Quotations about   questioning

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He must be a man of little faith, who would fear to subject his own religion to the same critical tests to which the historian subjects all other religions. We need not surely crave a tender or merciful treatment for that faith which we hold to be the only true one. We should rather challenge it for the severest tests and trials, as the sailor would for the good ship to which he trusts his own life, and the lives of those who are dear to him. In the Science of Religion, we can decline no comparisons, nor claim any immunities for Christianity, as little as the missionary can, when wrestling with the subtle Brahmin, or the fanatical Mussulman, or the plain speaking Zulu.

Max Müller (1823-1900) German-British philologist, Orientalist, religious studies founder
Chips from a German Workshop, vol. 1, Preface (1866)
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Added on 9-Oct-20 | Last updated 16-Oct-20
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This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.

Orson Scott Card (b. 1951) American author
Speaker for the Dead (1986)
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Added on 25-Aug-20 | Last updated 25-Aug-20
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One of the greatest of joys known to man is to take such a flight into ignorance in search of knowledge. The great pleasure of ignorance is, after all, the pleasure of asking questions. The man who has lost this pleasure or exchanged it for the pleasure of dogma, which is the pleasure of answering, is already beginning to stiffen.

Robert Lynd (1892-1970) American sociologist [Robert Slaughton Lynd]
The Pleasure of Ignorance, ch. 1 (1921)
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Added on 29-Jan-20 | Last updated 29-Jan-20
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But your spiritual teachers caution you against enquiry — tell you not to read certain books; not to listen to certain people; to beware of profane learning; to submit your reason, and to receive their doctrines for truths. Such advice renders them suspicious counsellors. By their own creed, you hold your reason from their God. Go! ask them why he gave it.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 3 “Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge” (1829)
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Added on 4-Sep-19 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?”

Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?”

There was silence.

Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
Added on 22-Jul-15 | Last updated 22-Jul-15
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HARKEN: [In an interrogation room] You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
ZOE: Fought with a lot of people in the war.
HARKEN: And your husband?
ZOE: Fight with him sometimes, too.
HARKEN: Is there any particular reason you don’t wish to discuss your marriage?
ZOE: Don’t see that it’s any of your business, is all. We’re very private people.
WASH: [In a different interrogation room] The legs! [Laughs] Oh yeah, definitely have to say it was her legs. You can put that down. Her legs, and right where her legs — meet her back. That — actually, that whole area. That, and — and above it. […] Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?

Tim Minear (b. 1963) American screenwriter and director
Firefly, 1X03 “Bushwhacked” (27 Sep 2002)
Added on 30-Apr-15 | Last updated 30-Apr-15
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I am driven to express my faith by a series of skepticisms.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1845)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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They had Gebert down there, slapping him around and squealing and yelling at him. If you’re so sure violence is inferior technique, you should have seen that exhibition; it was wonderful. They say it works sometimes, but even if it does, how could you depend on anything you got that way? Not to mention that after you had done it a few times any decent garbage can would be ashamed to have you found in it.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
The Red Box, ch. 14 [Archie] (1937)

Describing a police interrogation.
Added on 6-Mar-14 | Last updated 6-Mar-14
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I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment — until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth.

That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather. If he was seeking after political Truth he found it in one or another of the hundred political gospels which govern men in the earth; if he was seeking after the Only True Religion he found it in one or another of the three thousand that are on the market. In any case, when he found the Truth he sought no further; but from that day forth, with his soldering-iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other he tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What is Man?” (1906)
Added on 28-May-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question and discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it — the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Ethics of Belief,” Part 1 “The Duty of Inquiry,” Contemporary Review (Jan 1877)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
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