Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
American writer and humorist

Edward Abbey (High Country News)The "terror" of the French Revolution lasted for ten years. The terror that preceded and led to it lasted for a thousand years.
-- Edward Abbey, from, Vox Clamantis In Deserto (A Voice Crying In The Wilderness)

Whatever we cannot easily understand we call God; this saves much wear and tear on the brain tissues.
-- Edward Abbey, from, Vox Clamantis In Deserto (A Voice Crying In The Wilderness), quoted from Steve Cichowski, personal letter to Cliff Walker (February 21, 2002)

God is a sound people make when they're too tired to think anymore.
-- Edward Abbey, from, Vox Clamantis In Deserto (A Voice Crying In The Wilderness), quoted from Steve Cichowski, personal letter to Cliff Walker (February 21, 2002)

'Edward Abbey: A Life' by James M. Cahalan (2001: University of Arizona Press)What's the difference between the Lone Ranger and God? There really is a Lone Ranger.
-- Edward Abbey, from, Vox Clamantis In Deserto (A Voice Crying In The Wilderness), quoted from Steve Cichowski, personal letter to Cliff Walker (February 21, 2002)

From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm.
-- Edward Abbey, from, Vox Clamantis In Deserto (A Voice Crying In The Wilderness), quoted from Steve Cichowski, personal letter to Cliff Walker (February 21, 2002)

There has got to be a God; the world could not have become so fucked up by chance alone.
-- Edward Abbey, , from A Voice Crying In The Wilderness (Vox Clamantis In Deserto): Notes from a Secret Journal (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1989) page 33

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John Emerich Edward Dalberg (First Baron) Acton (1834-1902)
British historian who led English Roman Catholics in their opposition to the doctrine of papal infallibility.

Lord ActonThere are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion.
-- Lord Acton, letter, 23 Jan. 1861 (published in Lord Acton and his Circle, Letter 74, ed. by Abbot Gasquet, 1906).

Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
-- Lord Acton, letter, 23 Jan. 1861 (published in Lord Acton and his Circle, Letter 74, ed. by Abbot Gasquet, 1906).

Machiavelli's teaching would hardly have stood the test of Parliamentary government, for public discussion demands at least the profession of good faith.
-- Lord Acton, in G E Fasnacht, Acton's Political Philosophy (p. 138), quoted by Richard Robinson in An Atheist's Values (p. 240)

By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes to be his duty against the influences of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.
-- Lord Acton, History of Freedom (London, 1907, p. 3); quoted in Maurice Cranston, Freedom (1953, r. 1967)

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
-- Lord Acton, letter, 3 April 1887, to Bishop Mandell Creighton (published in The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, 1904). William Pitt the Elder had previously said something to the same effect, in a speech to the House of Lords, 9 Jan. 1770: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." From the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

The possession of unlimited power corrodes the conscience, hardens the heart, and confounds the understanding.
-- Lord Acton, quoted by Richard Robinson in An Atheist's Values (p. 238).

Those who have more power are liable to sin more; no theorem in geometry is more certain than this.
-- Lord Acton, quoting Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz (G E Fasnacht, Acton's Political Philosophy, p. 134), quoted by Richard Robinson in An Atheist's Values (p. 238-9)

The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
-- Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays, 1907

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
American First Lady, wife of President John Adams; prolific writer, patriot, abolitionist, early feminist

Abigail Adams (portrait: FirstLadies.org)We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.
-- Abigail Adams (attributed: source unknown)

I cannot say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives.
-- Abigail Adams, letter to her husband John Adams (1776), quoted by Steven Hill, "The Bill of Rights (if it had been written by Mary Wollstonecraft and Abigail Adams)

If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
-- Abigail Adams, letter to her husband John Adams (1776), quoted by Steven Hill, "The Bill of Rights (if it had been written by Mary Wollstonecraft and Abigail Adams)

If much depends as is allowed upon the early education of youth and the first principles which are instilled take the deepest root, great benefit must arise from literary accomplishments of women.
-- Abigail Adams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

Nay why should your sex wish for such a disparity in those whom they one day intend for companions and associates. Pardon me, sir, if I cannot help sometimes suspecting that this neglect arises in some measure from an ungenerous jealousy of rivals near the throne.
-- Abigail Adams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

I regret the trifling narrow contracted education of the females of my own country.
-- Abigail Adams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. Even in the freest countries our property is subject to the control and disposal of our partners, to whom the laws have given a sovereign authority. Deprived of a voice in legislation, obliged to submit to those laws which are impressed upon us, is it not sufficient to make us indifferent to the public welfare? Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.
-- Abigail Adams, quoted by Dr Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
'Chief Fantasist'

     • Check our Big List of Douglas Adams Quotations

Douglas AdamsThe argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
     "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
     "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book one of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series), p. 50

The reason why so many sects hang around airports looking for converts: they know that people there are at their most vulnerable and perplexed, and ready to accept any kind of guidance.
-- Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (book two of the Dirk Gently series), p. 5

In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.
-- Douglas Adams

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
American historian noted for his nine-volume History of the United States covering the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison; Adams was the grandson and great-grandson of presidents John Quincy Adams and John Adams respectively.

Henry Brooks AdamsThe idea that any personal deity could find pleasure or profit in torturing a poor woman, by accident, with a fiendish cruelty known to man only in perverted and insane temperaments, could not be held for a moment. For pure blasphemy, it made pure atheism a comfort.
-- Henry Adams, after the death of his sister in 1870, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

They know enough who know how to learn.
-- Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1906)

Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.
-- Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1906)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

James Luther Adams (1901-1994)
Unitarian theologian, Harvard Divinity School

James Luther AdamsAnd then there are the churches. Since the time of separation of church and state they have been classified as voluntary associations: they depend in principle upon voluntary membership and voluntary contributions. The collection plate in the Sunday Service is sometimes objected to for aesthetic reasons, but it is an earnest, a symbol, of the voluntary character of the association, and it should be interpreted in this fashion. It is a way of saying to the community, "This is our voluntary, independent enterprise, and under God's mercy we who believe in it will support it. We do not for its support appeal to the coercive power of the state."
-- James Luther Adams, On Being Human Religiously, (1976), from The Great Quotations On Religious Freedom compiled by Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr

The demand for the separation of church and state and the emergence of the voluntary church represent the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one. The earlier era had been dominated by the ideal of "Christendom," a unified structure of society in a church-state. In the new era the voluntary church, the free church, no longer supported by taxation, was to be self-sustaining; and it was to manage its own affairs. In the earlier era, kinship, caste, and restricted community groups had determined most of the interests and the forms of participation. In the new era these interests became segregated. In this respect the freedom of choice was increased. The divorce of church and state and the advent of freedom of religious association illustrate this type of increase in freedom of choice.
-- James Luther Adams, On Being Human Religiously, (1976), from The Great Quotations On Religious Freedom compiled by Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr

An authentic prophet is one who prophesies in fashion that does not comfort people, but actually calls them to make some new sacrifices. That's an authentic prophet, whether one speaks in the name of God or whatever. A great deal of authentic prophetism in the modern world is to be found in nonreligious terms and in nonchurch configurations, often even hostile to the church. The churches themselves have broadly failed in the prophetic function. Therefore a good deal of so-called atheism is itself, from my point of view, theologically significant. It is the working of God in history, and judgment upon the pious. An authentic prophet can and should be a radical critic of spurious piety, of sham spirituality.
-- James Luther Adams, "Prophetic judgment and grace," responses to questions, January 1977, quoted from George K Beach, ed, The Prophethood of All Believers, (1986) p. 57

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John Adams (1735-1826)
Second President of the United States (1797-1801)
United States Flag

John AdamsThe United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature.... [In] the formation of the American governments ... it will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of heaven.... These governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
-- John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1788, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits.... Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816

The frightful engines of ecclesiastical councils, of diabolical malice, and Calvinistical good-nature never failed to terrify me exceedingly whenever I thought of preaching.
-- John Adams, letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, October 18, 1756, explaining why he rejected the ministry

When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it.
-- John Adams, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny or doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel.... Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any argument for investigating the divine authority of those books?
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, from George Seldes, The Great Quotations, also from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Short Graphic Rule

The Treaty of Tripoli
Signed by John Adams

As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
     The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.
          -- Treaty of Tripoli (1797), the English version of which was carried unanimously by the Senate, signed into law by John Adams, and translated into Arabic (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)

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Wilson: Early Presidents Not Religious

"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
     Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
-- The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831, first sentence quoted in John E Remsberg, Six Historic Americans, second sentence quoted in Paul F Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp. 14-15

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)
Sixth President of the United States (1825-1829)
United States Flag

John Quincy AdamsCivil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right to religious freedom ... The tendency of the spirit of the age is strong toward religious liberty.
-- John Quincy Adams, letter to Richard Anderson, May 27, 1823

There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a time-serving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth.
-- John Quincy Adams, diary entry for May 27, 1838

John Quincy AdamsWho but shall learn that freedom is the prize
Man still is bound to rescue or maintain;
That nature's God commands the slave to rise,
And on the oppressor's head to break the chain.
Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round,
Till not a slave shall on this earth by found.

-- John Quincy Adams, using the language of Deism to oppose human slavery, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

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Wilson: Early Presidents Not Religious

"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
     "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
-- The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831, first sentence quoted in John E Remsberg, Six Historic Americans, second sentence quoted in Paul F Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp. 14-15

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McCollister: Adams Called an Atheist

"Some members of the organized church branded [Adams] as an atheist."
-- John McCollister, like his father John Adams, John Quincy Adams was a Unitarian, which, back then, meant the same thing as a "Deist," quoted from the Joint Baptist Committee's pamphlet, "Critique of David Barton's 'America's Godly Heritage'"; cite notes by PAM

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Phony John Quincy Adams Quote

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was that it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
-- Fabrication, derived from statement (not enclosed in quotation marks, not documented with footnotes) from John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution 1860; thus, it reads as the author's own interpolation of Adams's beliefs, not as a direct quotation from Adams. This cannot be found among the known writings of John Quincy Adams. Citation notes derived from Wayne Aiken, "'Christian Revisionism' -- Distorting the Historical Record for Religious Ends" from American Atheists.

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Phillip Adams
Australian atheistic activist

Marx was wrong. Religion is not the opiate of the people. Opium suggests something soporific, numbing, dulling. Too often religion has been an aphrodisiac for horror, a Benzedrine for bestiality. At its best it has lifted spirits and raised spires. At its worst it has turned entire civilizations into cemeteries.
-- Phillip Adams, Adams vs. God

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Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
American Revolutionary leader whose agitations spurred Bostonians toward rebellion against British occupation and rule

Samuel Adams BeerIn regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind ...
-- Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

Samuel Adams (product not named in print to enable searches which omit that word)It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
-- Samuel Adams (attributed: source unknown)

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Samuel Adams Did Say This

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they can not be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or eternal invader.
-- Samuel Adams, although this has made the rounds on the popular "Phony Quotes" lists, such as Rob Boston's "Consumer Alert: WallBuilders' Shoddy Workmanship," from American United, long posted (with permission) on the Positive Atheism Web Site and long ago published in her Print Edition, this passage does occur in Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed, The Writings of Samuel Adams (1908), Vol. 4, p. 124

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Scott Adams (b 1957)
American comic artist (Dilbert)

Scott Adams (from his blog)Simple molecules combine to make powerful chemicals. Simple cells combine to make powerful life-forms. Simple electronics combine to make powerful computers. Logically, all things are created by a combination of simpler, less capable components. Therefore, a supreme being must be our future, not our origin!
-- Scott Adams, from a comic strip (Dilbert's dog speaking)

Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlucky payoffs. This is the principle of lotteries, dating and religion.
-- Scott Adams (attributed: source unknown)

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Jane Addams (1860-1935)
Nobel Prizewinning author; social activist

Jane AddamsThe very word woman in the writings of the church fathers stood for the basest of temptations.... As women were lowered in the moral scale because of their identification with her at the very bottom of the pit, so they cannot rise themselves save as they succeed in lifting her with whose sins they are weighed.
-- Jane Addams, "A Challenge to the Contemporary Church," quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 623

A wise man has told us that "men are once for all so made that they prefer a rational world to believe in and live in."
-- Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 623

[The] supreme religious test of our social order is the hideous commerce of prostitution.
-- Jane Addams, "A Challenge to the Contemporary Church," quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 623

The child becomes largely what it is taught; hence we must watch what we teach it, and how we live before it.
-- Jane Addams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

Jane Addams (Nobel photo)The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
-- Jane Addams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.
-- Jane Addams, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

 

The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!