Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.

Quote in context: “If it is true that our Universe has a zero net value for all conserved quantities, then it may simply be a fluctuation of the vacuum, the vacuum of some larger space in which our Universe is imbedded. In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.”  

– Tryon, E.P., 1973. Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation? Nature, 246(5433), 396-397. doi:10.1038/246396a0

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v246/n5433/abs/246396a0.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_genesis

You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are.

It’s like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it’s dense, isn’t it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? 

[…] If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time.

Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are. […] You are still the process.    

You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are.”

– Alan Watts, The Nature of Consciousness

http://deoxy.org/w_nature.htm

Know thyself

“All too willingly man sees himself as the centre of the universe, as something not belonging to the rest of nature but standing apart as a different and higher being. Many people cling to this error and remain deaf to the wisest command ever given by a sage, the famous “Know thyself” inscribed in the temple of Delphi.”

— Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression (1963)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Lorenz
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Konrad_Lorenz

You can read the chapter “On the Virtue of Scientific Humility” here

More on “Know thyself”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_thyself

Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.

Attributed to Alan Watts, although it might be a paraphrase

The biologist George Wald once compared his work on an exceedingly specialized subject, the visual pigments of the eye, to ‘a very narrow window through which at a distance one can see only a crack of light. As one comes closer the view grows wider and wider, until finally through this same narrow window one is looking at the universe.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)

Quote by George Wald, in context:

Years ago I used to worry about the degree to which I had specialized. Vision is limited enough, yet I was not really working on vision, for I hardly made contact with visual sensations, except as signals, nor with the nervous pathways, nor the structures of the eye, except the retina. Actually, my studies involved only the rods and cones of the retina, and in them only the visual pigments. A sadly limited peripheral business, fit for escapists. But it is as though this were a very narrow window through which at a distance one can see only a crack of light. As one comes closer the view grows wider and wider, until finally through this same narrow window one is looking at the universe.”

(Unsure of original source; quoted here)

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790–1793)

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Blake

Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception takes its title from this quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors_of_Perception

The full text is available at Erowid: http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/writings/huxley_doors.shtml

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958) Lectures delivered at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Winter 1955-56

 

Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.

Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958) Lectures delivered at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Winter 1955-56 

(Excerpt; summary)

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

Quote in context: “Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

—Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Ep. 1: “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.” 

Quote autotuned: “A Glorious Dawn” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc (Symphony of Science)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

The measure of a metaphor lies exclusively in its power to model a situation in such a way as to most frequently provoke the most appropriate response to stimulus. Period.

the Teafaerie, on interpreting “entity encounters” in psychedelic experiences

Quote in context: “The measure of a metaphor lies exclusively in its power to model a situation in such a way as to most frequently provoke the most appropriate response to stimulus. Period.    

If your tobacco addiction presents to you as a demon, and you choose to deal with it that way, awesome. 

 For some people that’s a good lens to use. For others it might be better to stick with the chemical feedback loop model. Maybe it’s just different ways of seeing and saying the same thing.

[…] “I think I got lucky, in a way, having lost my religion as a little kid. My touchstone images have always been taken out of mythic movies and psychedelic science fiction, so I’m not prone to taking this stuff too literally. If you’re Catholic, and the Virgin Mary appears to you in an ayahuasca trip, you may be susceptible to believing that the Holy Virgin herself in fact paid you a visitation.  

When Yoda appears to me, I know damned good and well it’s not really Yoda, because the real Yoda is a muppet.”

From “To Believe or Not to Believe” (2009): http://www.erowid.org/columns/teafaerie/2009/11/02/to-believe-or-not-to-believe/

 

And so I will never invoke spooky knowledge

Quote in context: “[I]n my philosophy there is no difference between the physical and the spiritual. These are absolutely out-of-date categories. It’s all process; it isn’t ‘stuff’ on the one hand and ‘form’ on the other. It’s just pattern—life is pattern. It is a dance of energy. And so I will never invoke spooky knowledge. That is, that I’ve had a private revelation or that I have sensory vibrations going on a plane which you don’t have. Everything is standing right out in the open, it’s just a question of how you look at it. […]  And when you find that out, you laugh yourself silly. That’s the great discovery.”

—Alan Watts, “The Nature of Consciousness”
http://deoxy.org/w_nature.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts

trying to make the world safe for a fully materialist view of mind

Quote in context: ““[I have] spent most of my life, not just my career, thinking about the nature of mind, the mind-body problem, how mind, morals, and the meaning of life connect, trying to make the world safe for a fully materialist view of mind […]” 

— Owen Flanagan. 2011. The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized. (Google Books link)

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman. From lecture “What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society”, given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964). In: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman 
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman

We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities.