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The Genius Of Arthur C. Clarke In 127 Quotes

The Genius Of Arthur C. Clarke In 127 Quotes

Arthur C. Clarke was a well-known science-fiction and science writer, futurologist, inventor, and TV show host in Great Britain. 

I’ve put together these Arthur C. Clarke quotes, which I think perfectly illustrate his genius ideas and brilliant thinking.

Arthur C. Clarke was considered a genius of his time – a man who shed light on many truths and whose thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.

Through his work, he left a great mark on the field of science-fiction literature – as he wrote a great selection of stories and short stories which take you to another world. 

However, his greatest contribution was in the field of science through his writings, inventions, and discoveries. 

In 1961, Clarke received a Kalinga prize for popularizing science, and his science-fiction writings brought him quite a few Nebula and Hugo awards. 

For many years, he was considered one of the “Big Three” in Science, next to Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

One of his greatest inventions was a satellite communication system that used geostationary orbits, and of his greatest discoveries was discovering the underwater ruins of the ancient Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

To pursue his passion for scuba diving and exploration, Clarke moved to Sri Lanka, where he was awarded this country’s highest civil honor – Sri Lankabhimanya.

Then, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1989 “for services to British cultural interests in Sri Lanka” and was knighted by the British Empire in 1998. 

This is just a summary of Clarke’s legacy and achievements, but he definitely lived an amazing life and left a mark on this world.

In his books and writings, you can find a lot of wise and inspirational, life-changing quotes. 

I did the hard work and researched his best quotes for you, so have a look below. 

Arthur C. Clarke Quotes on the Universe 

Image of Arthur c. Clarke quotes on the universe 

1. “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

2. “If such a thing had happened once, it must surely have happened many times in this galaxy of a hundred billion suns.”

3. “Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.”

4. “There’s an ancient philosophical joke that’s much subtler than it seems. Question: Why is the Universe here? Answer: Where else would it be?”

5. “I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.”

6. “Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.”

7. “Now, this is an interesting number, for, by a curious coincidence, there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived in this Universe, there shines a star.”

8. “But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many-perhaps most-of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly, there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven- or hell.”

9. “There is no reason to assume that the universe has the slightest interest in intelligence, or even in life. Both may be random accidental by-products of its operations, like the beautiful patterns on a butterfly's wings. The insect would fly just as well without them.”

10. “In this single galaxy of ours, there are eighty-seven thousand million suns. In challenging it, you would be like ants attempting to label and classify all the grains of sand in all the deserts of the world.” 

11. “It is a bitter thought, but you must face it. The planets you may one day possess. But the stars are not for man.”

12. “How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures? We have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars or Venus, and those are still remote goals of the next generation.”

13. “The barriers of distance are crumbling; one day, we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.”

14. “Men have been slow to face this prospect; some still hope that it may never become a reality. Increasing numbers, however, are asking, ‘Why have such meetings not occurred already, since we ourselves are about to venture into space?”

15. “The universe is full of energy, but much of it is at equilibrium. At equilibrium, no energy can flow, and therefore it cannot be used for work.”

Arthur C. Clarke's Quotes on Science & Science-fiction

Image of Arthur c. Clarke's quote on science & science-fiction

16. “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 nonexistence of Zeus or Thor, but they have few followers now.”

17. “…science fiction is something that could happen – but usually, you wouldn't want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen – though often you only wish that it could.”

18. “Now I'm a scientific expert; that means I know nothing about absolutely everything.”

19. “Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.”

20. “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.”

21. “There's no real objection to escapism in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism; in fact, you might say that science fiction is an escape into reality….”

22. “It's a fiction that does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man, our future. In fact, I can't think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.” 

Arthur C. Clarke Quotes That Are Short Yet Powerful

Image of short Arthur c. Clarke quote

23. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

24. “Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.”

25. “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”

26. “Discovery was no longer a happy ship.”

27. “When in doubt, say nothing and move on.”

28. “Humor was the enemy of desire.”

29. “Someone once said that for every problem, there is a solution that is simple, attractive … and wrong.”

30. “An author should never turn down the opportunity for a new experience.”

31. “No electronic computer can match the human brain at associating apparently irrelevant facts.”

32. “When beauty is universal, it loses its power to move the heart.”

33. “Any man, in the right circumstances, could be dehumanized by panic.”

34. “A man who grows that much hair,' critics were fond of saying, ‘must have a lot to hide.”

35. “Civilization and Religion are incompatible,” and “Faith is believing what you know isn’t true.”

36. “Work is the best remedy for any shock.”

37. “If a man can live in Manhattan, he can live anywhere.”

38. “Faith in one’s own destiny was among the most valuable of the gifts which the gods could bestow upon a man.”

39. “Problems seldom go away if they’re ignored.”

40. “The goal of the future is full unemployment so that we can play.”

41. “A hundred failures would not matter when one single success could change the destiny of the world.”

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42. “Personally, I refuse to drive a car – I won't have anything to do with any kind of transportation in which I can't read.”

43. “Death focuses the mind on the things that really matter: why are we here, and what should we do?”

44. “When the reality was depressing, men tried to console themselves with myth.”

45. “Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly.”

46. “I don't believe in God, but I'm very interested in her. ”

47. “Now I can rejoice that I knew you rather than mourn because I lost you.”

48. “…no one of intelligence resents the inevitable.”

49. “Science fiction could now be made far more convincing by science fact.”

50. “Long ago, it had been discovered that without some crime or disorder, Utopia soon became unbearably dull.”

51. “The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjustments on his bathroom scale.”

52. “Excessive interest in pathological behavior was itself pathological.”

53. “It was the mark of a barbarian to destroy something one could not understand.”

54. “It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.”

55. “Man’s beliefs were his own affair, so long as they did not interfere with the liberty of others.”

“Man’s beliefs were his own affair, so long as they did not interfere with the liberty of others.” - Arthur C Clarke

56. “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius, and we’re skeptical.”

57. “I will not be afraid because I understand … And understanding is happiness.”

58. “And if there was anything beyond that, its name could only be God.”

59. “He had a suspicion of plausible answers; they were so often wrong.”

60. “How inappropriate to call this planet “Earth,” when it is clearly “Ocean.”

61. “It must be wonderful to be seventeen and to know everything.”

62. “Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded.”

63. “The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

64. “If we both believe that we have nothing to learn from the other, is it not obvious that we will both be wrong?”

65. “He was only aware of the conflict that was slowly destroying his integrity—the conflict between truth and concealment of truth.”

66. “Don’t believe anything I’ve told you—merely because I said it.”

67. “…a well-stocked mind is safe from boredom.”

68. “We stand now at the turning point between two eras. Behind us is a past to which we can never return …”

69. “Just like the cosmonauts and their pee plants, all we have is each other.”

70. “…if one had to think about every footstep one took, ordinary walking would be impossible.”

71. “Yet if there were no hazards, there would be no achievement, no sense of adventure.”

72. “God was just this black void that we cried into.”

73. “You can’t have action without reaction.” 

74. “The thing’s hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God!—it’s full of stars!”

75. “But he knew well enough that any man in the right circumstances could be dehumanized by panic.”

76. “He found it both sad and fascinating that only through an artificial universe of video images could she establish contact with the real world.”

77. “A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.”

78. “Never attribute to malevolence what is merely due to incompetence.”

79. “Please leave me alone; let me go on to the stars.”

Arthur C. Clarke General Quotes – A Selection of the Best

“Unlike the animals, who knew only the present, Man had acquired a past; and he was beginning to grope toward a future.” - Arthur C Clarke

80. “Unlike the animals, who knew only the present, Man had acquired a past; and he was beginning to grope toward a future.”

81. “The person one loves never really exists, but is a projection focused through the lens of the mind onto whatever screen it fits with least distortion.”

82. “No wonder that people are becoming passive sponges – absorbing but never creating. Did you know that the average viewing time per person is now three hours a day? Soon people won’t be living their own lives anymore. It will be a full-time job keeping up with the various family serials on TV!”

83. “At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved – if it can be achieved at all – within the next few hundred years.”

84. “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

85. “Religion is a by-product of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of god a pretty good definition of insanity?”

86. “Because each of us is the sum of all we have ever experienced. Only the very young have a clean slate.”

87. “Because politics is the science of the possible, it only appeals to second-rate minds. The first raters were only interested in the impossible.”

88. “Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It's completely impossible. (2) It's possible, but it's not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.”

89. “One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now, people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn't require religion at all.”

90. “ “Whether we are based on carbon or on silicon makes no fundamental difference; we should each be treated with appropriate respect.”

91. “Absence of noise is not a natural condition; all human senses require some input. If they are deprived of it, the mind manufactures its own substitutes.”

92. “My favorite definition of an intellectual: is someone who has been educated beyond his/her intelligence.”

93. “Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.”

94. “I am an optimist. Anyone interested in the future has to be. Otherwise, he would simply shoot himself.”

95. “The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be.”

96. “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.” 

97. “Sometimes, when I'm in a bookstore or library, I am overwhelmed by all the things that I do not know. Then I am seized by a powerful desire to read all the books, one by one.”

98. “Behind every man now alive stands thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.”

“Behind every man now alive stands thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.” - Arthur C Clarke

99. “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. ”

100.“The creation of wealth is certainly not to be despised, but in the long run, the only human activities really worthwhile are the search for knowledge and the creation of beauty. This is beyond argument; the only point of debate is which comes first.”

101. “Floyd could imagine a dozen things that could go wrong; it was little consolation that it was always the thirteenth that actually happened.”

102. “Atheism is unprovable, so uninteresting. However unlikely it is, we can never be certain that God once existed – and has now shot off to infinity, where no one can ever find him… Like Gautama Buddha, I take no position on this subject.”

103. “All the world’s religions cannot be right, and they know it. Sooner or later, man has to learn the truth.”

104. “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.”

105. “Few artists thrive in solitude, and nothing is more stimulating than the conflict of minds with similar interests.”

106. “And there still remained, for all men to share, the linked worlds of Love and Art. Linked, because love without art is merely the slaking of desire, and Art cannot be enjoyed unless it is approached with Love.”

107. “Training was one thing, reality another, and no one could be sure that the ancient human instincts of self-preservation would not take over in an emergency.”

108. “No single individual, however eccentric or brilliant, could affect the enormous inertia of a society that had remained virtually unchanged for over a billion years.”

109. “A man’s beliefs were his own affair, so long as they did not interfere with the liberty of others.”

110. “But at least we have answered one ancient question. We are not alone. The stars will never again be the same to us.”

111. “The rash assertion that “God made man in His own image” is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths.”

112. “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.”

113. “Yes, it made sense and was so absurdly simple that it would take a genius to think of it. And, perhaps, someone who did not expect to do it himself.”

114. “As Solomon himself had remarked, ‘We can be sure of talent; we can only pray for genius.' But it was a reasonable hope that in such a concentrated society, some interesting reactions would take place.” 

115. “The existence of so much leisure would have created tremendous problems a century before. Education has overcome most of these, for a well-stocked mind is safe from boredom.”

116. “Men knew better than they realized when they placed the abode of the gods beyond the reach of gravity.”

117. “Suppose, in their altruistic passion for justice and order, they had determined to reform the world but had not realized that they were destroying the soul of man?”

118. “Sometimes a decision has to be made by a single individual, who has the authority to enforce it. That’s why you need a captain. You can’t run a ship by a committee- at least not all the time.”

119. “Much had been lost during the centuries, for men seldom bother to preserve the commonplace articles of everyday life.”

120. “Soon after her beloved young brother was killed, she asked me, “What is the purpose of grief? Does it serve any biological function?”

121. “You hide a Sun-powered device in darkness—only if you want to know when it is brought out into the light.”

122. “The trouble with clichés, some philosopher remarked, probably with a yawn, is that they are so boringly true. But “love at first sight” is never boring.”

123. “They could not eat it, and it could not eat them; therefore, it was not important.”

124. “So the problem of Evil never really existed. To expect the universe to be benevolent was like imagining one could always win at a game of pure chance.”

125. “Life was not a joyride at an amusement park. It was a deadly serious affair, and only through a combination of solid values, self-control, and a steady commitment to a worthwhile goal was there a chance to achieve happiness.”

126. “Belief in God is apparently a psychological artifact of mammalian reproduction.”

127. “Because Nature always balances her books, the Sun lost some velocity in the transaction; but the effect would not be measurable for a few thousand years.”

128. “Even a doomed man might reasonably be expected to take some slight interest in a few thousand square meters of gems.”

Which Arthur C. Clarke Quote Was Your Favourite?

Arthur C. Clarke has a lot of amazing quotes – about the universe, science, science-fiction, religion, the meaning of life, etc. 

We would love to read in the comment section below which one was your favorite! 

Or, if there is another one you like, extracted straight from one of his books, we would also love to find out which one it is.