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Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789)
French philosopher and probably the first avowedly atheistic writer since the dominion of Christendom, whose Système de la Nature (The System of Nature) made the first blunt denial of any divine purpose or master plan in nature

Baron d'HolbachIf we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests.
-- Baron d'Holbach, Système de la Nature

If the ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.
-- Baron d'Holbach, Système de la Nature

All religions are ancient monuments to superstitions, ignorance, ferocity; and modern religions are only ancient follies rejuvenated.
-- Baron d'Holbach (1772), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Insulting Quotations

All children are atheists -- they have no idea of God.
-- Baron d'Holbach, defending the "weak" definition for the word atheist, in Good Sense (1772), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

What has been said of [God] is either unintelligible or perfectly contradictory; and for this reason must appear impossible to every man of common sense.
-- Baron d'Holbach, espousing the noncognitiveist variation of atheism, in Good Sense, quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

Can theology give to the mind the ineffable boon of conceiving that which no man is in a capacity to comprehend? Can it procure to its agents the marvellous faculty of having precise ideas of a god composed of so many contradictory qualities?
-- Baron d'Holbach, Système de la Nature (1770), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

The Jehovah of the Jews is a suspicious tyrant, who breathes nothing but blood, murder, and carnage, and who demands that they should nourish him with the vapours of animals. The Jupiter of the Pagans is a lascivious monster. The Moloch of the Phoenicians is a cannibal. The pure mind of the Christians resolved, in order to appease his fury, to crucify his own son. The savage god of the Mexicans cannot be satisfied without thousands of mortals which are immolated to his sanguinary appetite.
-- Baron d'Holbach, quoted from Acharya S, Truth Be Known

Many men without morals have attacked religion because it was contrary to their inclinations. Many wise men have despised it because it seemed to them ridiculous. Many persons have regarded it with indifference, because they have never felt its true disadvantages. But it is as a citizen that I attack it, because it seems to me harmful to the happiness of the state, hostile to the march of the mind of man, and contrary to sound morality, from which the interests of state policy can never be separated.
-- Baron d'Holbach, in Christianity Unveiled, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 85

If the ministers of the Church have often permitted nations to revolt for Heaven's cause, they never allowed them to revolt against real evils or known violencess. It is from Heaven that the chains have come to fetter the minds of mortals.
-- Baron d'Holbach, in Nick Harding, How To Be A Good Atheist
(Oldcastle Books: 2007)

Tolerance and freedom of thought are the veritable antidotes to religious fanaticism.
-- Baron d'Holbach, having depicted Christianity as a combination of Judaism and Eastern mythologies which dominated by playing upon the fears and passions of humanity and by blinding reason with a series of fantastic dogmas and rites, this mélange producing conflict within states and wars between nations, d'Holbach thought that freedom of thought would cause superstition to "fall away by itself," in Système de la Nature: An Examination of the principles and effects of the Christian religion, quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 90

O Nature, sovereign of all beings, and your adorable daughters, virtue, reason, truth! be for ever our sole divinities; it is to you that the incense and homage of the earth are due. Show us, then, O Nature, what man must do to obtain the happiness which you have made him desire.... Inspire the intelligent being with courage; give him energy, that he can eventually love himself, esteem himself, feel his dignity; that he dares free himself, that he is happy and free, that he will never be a slave to your laws; that he perfects his fate; that he cherishes his fellow-beings; that he makes himself happy, that he makes others happy.
-- Baron d'Holbach, in Système de la Nature, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 85

Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interest. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them. Let us observe with the celebrated Lord Bolingbroke, that 'theology is the box of Pandora; and if it is impossible to shut it, it is at least useful to inform men that this fatal box is open.'
-- Baron d'Holbach, concluding paragraphs of Le Bons Sens (Good Sense), his condensation of Système de la Nature, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 92

The vulgar, it is repeatedly said, must have a Religion. If enlightened persons have no need of the restraint of opinions, it is at least necessary to rule men, whose reason is uncultivated by education....
     Do we see, that this religion preserves them from intemperance, drunkenness, brutality, violence, fraud, and every kind of excess? ...
     It would be madness to write for the vulgar, or to attempt to cure prejudices all at once. We write for those only, who read and reason; the multitudes read but little, and reason still less. Calm and rational persons will require new ideas, and knowledge will be gradually diffused.
-- Baron d'Holbach, unimpressed by the power of religion to act as a restraint for the 'vulgar,' yet advocating caution in preaching atheism to the masses, in Le Bons Sens (Good Sense), his condensation of Système de la Nature, quoted from and citation quip derived from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 92-3

Don't say anything about this to anybody. Any one would say that I am trying to play the good-natured philosopher. I am neither benefactor nor philosopher, but just a human being, and my charities are the pleasantest expense I have on these journeys.
-- Baron d'Holbach, to a fellow-patient he'd been helping at the spa in Vosges where he died not long afterward, quoted from and citation quip derived from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 92-3

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R J Hollingdale (b. 1930)
British author, critic, translator

I admit that the generation which produced Stalin, Auschwitz and Hiroshima will take some beating; but the radical and universal consciousness of the death of God is still ahead of us; perhaps we shall have to colonize the stars before it is finally borne in upon us that God is not out there.
-- R J Hollingdale, Thomas Mann: A Critical Study, ch. 8 (1971).

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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)
American jurist, associate justice of the US Supreme Court (1902-32)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., peech, 7 March 1900, at Bar Association Dinner, Boston. From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)
American physician, writer, and professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.The man who is always worrying about whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn't worth a damn.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., quoted from Laird Wilcox and John George, eds., Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds

Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1872), from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The truth is that the whole system of beliefs which comes in with the story of the fall of man ... is gently falling out of enlightened human intelligence.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Professor at the Breakfast Table, ch. 5 (1860), from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1995)

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George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906)
English reformer: 'Communistic in Social Economy -- Utilitarian in Morals -- Republican in Politics -- and Anti-Theological in Religion'

George Jacob HolyoakeI do not believe there is such a thing as a God.
-- George Holyoake, during a London lecture, 1868. (For a different speech, below, this English reformer was sentenced to six months in prison.) Quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief.

Our National Church and general religious institutions cost us, upon accredited computation, about twenty million pounds annually. Worship thus being expensive, I appeal to your heads and your pockets whether we are not too poor to have a God. If poor men cost the State as much, they would be put like officers on half pay; and while our distress lasts, I think it would be wise to do the same thing with the deity. Thus far I object, as a matter of political economy, to build chapels in communities. If others want them, they have themselves to please; but I cannot propose them. Morality I regard, but I do not believe there is such a thing as God.
-- George Holyoake, lecturing on May 24, 1842, at the Mechanics Institute in London on "Home Colonization as a Means of Superseding the Poor Laws and Emigration," and then responding to the question of a preacher, who asked whether there should not be churches and chapels in the community. For this explanation Mr. Holyoake was arrested and charged with blasphemy. For more than nine hours he addressed the jury in an eloquent and learned appeal that freedom of speech was a priceless heritage of mankind, that liberty of opinion was essential to the progress and happiness of man, and that blasphemy was an imaginary offense. The jury, however, found him guilty, and he was sentenced to six months in prison! Quoted from, and commentary by, Joseph Lewis, The Ten Commandments (page 220-1).

If I could have my way I would place the Deity on half-pay as the Government of this Country did the subaltern officers.
-- George Holyoake, lecturing on May 24, 1842, at the Mechanics Institute in London on "Home Colonization as a Means of Superseding the Poor Laws and Emigration," and then responding to the question of a preacher, who asked whether there should not be churches and chapels in the community (see above). Quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'." Herrick continues: "on reading a Cheltenham newspaper which announced that his arrest was sought, he decided to return to face the authorities. It was a moment of defiance which was not typical; for most of his life he took a compromising attitude towards authority.

Anybody can see that the little money you get is half-wasted, because you cannot spend it to advantage. The worst food comes to the poor, which their poverty makes them buy and their necessity makes them eat. Their stomachs are the waste-basket of the State. It is their lot to swallow all the adulterations on the market.
-- George Holyoake, to weavers at Rochdale in 1843

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Elmer Homrighausen
Professor of Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary and President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion

Few intelligent Christians can still hold to the idea that the Bible is an infallible Book, that it contains no linguistic errors, no historical discrepancies, no antiquated scientific assumptions, not even bad ethical standards. Historical investigation and literary criticism have taken the magic out of the Bible and have made it a composite human book, written by many hands in different ages. The existence of thousands of variations of texts makes it impossible to hold the doctrine of a book verbally infallible. Some might claim for the original copies of the Bible an infallible character, but this view only begs the question and makes such Christian apologetics more ridiculous in the eyes of the sincere man.
-- Elmer Homrighausen, Christianity in America, p. 121

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Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
English poet

Thomas HoodAlas for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun!
-- Thomas Hood, "The Bridge of Sighs" (1844), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

But evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart!
-- Thomas Hood, "The Lady's Dream" (1844), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

A certain portion of the human race
Has certainly a taste for being diddled.
      -- Thomas Hood, A Black Job, quoted from Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Sidney Hook (1902-1989)
American philosopher

Sidney HookAs a set of cognitive beliefs, religion is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.
-- Sidney Hook, The Partisan Review, March 1950

Religious tolerance has developed more as a consequence of the impotence of religions to impose their dogmas on each other than as a consequence of spiritual humility in the quest for understanding first and last things.
-- Sidney Hook, "Religious Liberty From the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist" in Religious Conflict in America edited by Earl Raab (1964) p. 141, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

To deny me the right to err is therefore to deny me the right to believe.
-- Sidney Hook, "Religious Liberty From the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist" in Religious Conflict in America edited by Earl Raab (1964) p. 150, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Religious freedom in an open society has the best prospects of flourishing to the extent that it expresses itself as freedom of religious inquiry.
-- Sidney Hook, "Religious Liberty From the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist" in Religious Conflict in America edited by Earl Raab (1964) p. 150, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Religious tolerance has developed more as a consequence of the impotence of religions to impose their dogmas on each other than as a consequence of spiritual humility.
-- Sidney Hook, "Religious Liberty from the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist," in Religious Conflict in America, 1964, p. 141, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964)
The 31st President of the United States (1929-1933)

United States Flag

Herbert HooverI come of Quaker stock. My ancestors were persecuted for their beliefs. Here they sought and found religious freedom. By blood and conviction I stand for religious tolerance both in act and in spirit.
-- Herbert Hoover, New Day (1928) p. 36, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Sir Fred Hoyle (b. 1915)
English astronomer and mathematician

Fred HoyleReligion is but a desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves. Here we are in this wholly fantastic universe with scarcely a clue as to whether our existence has any real significance. No wonder then that many people feel the need for some belief that gives them a sense of security, and no wonder that they become very angry with people like me who say that this is illusory.
-- Fred Hoyle, The Nature of the Universe, 1950, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.
-- Fred Hoyle (attributed: source unknown)

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Hsun Tzu (298-238)
Chinese Confucianist philosopher

When stars fall or a sacred tree groans the people of the whole state are afraid. We ask "Why is it?" I answer: there is no [special] reason ... For there is no age which has not experienced eclipses of the sun and moon, unseasonable rain or wind, or strange stars seen in groups. If the prince is illustrious and the government tranquil, although these events should all come together in one age it would do no harm ... but when human ominous signs come, then we should really be afraid. Using poor ploughs ... spoiling a crop by inadequate hoeing and weeding ... these are what I mean by ominous human signs.
-- Hsun Tzu, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 20

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