What’s wrong with admitting that we don’t know something? Is our self-esteem so fragile?”

Carl Sagan Quote - Fanatical, ethnic, or religious, or national chauvinism are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light.Pin

90. “Fanatical, ethnic, or religious, or national chauvinisme are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.”

91. “National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space.”

92. “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

93. “An organism at war with itself is doomed.”

94. “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Carl Sagan Quote - There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed.Pin

95. “There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths.”

96. “Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.”

97. “Any faith that admires truth—that strives to know God—must be brave enough to accommodate the universe.”

98. “The lifetime of a human being is measured by decades, the lifetime of the Sun is a hundred million times longer.”

99. “Compared to a star, we are like mayflies—fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out their lives in the course of a single day.”

Carl Sagan Quotes on Wisdom, Insight, and Reading

Carl Sagan Quote - It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.Pin

100. “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”

101. “Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors.”

102. “I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”

103. “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.”

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

Carl Sagan Quote - The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from nature.Pin

105. “The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.”

106. “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”

107. “I consider it an extremely dangerous doctrine, because the more likely we are to assume that the solution comes from the outside, the less likely we are to solve our problems ourselves.”

108. “The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence.”

109. “If I finish a book a week, I will read only a few thousand books in my lifetime—about a tenth of a percent of the contents of the greatest libraries of our time. The trick is to know which books to read.”

Carl Sagan Quote - If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.Pin

110. “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”

111. “Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.”

112. “Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.”

113. “Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses.”

114. “Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society.”

Carl Sagan Quote - You have to know the past to understand the present.Pin

115. “You have to know the past to understand the present.”

116. “Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.”

117. “What I’m saying is, you don’t have to make stories up. You don’t have to exaggerate. There’s wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature’s a lot better at inventing wonders than we are.”

118. “If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power.”

119. “If the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us.”

Carl Sagan Quote - But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.Pin

120. “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

121. “Not explaining science seems to me perverse.”

122. “When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”

123. “Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me, every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are doing science.”

124. “When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition.”

Carl Sagan Quote - Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe.Pin

125. “Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of Chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together.”

126. “Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgement—the manner in which information is coordinated and used.”

127. “The visions we offer our children shape the future.”

128. “But I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.”

129. “If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves.”

Carl Sagan Quote - The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.Pin

130. “The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.”

Were You Humbled of Your Existence in the World Through These Carl Sagan Quotes?

Carl Sagan was an astronomer, writer, and one of the most influential figures in the United States when it came to his views on astronomy, extraterrestrial intelligence, and the relationship between science and religion. One may even say that he was probably one of America’s most beloved scientific visionaries alongside Albert Einstein.

Known by many as an ‘astronomer of the people,’ he brought down high-level concepts down to the masses in order to lessen the gap between science and nonscientists. Through his works, he taught us to be curious—to question everything and to observe how one variable relates to another. But most of all, he taught us the power of dreams and to let our imagination fly. Nothing is impossible in this vast space we call the universe, and it is up to us to realize our dreams, and to make our imaginations come to life.

How did these Carl Sagan quotes influence the way you view your existence on earth? Which quote struck you most? Be sure to let us know what you think about Carl Sagan and the quotes in this collection through the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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