Andrew Dickson White Quotes | Quotes by Andrew Dickson White

1This whole theory [of John Law and Jean Terrasson], as dear to French financial schemers in the eighteenth century as to American "Greenbackers" in the nineteenth, had resulted, under the Orleans Regency and Louis XV, in ruin to France financially and morally, had culminated in the utter destruction of all prosperity, the rooting out of great numbers of the most important industries, and the grinding down of the working people even to starvation.

2My early years abroad were spent mainly upon the European Continent, and public duties since have led me to make prolonged stays in various Continental states France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Russia where the study of Continental statesmen has been almost forced upon me.

3The young man [Turgot] destined for an ecclesiastical career was placed within walls carefully designed to keep out all currents of new thought; his studies, his reading, his professors, his associates, all were combined to keep from him any results of observation or reflection save those prescribed: probably, of all means for stifling healthy and helpful thought, a theological seminary, as then conducted whether Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Mohammedan, was the most perfect.

4I will not permit thirty men to travel four hundred miles to agitate a bag of wind.

5Just as the line of astronomical thinkers from Copernicus to Newton had destroyed the old astronomy, in which the earth was the center, and the Almighty sitting above the firmament the agent in moving the heavenly bodies about it with his own hands, so now a race of biological thinkers had destroyed the old idea of a Creator minutely contriving and fashioning all animals to suit the needs and purposes of man.

6The 'law of wills and causes,' formulated by Comte, . . . is that when men do not know the natural causes of things, they simply attribute them to wills like their own; thus they obtain a theory which provisionally takes the place of science, and this theory forms a basis for theology.

7The inquiry into Nature having thus been pursued nearly two thousand years theologically, we find by the middle of the sixteenth century some promising beginnings of a different method the method of inquiry into Nature scientifically the method which seeks not plausibilities but facts.

8Even before Melanchthon sank into his grave, he was dismayed at seeing Lutheranism stiffen into dogmas and formulas, and heartbroken by a persecution from his fellow-Protestants more bitter than anything he had ever experienced from Catholics.

9For similar folly, our own country, in the transition from the colonial period, also paid a fearful price; and from a like catastrophe the United States has been twice saved in our time by the arguments formulated by Turgot.

10Carlyle uttered a pregnant truth when he said that the history of any country is in the biographies of the men who made it.

Andrew Dickson White Quotes

11Aristotle especially, both by speculation and observation... reached something like the modern idea of a succession of higher organizations from lower, and made the fruitful suggestion of "a perfecting principle" in Nature. With the coming in of Christian theology this tendency toward a yet truer theory of evolution was mainly stopped, but the old crude view remained.

12A new danger now beset him [Grotius], the danger of becoming simply a venal pleader, a creature who grinds out arguments on this or that side, for this or that client: a mere legal beast of prey. Fortunately for himself and for the world he took a higher view of his life-work: his determination clearly was to make himself a thoroughly equipped jurist, and then, as he rose more and more in his profession, to use his powers for the good of his country and of mankind.

13In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science, and invariably; and, on the other hand, all untrammelled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted in the highest good both of religion and of science.

14The last struggles of a great superstition are very frequently the worst.

15In an address before the "Academia," which had been organized to combat "science falsely so called," Cardinal Manning declared his abhorrence of the new view of Nature, and described it as "a brutal philosophy to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam." ...These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion for several years.

16He [Paolo Sarpi] was one of the two foremost Italian statesmen since the Middle Ages, the other being Cavour.

17After Bruno's death, during the first half of the seventeenth century, Descartes seemed about to take the leadership of human thought... in promoting an evolution doctrine as regards the mechanical formation of the solar system... but his constant dread of persecution, both from Catholics and Protestants, led him steadily to veil his thoughts and even to suppress them. ...Since Roger Bacon, perhaps, no great thinker had been so completely abased and thwarted by theological oppression.

18The cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God.

19Persons who clamor for governmental control of American railways should visit Germany, and above all Russia, to see how such control results. In Germany its defects are evident enough; people are made to travel in carriages which our main lines would not think of using, and with a lack of conveniences which with us would provoke a revolt; but the most amazing thing about this administration in Russia is to see how, after all this vast expenditure, the whole atmosphere of the country seems to paralyze energy.

20His [Turgot's] first important literary and scholastic effort was a treatise On the Existence of God. Few fragments of it remain, but we are helped to understand him when we learn that he asserted, and to the end of his life maintained, his belief in an Almighty Creator and Upholder of the Universe. It did, indeed, at a later period suit the purposes of his enemies, exasperated by his tolerant spirit and his reforming plans, to proclaim him an atheist; but that sort of charge has been the commonest of missiles against troublesome thinkers in all times.

Andrew Dickson White Quotes

21The establishment of Christianity . . . arrested the normal development of the physical sciences for over fifteen hundred years.