Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Anthony Burgess (1917-1993)
British novelist and critic, best known for his controversial novel A Clockwork Orange (1962)

Anthony BurgessAm I happy? Probably not. Having passed the prescribed biblical age limit, I have to think of death, and I do not like the thought. There is a vestigial fear of hell, and even of purgatory, and no amount of rereading rationalist authors can expunge it. If there is only darkness after death, then that darkness is the ultimate reality and that love of life that I intermittently possess is no preparation for it. In face of the approaching blackness, which Winston Churchill facetiously termed black velvet, concerning oneself with a world that is soon to fade out like a television image in a power cut seems mere frivolity. But rage against the dying of the light is only human, especially when there are still things to be done, and my rage sometimes sounds to myself like madness. It is not only a question of works never to be written; it is a matter of things unlearned. I have started to learn Japanese, but it is too late; I have started to read Hebrew, but my eyes will not take in the jots and tittles. How can one fade out in peace, carrying vast ignorance into a state of total ignorance?
-- Anthony Burgess, in his memoirs, You've Had Your Time: The Second Part of the Confessions

A perverse nature can be stimulated by anything. Any book can be used as a pornographic instrument, even a great work of literature if the mind that so uses it is off-balance. I once found a small boy masturbating in the presence of the Victorian steel-engraving in a family Bible.
-- Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Anthony BurgessAll human life is here, but the Holy Ghost seems to be somewhere else.
-- Anthony Burgess, Observer (London, 25 May 1986), said of the Vatican in a book review. Quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

Rome's just a city like anywhere else. A vastly overrated city, I'd say. It trades on belief just as Stratford trades on Shakespeare.
-- Anthony Burgess, Mr Enderby (1963), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Anthony BurgessThe aura of the theocratic death penalty for adultery still clings to America, even outside New England, and multiple divorce, which looks to the European like serial polygamy, is the moral solution to the problem of the itch. Love comes into it too, of course, but in Europe we tend to see marital love as an eternity which encompasses hate and also indifference: when we promise to love we really mean that we promise to honour a contract. Americans, seeming to take marriage with not enough seriousness, are really taking love and sex with too much.
-- Anthony Burgess, You've Had Your Time, ch. 2 (1990), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Irish-born British politician and writer

Edmund BurkeReligious persecution may shield itself under the guise of a mistaken and overzealous piety.
-- Edmund Burke, address, February 17, 1788, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.
-- Edmund Burke (attributed: source unknown)

Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference which is, at least, half infidelity.
-- Edmund Burke, letter, 29 January 1795 (published in The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. 9, ed. by Paul Langford, 1991), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

We must soften into a credulity below the milkiness of infancy to think all men virtuous. We must be tainted with a malignity truly diabolical, to believe all the world to be equally wicked and corrupt.
-- Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
-- Edmund Burke, "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents," address, 23 April 1770

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

James Burnham (1905-1987)
American writer, social and political critic

An ideologue -- one who thinks ideologically -- can’t lose. He can’t lose because his answer, his interpretation and his attitude have been determined in advance of the particular experience or observation. They are derived from the ideology, and not subject to the facts.
-- James Burnham, Suicide Of The West (1964), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Scottish poet considered the major poetic voice of his nation

Robert BurnsAll religions are auld wives' fables, but an honest man has nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come.
-- Robert Burns, quoted by Robert Green Ingersoll in "Why I Am an Agnostic"

On Earth, Discord! A gloomy Heaven above, opening her jealous gates to the nineteen thousandth part of the tithe of mankind! And below, an inescapable & inexorable Hell, expanding its leviathan jaws for the vast residue of Mortals !!!
-- Robert Burns, letter to Alexander Cunningham, 10th September 1792 (see context in larger segment below)

But of all Nonsense, Religious Nonsense is the most nonsensical; so enough, & more than enough of it -- Only, by the bye, will you, or can you tell me, my dear Cunningham, why a religioso turn of mind has always a tendency to narrow and illiberalise the heart?
-- Robert Burns, letter to Alexander Cunningham, 10th September 1792 (see context in larger segment below)

Their sighin', cantin', grace-proud faces,
Their three-mile prayers, and half-mile graces.
     -- Robert Burns, to the Rev John M'Math

The social, friendly, honest man,
     Whate'er he be,
'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
     And none but he!
          -- Robert Burns, Epistle to John Lapraik, no. 2

'But what shall I write to you? "The Voice said, Cry: & I said, What shall I cry?" O thou Spirit! Whatever thou art, or wherever thou makest thyself visible. Be thou a Bogle by the eerie side of an auld thorn, in the dreary glen through which the herd-callan maun bicker in his gloamin route frae the fauld! Be thou a Brownie set, at dead of night, to thy task by the blazing ingle, or in the solitary barn, where the repercussions of they iron flail half affright thyself, as thou performest the work of twenty of the sons of men ere the cockcrowing summon thee to thy ample cog of substantial brose! Be thou a Kelpie, haunting the ford or ferry in the starless night, mixing thy laughing yell with the howling of the storm & the roaring of the flood, as thou viewest the perils & miseries of Man on the foundering horse, or in the tumbling boat! Or, lastly, be thou a Ghost, paying thy nocturnal visits to the hoary ruins of decayed Grandeur; or performing thy mystic rites in the shadow of the time worn Church, while the Moon looks, without a cloud, on the silent, ghastly dwellings of the dead around thee; or, taking thy stand by the bed side of the Villain, or the Murderer, pourtraying on his dreaming fancy, pictures, dreadful as the horrors of unveiled Hell, & terrible as the wrath of incensed Deity!!! Come, thou Spirit, but not in these horrid forms; come with the milder gentle, easy inspirations which thou breathest round the wig of a prating Advocate, or the tete of a tea-bibing Gossip, while their tongues run at the light-horse gallop of clishmaclaiver for ever & ever -- come, & assist a poor devil who is quite jaded in the attempt to share half an idea among half a hundred words; to fill up four quarto pages, while he has not got one single sentence of recollection, information, or remark, worth putting pen to paper for.
     'I feel, I feel the presence of Supernatural assistance! Circled in the embrace of my elbow chair, my breast labors like the bloated Sybil on her three-footed stool, & like her too, labors with Nonsense. Nonsense, auspicious name!!! Tutor, Friend & Finger-post in the mystic mazes of Law; the cadaverous paths of Physic; & particularly in the sightless soarings of School Divinity, who, leaving Common Sense confounded at his strength of pinion, Reason delirious with eyeing his giddy flight & Truth creeping back into the bottom of her well, cursing the hour that ever she offered her scorned alliance to the wizard Power of Theologic Vision -- raves abroad on all the winds, "On Earth, Discord! A gloomy Heaven above, opening her jealous gates to the nineteen thousandth part of the tithe of mankind! And below, an inescapable & inexorable Hell, expanding its leviathan jaws for the vast residue of Mortals !!!" O doctrine comfortable & healing to the weary wounded soul of man! Ye sons & daughters of affliction, ye pauvers Miserables, to whom day brings no pleasure & night yields no rest, be comforted! "'Tis but one to nineteen hundred thousand, that your situation will mend in this world; so alas the Experience of the Poor & the Needy too truly affirms; & 'tis nineteen hundred thousand to one by the dogmas of Theology, that you will be damned eternally in the World to come!"
     'But of all Nonsense, Religious Nonsense is the most nonsensical; so enough, & more than enough of it -- Only, by the bye, will you, or can you tell me, my dear Cunningham, why a religioso turn of mind has always a tendency to narrow and illiberalise the heart? They are orderly; they may be just; nay, I have known them merciful: but still your children of Sanctity move among their fellow creatures with a nostril snuffing putrescence, & a foot spurning filth, in short, with that conceited dignity which your titled Douglasses, Hamiltons, Gordons or any other of your Scots Lordlings of seven centuries standing, display when they accidentally mix among the many-aproned Sons of Mechanical life. I remember in my Plough-boy days, I could conceive it possible that a noble lord could be a Fool, or that a Godly man could be a Knave. How ignorant are Plough-boys! Nay, I have since discovered that a godly woman may be a -- ! But hold -- here's t'ye again -- this Rum is damn'd generous Antigua, so a very unfit menstruum for scandal.'
     -- Robert Burns, letter to Alexander Cunningham, 10th September 1792

Short Graphic Rule

Ingersoll: Frail, but Intensely Human

"Burns had his faults, his frailties. He was intensely human. Still, I would rather appear at the "Judgment Seat" drunk, and be able to say that I was the author of "A man's a man for 'a that," than to be perfectly sober and admit that I had lived and died a Scotch Presbyterian."
-- Robert Green Ingersoll, in "Why I Am an Agnostic"

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William Seward Burroughs (1914-1997)
American writer, painter, and experimental artist

William S. BurroughsA functioning police state needs no police.
-- William S Burroughs: Dr. Benway in Naked Lunch (1959)

Some of us are sixty feet long with a brain the size of a walnut.
-- William S Burroughs, "Dinosaurs"

I think that Richard Nixon will go down in history as a true folk hero, who struck a vital blow to the whole diseased concept of the revered image and gave the American virtue of irreverence and skepticism back to the people.
-- William S Burroughs, The Adding Machine, "A Word to the Wise Guy" (1985)

Most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has.
-- William S Burroughs, The Adding Machine, "My Own Business" (1985)

The exact objectives of Islam Inc. are obscure. Needless to say everyone involved has a different angle, and they all intend to cross each other up somewhere along the line.
-- William S Burroughs, Naked Lunch, "Islam Inc. and the Parties of Interzone" (1959)

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Sir Richard Burton (1812-1890)
English explorer; translated (actually, wrote -- that is, bowdlerized and invented) the first English language version of the the Kama Sutra

Sir Richard BurtonThe more I study religions, the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.
-- Sir Richard Burton, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty, but to have a slave of his own.
-- Sir Richard Burton, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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Richard Burton (1925-1984)
Welsh actor

Richard BurtonThe more I read about man and his maniacal ruthlessness and his murderous envious scatological soul, the more I realize that he will never change. Our stupidity is immortal, nothing will change it. The same mistakes, the same prejudices, the same injustice, the same lusts wheel endlessly around the parade ground of the centuries. Immutable and ineluctable. I wish I could believe in a god of some kind but I simply cannot.
-- Richard Burton, diary entry, 1969, according to the Denver Post

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J B Bury

[T]he ideal of progress, freedom of thought, and the decline of ecclesiastical power go together.
-- J B Bury, A History of Freedom of Thought, 1913, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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George W Bush
The 43rd President of the United States (2001-)

"Old Glory"

     • Check our Big Scary List of GW Bush Quotes

Weird (shitty, actually) GIF of G. W. Bush (sorry!)I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You're equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to.
-- George W Bush, from the final presidential discussion at the University of Arizona October 13th, 2004), in response to a question by moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News, quoted from Democracy Now! (October 20th, 2004)

My job is to make sure that, as President, people understand that in this country you can worship any way you choose. And I'll take that a step further. You can be a patriot if you don't believe in the Almighty. You can honor your country and be as patriotic as your neighbor.
-- George W Bush, responding to the question, "How you do balance not promoting a particular religion, while still being influenced by your personal faith?" in Sheryl Henderson Blunt, "Bush Calls for 'Culture Change'" (Christianity Today: May 28, 2004)

Baptists have long upheld the ideal of a free church in a free state. And from the beginning, they believed that forcing a person to worship against his will violated the principles of both Christianity and civility.
-- George W Bush, remarking accurately, indeed, on the role Baptists have historically played in developing and fostering the separation of religion from government and in dismantling the practice of enforced worship on the North American continent (even, at times, serving prison time for refusing to worship properly, which was the direct inspiration of James Madison for the way he designed and interpreted the version of our First Amendment which eventually prevailed), in the White House press release, "Remarks by the President Via Satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention 2002 Annual Meeting" (June 11, 2002)

We all know that men and women can be good without faith. And we also know that faith is an incredibly important source of goodness in our country.
-- George W Bush, in the White House press release, "Remarks by the President Via Satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention 2002 Annual Meeting" (June 11, 2002)

We know that men and women can be good without faith. We know that.
-- George W Bush, gets it right again, in his speech to the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast (May 16, 2002) (thanks to Patrick Bens)

Americans practice different faiths in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. And many good people practice no faith at all.
-- George W Bush, finally gets it right in his Easter Address of 2002 (thanks to Jim Dew)

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Laura Bush
American First Lady (2001-)

Laura Bush on "Larry King Live"Laura Bush: I think we're all so much aware, all Americans are so much more aware of our precious freedoms, and one of those is the freedom to worship however we want to.
Larry King: Or not want to.
Laura Bush: Or not worship, if we don't want to.
     And we're a country of many, many faiths. And we're a very diverse country. And now, since September 11, I think people realize that more than maybe they did before that. And that's certainly one of the most precious things about our country.
-- Laura Bush, admitting, albeit at King's prompting, that it's okay not to worship, that this is among our "precious freedoms," on Larry King Live (December 18, 2001), thanks for the tip from "No God, Period!"

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Comte de Bussy-Rabutin (1618-1693)
French soldier, writer

As you know, God is generally on the side of the big squadrons against the small ones.
-- Comte de Bussy-Rabutin, letter, 18 Oct. 1677. The earliest known version of the dictum later adapted by Jean Anouilh and Voltaire. Jean Anouilh: "Every man thinks God is on his side. The rich and powerful know he is." Voltaire: "God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best." From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

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