Clarke’s Three Laws
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.
I don’t believe in God but I’m very interested in her.
The rash assertion that “God made man in His own image” is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths, and as the hierarchy of the universe is disclosed to us, we may have to recognize this chilling truth: if there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they cannot be very important gods.
Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor—but they have few followers now.
I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.
I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being). Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.
There is the possibility that humankind can outgrown its infantile tendencies, as I suggested in Childhood’s End. But it is amazing how childishly gullible humans are. There are, for example, so many different religions—each of them claiming to have the truth, each saying that their truths are clearly superior to the truths of others—how can someone possibly take any of them seriously? I mean, that’s insane. Though I sometimes call myself a crypto-Buddhist, Buddhism is not a religion. Of those around at the moment, Islam is the only one that has any appeal to me. But, of course, Islam has been tainted by other influences. The Muslims are behaving like Christians, I’m afraid.
Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the idea is quite staggering.
Perhaps, as some wit remarked, the best proof that there is Intelligent Life in Outer Space is the fact it hasn’t come here. Well, it can’t hide forever—one day we will overhear it.
The fact that we have not yet found the slightest evidence for life—much less intelligence—beyond this Earth does not surprise or disappoint me in the least. Our technology must still be laughably primitive, we may be like jungle savages listening for the throbbing of tom-toms while the ether around them carries more words per second than they could utter in a lifetime.
The moon is the first milestone on the road to the stars.
We are just tenants on this world. We have just been given a new lease, and a warning from the landlord.
Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal.
This is the first age that’s ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one.
As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.
Our age is in many ways unique, full of events and phenomena that never occurred before and can never happen again. They distort our thinking, making us believe that what is true now will be true forever, though perhaps on a larger scale.
It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars.
New ideas pass through three periods:
- It can’t be done.
- It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing.
- I knew it was a good idea all along!
Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.
There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information—in the sense of raw data—is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.
Communication technologies are necessary, but not sufficient, for us humans to get along with each other. This is why we still have many disputes and conflicts in the world. Technology tools help us to gather and disseminate information, but we also need qualities like tolerance and compassion to achieve greater understanding between peoples and nations. I have great faith in optimism as a guiding principle, if only because it offers us the opportunity of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I hope we’ve learnt something from the most barbaric century in history—the 20th. I would like to see us overcome our tribal divisions and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalisation. [December 2007]