Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Martin Buber (1878-1965)
Viennese Jewish philosopher who profoundly influenced the study of interpersonal communication; theologian, bible translator, editor, author of over 800 books; rejecting Herzl's Zionism of a renaissance possible only in the Biblical Holy Land, Buber focused instead on the community, seeing one's Jewishness in the spiritual and cultural renewal of all Jews: when Israel became a nation, his opposition to Herzl's ideas continued to where he eventually organized adult education programs geared towards Arab-Israeli understanding

Martin Buber (Andy Warhol 1980 Screenprint 40" x 32" Part of Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century Suite)Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? ... I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them.
-- Martin Buber, Good and Evil, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (1988)

About what mainly constituted what you ask, it was something other. It was just a certain inclination to meet people. And as far as possible, to change something in the other, but also to let me be changed by him. At any event, I had no resistance, I put no resistance to it. I already began as a young man. I felt I have not the right to want to change another if I am not open to be changed by him as far as it is legitimate.
-- Martin Buber, to Carl Rogers, who had asked what enabled him "to learn so deeply of people and of relationships?" quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

Martin BuberHere is the infallible test. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at me.
-- Martin Buber, seeing concrete meetings between persons as the most important aspect of being human -- even after having authored over 800 books, quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

When I meet a man, I am not concerned about his opinions. I am concerned about the man.
-- Martin Buber, to Maurice Friedman, who translated most of Buber's works, in a student interview at the University of Washington, quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

I think no human being can give more than this. Making life possible for the other, if only for a moment.
-- Martin Buber, quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

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Friedman: The Most Human Person I Have Met

"The first actual meeting I could never forget. First of all this man who I had felt so close to seemed so really 'other' to me. He was very short, much shorter than I could have imagined him. His eyes were the most striking part about him -- gentle yet penetrating. And he said to me 'Do not think I am mostly interested in you because you have written a book on me. I am more concerned about you as a person.' And even of his own books he said 'I write them as a snake sheds its skins, because I must. But they are not the most important part of my life.'"
-- Maurice Friedman, in a University of Washington student interview, quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

"He was for me in every sense of the term the most human person I have met."
-- Maurice Friedman, in a University of Washington student interview, quoted from University of Washington, Courses Web Server: Meet Martin Buber

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James Buchanan (1791-1868)
The 15th President of the United States (1857-1861)

United States Flag

James Buchanan[The Government of the United States] possesses no power whatever over the question of religion.
-- James Buchanan, from Leo F Stock, U S Ministers to the Papal States, Catholic University Press, 1933, p. 213, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.
-- James Buchanan, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Steiner: Buchanan No Political Opportunist

"In August, 1860, his last year in the White House, President Buchanan was stopping at Bedford Springs, a summer resort in Pennsylvania, where the Rev Dr. Wilham M Paxton, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New York City, was also a guest. Having had some previous acquaintance with the reverend doctor he one day invited him into his room, where he opened his heart. He said:
     "'I think I may say that for 12 years I have been in the habit of reading the Bible and praying daily. I have never had any one with whom I have felt disposed to converse, and now that I find you here, I have thought you would understand my feelings, and that I would venture to open my mind to you upon this important subject, and ask for an explanation of some things I do not clearly understand.'
     "He then asked Dr. Paxton what a religious experience is, and wanted to know how a man might, know he was a Christian, to which the doctor gave replies that satisfied him. Thereupon the President said:
     "'Well, sir, I thank you. My mind is now made up. I hope I am a Christian. I think I have had some of the experience which you describe, and as soon as I retire from my office as President, I will unite with the Presbyterian Church.'
     "Dr. Paxton here became excited. It is not often a minister has an opportunity to gather a President of the United States into the fold. Then he was an old man, and might die, as did President Harrison, who so sorely disappointed the Rev Dr. Hawley. Therefore he exclaimed, 'Why not now, Mr. President? God's invitation is now and you should not say tomorrow.' President Buchanan replied with deep feeling and a strong gesture: 'I must delay, for the honor of religion. If I were to unite with the Church now, they would say hypocrite, from Maine to Georgia.' Here he was different from some statesmen of today who seem to take no interest in religion until they get into politics, when 'the honor of religion' does not disturb them."
     -- Franklin Steiner, Religious Views of Our Presidents, pp. 46-47

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Pearl S Buck (1892-1973)
American author

Pearl S. BuckI feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings.
-- Pearl S Buck, Treasury of Women's Quotations

I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels. I have enough for this life.
-- Pearl S Buck, Treasury of Women's Quotations

It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.
-- Pearl S Buck, What America Means To Me, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Robert Buckman
American cancer specialist; Freethought writer

It has been demonstrated, unequivocally and unambiguously, that the experience of God is built into the human mind. The god of mind is undeniable: the mind of God will forever remain a matter of personal belief. It is at least possible that there is no God -- or that there are no gods -- watching over us and preventing us from doing major damage to our species or the planet. Whether that is a fact or not, it gives us a useful and practical guideline: it might be a better world if we all believe whatever we wish, but behave as if there was no supra­human deity to sort out our problems for us. -- Robert Buckman, Can We Be Good Without God? Biology, Behavior, and the Need to Believe (Prometheus: 2002) back cover; excerpted by PAM, January, 2008

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Ed Buckner
American Separationist; Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism; Southern Director, Council for Secular Humanism

Religious people are not entitled to special rights, even if they are elected leaders or in the majority; they are not allowed to force everyone to support their religion.
-- Ed Buckner, letter: "Ten Commandments in Georgia" (submitted to the Catoosa County [Georgia] News: November 25, 2003)

The Chief Justice's ... main point seemed to be that the references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance aren't really religious and therefore are not that important -- something I would think would offend Christians who think it should stay because it is religious and does matter. Too many Christians appear to be desperate to shore up their failing confidence in their own religious beliefs by having the government officially endorse those beliefs.
-- Ed Buckner, discussing Rehnquist's response to the Newdow case, as the Chief Justice expressed it in Don McKee's column, 16 June 2004 and the Journal's own opinions, expressed in the house editorial "'Under' Can Stay 'In' -- Where It Belongs, "in his letter, "McKee, Rehnquist, and the MDJ Editorial Board Have it Wrong," to Atlanta, Georgia's Marietta Daily Journal (submitted: 16 June 2004)

We urge all people to recognize that religious freedom requires not trying to use the power of government to force religious ideas on others.
-- Ed Buckner, countering two lies told by Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue: "Ours is a nation founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," and, "The vast majority of Americans believe these Commandments have a place in the halls of justice," in a speech at the counter-rally opposing a touring "rally" that sought the illegal reinstitution into the Alabama State Courthouse of the "defrocked" Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's huge statue on which is etched an abbridged, Christianized corruption of several religious edicts revered by one of several religious sects among the ancient Hebrews, quoted in Dave Williams, "Rallies attract hundreds" (Augusta [Georgia] Chronicle: September 30, 2003)

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Buddha [Siddhartha Gautama] (?563-?483 BCE)
Indian mystic and founder of Buddhism

Doubt everything. Find your own light.
-- Buddha , his final words according to the Theravada tradition, quoted from Robert Anton Wilson, Natural Law: or Don't Put A Rubber On Your Willy (1987), p. 17

Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it ... or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
-- Buddha (attributed: source unknown)


I do not fight with the world but the world fights with me.
Buddha, quoted in Edward Conze, Buddhism (1951), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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Thomas Henry Buckle (1821-1862)
British historian

That the system of morals propounded in the New Testament contained no maxim which had not been previously enunciated, and that some of the most beautiful passages in the apostolic writings are quotations from Pagan authors, is well known to every scholar.... To assert that Christianity communicated to man moral truths previously unknown, argues on the part of the asserted either gross ignorance or wilful fraud.
-- Thomas Henry Buckle, History of Civilization, Vol. I, p. 129, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 313

The clergy, with a few honorable exceptions, have in all modern countries been the avowed enemies of the diffusion of knowledge, the danger of which to their own profession they, by a certain instinct, seem always to have perceived.
-- Thomas Henry Buckle, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 332

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Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
American poet and writer

Charles BukowskiFor those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our education system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.
-- Charles Bukowski, Life magazine, December 1988, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Charles BukowskiThe whole LSD, STP, marijuana, heroin, hashish, prescription cough medicine crowd suffers from the "Watchtower" itch: you gotta be with us, man, or you're out, you're dead. This pitch is a continual and seeming MUST with those who use the stuff. It's no wonder they keep getting busted.
-- Charles Bukowski, comparing drug addiction with being a Jehovah's Witness, in Tales of Ordinary Madness, "The Big Pot Game" (1967), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Luis Buñuel (1900-1983)
Spanish film director known for his studies of modern social manners

Luis Buñuel at his cameraIf someone were to prove to me -- right this minute -- that God, in all his luminousness, exists, it wouldn't change a single aspect of my behavior.
-- Luis Buñuel, My Last Sigh, ch. 15 (1983). quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

I am an atheist still, thank God.
-- Luis Buñuel, Le Monde (December 16, 1959), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Luis BuñuelThank God, I am still an atheist.
-- Luis Buñuel, Time, 29 November 1969, quoted from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

I am an atheist, thanks be to God.
-- Luis Buñuel, on being asked, later in life, if he had been deeply affected by his Jesuit education, quoted from Famous Dead Non-theists

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Luther Burbank (1849-1926)
American horticulturist who developed countless new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers

Luther BurbankI have learned from Nature that dependence on unnatural beliefs weakens us in the struggle and shortens our breath for the race.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted from Joseph Lewis, Burbank the Infidel

Obsolete misleading theologies bear the same relation to the essence of true religion that scarlet fever, mumps, and measles do to education.
-- Luther Burbank, "expressed in the pulpit of a chapel at Santa Rosa," quoted in Joseph McCabe, "Luther Burbank Speaks Out"

Justice, love, truth, peace and harmony, a serene unity with science and the laws of the universe.
-- Luther Burbank, defining his use of the word religion to Joseph McCabe, quoted in Joseph McCabe, "Luther Burbank Speaks Out"

Most people's religion is what they would like to believe, not what they do believe. And very few of them stop to examine its foundations.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted by Edgar Waite in "Luther Burbank, Infidel"

As a scientist I cannot help feeling that all religions are on a tottering foundation. None is perfect or inspired. As for their prophets, there are as many today as ever before, only now science refuses to let them overstep the bounds of common sense.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted from Edgar Waite, "Luther Burbank, Infidel"

The idea that a good God would send people to a burning hell is utterly damnable to me. The ravings of insanity! Superstition gone to seed! I don't want to have anything to do with such a God.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted from various sources, a variation originally reported in Edgar Waite, "Luther Burbank, Infidel"

I do not believe what has been served to me to believe. I am a doubter, a questioner, a skeptic. However, when it can be proved to me that there is immortality, that there is resurrection beyond the gates of death, then will I believe. Until then, no.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted from Edgar Waite, "Luther Burbank, Infidel"

I have seen myself lose intolerance, narrowness, bigotry, complacence, pride and a whole bushel-basket of other intellectual vices through my contact with Nature and with men. And when you take weeds out of a garden it gives you room to grow flowers. So, every time I lost a little self-satisfaction, or arrogance, I could plant some broadness or love of my own in its place, and after a while the garden of my mind began to bloom and be fragrant and I found myself better equipped for my work and more useful to others as a consequence.
-- Luther Burbank, quoted from Joseph Lewis, Burbank the Infidel

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