Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"To think we are able is almost to be so; to determine upon attainment is frequently attainment itself; earnest resolution has often seemed to have about it almost a savor of omnipotence." - Samuel Smiles

"The absolute demonstration of man’s mastery of fate and command of all condition - the victory of man - all men in this racial man, this elder brother of mankind in his triumph over sin, fear and death! But one thing had remained in my mind as necessary to prove to the mass of men to-day man’s absolute supremacy over death in all its forms as an attribute of his oneness with God, with Eternal Life, Perfect Love, Perfect Justice, Omniscience and Omnipotence." - Paul Tyner

"It is a paradox of the post-industrial age that, despite its technical omnipotence, it is as dominated by words and magic as any primitive tribe. A haze of empty words, coming from the word factories of the universities, is corrupting the air of our ailing cities. The young lurch not so much from one illusion to another as from one cliché to another." - Eric Hoffer

"A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after." - Peter De Vries

"It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us." - Peter De Vries

"As to the freedom of the will, a very different account must be given of it as it exists in God and as its exists for us... That idea of good impelled God to choose one thing rather than another... Thus that supreme indifference in God is the supreme proof of his omnipotence. But as to man, since he finds the nature of all goodness and truth already determined by God, and his will cannot bear upon anything else, it is evident that he embraces the true and the good the more willingly and hence the more freely in proportion as he sees the true and the good more clearly, and that he is never indifferent save when he does not know what is the more true or the better, or at least when he does not see clearly enough to prevent him from doubting about it. Thus the indifference which attaches to human liberty is very different from that which belongs to the divine." - René Descartes

"There is no virtue so truly great and godlike as Justice. Most of the other virtues are the virtues of created Beings, or accommodated to our nature as we are men. Justice is that which is practised by God himself, and to be practised in its perfection by none but him. Omniscience and Omnipotence are requisite for the full exertion of it. The one, to discover every degree of uprightness or iniquity in thoughts, words and actions. The other, to measure out and impart suitable rewards and punishments. As to be perfectly just is an attribute in the divine nature, to be so to the utmost of our abilities is the glory of a man. Such an one who has the publick administration in his hands, acts like the representative of his Maker, in recompencing the virtuous, and punishing the offender." - Joseph Addison

"Religion represents a bond (Bindung) of man to god. It consists in reverent aw of supernatural might (Macht), to which human life is subordinated [?] and which has in its power (Gewalt) our wellfare and misery (Wohl und Wehe). To remain in permanent contact with this might and keep it all the time inclined to oneself, is the unending effort and the highest goal of believing man. Because only [?] in such a way can one feel himself safe before expected and unexpected dangers, which threaten one in his life, and can take part in the highest happiness – inner psychical peace – which can be attained only [?] by means of strong bond to god and unconditional trust to his omnipotence and willingness to help. As far as here the religion originates in the consciousness of individual man." - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"In this identification, however, we have to take into account also one essential difference. For a religious man the god is given immediately and primarily. In him, in his allmighty will, originates all life and all happenings in bodily as in spiritual life. Though he cannot be grasped by reason, he is, nevertheless, directly perceived through religious symbols and he puts his holy message in the souls of those who give up to him in faith [here Planck does not consider god to be a world order, since the latter, as far as I know, does not send any holy messages]. On the contrary, for a scientist, the only primarily given facts are the contents of his sensual perceptions and the measurements following from them. Scientists use the latter to approach, as close as possible, god and his world order, as the highest, eternally unattainable goal, with the help of inductive researches, [is this actually the sole goal of any scientist?]. If then, both religion and science, need for their activities the belief in god [does the science really need god – this is stated here for the first time, with no justification], the god stands for the former in the beginning, for the latter at the end of the whole thinking. For the former, god represents the basis, for the latter the crown of any reasoning concerning the world view. This difference corresponds to different roles played in human life by religion and science. Science needs man for gaining knowledge, religion, however, needs him for action [aha, and I had no idea at all till now, what is the religion good for!] ... Since we find ourselves amidst life and must ... frequently make instant decisions, ... in which we are not helped by long deliberation but only by a safe and clear guidance (Weisung), which we will gain from immediate contact with god [here again god cannot be identical with the world order, because the latter does not provide anyone with quick guidance] ... and if besides omnipotence and omniscience we ascribe god [we really can ascribe god anything at will?] also the attributes of good and love [I thought all the time that god has properties independent of us, but here I see that they are given him by people], then resorting to him (Zuflucht zu ihm) guarantees a man, who is in search for consolation, higher measure of reliable feeling of happiness. One cannot object anything against such an idea from the standpoint of science, since the questions of ethics, as we have already emphasized, do not belong at all to its competence." - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"Rationalists are admirable beings, rationalism is a hideous monster when it claims for itself omnipotence. Attribution of omnipotence to reason is as bad a piece of idolatry as is worship of stock and stone believing it to be God. I plead not for the suppression of reason, but for a due recognition of that in us which sanctifies reason." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Ask of Me, beautiful mouth, What dost thou ask of Me? For thy suppliant cry Hath ascended on high Inclining My ear to thy plea. First with the lion we met, Next came the leopard’s leap, We were fain to take flight From our garden’s delight And into a hiding-place creep. Hardly these creatures had passed, Sated with Judah’s spoil, Than the wild ass we feared Out of midnight appeared To trample and dwell on our soil. Ishmael’s offspring command Back to his Arab land, As his mother of old To her mistress was told To return and submit to her hand. " - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"The times when the centre of gravity of political development and the crystallising agent of capitalist contradictions lay on the European continent, are long gone by. To-day Europe is only a link in the tangled chain of international connections and contradictions." - Rosa Luxemburg, aka Rosalia Luxemburg, "Bloody Rosa"

"The divine law indeed has excluded women from this ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can affect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others." - John Chrysostom, fully Saint John Chrysostom

"You and I toiling for earth may at the same time be toiling for heaven, and every day's work may be a Jacob's ladder reaching up nearer to God." - Theodore Parker

"I want to meet my God awake." - Thomas Carlyle

"If the devil doesn't exist... how do you explain that some people are a lot worse than they're smart enough to be?" - Wendell Berry

"The only form of simplicity recognized by art is the simplicity that is profound." - Victor Hugo

"It is vice to go to bed with someone you are not married to or have someone of your own sex or to get money for having sex with someone who does not appeal to you - incidentally, the basis of half the marriages of my generation." - Gore Vidal, fully Eugene Luther Gore Vidal