Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Doubt

"Only when we know little do we know anything; doubt grows with knowledge." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Those only who know little can be said to know anything. The greater the knowledge the greater the doubt." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Doubt indulged soon becomes doubt realized." - Frances Ridley Havergal

"I have no doubt whatever that most people live, whether physically, intellectually, or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness and of their souls’ resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger... We all have reservoirs of life to draw upon, of which we do not dream." - William James

"It need not discourage us if we are full of doubts. Healthy questions keep faith dynamic. In fact, unless we start with doubts we cannot have a deep-rooted faith. One who believes lightly and unthinkingly has not much of a belief. He who has a faith which is not to be shaken has won it through blood and tears - has worked his way from doubt to truth as one who reaches a clearing through a thicket of brambles and thorns." -

"I find no foeman in the road but fear; to doubt is failure and to dare success." -

"There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking." - Alfred Korzybski, fully Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski

"I never know a man to die of overwork, but I have known many men to die of doubt." - Charles Horace Mayo

"Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system and profoundly affects the health. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt." - Charles Horace Mayo

"We all crave happiness, and we have at hand the predisposing conditions which make it possible. Nevertheless, the fact remains that deliberately to pursue happiness is not the surest way of achieving it. Seek it for its own sake and I doubt whether you will find it." - Robert J. McCracken, D.D.

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education." - Wilson Mizner

"Zeal and curiosity are the twin scourges of the soul: the latter prompts us to poke our noses into everything; the former prevents our leaving anything in doubt or undecided." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Silence is the highest wisdom of a fool as speech is the greatest trial of a wise man. If thou wouldst be known as wise, let thy words show thee so; if thou doubt thy words, let thy silence feign thee so. It is not a greater point of wisdom to discover knowledge than to hide ignorance." - Francis Quarles

"Fear makes us not only less than we might be but less than we think we are. Faith reminds us we should doubt our fears." - Noah benShea

"No doubt solitude is wholesome, but so is abstinence after a surfeit. The true life of man is in society." - William Gilmore Simms

"A religion without mystery must be a religion without God. In dwelling on divine mysteries, keep thy heart humble, thy thoughts reverent, thy soul holy. Let not philosophy be ashamed to be confuted, nor logic to be confounded, nor reason to be surpassed. What thou canst not prove, approve; what thou canst not comprehend, believe; what thou canst believe, admire and love and obey. so shall thine ignorance be satisfied in thy faith, and thy doubt be swallowed up in thy reverence, and thy faith be as influential as sight. Put out thing own candle, and then shalt thou see clearly the sun of righteousness." - Jeremy Taylor

"The worst estate of human life is doubt." - Samuel Tuke, fully Sir Samuel Tuke

"Doubt is the disease of this inquisitive, restless age. It is the price we pay for our advanced intelligence and civilization - the dim night of our resplendent day. But as the most beautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that springs from conflict is often the strongest and the best." - Robert James Turnbull

"It is only about things that do not interest one that one can give a really unbiased opinion, which is no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is always absolutely valueless." -

"Whosoever grows wrathful for any reason against his sufferings has therein departed from the way of the just, because he may not doubt that these things have happened to him by divine dispensation." - Peter Abelard, Latin: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailard; French: Pierre Abélard

"Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God." -

"If that than which no greater can be conceived were only in the understanding, there would be something still greater than it, which assuredly is impossible. Something, therefore, without doubt, exists than which no greater can be conceived, and it is both in the understanding and in reality." - Anselm of Canterbury, aka Saint Anselm or Archbishop of Canterbury NULL

"A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition." - José Bergamin, fully José Bergamín Gutiérrez

"Doubt attracts “reasons” for not succeeding, whereas belief finds the means to do the job. Do not see yourself merely in terms of how you appear now. Absorbing the blows is a quality of greatness. Every big success is created one step at a time." - Tom Butler-Bowdon

"All theories, all values, all reforms, all revolutions, all change, and all actions are built on the shifting sands of custom and opinion, and the winds of doubt and new circumstances and considerations are always blowing, always rising." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"The meaning of life is to be found in the living of it, and even for the individual a considerable range of possibilities and an unending flow of reflections upon your life constitutes part of that meaning. Play has no ultimate goal, no serious goal that will bring it to an end, but rather renews itself in constant repetition, with no repetition being an exact repeat of a prior instance. Living has a series of goals and is serious as well as playful, and yet the goals are always in transformation, or at least always in doubt. Circumstances are often similar, but it is not easy to specify exactness in your lived experience, even with someone with whom you have lived most of your life." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"To free yourself is to know that all views are foundationless in that they can never remove all doubt, can never show conclusively that they are the justifiably favored views. Nor can any view separate itself from the flux of change, from alterations of perspective or of information, from the awareness of alternative possibilities." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"Never be afraid to doubt, if only you have the disposition to believe, and doubt in order than you may end in believing the truth." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"The fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom." -

"The men who build the future are those who know that greater things are yet to come, and that they themselves will help bring them about. Their minds are illuminated by the blazing sun of hope. They never stop to doubt. They haven't time." - Melvin James Evans

"Doubt is the trouble of a soul left to itself, which wants to see what God hides from it, and out of self-love seeks impossible securities." -

"Death is a great adventure, but none need go unconvinced that there is an issue to it. The man of faith may face it as Columbus faced his first voyage from the shores of Spain. What lies across the sea he cannot tell; but his special expectations all may be mistaken; but his insight into the clear meanings of present facts may persuade him beyond doubt that the sea has another shore." -

"Wonder, rather than doubt, is the root of knowledge." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Now there is no doubt that the prayer of quiet, that a certain formless recollection and loving feeding upon the sense and presence of God, as here and now, is a most legitimate prayer." - Friedrich von Hügel, formally Baron Friedrich Maria Aloys Franz Karl Freiherr von Hugel

"Intellectual freedom means the right to re-examine much that has been long taken for granted. A free man must be a reasoning man, and he must dare to doubt what a legislative or electoral majority may most passionately assert." -

"'Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one's mouth and remove all doubt." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The cure works best when the doctor himself believes in his own formulae, otherwise he may be overcome by scientific doubt and so lose the proper convincing tone." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"Sick or well, blind or seeing, bond or free, we are here for a purpose and however we are situated, we please God better with useful deeds than with many prayers or pious resignation. The temple or church is empty unless the good life fill it. The altar is holy if only it represents the altar of our heart upon which we offer the only sacrifices ever commanded – the love that is stronger than hate and the faith that overcometh doubt." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"Knowledge creates doubt, and doubt makes you ravenous for more knowledge. You can’t get full eating this way. The wise person dines on something more subtle: he eats the understanding that the named was born from the unnamed, that all being flows from non-being, that the describable world emanates from an indescribable source. He finds this subtle truth inside his own self, and becomes completely content." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"One great Reason why many Children abandon themselves wholly to silly sports and trifle away all their time insipidly is because they found their Curiosity baulk’d and their Enquiries neglected. But had they been treated with more kindness and Respect and their Questions answered, as they should, to their Satisfaction, I doubt not but they would have taken more Pleasure in Learning and improving their Knowledge, wherein there would be still Newness and Variety, which is what they are delighted with, than in returning over and over to the same Play and Playthings." - John Locke

"Mutual tolerance of religious views is the product not of faith, but of doubt." - Arnold Lunn, fully Sir Arnold Henry Moore Lunn

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul… You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair." - Douglas MacArthur

"When anything is clear enough, true enough, real enough, beyond the point of doubt, then that something raises within itself its own requiredness, its own demand-character, its own suitabilities. It “calls for” certain kinds of action rather than others. If we define ethics, morals, and values as guides to action, then the easiest and best guides to the most decisive actions are very facty facts; the more facty they are, the better guides to action they are." -

"To philosophize is to doubt." -

"Our beliefs serve myriad purposes: They help us to organize the world in meaningful ways… They can also connect us with the transcendent dimensions of experience, and give us inspiration and hope, essential tools for confronting those moments of confusion and doubt that are so often part of life." - Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

"Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." - John Henry Newman, aka Cardinal Newman and Blessed John Henry Newman