Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Henry Steele Commager (1902–1998)
American historian whose works include Majority Rule and Minority Rights (1943) and The American Mind (1950). "Commager was an ardent defender of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, courageously opposing McCarthyism in the 1940s and 1950s and the Vietnam Conflict (on constitutional grounds) before it was fashionable to do so, and combating the rampant illegalities and unconstitutionalities perpetrated by the administration of Richard Nixon." (Mary Commager, The Henry Steele Commager Society.)

Henry Steele Commager[T]he decision for complete religious freedom and for separation of church and state in the eyes of the rest of the world [was] perhaps the most important decision reached in the New World. Everywhere in the western world of the 18th century, church and state were one; and everywhere the state maintained an established church and tried to force conformity to its dogma.
     The British had attempted -- half-heartedly -- to extend the Anglican Establishment to America, but they had, on the whole, permitted a good deal of religious freedom and independence. When the American states became independent they inevitably threw off the Anglican Establishment. A few of them tried to keep an establishment of their own, but given the pluralism of American religion, that attempt was clearly foredoomed.
     Virginia led the way by announcing not only complete religious freedom, but the separation of church and state, and thereafter, one after another, all the original states followed this principle. When James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to the first Congress, the very first of them embraced freedom of religion, and that was adopted by the Congress and by the states, and incorporated as a fundamental article of American constitutionalism.
Henry Steele Commager     Thus the new United States took the lead among the nations of the earth in the establishment of religious freedom. That is one reason America has never had any religious wars or any religious persecutions.
     -- Henry Steele Commager, Modern Maturity, June-July 1976, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The Americans who framed our Constitution felt that without freedom of religion no other freedom counted.
-- Henry Steele Commager, "The Right to Believe," ABC-TV documentary, March 30, 1975, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Auguste Comte [Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte] (1798–1857)
French positivist philosopher, who was a founder of sociology, being the first to apply scientific method to the social world

Auguste Comte[To] reorganize society without God or King, by the systematic culture of Humanity.
-- Auguste Comte, from the title-page of his masterpiece, The Positive Philosophy

The universe displays no proof of an all-directing mind.
-- Auguste Comte, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The heavens declare the glory of Kepler and Newton.
-- Auguste Comte, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but which is based on observed facts.
-- Auguste Comte, The Positive Philosophy

Nothing is destroyed until it is replaced.
-- Auguste Comte, oft quoted by George Jacob Holyoake, quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'"

Short Graphic Rule

Comte's law of human development is as follows:

1. Theological, or fictitious,
2. Metaphysical, or abstract,
3. Scientific, or positive.

In the Theological state, the human mind, seeking the essential nature of things, the first and final causes (the origin and purpose) of all effects -- in short Absolute knowledge -- supposes all phenomena to be produced by the immediate action of supernatural beings.
     In the Metaphysical state, which is only a modification of the first, the mind supposes, instead of supernatural beings, abstract forms, veritable entities (that is, personified abstractions) inherent in all things, and capable of producing all phenomena.
     In the final, the Positive state, the mind has given over the vain search after Absolute notions, the origin and destination of the universe, and the causes of phenomena, and applies itself to the study of their laws -- that is, their invariable relations of succession and resemblance.
     -- Auguste Comte, Positive Philosophy, pp. 26-7, as introduced in John E Remsberg, The Christ, pp. 357-8

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Confucius [K'ung-fu-tzu or Kongfuzi] (BCE 551-479)
Chinese thinker

ConfuciusTo give oneself ernestly to securing righteousness and justice among the people, and while respecting the gods and demons, to keep aloof from them, that may be called wisdom.
-- Confucius, expressing agnosticism and urging the avoidance of religious matters nonetheless, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 20

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Cyril Vernon Connolly (1903–1974)
English literary critic, essayist, and novelist, whose criticism is known for its personal and eccentric style

''Cyril Connolly: A Life''There cannot be a personal God without a pessimistic religion. As soon as there is a personal God he is a disappointing God.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 1 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Those of us who were brought up as Christians and have lost our faith have retained the sense of sin without the saving belief in redemption. This poisons our thought and so paralyses us in action.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 1 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

If our elaborate and dominating bodies are given us to be denied at every turn, if our nature is always wrong and wicked, how ineffectual we are -- like fishes not meant to swim.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

The Expulsion from Eden is an act of vindictive womanish spite; the Fall of Man, as recounted in the Bible, comes nearer to the Fall of God.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 1 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The person who is master of their passions is reason's slave.
-- Cyril Connolly, quoted in Turnstile One

We must select the Illusion which appeals to our temperament and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 3 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Believing in Hell must distort every judgement on this life.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We are all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon of self.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 2 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The civilized are those who get more out of life than the uncivilized, and for this we are not likely to be forgiven.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 2 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
-- Cyril Connolly, quoted from Creative Quotations

The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.
-- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, pt. 2 (1944; rev. 1951), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.
-- Cyril Connolly, quoted from Wikipedia

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.
-- Cyril Connolly, quoted from Wikipedia

Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.
-- Cyril Connolly, "Journal and Memoir" (1983)

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Joseph Conrad (1857–1924)
Polish-born English novelist

Joseph ConradThe belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.
-- Joseph Conrad, the "dame de compagnie," in Under Western Eyes, pt. 2, ch. 4 (1911), quoted from William Hart, Evil: A Primer (2004) p 1, source citation from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The ethical view of the universe involves us in so many cruel and absurd contradictions that I have come to suspect that the aim of creation cannot be ethical at all.
-- Joseph Conrad, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind. All intellectual and artistic ambitions are permissible, up to and even beyond the limit of prudent sanity. They can hurt no one.
-- Joseph Conrad, A Personal Record, "A Familiar Preface" (1912), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Dr. Conway

That cry could never be wrung from the lips of a man who saw in his own death a prearranged plan for the world's salvation, and his own return to divine glory temporarily renounced for transient misery on earth. The fictitious theology of a thousand years shrivels beneath the awful anguish of that cry.
-- Dr. Conway, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 314, on the alleged statement of Jesus from the Cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" (Matthew 27:46)

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Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933)
The 30th President of the United States (1923–1929)

United States Flag

Calvin CoolidgeWe cannot permit any inquisition either within or without the law or apply any religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must be forever free.
-- Calvin Coolidge, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1925

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Bill Cosby
American entertainer; social activist; segregationist

Bill Cosby teaches elememtary physics (color by Cliff Walker)Public education is a good foundation on which to build a better life for each of us. And if we want to prove to these children who never made the mess in the first place that education is worth the trouble, our schools have to inspire them so they can do what they ought to do.
-- Bill Cosby, dismissing the theocrats' arguments for eliciting government financial support of private eduction, in, "Kids, Here's a Fine Mess They've Gotten Us Into," adapted from his Prologue to the book, Letters to the Next President: What We Can Do About the Real Crisis in Public Education (2004)

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Norman Cousins (1912–1990)
Editor of the Saturday Review

Norman CousinsFreedom of religion, as the Founding Fathers saw it, was not just the right to associate oneself with a certain denomination but the right to disassociate without penalty. Belief or nonbelief was a matter of individual choice -- a right underwritten in the basic charter of the nation's liberties.
-- Norman Cousins, Saturday Review, December 1980, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas -- a place where history comes to life.
-- Norman Cousins, thanks to Laird Wilcox, The Writer's Rights (2nd. ed., 2002, pp. 10-11)

 

Barbara Brandriff Crabb (born, 1939)
US District Judge

Stephen CraneIt [the National Day of Prayer] XXIt goes beyond mere “acknowledgment” of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context." she wrote. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.
-- Barbara Crabb, in her decision, in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 15, 2010, ruling the mildly popular National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it serves no secular function. This does not affect the common practice wherein elected public servants will proclaim or dedicate various days and weeks and months in honor of (for example) Dental Hygiene, Irish-American History, Rhubarb Pie, Naval Contemplation, Horse Latitudes, and such. Quoted from the Associated Press, “Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional” (USA Today: April 16, 2010)

In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.
-- Barbara Crabb, in her decision of April 15, 2010, ruling the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional; quoted from the Associated Press, “Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional” (USA Today: April 16, 2010)

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Stephen Crane (1871–1900)
American writer

Stephen CraneWhen it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers.
     Then, if there be no tangible thing to hoot he feels, perhaps, the desire to confront a personification and indulge in pleas, bowed to one knee, and with hands supplicant saying: "Yes, but I love myself."
     A high cold star on a winter's night is the word he feels that she says to him. Thereafter he knows the pathos of his situation.
-- Stephen Crane, The Open Boat

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Mr. Cranky
Pseudonymous Film critic

Mr. CrankyOnce you accept the fact that there is no God, most of the stupidity in the world disappears and people begin to take a more rational approach to things.
-- Mr. Cranky, reviewing The Sixth Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

As a person who could just as easily wipe his ass with the pages of the Bible as read them, attempting to argue against cloning because it's somehow against God's will doesn't hold much sway. I'm sure the same argument was being made when indoor plumbing was introduced to the world or when the electric can opener was invented -- or the can, for that matter. Can't you just hear somebody saying, "If God had wanted food to be in cans, he would have put it there himself." Personally, I think Bible-thumpers should have to crap in buckets and wipe their asses with tree branches if they want to protest cloning.
-- Mr. Cranky, reviewing The Sixth Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Dennis Crews

Throughout history whenever church and state have become entangled, good and evil have ultimately come to be defined by whatever happens to be either expedient or inconvenient for the government. And the troubling, timeless truth about human nature is that the very worst moral evils are often skillfully disguised as righteousness and lauded by the world.
-- Dennis Crews, The Inside Report, 2 (Nov. 1984): 2, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Francis Harry Compton Crick (born, 1916)
British biophysicist, who helped determine the structure of DNA

Francis CrickIf revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong.
-- Francis Crick, (attributed: source unknown)

A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically?
-- Francis Crick, "How I Got Inclined Towards Atheism" from his autobiography What Mad Pursuit

A belief, at the time it was formulated, may not only have Francis Crickappealed to the imagination but also fit well with all that was then known. It can nevertheless be made to appear ridiculous because of facts uncovered later by science. What could be more foolish than to base one's entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at that time, now appear to be quite erroneous? And what would be more important than to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs? Yet it is clear that some mysteries have still to be explained scientifically. While these remain unexplained, they can serve as an easy refuge for religious superstition. It seemed to me of the first importance to identify these unexplained areas of knowledge and to work toward their scientific understanding whether such explanations would turn out to confirm existing beliefs or to refute them.
-- Francis Crick, "How I Got Inclined Towards Atheism" from his autobiography What Mad Pursuit

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Quentin Crisp (1908–1999)
English writer, gay rights activist

Quentin CrispWhen I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?"
-- Quentin Crisp, quoted from born-today.com for December 25

The idea that He would take his attention away from the universe in order to give me a bicycle with three speeds is just so unlikely I can't go along with it.
-- Quentin Crisp, The Sunday Times (London) (December 18, 1977), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

The absolute nothingness of death is a blessing. Something to look forward to.
-- Quentin Crisp, quoted from Famous Dead Non-theists

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Walter Cronkite (1916–2009)
American journalist, television news anchor for CBS

Walter Cronkite - cartoon by Richard BartholomewWe know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child. We know that religious beliefs cannot define patriotism.
-- Walter Cronkite, speech to People for the American Way, as reported in Newsweek (December 5, 1988), p. 8, quoted in Alan F Pater and Jason R Pater, What They Said in 1988: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion (1989), quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"

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Aleister Crowley (1875–1947)
British occultist; mouintaineer (member of the first European party to attempt K2); model for Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Magician (1908)

Aleister CrowleyThe Gods are but names for the forces of Nature themselves.
-- Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter XIV

In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth & the Paths, of Spirits & Conjurations, of Gods, spheres, Planes & many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things, certain re sults follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them.
-- Aleister Crowley, quoted from Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger (1976), in the drawing on p. 18

If one were to take the Bible seriously one would go mad. But to take the Bible seriously, one must be already mad.
-- Aleister Crowley (attributed: source unknown)

The supreme satisfaction is to be able to despise one's neighbor and this fact goes far to account for religious intolerance. It is evidently consoling to reflect that the people next door are headed for hell.
-- Aleister Crowley (attributed: source unknown)

          We place no reliance
          On virgin or pigeon;
          Our Method is Science,
          Our Aim is Religion.
                   -- Aleister Crowley, from the journal Equinox

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Rauf Cudworth (1617–1688)
English philosopher and theologian, one of the 'Cambridge Platonists'

Ralph CudworthBecause theists themselves acknowledge God to be incomprehensible, it may be from thence inferred that he is a nonentity.
-- Rauf Cudworth, True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), quoted from George H Smith, Why Atheism? (2000), p. 44

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Mario Matthew Cuomo (born, 1932)
Governor of New York (1983–1995)

Mario CuomoThe American people need no course in philosophy or political science or church history to know that God should not be made into a celestial party chairman. To most of us, the manipulative invoking of religion to advance a politician or a party is frightening and divisive. The American people will tolerate religious leaders taking positions for or against candidates ... But the American people are leery about large religious organizations, powerful churches, or synagogue groups engaging in such activities -- again, not as a matter of law or doctrine, but because our innate wisdom and democratic instinct teaches us these things are dangerous.
-- Mario Cuomo, address, University of Notre Dame, September 13, 1984, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Way down deep the American people are afraid of an entangling relationship between formal religions -- or whole bodies of religious belief -- and government. Apart from constitutional law and religious doctrine, there is a sense that tells us it's wrong to presume to speak for God or to claim God's sanction of our particular legislation and his rejection of all other positions. Most of us are offended when we see religion being trivialized by its appearance in political throw-away pamphlets.
-- Mario Cuomo, address, University of Notre Dame, September 13, 1984, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Monsignor Thomas J Curry (born, 1943)
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Thomas J CurryThe people of almost every state that ratified the First Amendment believed that religion should be maintained and supported voluntarily. They saw government attempts to organize and regulate such support as a usurpation of power, as a violation of liberty of conscience and free exercise of religion.
-- Thomas J Curry, The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment, 1986, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

There is simply no possibility that Catholic education can receive substantial public assistance and that the church can at the same time maintain complete control and direction of its schools. The reception of public monies must inevitably involve public supervision or control....
     The greatest danger for Catholic schools is not that they may fail to secure public assistance, but that in order to receive such aid they may secularize themselves piecemeal in the process.
-- Thomas J Curry, America, April 5, 1986, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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