Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Florentine artist, one of the great masters of the High Renaissance: painter; sculptor; architect; engineer; and scientist

Leonardo da VinciAnyone who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but his memory.
-- Leonardo Da Vinci, Notebooks, c. 1500

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Byron Danelius
American educator

Byron DaneliusReligion provides the solace for the turmoil that it creates.
-- Byron Danelius, in a letter to Cliff Walker, September, 2001

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Clarence Seward Darrow (1857-1938)
American lawyer who made a name for himself fighting capital punishment as well as championing the underdog and so-called lost-cause defendants in highly publicized cases such as those of science teacher John T Scopes and the wealthy child murderers Leopold and Loeb

Clarence DarrowAn agnostic is a doubter. The word is generally applied to those who doubt the verity of accepted religious creeds of faiths.
-- Clarence Darrow, giving his one-word definition for the agnosticism, that is, the Huxlean agnosticism of the old school, in, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means.
-- Clarence Darrow, Speech, 13 July 1925, Dayton, Tennessee, defending John T Scopes on trial for teaching the findings of Charles Darwin, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose.
-- Clarence Darrow, from a speech given in Toronto (1930), quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)

What is the origin of it all?... This is still a mystery. As to the question of the origin of things, man can only wonder and doubt and guess.
-- Clarence Darrow, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

To say that God made the universe gives us no explanation of the beginnings of things. If we are told that God made the universe, the question immediately arises: Who made God? Did he always exist, or was there some power back of that? Did he create matter out of nothing, or is his existence coextensive with matter? The problem is still there. What is the origin of it all? If, on the other hand, one says that the universe was not made by God, that it always existed, he has the same difficulty to confront. To say that the universe was here last year, or millions of years ago, does not explain its origin. This is still a mystery. As to the question of the origin of things, man can only wonder and doubt and guess.
-- Clarence Darrow, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

If there is a soul, what is it, and where did it come from, and where does it go? Can anyone who is guided by his reason possibly imagine a soul independent of a body, or the place of its residence, or the character of it, or anything concerning it? If man is justified in any belief or disbelief on any subject, he is warranted in the disbelief in a soul. Not one scrap of evidence exists to prove any such impossible thing.
-- Clarence Darrow (attributed: source unknown)

Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt!
-- Clarence Darrow (attributed: source unknown)

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
-- Clarence Darrow, Address to the Court, The Communist Trial (1920), thanks to Laird Wilcox, editor, "The Degeneration of Belief"

I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more had I been understood.
-- Clarence Darrow, quoted by Peter McWilliams in Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, page 817, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I feel as I always have, that the earth is the home and the only home of man, and I am convinced that whatever he is to get out of his existence he must get while he is here.
-- Clarence Darrow, quoted from Art Thomas (with Emanuel Haldeman-Julius), "Clarence Darrow"

I am an Agnostic because I am not afraid to think. I am not afraid of any god in the universe who would send me or any other man or woman to hell. If there were such a being, he would not be a god; he would be a devil.
-- Clarence Darrow, quoted from Art Thomas (with Emanuel Haldeman-Julius), "Clarence Darrow"

Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey.
-- Clarence Darrow, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I'm not worried about my soul.
-- Clarence Darrow, "Why I Am An Agnostic," quoted from Art Thomas (with Emanuel Haldeman-Julius), "Clarence Darrow"

Clarence DarrowWhen every event was a miracle, when there was no order or system or law, there was no occasion for studying any subject, or being interested in anything excepting a religion which took care of the soul. As man doubted the primitive conceptions about religion, and no longer accepted the literal, miraculous teachings of ancient books, he set himself to understand nature.
-- Clarence Darrow, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

A prison is confining to the body, but whether it affects the mind, depends entirely upon the mind.
-- Clarence Darrow, from his essay, Voltaire

Short Graphic Rule


Poems about

Clarence Darrow
by Edgar Lee Masters


    Clarence Darrow
       This is Darrow,
       Inadequately scrawled, with his young, old heart,
       And his drawl, and his infinite paradox
       And his sadness, and kindness,
       And his artist sense that drives him to shape his life
       To something harmonious, even against the schemes of God.
            -- Edgar Lee Masters (1922), quoted from The Clarence Darrow Home Page

    On a Bust
       A giant as we hoped, in truth, a dwarf;
       A barrel of slop that shines on Lethe's wharf',
       Which at first seemed a vessel with sweet wine
       For thirsty lips. So down the swift decline
       You went through sloven spirit, craven heart
       And cynic indolence. And here the art
       Of molding clay has caught you for the nonce
       And made your shame our shame -- Your head in bronze!
            -- Edgar Lee Masters (1916), quoted from The Clarence Darrow Home Page

    Darrow 2 (unpublished)
       This is a man with an old face, always old...
       There was pathos, in his face, and in his eyes.
       The early weariness; and sometimes tears in his eyes,
       Which he let slip unconsciously on his cheek,
       Or brushed away with an unconcerned hand.
       There were tears for human suffering, or for a glance
       Into the vast futility of life,
       Which he had seen from the first, being old
       When he was born.
            -- Edgar Lee Masters (1922), quoted from The Clarence Darrow Home Page

Short Graphic Rule

Haldemann-Julius: Bryan Made a Monkey of Himself

As he was pummeled into one tight spot after another, emerging each time breathless and in amazed chagrin, Bryan flushed, with spots of anger in his cheeks. His whole body sagged. Before our very eyes, he became a beaten man.
-- Emanuel Haldemann-Julius, covering the Scopes "Monkey" trial, quoted from Art Thomas (with Emanuel Haldeman-Julius), "Clarence Darrow"

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Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)
British naturalist who revolutionized the study of biology with his theory of evolution based on natural selection

     • Check our Big List of Charles Darwin Quotations

Charles DarwinBut I own that I cannot see ... evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created that a cat should play with mice.
-- Charles Darwin, (attributed: source unknown)

I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for his existence. The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture.
-- Charles Darwin, Descent of Man page 612

It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science.
-- Charles Darwin, quoted from Michael Shermer, "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind: Reconsiderations and Recapitulations on the God Question," Introduction to the paperback edition of How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science (2000)

I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.
-- Charles Darwin, Descent of Man page 61

It is like confessing to a murder.
-- Charles Darwin, quoted from the press release for the PBS television series Evolution with the comment, "For 21 years, Charles Darwin kept his theory of evolution secret from all but a few friends"

When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.
-- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, quoted from John Stear, No Answers in Genesis


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Robertson Davies (1913-1995)
Canadian novelist, essayist, and playwright

Robertson DaviesFanaticism is ... overcompensation for doubt.
-- Robertson Davies, Manticore (1972), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Nothing is so easy to fake as the inner vision.
-- Robertson Davies: Saraceni, in What's Bred in the Bone, pt. 4, "What Would Not Out of the Flesh?" (1985), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Derek Davis
Director of the Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University

Derek DavisWhen you make the argument that this [reference to God in the Pledge] is no longer religious but is civil, or political, or patriotic in its orientation, you are trivializing religion. You are trivializing the meaning of God.
-- Derek Davis, in a discussion of the issues surrounding the Newdow Pledge of Allegiance case before the Supreme Court, in Warren Richey, "'One nation' -- But Under What?" (The Christian Science Monitor: March 24, 2004)

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Richard Dawkins (b 1941)
East African-born British Zoologist; prominent atheistic activist

     • Check our Big List of Richard Dawkins Quotations

Richard DawkinsAlthough atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
-- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, page. 6

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
-- Richard Dawkins, Untitled Lecture, Edinburgh Science Festival (1992)

Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.
-- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
-- Richard Dawkins (attributed: source unknown)

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.
-- Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995), quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

You cannot be both sane and well educated and disbelieve in evolution. The evidence is so strong that any sane, educated person has got to believe in evolution.
-- Richard Dawkins, in Lanny Swerdlow, "My Sort Interview with Richard Dawkins" (Portland, Oregon, 1996)

Not a single one of your ancestors died young. They all copulated at least once.
-- Richard Dawkins, The New Yorker, "Richard Dawkins's Evolution," Sept. 9, 1996, Debating "Does God Exist?" with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, as reported by Ian Parker, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Society bends over backward to be accommodating to religious sensibilities but not to other kinds of sensibilities. If I say something offensive to religious people, I'll be universally censured, including by many atheists.
-- Richard Dawkins, quoted in Natalie Angier, "Confessions of a Lonely Atheist," New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2001


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Joseph Martin Dawson (1879-1973)
First executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, a Separationist group

Joseph Martin Dawson (cover: 'A Thousand Months To Remember')It is a fixed American opinion that whenever and wherever churches have been able to invoke the power of the state in their behalf, the effects have been disastrous to moral character, to spiritual ideals and the good order of society.
-- Joseph Martin Dawson, Separate Church and State Now, Richard R Smith, 1948, page 13, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The sole function of the American state, in respect to religion, is to recognize its existence and protect its liberty.
-- Joseph Martin Dawson, quoted from the Joint Baptist Committee WebPage

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Benjamin DeCasseres (1893-1961)
Author and artist of the iconoclastic school, having moved in a group that included Edgar Saltus, James Huneker, and the young H L Mencken

My studies in Speculative philosophy, metaphysics, and science are all summed up in the image of a mouse called man running in and out of every hole in the Cosmos hunting for the Absolute Cheese.
-- Benjamin DeCasseres, quoted from John W Garder et al., ed, "Quotations of Wit and Wisdom," (1975)

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Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
British author of Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Daniel DefoeWherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And 'twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.
     -- Daniel Defoe, The True-Born Englishman (1701), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

And of all the plagues with which mankind are cursed
Ecclesiastic tyranny's the worst.
      -- Daniel Defoe, The True-Born Englishman, Part II (1701), from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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David J DeLaura
Professor of English Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania; Historian of Victorian intellectual life

The loss of religious faith in such representative early Victorian aginostics as F W Newman (John Henry Newman's brother), J A Froude (brother of Newman's close friend, Hurrell Froude), and George Eliot was not due, in the first place, to the usually suggested reasons -- the rise of evolutionary theory in geology and biology and the Higher Criticism of the Bible. Indeed, in each life the dominant factor was a growing repugnance toward the ethical implications of what each had been taught to believe as essential Christianity -- especially the set of interrelated doctrines: Original Sin, Reprobation, Baptismal Regeneration, Vicarious Atonement, Eternal Punishment.
-- David J DeLaura, pointing out that many Victorians left the church out of moral outrage at the essential doctrines of the Christian religion, in Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian Literature: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

[In St Paul and Protestantism, Matthew Arnold] contemptuously rejects the "monstrous" vision of a capricious God who deals in election and predestination and cruelly emphasizes the crass commercial quality of the Puritan catchwords, "covenant," "ransom," "redeem," "purchase," and "bargain."
-- David J DeLaura, pointing out that the Puritan brands of Christianity had their own ways to cash in by playing on human greed for self-indulgence, in Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian Literature: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

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Vine Victor Deloria, Jr. (b. 1933)
Native American (Sioux) writer

Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.Religion has shifted to take in every change in the winds, so that its obedience to American culture and political trends is apparent. As lifestyles have changed, so has the theology of the churches. Manifest destiny became social gospel with barely a backward glance.
-- Vine Victor Deloria, Jr., We Talk You Listen, 1970, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Demosthenes (384-322 BCE)
Greek orator

A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true.
-- Demosthenes, Third Olynthiac, sct. 19 (349 BCE)

There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches and the like. All these are the work of human hands aided by money. But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safegaurd which is the common possession of all, especially to the dealings of democracies with dictatorships. What is this safeguard? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm.
-- Demosthenes, Oration

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Hans Denck (1495-1527)
A 16th century Swiss Anabaptist leader

The state authorities have no place in the church of God, no right to control and persecute the conscience.
-- Hans Denck, written in the 1580s, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Daniel Dennett
American philosopher of science (biology); author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Daniel DennettHas it ever occurred to you how lucky you are to be alive? More than 99 percent of all the creatures that have ever lived have died without progeny, but not a single one of your ancestors falls into that group! ...
     Not a single one of your ancestors, all the way back to the bacteria, succumbed to predation before reproducing, or lost out in the competition for a mate.
-- Daniel Dennett, summarizing a very popular "word picture" of natural selection, short and sweet compared to the epic poetry of Richard Dawkins describing similar observation, in Darwin's Dangerous Idea

The kindly God who lovingly fashioned each and every one of us and sprinkled the sky with shining stars for our delight -- that God is, like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything [that] a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in. That God must either be turned into a symbol for something less concrete or abandoned altogether.
-- Daniel Dennett, echoing the life's work of Bishop John Shelby Spong, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, page 18

I recently took part in a conference in Seattle that brought together leading scientists, artists and authors to talk candidly and informally about their lives to a group of very smart high school students. Toward the end of my allotted 15 minutes, I tried a little experiment. I came out as a bright [a person with a world-view that is naturalistic rather than supernaturalistic].
     Now, my identity would come as no surprise to anybody with the slightest knowledge of my work. Nevertheless, the result was electrifying.
     Many students came up to me afterwards to thank me, with considerable passion, for "liberating" them. I hadn't realized how lonely and insecure these thoughtful teenagers felt. They'd never heard a respected adult say, in an entirely matter of fact way, that he didn't believe in God. I had calmly broken a taboo and shown how easy it was.
     In addition, many of the later speakers, including several Nobel laureates, were inspired to say that they, too, were brights. In each case the remark drew applause. Even more gratifying were the comments of adults and students alike who sought me out afterward to tell me that, while they themselves were not brights, they supported bright rights. And that is what we want most of all: to be treated with the same respect accorded to Baptists and Hindus and Catholics, no more and no less.
-- Daniel Dennett, "The Bright Stuff" (The New York Times: July 12, 2003)

The evidence of evolution pours in, not only from geology, paleontology, biogeography, and anatomy (Darwin's chief sources), but from molecular biology and every other branch of the life sciences. To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant -- inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write. Doubts about the power of Darwin's idea of natural selection to explain this evolutionary process are still intellectually respectable, however, although the burden of proof for such skepticism has become immense.
-- Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), quoted from University of Ediacara Home Page (Ed Fitzgerald)

Highly technical philosophical arguments of the sort many philosophers favor are absent here. That is because I have a prior problem to deal with. I have learned that arguments, no matter how watertight, often fall on deaf ears. I am myself the author of arguments that I consider rigorous and unanswerable but that are often not such much rebutted or even dismissed as simply ignored.
     I am not complaining about injustice -- we all must ignore arguments, and no doubt we all ignore arguments that history will tell us we should have taken seriously. Rather, I want to play a more direct role in changing what is ignorable by whom. I want to get thinkers in other disciplines to take evolutionary thinking seriously, to show them how they have been underestimating it, and to show them why they have been listening to the wrong sirens.
     For this, I have to use more artful methods. I have to tell a story. You don't want to be swayed by a story? Well, I know you won't be swayed by a formal argument; you won't even listen to a formal argument for my conclusion, so I start where I have to start.
-- Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, page 12

More than a century after Darwin, there are still serious debates among biologists (and even more so among philosophers of biology) about how to define species. Shouldn't scientists define their terms? Yes, of course, but only up to a point. It turns out that there are different species concepts with different uses in biology -- what works for paleontologists is not much use to ecologists, for instance -- and no clean way of uniting them or putting them in an order of importance that would crown one of them (the most important one) as the concept of species. So I am inclined to interpret the persisting debates as more a matter of vestigial Aristotelian tidiness than a useful disciplinary trait.
-- Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea

The fundamental core of contemporary Darwinism, the theory of DNA-based reproduction and evolution, is now beyond dispute among scientists. It demonstrates its power every day, contributing crucially to the explanation of planet-sized facts of geology and meteorology, through middle-sized facts of ecology and agronomy, down to the latest microscopic facts of genetic engineering. It unifies all of biology and the history of our planet into a single grand story. Like Gulliver tied down in Lilliput, it is unbudgeable, not because of some one or two huge chains of argument that might -- hope against hope -- have weak links in them, but because it is securely tied by thousands of threads of evidence anchoring it to virtually every other area of human knowledge.
-- Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995)

Political correctness, in the extreme versions worth of the name, is antithetical to almost all surprising advances in thought. We might call it eumemics, since it is, like the extreme eugenics of the Social Darwinists, an attempt to impose myopically derived standards of safety and goodness on the bounty of nature. Few today -- but there are a few -- would brand all genetic counseling, all genetic policies, with the condemnatory title of eugenics. We should reserve that term of criticism for the greedy and peremptory policies, the extremist policies.... We will consider how we might wisely patrol the memosphere, and what we might do to protect ourselves from the truly dangerous ideas, but we should keep the bad example of eugenics firmly in mind when we do so.
-- Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea

A mind is fundamentally an anticipator, an expectation-generator. It mines the present for clues, which it refines with the help of materials it has saved from the past, turning them into anticipations of the future. And then it acts, rationally, on the basis of those hard-won anticipations.
-- Daniel Dennett, Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousnes

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Waymore Dendrites
Pen Name of a Pennsylvania Freethinker

After I chased the dog off I gathered up the ground hog babies into a small plastic bowl from the cabin. I lined the bowl with a few paper towels. I had no idea what to do with the crying babies. They lived on their mother’s milk and now their mom was dead. The only thing I could think to do was to take them inside out of the cold.
The dog had killed its natural enemy, the ground hog. The dog killed by instinct and according to religious teaching didn’t possess a soul. Only people were supposed to have souls that God would save. This is what people who believe in God say. The dog killed without thinking. That is what instinct is. But people kill each other and do it not by instinct toward natural enemies, but with thinking that it is a good thing to do. Yet these people who kill so cruelly and deliberately were supposed to have souls while the dog was not supposed to have a soul.
-- Waymore Dendrites, from his book, Brandon's Blossoms: some thoughts about nature and God for older kids nine to ninety, quoted from, Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia, HAGP News (Volume 3, Number 2, October and November, 2008); describing the author's thoughts, after moving to the countryside, on finding a litter of abandoned groundhog babies whose mother had been killed by a neighbor's dog; the suffering of these creatures, he surmises, reflects the suffering he sees in the Universe at large, leading him to reject his belief in a caring God figure (source notes based upon an untitled publisher's press release issued in November, 2008).

Standing in my cabin with the bowl and its crying babies in my hand, I made a decision. I call it a turning point on how I thought about God. I made up [my] mind now. The misery and cruelty that was taking place now in my cabin was only a tiny example of all the misery and cruelty in the world.
     At that moment I stopped wondering whether or not God or the soul exists. At that moment I knew that the suffering of these poor babies and all the rest of the suffering in the world meant that neither God nor the soul existed. If the dog in its instinctive cruelty had no soul, then neither did people, who are often deliberately cruel, have souls. If there is no soul or no God I couldn't see much purpose in believing in religion either. Religions say they will save your soul from suffering, but if there is no soul then it doesn't exist and so there is nothing to save.
-- Waymore Dendrites, from his book, Brandon's Blossoms: some thoughts about nature and God for older kids nine to ninety, quoted from an untitled publisher's press release issued in November, 2008; describing the author's his thoughts, after moving to the countryside, on finding a litter of abandoned animal babies whose mother had been killed by a neighbor's dog; the suffering of these creatures, he surmises, reflects the suffering he sees in the Universe at large, leading him to reject his belief in a caring God figure (source notes based upon the above-mentioned press release).

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Alan M Dershowitz
Professor at Harvard Law School

Alan DershowitzThe plain message conveyed by the new administration is that George W Bush's America is a Christian nation, and that non-Christians are welcome into the tent so long as they agree to accept their status as a tolerated minority rather than as fully equal citizens. In effect, Bush is saying: "This is our home, and in our home we pray to Jesus as our savior. If you want to be a guest in our home, you must accept the way we pray."
-- Alan M Dershowitz, "Bush Starts Off by Defying the the Constitution," Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2001

But the United States is neither a Christian nation nor the exclusive home of any particular religious group. Non-Christians are not guests. We are as much hosts as any Mayflower-descendant Protestant. It is our home as well as theirs. And in a home with so many owners, there can be no official sectarian prayer. That is what the First Amendment is all about, and the first act by the new administration was in defiance of our Constitution.
-- Alan M Dershowitz, "Bush Starts Off by Defying the the Constitution," Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2001

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René Descartes (1596-1650)
French philosopher and mathematician

René DescartesHaving learned from the time I wa                                   nkjm,s at school that there is nothing one can imagine so strange or so unbelievable that it has not been said by one of other of the philosophers; and since then, while traveling, having recognized that those who hold opinions quite opposed to ours are not on that account barbarians or savages, but that many exercise as much reason as we do, or more; and having considered how a given man, with his given mind, being brought up from childhood among the French or Germans becomes different from what he would be if he had always lived among the Chinese or among the cannibals ... I was convinced that our beliefs are based much more on custom and example than on any certain knowledge.
-- René Descartes, A Discourse on Method Part II, quoted from Anthony Flew, Atheistic Humanism, pages 21-2

Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: for each man thinks he has enough of it.
-- René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode (1637)

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
-- René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode (1637)

I think, therefore I am.
-- René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode (1637)

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John Dewey (1859-1952)
American philosopher, educator, a leading advocate of philosophical pragmatism, rejecting teaching by rote in favor of a broad-based system of practical experience

John DeweyThere can be no doubt ... of our dependence upon forces beyond our control. Primitive man was so impotent in the face of these forces that g , especially in an unfavorable natural environment, fear became a dominant attitude, and, as the old saying goes, fear created gods.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Intellectually, religious emotions are not creative but conservative. They attach themselves readily to the current view of the world and consecrate it.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

It has been petrified into a slavery of thought and sentiment, as intolerant superiority on the part of the few and an intolerable burden on the part of the many.
-- John Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct (1922), quoted from Felicia R Lee, "The Secular Society Gets Religion" (The New York Times; August 24, 2002)

There is nothing left worth preserving in the notions of unseen powers, controlling human destiny, to which obedience and worship are due.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Criticism of the commitment of religion to the supernatural is thus positive in import.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Popular psychology is a mass of cant, of slush and of superstition worthy of the most flourishing days of the medicine man.
-- John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems (1927)

Religions have been universal in the sense that all the people we know anything about have had a religion. But the differences among them are so great and so shocking that any common element that can be extracted is meaningless.... The older apologists for Christianity seem to have been better advised than some modern ones in condemning every religion but one as an impostor, as at bottom some kind of demon worship or at any rate a superstitious figment.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Apologists for a religion often point to the shift that goes on in scientific ideas and materials as evidence of the unreliability of science as a mode of knowledge. They often seem peculiarly elated by the great, almost revolutionary, change in fundamental physical conceptions that has taken place in science during the present generation. Even if the alleged unreliability were as great as they assume (or even greater), the question would remain: Have we any other recourse for knowledge? But in fact they miss the point. Science is not constituted by any particular body of subject matter. It is constituted by a method, a method of changing beliefs by means of tested inquiry.... Scientific method is adverse not only to dogma but to doctrine as well.... The scientific-religious conflict ultimately is a conflict between allegiance to this method and allegiance to even an irreducible minimum of belief so fixed in advance that it can never be modified.
-- John Dewey, from Ira D Cardiff, ed, What Great Men Think About Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We are a people of many races, many faiths, creeds, and religions. I do not think that the men who made the Constitution forbade the establishment of a State church because they were opposed to religion. They knew that the introduction of religious differences into American life would undermine the democratic foundations of this country.
What holds for adults holds even more for children, sensitive and conscious of differences. I certainly hope that the Board of Education will think very, very seriously before it introduces this division and antagonism in our public schools.
-- John Dewey, testimony at Board of Education hearing, New York City, in opposition to "released time" for religious instruction. New York Times, November 14,1940, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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James A Haught: Repudiated Militant Atheism

"Dewey repudiated what he called militant atheism. He felt that people have innate religious qualities, such as compassion for sufferers, an urge to improve life, and a sense of awe before the mysteries of existence. However, by the standards of conventional religion, Dewey was an atheist."
-- James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief, page 226

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!


The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

Please Feel Free
to Grab a Quote
(or Maybe Three)

Grab some quotes to embellish your web site,
to use as filler for your group's newsletter,
or to add force to your Letters to the Editor.

Use them to introduce the chapters of a book or
accent the index or margins of a special project.

Poster your wall!    Graffiti your (own) fence.
Sticker your car!!
Poster your wall.    Graffiti your (own) fence!!!

That's what this list is for!
That's why I made it!

In using this resource, however, keep in mind that
it's someone's life's work, a hedge against old age.

If you decide to build your own online
collection, then find some new material!
Dig up quips that haven't yet been posted!


AndCopy Graphic Rule


Biographical sketches, source citations, notes, critical editing, layout, and HTML formatting are copyright ©1995–2008, by Cliff Walker, except where noted.


AndCopy Graphic Rule


There's something to be said
for doing your own work.


PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!