John Muir Quotes
The Web's most complete collection of John Muir's thoughts about God and the spiritual aspects of nature.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."   - John Muir, The Yosemite, 1912.


Go now and then for fresh life. Go whether or not you have faith. Go up and away for life; be fleet!  I know some will heed the warning. Most will not, so full of pagan slavery is the boasted freedom of the town, and those who need rest and clean snow and sky the most will be the last to move. -  John Muir, John of the Mountains, 1874


God's love is manifest in the landscape as in a face. - Cruise of the Corwin, P50


A few snow crystals were shaken down from a black cloud towards midnight, but most of the day was one of deep peace, in which God's love was manifest as in a countenance. - Cruise of the Corwin, P79


One touch of nature makes all the world kin, and here were many touches among the wild Chukchis. - Cruise of the Corwin, P33

John Muir on evolution and God:
"Little men, with only a book knowledge of science, have seized upon evolution as an escape from the idea of a God. 'Evolution!' a wonderful, mouth-filling word, isn't it? It covers a world of ignorance. Just say 'evolution' and you have explained every phenomenon of Nature and explained away God. It sounds big and wise. Evolution, they say, brought the earth through its glacial periods, caused the snow blanket to recede, and the flower carpet to follow it, raised the forests of the world, developed animal life from the jelly-fish to the thinking man.


"But what caused evolution? There they stick. To my mind, it is inconceivable that a plan that has worked out, through unthinkable millions of years, without one hitch or one mistake, the development of beauty that has made every microscopic particle of matter perform its function in harmony with every other in the universe, that such a plan is the blind product of an unthinking abstraction. No; somewhere, before evolution was, was an Intelligence that laid out the plan, and evolution is the process, not the origin, of the harmony. You may call that Intelligence what you please: I cannot see why so many people object to call it God."

- "Three Days with John Muir," World's Work (1909) pp 11355-56, Doubleday

Was John Muir a mere Deist, believing only in a creator God, a Prime Mover, who quickly exited the scene?  No. John Muir's God was and is very much the mover and shaper of creation and existence today.  Here, Muir puts the answers of creation in the teaching of the Biblical Archangel Gabriel:


"People talk about creation as a remote fact of history, as if it were something that was attended to a long time ago, and finished at the time. But creation was not an act; it is a process; and it is going on to-day as much as it ever was. But Nature is not in a hurry. With God 'a thousand years is as a day.' Suppose you could have been a spirit in one of the past periods of the creation of the world, and that the Archangel Gabriel had taken you to a place' where you could see the earth as it was then covered miles deep with snow and ice, the air still full of swirling snowflakes that seemed to be burying the world forever. Suppose he showed you this silent, frozen, characterless waste (as it would seem to you), and told you that God was creating here a world of beauty, of seas and mountains, of flowers and forests, of song-birds and men. Suppose you flew away and were gone for a thousand years, and then looked again. You could not see that the scene had altered a particle. Another thousand years. Still no change that you could see.


"' Creation?' you cry out, ' I see nothing being done here.'


"'Patience,' is the angel's answer. 'Down beneath these miles of snow the ice is shifting, grinding, slicing, leveling, building, making a sierra here, a broad valley there, scooping out a Yosemite, leveling off a plain, polishing boulders, marking rock ledges with the handwriting of God, making ready warm glades for grass and flowers, mountain slopes for majestic forests, homes for birds ? breaking ground for beauty.'


"At the end of a few million years your visits are rewarded. The ice-cap has receded from parts of the earth. Seas are exposed, land has come into view, flowers have followed the retreating ice, trees nestle in the canons and climb the mountain shoulders, birds are caroling, fish dart along the singing streams, man is abroad to enjoy the beauties of the earth.


"This is creation. All this is going on today, only men are blind to see it. They think only of food. They are not content to provide three meals a day; they must have enough for a thousand meals. And so they build ships to carry the food that they call commerce, and they build houses to store food in, and other houses to buy and sell it in, and houses to eat it in, and load themselves down with the care of it so that they cannot get away. They can not pause long enough to go out into the wilderness where God has provided every sparrow enough to eat and to spare, and contemplate for even an hour the wonderful world that they live in. You say that what I write may bring this beauty to the hearts of those that do not get out to see it. They have no right to it The good Lord put those things here as a free gift that he who chooses may take with joy. and he who will not walk out of the smoke of the cities to see them has no right to them."

"Three Days with John Muir," The World's Work (1909), V. 17 pp 11355-56, Doubleday

"When I was eleven years old I could repeat the entire New Testament from memory, and about two thirds of the Old Testament. Memorizing was the larger part of schooling in Scotland in those days. Teachers had not heard of psychology and all these other newfangled 'ologies' with which modern teaching is chopped up. They had only one theory: they had learned from experience that there is some unexplained connection between the memory and the skin, and that by irritating the skin the memory was stimulated. So we had the Catechism and the Bible and John Milton thrashed into us, and much of it we never forgot."

"Three Days with John Muir," World's Work (1909), V. 17 pp 11355-56, Doubleday

On purpose in Nature:

"There are no accidents in Nature," he said. "Every motion of the constantly shifting bodies in the world is timed to the occasion for some definite, foreordered end.  The flowers blossom in obedience to the same law that marks the course of constellations, and the song of a bird is the echo of a universal symphony. Nature is one, and to me the greatest delight of observation and study is to discover new unities in this all-embracing and eternal harmony.

"Three Days with John Muir," The World's Work (1909), V. 17 pp 11355-56, Doubleday

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes - all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.
- The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, (1913)

Through a meadow opening in the pine woods I see snowy peaks about the head-waters of the Merced above Yosemite. How near they seem and how clear their outlines on the blue air, or rather in the blue air ; for they seem to be saturated with it. How consuming strong the invitation they extend! Shall I be allowed to go to them ? Night and day I '11 pray that I may, but it seems too good to be true. Some one worthy will go, able for the Godful work, yet as far as I can I must drift about these love-monument mountains, glad to be a servant of servants in so holy a wilderness. - - "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911), P21


The waving of a pine tree on the top of a mountain, � a magic wand in Nature's hand, � every devout mountaineer knows its power; but the marvelous beauty value of what the Scotch call a breckan in a still dell, what poet has sung this ? It would seem impossible that any one, however incrusted with care, could escape the Godful influence of these sacred fern forests. Yet this very day I saw a shepherd pass through one of the finest of them without betraying more feeling than his sheep. -  "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911), P53


Lizards of every temper, style, and color dwell here, seemingly as happy and companionable as the birds and squirrels. Lowly, gentle fellow mortals, enjoying God's sunshine, and doing the best they can in getting a living, I like to watch them at their work and play. They bear acquaintance well, and one likes them the better the longer one looks into their beautiful, innocent eyes. - "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911, )P55


The place seemed holy, where one might hope to see God. After dark, when the camp was at rest, I groped my way back to the altar boulder and passed the night on it, � above the water, beneath the leaves and stars, � everything still more impressive than by day, the fall seen dimly white, singing Nature's old love song with solemn enthusiasm, while the stars peering through the leaf-roof seemed to join in the white water's song. Precious night, precious day to abide in me forever. Thanks be to God for this immortal gift. - "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911), P65


The air is distinctly fragrant with balsam and resin and mint, � every breath of it a gift we may well thank God for. Who could ever guess that so rough a wilderness should yet be so fine, so full of good things. One seems to be in a majestic domed pavilion in which a grand play is being acted with scenery and music and incense, � all the furniture and action so interesting we are in no danger of being called on to endure one dull moment. God himself seems to be always doing his best here, working like a man in a glow of enthusiasm. - "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911), P80


June 23. � Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest ! Days in whose light every- thing seems equally divine, opening a thou- sand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day ; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever. - "My First Summer in the Sierra", John Muir (1911), P82

John Muir Quotes features John Muir's spiritual views in his own words. Muir's thoughts and words about God and Nature are presented here in as complete a form as possible.