Positive Atheism’s Big List of Quotations

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Joseph Heller (1923–1999)
American novelist, known for showing language to be a frustrating, undependable method of communication in public discourse

Joseph Heller (n New York, by Jonathan Barth)Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in his divine system of creation?
Joseph Heller, Catch 22, 1961, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

He had decided to live for ever or die in the attempt.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22, ch. 3 (1961), The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Short Graphic Rule

Vonnegut: Joe Knew He Had Enough

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel Catch-22
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!
Kurt Vonnegut, The New Yorker (May 16, 2005), quoted from Robert Sutton, “How to Stop Your ‘Inner Jerk’ from Getting Out,” in his book, The No Asshole Rule (2007), page 111

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Parks Helms
Charlotte (North Carolina) city commissioner

Parks Helms Receives Lake Award (North Carolina Bar Association)I’m praying that it will go away, but I’m praying privately. It smacks of political opportunism to deal with it in the first place.... My guess is that God wishes we would get on with the business of county government and stop bothering him with this pettiness.
Parks Helms, during one of many prayer-during-council-meeting flaps that had been inspired by the then-still-respected Judge Roy Moore, quoted from Jim Senyszyn and Conrad Goeringer, “Prayer up for Vote as Culture War Continues in Charlotte, North Carolina (Council Wants to Pray on the Tube),” in AANEWS (October 7, 1997), published by Amercan Atheists

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Thomas Helwys (1550–1616)
Regarded as the Founder of the first Baptist church in England; martyr for religious liberty

Wee do freely profess that our Lord the King hath no more power over their [Roman Catholics’] coonsciences than over ours, and that is none at all ... let [people] be heretikes, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it apperteynes not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.
Thomas Helwys, in 1612, as quoted by Jerry H Combee, “Evangelicals and the First Amendment,” National Review (October 24, 1986), page 40, according to Victoria Sherrow, Separation of Church and State (1992) page 20

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Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
American novelist

Ernest Hemingway - from Prologue cover, winter, 1992I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice.... I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

All thinking men are atheists.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

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Wanda Henry
Baptist Joint Committee administrator

Say “no thank you” to government funds for your religious ministries. You are doing just fine without the heavy hand of government on your back.
Wanda Henry, advising church leaders in the wake of George W Bush’s “charitible choice” scheme, quoted in Kenny Byrd, “Bush unveils faith-based initiative; critics raise church-state questions,” issued by the Baptist Joint Committee (early 2001), excerpted by Positive Atheism

Charitable choice threatens to make religion the servant of the state, rather than its conscience.
Wanda Henry, quoted in Kenny Byrd, “Bush unveils faith-based initiative; critics raise church-state questions,” issued by the Baptist Joint Committee (early 2001), excerpted by Positive Atheism

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Katharine Houghton Hepburn (1909–2003)
American Actress noted for her unique combination of patrician beauty and spunky earthiness; record holder for the most Oscar wins for Best Actress (four); daughter of suffragist Katharine Martha Houghton (1878–1951), who co-founded Planned Parenthood

Katharine HepburnI’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.
Katharine Hepburn, in Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1991, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Our Constitution was not intended to be used by ... any group to foist its personal religious beliefs on the rest of us.
Katherine Hepburn, quoted from Floyd College, Rome, Georgia, “Banned Books — Quotes

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Heracletus of Ephesus (flourished circa 500 BCE?)
Greek philosopher, early metaphysician

The universal cosmic process was not created by any god or man.
Heracletus, On Nature

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Frank Herbert (1920–1986)
Science-fiction writer, author of the Dune series

Frank HerbertEvery judgment teeters on the brink of error. To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.
Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Atrocity is recognized as such by victim and predator alike, by all who learn about it at whatever remove. Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself — a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.
Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah, quoted from Ciaran Hanway, Omnipurpose Page

Frank HerbertReady comprehension is often a knee-jerk response and the most dangerous form of understanding. It blinks an opaque screen over your ability to learn. The judgmental precedents of law function that way, littering your path with dead ends. Be warned. Understand nothing. All comprehension is temporary.
Frank Herbert, Chapter House Dune, quoted from Ciaran Hanway, Omnipurpose Page

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Paul Herr

A man can only liberate himself by himself and for himself. There is no other way -­ all else is madness or collaboration.
Paul Herr, Journey Not To End

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Jim Herrick (b 1944)
American author of freethough literature

Jim HerrickAn argument frequently used by believers [is] to force unbelievers to soften their terms by accepting their opponents’ definition; “Atheist” means without a concept of God that is logically convincing, not with proof that God does not exist.
Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985)

“Atheist” is quite clear in its meaning of “somebody without a belief in God.” It is more complex in its usage since it has often been used to blacken anyone with the slightest doubt about the teachings of religion.
Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p 17

“Agnostic” is a much more recent word [than “atheist”], coined by Thomas Huxley in 1869 to mean “without knowledge of God” and acquiring the usage of “being doubtful about the existence of God.”
Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p 17 [This quip concatenated with the one immediately prior make up a complete paragraph. — cw]

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Alexander Herzen (1812–1870)
Russian political writer

Alexander HerzenAll religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence. the former — of the corruption of the will.
Alexander Herzen,
From the Other Shore, “Omnia Mea Mecum Porto” (1855), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

It is possible to lead astray an entire generation, to strike it blind, to drive it insane, to direct it towards a false goal. Napoleon proved this.
Alexander Herzen, From the Other Shore, “Donoso-Cortes” (1855), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Theodor Herzl (1860–1904)
Founder of modern Zionism

Theodor HerzlWhen I remember thee in days to come, O Jerusalem, it will not be with pleasure. The musty deposits of 2,000 years of inhumanity, intolerance, and uncleanliness lie in the foul-smelling alleys.... The amiable dreamer of Nazareth has only contributed to increasing the hatred.... What superstition and fanaticism on every side!
Theodor Herzl, after a visit to Jerusalem in 1898, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Sir Godfrey Higgins, Esquire (1772–1833)
English humanist, Orientalist, archaeologist, Freemason and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, social reformer, and author, having been remembered by his parish as an “idiosyncratic historian of religions”

In all the Romish countries of Europe, in France, Italy, Germany, &c., the God Christ, as well as his mother, are described in their old pictures and statues to be black. The infant God in the arms of his black mother, his eyes and drapery white, is himself perfectly black. If the reader doubt my word, he may go to the cathedral at Moulins — to the famous chapel of the Virgin at Loretto — to the church of the Annunciata — the church of St. Lazaro, or the church of St. Stephen at Genoa — to St. Francisco, at Pisa — to the church at Brixen, in the Trol, and to that at Padua — to the church of St. Theodore, at Munich, in the two last of which the whiteness of the eyes and teeth, and the studied redness of the lips, are very observable; — to a church and to the cathedral at Augsburg, where are a black virgin and child as large as life: to Rome, and the Borghese chapel Maria Maggiore — to the Pantheon — to a small chapel of St. Perer’s, on the right-hand side on entering, near the door; and, in fact, to almost innumerable other churches, in countries professing the Romish religion.
     There is scarcely an old church in Italy where some remains of the worship of the black virgin and black child are not to be met with. Very often the black figures have given way to white ones, and in these cases the black ones, as being held sacred, were put into retired places in the churches, but were not destroyed, and are yet to be found there....
     When the circumstance has been named to the Romish priests, they have endeavored to disguise the fact, by pretending that the child had become black by the smoke of the candles; but it was black where the smoke of the candle never came: and, besides, how came the candles not to blacken the white of the eyes, the teeth, and the shirt, and how came they to redden the lips? ... Their real blackness in not to be questioned for a moment....
     A virgin and child among the white Germans, Swiss, French and Italians!!!
Sir Godfrey Higgins, in Anacalypsos, volume 1, pages 138–9, quoted from John G Jackson, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth (1941)

Another striding instance is recorded by the very intelligent traveler (Wilson) regarding a representation of the fall of our first parents, sculptured in the magnificent temple of Ipsambul in Nubia. He says that a very exact representation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is to be seen in that cave, and that the serpent climbing round the tree is especially delineated, and the whole subject of the tempting of our first parents most accurately exhibited.
Sir Godfrey Higgins, in Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions, (1878), volume 1, page 403; quoted from John G. Jackson, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth, (1941)

A drawing, brought by Colonel Coombs, from a sculptured column in a cave-temple in the South of India, represents the first pair at the foot of the ambrosial tree, and a serpent entwined among the heavily-laden boughs, presenting to them some of the fruit from his mouth.
Sir Godfrey Higgins, in Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions, (1878), volume 1, page 403-4; quoted from John G. Jackson, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth, (1941)

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Thomas Wentworth Storrow Higginson (1823–1911)
American clergyman, writer and soldier who led the first Black regiment in the Union Army (1862–1864); correspondent and literary mentor to Emily Dickinson

Thomas Wentworth HigginsonWhen they tell me that Jesus taught a gospel of love, I say I believe it. Plato taught a gospel of love before him, and you deny it. If they say, Jesus taught that it is better to bear an injury than to retaliate, I say, yes, but so did Aristotle before Jesus was born. I will accept it as the statement of Jesus if you will admit that Aristotle said it too. I am willing that any man should come before us and say, Jesus taught that you must love your enemies, it is written in the Bible; but, if he will open the old manuscript of Diogenes Laertus, he may there read in texts that have never been disputed, that the Greek philosophers, half a dozen of them, said the same before Jesus was born.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, quoted in John E Remsberg, The Christ, p 313

Great men are rarely isolated mountain-peaks; they are the summits of ranges.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, “A Plea for Culture” (1871), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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St Hilary of Poitiers
Fourth century church father

The utter folly of our time is lamentable, that men should think to assist God with human help and to protect the Church of Christ by worldly ambition.
St Hilary, quoted in M Searle Bates, Relitious Liberty: An Inquiry (1945), from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Joe Hill
Swedish-American union organizer and writer of protest songs; allegedly executed on trumped-up murder charges

Longhaired preachers come out every night,
Tryin' to tell us what's wrong and what's right.
But when asked about something to eat,
They will tell you in voices so sweet.
You will eat (You will eat!) By and by, (By and by!)
In that glorious land in the sky. (Way up high!)
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die. (That's a lie!)
-- Joe Hill, quoted from U Utah Philips, Starlight On The Rails (& Other Songs)

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Hippocrates (ca 460-377 BCE)
Greek physician, regarded as the father of medicine

HippocratesMen think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.
Hippocrates, quoted from Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, page 8

Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it.... We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it dvne. And so it is wth everythng in the universe.
Hippocrates (attributed: source unknown)

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Don Hirschberg

Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.
Don Hirschberg, in a letter to Ann Landers

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Brad Hirschfield
Orthodox Rabbi; Vice President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; frequent commentator on Judaism

Brad HirschfieldReligion drove those planes into those buildings.... There’s no dodging this. This was done in the name of religion, and I care deeply about religion. It’s amazing how good [it] is at mobilizing people to do awful, murderous things. It’s not just their religion; it’s religion as an experience. I can’t hide from that.
     Anyone who loves religious experience, including me, better begin to own [that] there is a serious shadow side to this thing, because it motivates. It mobilizes and it creates big ways of thinking and understanding the world. It creates remarkable cover, because it can divide the world up — who’s good and who’s bad, who’s right and who’s wrong; and as long as I’m on the right side, I can do no evil. Right?
     We all better be willing to address that, because this isn’t about which religion is right, and this isn’t about “Let’s just look at the nice parts of our traditions.” This is about what religious experience does.... There is this dark side to it, and it’s a dark side that I’ve had to wrestle with really personally. I spent a part of my life, between the ages of 17 and 21, living off and on in the city of Hebron, in which, if there’s any symbol of how people do violence in the name of religion, it’s there. And this is not just Muslims; this is Jews doing it, too.
Brad Hirschfield Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero: Interview: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield (PBS: 2002)

The movie is a story that is told beautifully, but it’s told with a lot of anger, with a very clear sense that if the viewer does not believe what the storyteller is telling them, they are cursed. In the movie, when you have two people crucified next to Jesus, one recognizes his divinity, and the other one begins to laugh. The first one is told he’ll sit with Jesus in Paradise and the second one has his eyes pecked out. That transcends Jews and Christians; that, to me, says that people who feel, think and practice differently than you do are cursed and damned.
Brad Hirschfield, after watching Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ; in the BeliefNet interview by Rebecca Phillips, “Between ‘Passion’ and Purim”

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Alfred Hitchcock
Producer of horror films

Alfred HitchcockThat is the most frightening sight I have ever seen. [Shouts:] Run, little boy. Run for your life!
Alfred Hitchcock, upon seeing a priest talking to a little boy (attributed: source unknown)

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Christopher Hitchens
British journalist, social and political commentator, and author of numerous books (including two specifically about atheism); “a Tom Paine for our troubled times.” (The [London] Independent)

Christopher Hitchens (modiified by PAM)What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, quoted by RabidApe on YouTube

[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipating of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.
Christopher Hitchens, quoted from Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation page 35

Everything everybody thinks they know about her [Mother Teresa] is false — not just most of the things, all the things. It must be the single most successful con job of the twentieth century. She was corrupt, nasty, cynical, and cruel.
Christopher Hitchens, interviewed in the Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! television series (Season 3, Episode 5; Showtime: May 23, 2005)

A true believer ... must also claim to have at least an inkling of what that Supreme Being desires. I have been called arrogant in my time ... but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator — that’s beyond my conceit.
Christopher Hitchens (attributed: source unknown)

Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life — except religion.... Why are we praised by godly men for surrendering our “godly gift” of reason when we cross their mental thresholds? ... Atheism strikes me as morally superior, as well as intellectually superior, to religion. Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong. Does this leave us shorn of hope? Not a bit of it. Atheism. and the related conviction that we have just one life to live, is the only sure way to regard all our fellow creatures as brothers and sisters.... Even the compromise of agnosticism is better than faith. It minimizes the totalitarian temptation, the witless worship of the absolute and the surrender of reason.
Christopher Hitchens, “The Lord and the Intellectuals,” Harper’s July 1982, page 60, from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I am not even an atheist so much as an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually true.... There may be people who wish to live their lives under cradle-to-grave divine supervision, a permanent surveillance and monitoring. But I cannot imagine anything more horrible or grotesque.
Christopher Hitchens (attributed: source unknown)

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Edward Hoagland (born 1932)
US novelist, essayist

Edward HoaglandIt’s incongruous that the older we get, the more likely we are to turn in the direction of religion. Less vivid and intense ourselves, closer to the grave, we begin to conceive of ourselves as immortal.
Edward Hoagland, “The Ridge-Slope Fox and The Knife-Thrower,” in Harper’s (January 1977; reprinted in Heart’s Desire, 1988), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

There often seems to be a playfulness to wise people, as if either their equanimity has as its source this playfulness or the playfulness flows from the equanimity; and they can persuade other people who are in a state of agitation to calm down and manage a smile.
Edward Hoagland, “Other Lives,” in Harper’s (July 1973; reprinted in Heart’s Desire, 1988), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
English philosopher, mathematician, and linguist

Thomas HobbesFear of power invisible, feigned by the mind or imagined from tales publicly allowed, [is] religion; not allowed, superstition.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil (1651), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

No Discourse whatsoever, can End in absolute Knowledge of Fact.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, i. vii. 30 (1651)

A man’s conscience and his judgment is the same thing, and, as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, xxix. (1651)

Curiosity draws a man from consideration of the effect, to seek the cause.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, i. xi. 51. (1651)

Silence is sometimes an argument of Consent.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, ii. xxvi. (1651)

Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing.
Thomas Hobbes (attributed: source unknown)

In a Democracy, look how many Demagogs [that is] how many powerful Orators there are with the people.
Thomas Hobbes, Philosophical Rudiments Concerning Government and Society (1651), x. 6. 153

Heresy is a word which, when it is used without passion, signifies a private opinion. So the different sects of the old philosophers, Academians, Peripatetics, Epicureans, Stoics, &c., were called heresies.
Thomas Hobbes, Behemoth; the History of the Civil Wars in England (1679)

The best men are the least suspicious of fraudulent purposes.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: The Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, iv. xlvi. 379. (1651)

Immortality is a belief grounded upon other men’s sayings, that they knew it supernaturally; or that they knew those who knew them that knew others that knew it supernaturally.
Thomas Hobbes (attributed: source unknown)

I shall be glad then to find a hole to creep out of the world.
Thomas Hobbes, to the Chrstians who urgently requested to be brought to his death-bed so they could intrude their opinions, telling himj that hisi illness would end in death, and unless he repented he would go straight to Hell
, quote and notes from “Iconoclast,” Collins, and Watts, Half Hours Freethinkers () )

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
Thomas Hobbes’s last words

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Eric Hoffer (1902–1983)
US philosopher

Eric HofferAbsolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, aph. 13 (1973), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951)

A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951)

The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person.
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, aphorism 184 (1955), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The ignorant are a reservoir of daring. It almost seems that those who have yet to discover the known are particularly equipped for dealing with the unknown. The unlearned have often rushed in where the learned feared to tread, and it is the credulous who are tempted to attempt the impossible. They know not whither they are going, and give chance a chance.
Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, aphorism 124 (1973), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951)

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951)

To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, aphorism 215 (1955), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Richard Hofstader (1916–1970)
American social critic

If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess commitment to some special or constricting idea.
Richard Hofstader, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life (1963), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, “The Degeneration of Belief

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The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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