Positive Atheism’s Big List of Quotations
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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?
He had decided to live for ever or die in the attempt.
Vonnegut: Joe Knew He Had Enough
True story, Word of Honor:
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.
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.
I 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.
All thinking men are atheists.
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.
Charitable choice threatens to make religion the servant of the state, rather than its conscience.
Katharine Houghton Hepburn (1909–2003)
I’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.
Our Constitution was not intended to be used by ... any group to foist its personal religious beliefs on the rest of us.
|Heracletus of Ephesus (flourished circa 500 BCE?)
Greek philosopher, early metaphysician
The universal cosmic process was not created by any god or man.
Every 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.
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.
Ready 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.
A man can only liberate himself by himself and for himself. There is no other way - all else is madness or collaboration.
An 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.
“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.
“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.”
All 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.
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.
When 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!
Sir Godfrey Higgins, Esquire
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Wentworth Storrow Higginson (1823–1911)
When 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.
Great men are rarely isolated mountain-peaks; they are the summits of ranges.
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.
Longhaired preachers come out every night,
Men 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.
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.
Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.
Religion 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.
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.
That is the most frightening sight I have ever
seen. [Shouts:] Run, little boy. Run for your life!
What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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.
Fear of power invisible, feigned
by the mind or imagined from tales publicly allowed, [is] religion; not allowed, superstition.
No Discourse whatsoever, can End in absolute Knowledge of Fact.
A man’s conscience and his judgment is the same thing, and, as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.
Curiosity draws a man from consideration of the effect, to seek the cause.
Silence is sometimes an argument of Consent.
Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing.
In a Democracy, look how many Demagogs [that is] how many powerful Orators there are with the
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
The best men are the least suspicious of fraudulent purposes.
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.
I shall be glad then to find a hole to creep out of the world.
I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
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.
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.
The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person.
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.
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.
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.
To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.
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.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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