Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962)
Danish physicist who made contributions to the understanding of atomic structure

Niels Bohr, from a postage stampEvery sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.
-- Niels Bohr, N Y Times Book Review

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Henry St John Bolingbroke, 1st Viscount (1678-1751)
British statesman, impeached by Parliament in 1715, his name removed from the roll of peers

Henry Bolingbroke[Dr. Manton] taught my youth to yawn, and prepared me to be a High-Churchman, that I might never hear him read nor read him more.
-- Henry Bolingbroke, explaining how "Dr. Manton's writings gave him a permanent distaste for all religon," quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 53

It is the modest, not the presumptuous, inquirer who makes a real and safe progress in the discovery of divine truths. One follows Nature and Nature's God; that is, he follows God in his works and in his word.
-- Henry Bolingbroke, espousing Deism in response to Alexander Pope's "Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, / But looks through Nature up to Nature’s God" (Essay on Man, epistle iv. line 331), in a Letter to Mr. Pope, quoted from John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)

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Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931)
French psychologist and sociologist

Gustave Le BonOne of the most constant characteristics of beliefs is their intolerance. The stronger the belief, the greater its intolerance. Men dominated by a certitude cannot tolerate those who do not accept it.
-- Gustave Le Bon, Opinions And Beliefs (1911), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will.
-- Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Book I

A crowd is not merely impulsive and mobile. Like a savage, it is not prepared to admit that anything can come between its desire and the realisation of its desire.
-- Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Book I

The images evoked by words being independent of their sense, they vary from age to age and from people to people, the formulas remaining identical. Certain transitory images are attached to certain words: the word is merely as it were the button of an electric bell that calls them up.
-- Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Book II

The influence of the leaders is due in very small measure to the arguments they employ, but in a large degree to their prestige. The best proof of this is that, should they by any circumstance lose their prestige, their influence disappears.
-- Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Book III

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Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Emperor of France

Napoleon Bonaparte (caricature postcard: 'Çà ... Un Empereur! ... Ces Allemands, loujours du toc, -- de la contrefacçon ...' translated 'That! An Emperor!? Those Germans, always phoney, Always counterfiet!')If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
-- Napoleon Bonapart (attriibuted: source unknown)

As for myself, I do not believe that such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed; but as the people are inclined to superstition, it is proper not to oppose them.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted from Adherents.com, "Religious Affiliation of History's 100 Most Influential People"

I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world, and yet they lay their hands on everything they can get.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte (attriibuted: source unknown)

Everything is more or less organized matter. To think so is against religion, but I think so just the same.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte (attriibuted: source unknown)

All religions have been made by men.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, letter to Gaspard Gourgaud (28 January 1817)

Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted from Adherents.com, "Religious Affiliation of History's 100 Most Influential People"

How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of surfeit, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares, "God wills it thus." Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted from Anne Nicole Gaylor, "What's Wrong With the Ten Commandments?"

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted from Robert Byrne, 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
German pastor and theologian

Dietrich BonhoefferMan has learned to cope with all questions of importance without recourse to God as a working hypothesis.
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, June 8, 1944, quoted from Eberhard Bethge, ed, Letters and Papers from Prison (1971), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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Boniface VIII (1235?-1303)
Roman Catholic Pope (1294-1303)

     • See Boniface's Scary Pronouncement

Boniface VIIIThere is no more harm in adultery than in rubbing one's hands together.
-- Pope Boniface VIII, from Draper, Intellectual Development of Europe (vol. 2, p 88), quoted from Joseph Lewis' The Ten Commandments, p 407

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Edward De Bono
Maltese writer about thinking techniques

Edward de BonoA myth is a fixed way of looking at the world which cannot be destroyed because, looked at through the myth, all evidence supports the myth.
-- Edward De Bono, PO: Beyond Yes And No

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Daniel Joseph Boorstin (1914-2004)
Librarian of Congress, US historian

Daniel BoorstinI have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.
-- Daniel Boorstin, "The Amateur Spirit" from Living Philosophers

What preoccupies us, then, is not God as a fact of nature, but as a fabrication useful for a God-fearing society. God himself becomes not a power but an image.
-- Daniel Boorstin, The Image, ch. 5

God is the Celebrity-Author of the World's Best Seller. We have made God into the biggest celebrity of all, to contain our own emptiness.
-- Daniel Boorstin, The Image, 1962, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The Christian test was a willingness to believe in the one Jesus Christ and His Message of salvation. What was demanded was not criticism but credulity. The Church Fathers observed that in the realm of thought only heresy had a history.
-- Daniel Boorstin, The Discoverers, quoted from Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History

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Morton Borden
Historian and author; wrote Jews, Turks, and Infidels and edited The Anti-Federalist Papers

One must keep in mind that religious liberty did not come easily. It did not simply ripen and fall to nonChristians as a gift. It had to be fought for in the legislative halls, in constitutional conventions and in the courts. What has been achieved, easily can be lost.
-- Morton Borden, Reason magazine June, 1987, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Max Born (1882-1970)
German mathematician

Max BornScience is so greatly opposed to history and tradition that it cannot be absorbed by our civilization.
-- Max Born, My Life and My Views

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Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891)
Atheist writer and member of Parlaiment. His acquittal with Annie Wood Besant in 1877 ended Britain's ban on disseminating contraceptive advice.

Charles Bradlaugh (Parlaiment portrait)Liberty's chief foe is theology.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, quoted from the picket sign carried by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, while picketing the Reagan-occupied White House in 1982

I do not deny "God", because that word conveys to me no idea, and I cannot deny that which presents to me no distinct affirmation, and of which the would-be affirmer has no conception.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, in the National Reformer, quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'"

Atheism is without God. It does not assert no God.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, The Freethinker's Text-Book (1876), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

Atheism is without God. It does not assert no God. The atheist does not say that there is no God, but he says "I know not what you mean by God. I am without the idea of God. The word God to me is a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. I do not deny God, because I cannot deny that of which I have no conception, and the conception of which by its affirmer is so imperfect that he is unable to define it for me."
-- Charles Bradlaugh, The Freethinker's Text-Book (1876), quoted from Austin Cline, "Defining Atheism: Early Atheists"

The ameliorating march of the last few centuries has been initiated by the heretics of each age, though I concede that the men and women denounced and persecuted as infidels by the pious of one century are frequently claimed as saints by the pious of a later generation.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, "Humanity's Gain From Unbelief"

No religion is suddenly rejected by any people; it is rather gradually outgrown. None sees a religion die; dead religions are like dead languages and obsolete customs: the decay is long and -- like the glacier march -- is perceptible only to the careful watcher by comparisons extending over long periods.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, "Humanity's Gain From Unbelief"

A ground frequently taken by Christian theologians is that the progress and civilization of the world are due to Christianity; and the discussion is complicated by the fact that many eminent servants of humanity have been nominal Christians, of one or other of the sects. My allegation will be that the special services rendered to human progress by these exceptional men have not been in consequence of their adhesion to Christianity, but in spite of it, and that the specific points of advantage to human kind have been in ratio of their direct opposition to precise Biblical enactments.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, "Humanity's Gain From Unbelief"

Without free speech no search for truth is possible ... no discovery of truth is useful.... Better a thousand-fold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day but denial stays the life of the people and entombs the race.
-- Charles Bradlaugh (1890) (source unknown)

A mere society form of Atheism.
-- Charles Bradlaugh, describing Thomas Henry Huxley's neologism (agnosticism), quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'"

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Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner (1858-1934)
Atheist activist, writer, and orator, named after Hypatia of Alexandria, the scientist who in 415 was hacked to death with oyster shells by a mob of Christian monks

Hypatia Bradlaugh BonnerHeresy makes for progress.
-- Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, the motto of her journal Reformer (1897); see Gaylor's book, Women Without Superstition

Before August, 1914, it was the correct thing to proclaim Christ as the Prince of Peace and Christianity as the religion of love and the brotherhood of man. We had a Peace Sunday each year when lip-service was paid to Peace from thousands of pulpits. After August, 1914, these sames pulpits resounded with prases of the Lord as a man of war (Exodus, xv. 3) and declarations that the great European War was a Christian war, sent directly by Almighty God himself. The earlier attitude, disassociating Christanity from war, was both dishonest and, to say the least of it, ungrateful; for Christianity has been nursed, nourished, and spread abroad by war and by what we now call frightfulness.
-- Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, "Slavery" chapter of Christianity & Conduct; Or, The Influence of Religious Beliefs on Morals (1919), quoted from Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 311

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William Warren "Bill" Bradley (b. 1943)
American basketball player; Senator from New Jersey, candidate for US President in 2000

Bill BradleyThe only way to be true to our American tradition is to maintain absolute governmental neutrality regarding religious beliefs and practices.
-- Bill Bradley, letter to Herbert G Schapiro, June 27, 1990, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Nathaniel Branden
Psychologist and author

Nathaniel BrandenAnyone who engages in the practice of psychotherapy confronts every day the devastation wrought by the teachings of religion.
-- Nathaniel Branden (attributed: source unknown), quoted in a letter to PAM from Bill Frampton

It is a curious paradox of human history that a doctrine that tells human beings to regard themselves as sacrificial animals has been accepted as a doctrine representing benevolence and love for mankind.
--Nathaniel Branden (attributed: source unknown), quoted in a letter to PAM from Bill Frampton

Nothing is more common in moments of acting irrationally then to blank out awareness that you choose to do what you are doing, as if the action were somehow happening of its own accord. Do you want to grow in self-esteem? Own your actions. Take conscious responsibility for what you are doing while you are doing it. For example, when sleeping with someone you would be ashamed to be seen with, do not tell yourself, "This really isn't me." Or when striking your child, do not tell yourself, "I'm not myself." You will learn there are actions you are unable to permit yourself once you take full responsibility for doing what you do.
-- Nathaniel Branden, quoted from The Art of Living Consciously

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William Cowper Brann (1855-1898)
American journalist, publisher of the Iconoclast

William Cowper BrannA heretic, my dear sir, is a fellow who disagrees with you regarding something neither of you knows anything about.
-- William C Brann, quoted by Charles Carver

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Irving Brant (1885-1976)
American journalist

In the present day, religious phraseology [in politics] is less an expression of feeling than a cloak to hide the absence of it.
-- Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights, 1965, p. 417, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

On a full survey of the Supreme Court's decisions on religion and the criticisms of those decisions, a clear pattern emerges. The Court is working to protect the country against a breakdown of constitutional guarantees that would hurl the American people into a vortex of sectarian bitterness and strife. To do so it is obliged to call a halt to practices that range in effect from trivial harm to minor good. Popular dislike of these decisions is played upon by those who desire to break the barriers between church and state.
-- Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights, 1965, p. 424, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedo

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James Henry Breasted (1865-1935)
American archaeologist, Orientalist, and historian

Like most lads among my boyhood associates, I learned the Ten Commandments. I was taught to reverence them because I was assured that they came down from the skies into the hands of Moses, and that obedience to them was therefore sacredly incumbent upon me. I remember that whenever I fibbed I found consolation in the fact that there was no commandment 'Thou shalt not lie,' and that the Decalogue forbade lying only as a "false witness" giving testimony before the courts where it might damage one's neighbor. In later years when I was much older, I began to be troubled by the fact that a code of morals which did not forbid lying seemed imperfect; but it was a long time before I raised the interesting question: How has my own realization of this imperfection arisen? Where did I myself get the moral yardstick by which I discovered this shortcoming in the Decalogue?
-- James Henry Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience, quoted in Joseph Lewis The Ten Commandments (page 540)

It is important to bear in mind the now commonly accepted fact that in its primitive stages, religion had nothing to do with morals as understood by us today.
-- James Henry Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (page 18), quoted in Joseph Lewis The Ten Commandments (page 440)

Man arose to high moral vision two thousand years before the Hebrew nation was born.
-- James Henry Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (page 17), quoted in Joseph Lewis The Ten Commandments (page 540)

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Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
A German dramatist, playwright, and poet; he was one of the most important figures in twentieth century theater. An outspoken socialist and anti-fascist, Brecht fled Hitler's forces to Finland and eventually to the United States. he expressed his opposition to the Nazism and Fascism in many of his works, particularly, Leben des Galilei (Life of Galileo), Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (Mother Courage and Her Children), Der Gute Mensch von Sezuan (The Good Person of Sezuan), Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui), and Der kaukasische Kreidekreis (The Caucasian Chalk Circle)

Bertolt Brecht (from a DDR postage stamp)The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.
-- Bertolt Brecht, The Life of Galileo

Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.
-- Bertolt Brecht, The Mother (1932)

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William J Brennan, Jr. (1917-1997)
Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1956-1990)

William J. Brennan, Jr.The public schools are supported entirely, in most communities, by public funds—funds exacted not only from parents, nor alone from those who hold particular religious views, nor indeed from those who subscribe to any creed at all.
-- William J Brennan, Jr, Abington School District v. Schempp (1963); thanks to teachingaboutreligion.org

Religious conflict can be the bloodiest and cruelest conflicts that turn people into fanatics.
-- William J Brennan, Jr, interview with National Public Radio (January 29, 1987); quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The modern public school derived from a philosophy of freedom reflected in the First Amendment ... The non-sectarian or secular public school was the means of reconciling freedom in general with religious freedom.
-- William J Brennan, Jr, McCollum v. Board of Education (1948); thanks to teachingaboutreligion.org

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André Breton (1896-1966) Andre Breton
French surrealist

To speak of God, to think of God, is in every respect to show what one is made of.... I have always wagered against God and I regard the little that I have won in this world as simply the outcome of this bet. However paltry may have been the stake (my life) I am conscious of having won to the full. Everything that is doddering, squint-eyed, vile, polluted and grotesque is summoned up for me in that one word: God!
-- André Breton, Surrealism and Painting, footnote (1928)

There is nothing with which it is so dangerous to take liberties as liberty itself.
-- André Breton, Surrealism and Painting (1928) [Andre Breton]

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Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974)
Polish-born British mathematician who eloquently presented the case for the humanistic aspects of science

Jacob BronowskiMan masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature.
-- Jacob Bronowski (attributed: source unknown)

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility.
-- Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent Of Man, (1973)

It is often said that the progression from simple to complex runs counter to the normal statistics of chance that are formalized in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Strictly speaking, we could avoid this criticism simply by insisting that the Second Law does not apply to living systems in the environment in which we find them. For the Second Law applies only when there is no overall flow of energy into or out of a system, whereas all living systems are sustained by a net inflow of energy.
-- Jacob Bronowski, "Thermodynamics and the Arrow of Time," from Connie Barlow, ed, Evolution Extended (1994)

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Emily Brontë (1818-1848)
One of three sisters who became famous novelists

Emily BrontëVain are the thousand creeds that move men's hearts, unutterably vain, worthless as wither'd weeds.
-- Emily Bronte, No Coward Soul (January, 1846), quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)

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David Brooks

To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy.
-- David Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism

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Heywood Campbell Broun (1888-1939)
American writer, journalist, critic; first president of the American Newspaper Guild

Heywood BrounPrecarious is the position of the New York newspaperman who ventures any criticism of the Catholic Church. There is not a single New York editor who does not live in mortal terror of the power of this group.... If the church can bluff its way into a preferred position, the fault lies not with the Catholics but with the editors.
-- Heywood Broun, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The pursuit of happiess belongs to us, but we must climb around or over the church to get it.
Heywood Broun-- Heywood Broun, from Laurence J Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Christian ethics are seldom found save in the philosophy of some unbeliever.
-- Heywood Broun, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

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James A C Brown (1911-1964)
American writer, social critic; expert on brainwashing and thought reform

Education teaches people how to think, while propaganda teaches people what to think.
-- James A C Brown, Techniques of Persuasion (1963)

Propaganda by censorship takes two forms: the selective control of information to favour a particular viewpoint, and the deliberate doctoring of information in order to create an impression different from that originally intended.
-- James A C Brown, Techniques of Persuasion (1963), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Communism and fascism or nazism, although poles apart in their intellectual content, are similar in this, that both have emotional appeal to the type of personality that takes pleasure in being submerged in a mass movement and submitting to superior authority.
-- James A C Brown, Techniques of Persuasion (1963), quoted from Free Liberal

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John Mason Brown (1900-1969)
American critic, lecturer

Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason, and invective for documentation than in politics. This is a realm peopled only by villains or heroes, in which everything is black or white and gray is a forbidden color.
-- John Mason Brown, Through These Men (1956)

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Thomas Browne (1605-1682)
British physician and writer

Sir Thomas BrowneAs for those wingy mysteries in divinity, and airy subtleties in religion, which have unhinged the brains of better heads, they never stretched the pia mater of mine; methinks there be not impossibilities enough in Religion for an active faith.
-- Thomas Browne,Religio Medici (writ. 1635; cland. pub. 1642; official pub. 1634), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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Robert Browning (1812-1889)
British poet who explored new ways of using diction and poetic rhythm

Who knows most, doubts most.
-- Robert Browning, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The candid incline to surmise of late that the Christian faith proves false.
-- Robert Browning, Gold Hair (1864), from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

'Tis well averred,
A scientific faith's absurd.
-- Robert Browning, Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day (1850), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Mothers, wives and maids,
These be the tools with which priests manage men.
-- Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book (1868-9), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

All service ranks the same with God --
With God, whose puppets, best and worst,
Are we: there is no last or first.
-- Robert Browning, Pippa Passes (1841), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things.
The honest thief, the tender murderer,
The superstitious atheist.
-- Robert Browning, Bishop Blougram's Apology. These lines were suggested by Graham Greene as the epigraph he would choose for all of his novels. From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

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Lenny Bruce (1925-1966)
US satirical comic

Lenny BruceNow a Jew, in the dictionary, is one who is descended from the ancient tribes of Judea, or one who is regarded as descended from that tribe. That's what it says in the dictionary; but you and I know what a Jew is -- One Who Killed Our Lord.... And although there should be a statute of limitations for that crime, it seems that those who neither have the actions nor the gait of Christians, pagan or not, will bust us out, unrelenting dues, for another deuce.... A lot of people say to me, "Why did you kill Christ?" I dunno ... it was one of those parties, got out of hand, you know. We killed him because he didn't want to become a doctor, that's why we killed him.
-- Lenny Bruce, "The Jews"

Alright, let's admit it, we Jews killed Christ -- but it was only for three days.
-- Lenny Bruce, remembered from an otherwise forgotten magazine profile; thanks to Norman

Lenny BruceThe thing with Catholicism, the same as all religions, is that it teaches what should be, which seems rather incorrect. This is "what should be." Now, if you're taught to live up to a "what should be" that never existed -- only an occult superstition, no proof of this "should be" -- then you can sit on a jury and indict easily, you can cast the first stone, you can burn Adolf Eichmann, [snaps fingers] like that!
-- Lenny Bruce, "Religions Inc."

People should be taught what is, not what should be. All my humor is based on destruction and despair. If the world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I'd be standing in the breadline, right back of J Edgar Hoover.
-- Lenny Bruce, quoted from Dr. Keith Semmel, Professor of Communication Arts, Dr. Bob Dunston, Professor of Religion, "Stand-Up Comics and Religion," lecture notes for COMM-433 01 and RELG-490 01 "Religion and Mass Media" at Cumberland College

Certain things are complete superstition and have no validity at all in the Bible. Yeah. They're just the antithesis of everything that is correct intellectually.
-- Lenny Bruce, at Carnegie Hall, February 4, 1961, transcribed by Cliff Walker

Uh, um -- You know! Uh, I can't think of his name -- [sings] 'A-with the cross of bumm bum' -- Yeah, Him! That's right! And he brought a nice looking Jewish boy with him!
-- Lenny Bruce, in "Christ and Moses," playing Cardinal Spellman, who is calling Pope John to find out what to do now that Christ and Moses have decided to appear at Saint Patrick's in New York during the morning Mass, but in the excitement the Spellman character had forgotten the names of Moses, Christ, and his Mother: "What was her name, Mary Hale? Uh -- Hail Mary? Er, Harry Merry? Uh, Hail Mary Fullograce Thompson! That's it!"

Lenny BruceDid you see the [Ed] Sullivan show that had Sal Mineo on it? What was he doing? They had Sal Mineo reading the Bible: "R'rubitz ruther abit en'go-o-on i'nut." What's that nut doing?
     It got even too heavy-handed for Sullivan! because he copped out later. Dig: Sal Mineo is reading the Bible: "N'enit shubi sai'nui" -- And I'm looking at this, ahh, it's really strange.
     Now Sullivan comes out: "I don't want the people to think that this reflects the tenor of Exodus."
     What he was telling people is: "It's not that dull, boring crap in the Bible: Ben Hur schtoops Esther a lot, there's a lot of tits in the picture, and it's really horny, but don't --"
     That's what he said! A lot of people get the impression that it's really dull.
     -- Lenny Bruce, at Carnegie Hall, February 4, 1961, the Hebraic gibberish, sounding much more like a tape being played backwards than anything, is an attempt to be faithful, phonetically, to what Bruce sounded like, transcribed and transliterated by Cliff Walker

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Tom Smothers: Political Satire Still Limited to Small Venues

"You can say the dirty words now, but there is no content -- political satire is limited to small podiums and little soap boxes."
-- Tommy Smothers, on the occasion of Governor Pataki's pardon of Bruce in December, 2003, quoted from John Kifner, "37 Years After Death Lenny Bruce Receives Pardon" (The New York Times: December 24, 2003)

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Paul Simon: I Learned the Truth from Lenny Bruce

Transparent Spacer 23x5"I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce
Transparent Spacer 23x5"That all my wealth won't buy me health
Transparent Spacer 23x5"And so I smoke a pint of tea a day.
Transparent Spacer 23x5-- Paul Simon, "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Lyndon Johnsoned Into Submission)" (1965)

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Gov Pataki: Speech Among the Greatest Liberties

"Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties, and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve as we continue to wage the war on terror."
-- Governor George E Pataki, upon granting a posthumous pardon about 40 years too late (December, 2003), quoted from John Kifner, "37 Years After Death Lenny Bruce Receives Pardon" (The New York Times: December 24, 2003)

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Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)
Italian philosopher

Bruno - portrait from: Christian Bartholméss, Jordano Bruno (Paris: Libaririe Philosophique de Ladrange, 1846), frontispiecePerchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
-- Giordano Bruno, quoted by Gaspar Schopp of Breslau in a letter to Conrad Rittershausen, written on the day of Bruno's burning at the stake for (among other things) the crime of being an "atheist," quoted from Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought (1950), p 179

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
-- Giordano Bruno, Heroic Furies, quoted in Mason, Great and Mind Liberating Thoughts, quoted from George Seldes, ed, The Great Thoughts (1985)

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
-- Giordano Bruno, "Giordano Bruno The Forgotten Philosopher" by John J Kessler

There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the center of things.
-- Giordano Bruno, (sounding a lot like Einstein), from "Giordano Bruno The Forgotten Philosopher" by John J Kessler

The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immoblie.
-- Giordano Bruno, Teofilo, in Cause, Principle, and Unity, "Fifth Dialogue" (1588; ed and tr. by Jack Lindsay, 1962), from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

In this infinite space is placed our universe (whether by chance, by necessity, or by providence I do not now consider).
-- Giordano Bruno, acknowledging the possibility of an accidental universe, in the First Dialogue of On the Infinite Universe and Worlds

Make then your forecasts, my lords Astrologers, with your slavish physicians, by means of those astrolabes with which you seek to discern the fantastic nine moving spheres; in these you finally imprison your own minds, so that you appear to me but as parrots in a cage, while I watch you dancing up and down, turning and hopping within those circles.
-- Giordano Bruno, in the introduction to On the Infinite Universe and Worlds

My son, I do not say these are foals and those asses, these little monkeys and those great baboons, as you would have me do. As I told you from the first, I regard them [Aristotle; Plato] as earth's heroes. But I do not wish to believe them without cause, nor to accept those propositions whose antitheses (as you must have understood if you are not both blind and deaf) are so compellingly true.
-- Giordano Bruno: Fracastoro. in On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, Third Dialogue, anticipating the Liberal Scientific Method wherein nobody holds a monopoly on knowledge, but each is held to the same standards of scrutiny regardless of past accomplishments

For they dispute not in order to find or even to seek Truth, but for victory ... Such persons should be avoided by all who have not a good breastplate of patience.
-- Giordano Bruno, in the Introduction to On the Infinite Universe and Worlds

You explain right well, and you shew that you understand argument and are not a mere sophist since you accept that which cannot be denied.
-- Giordano Bruno, showcasing the Fallacy of Negation, a variant of the False Dichotomy, in the First Dialogue of On the Infinite Universe and Worlds: It's one thing to accept that something cannot be denied (because we haven't the means to deny it), but it is another thing altogether to accept a proposition as truth simply because we haven't the means to disprove it. Bruno later exposes this fallacy as such.

I pray you, magnificent Sir, do not trouble yourself to return to us, but await our coming to you.
-- Giordano Bruno: Elpino: "Don't call us, we'll call you," in On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, Third Dialogue

Short Graphic Rule

Santillana: Bruno Turned Away and Died in Silence

"He turned his face away from the proffered crucifix and died in silence."
-- Santillana, The Age of Adventure, quoted from George Seldes, ed, The Great Thoughts (1985)

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Albert V Bryan, Jr. (b 1926)
Former judge on the United States District Court who served in the Eastern District of Virginia until December 1, 1991 when he became a senior judge.

The notion that a person's constitutional rights may be subject to a majority vote is itself anathema,
-- Judge Albert V Bryan, Jr., in a 1993 (?) ruling in Virginia, one of several similar district court rulings around the nation banning organized prayer in the classroom, whether student- or clergy-led, quoted from "The Case Against School Prayer," a Freedom From Religion Foundation pamphlet

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James Bryce, First Viscount Bryce of Dechmont (1838-1922)
British diplomat and historian

James BryceIt is accepted as an axiom by all Americans that the civil power ought to be not only neutral and impartial as between different forms of faith, but ought to leave these matters entirely on one side, regarding them no more than it regards the artistic or literary pursuits of the citizens.
-- James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol. II p. 766, (1888) from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Of all the differences between the Old World and the New, this is perhaps the most salient. Half the wars of Europe, half the internal troubles that have vexed European States.... have arisen from theological differences or from the rival claims of Church and State. This whole vast chapter of debate and strife has remained virtually unopened in the United States. There is no Established Church. All religious bodies are equal before the law, and unrecognized by the law, except as voluntary associations of private citizens.
-- James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol. II p. 766, (1888) from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

There is a hearty Puritanism in the view of human nature which pervades the instrument of 1787 It is the work of men who believed in original sin, and were resolved to leave open for transgressors no door which they could possibly shut.
-- James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 1, pt. 1, ch. 26 (1893), said of the US Constitution. Bryce was here agreeing with the opinion of one -- unnamed -- who said that, "the American Government and Constitution are based on the theology of Calvin and the philosophy of Hobbes." From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

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Joseph Raleigh Bryson
US Congressman from South Carolina; Baptist

We must not allow our religious fervor to blind us to the essential fact that no religious faith is secure when it meshes its authority with that of the state. Separation is not relative. It is absolute, or it is nonexistent.
-- Joseph Bryson, John Dart, “A Pioneer Figure In Church-State Rulings,” The Christian Century (September 19, 2006)

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The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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