Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations
No-Frames Quotes Index
Load This File With Frames Index
Home to Positive Atheism
Organized religion, being founded on superstition, is, perforce, not scientific. And all that which is not scientific -- that is, truthful -- must be bolstered up by force, fear and falsehood. Thus we always find slavery and organized religion going hand in hand.
Theology, by diverting the attention of men from this life to another, and by endeavoring to coerce all men into one religion, constantly preaching that this world is full of misery, but the next world would be beautiful -- or not, as the case may be -- has forced on men the thought of fear where otherwise there might have been the happy abandon of nature.
Martyrs and persecutors are the same type of man. As to which is the persecutor and which the martyr, this is only a question of transient power.
Theology is an attempt to explain a subject by men who do not understand it. The intent is not to tell the truth but to satisfy the questioner.
Faith is the effort to believe what your common sense tells you is not true.
A mystic is a person who is puzzled before the obvious, but who understands the nonexistent.
Theology is Classified Superstition.
A creed is an ossified metaphor.
Heaven: The Coney Island of the Christian imagination.
God -- the John Doe of philosophy and religion.
A miracle is an event described by those to whom it was told by people who did not see it.
Orthodoxy: That peculiar condition where the patient can neither eliminate an old idea nor absorb a new one.
Orthodoxy is a corpse that doesn't know it's dead.
Dogma is a lie reiterated and authoritatively injected into the mind of one or more persons who believe that they believe what someone else believes.
No man should dogmatize except on the subject of theology. Here he can take his stand, and by throwing the burden of proof on the opposition, he is invincible.
Formal religion was organized for slaves: it offered them consolation which earth did not provide.
What we call God's justice is only man's idea of what he would do if he were God.
When certain unmarried men, who had lost their capacity to sin, sat indoors, breathing bad air, and passed resolutions about what was right and what wrong, making rules for the guidance of the people, instead of trusting to the natural, happy instincts of the individual, they ushered in the Dark Ages. These are the gentlemen who blocked human evolution absolutely for a thousand years.
Give us a religion that will help us to live -- we can die without assistance.
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
The slayers of the heretics are the worst heretics of all.
Between the tent of Christ and the tents of sin there stretched scarcely a half-mile. Rivalry reigned: the revival and the carnival held sway in Stanton at the same time. Both were at the south edge of town, and both were loud and musical in their activities...The old Negroes went to the revival, and the young Negroes went to the carnival, and after sundown these August evenings the mourning songs of the Christians could be heard rising from the Hickory Woods while the profound syncopation of the minstrel band blared from Galoway's Lots, strangely intermingling their notes of praise and joy.
[B]oth of them were very good and kind -- the one who went to church and the one who didn't. And no doubt from them I learned to like both Christians and sinners equally well.
That night I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners' bench with all the other young sinners, who had not yet been brought to Jesus.... Finally all the young people had gone to the altar and been saved, but one boy and me.... Finally Westley said to me in a whisper: "I'm tired o' sitting here. Let's get up and be saved." So he got up and was saved.... I kept waiting serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting -- but he didn't come. I wanted to see him, but nothing happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me; but nothing happened... So I decided that maybe to save further trouble, I'd better lie, too, and say that Jesus had come, and get up and be saved.... That night ... I cried.... [My aunt] woke up and told my uncle I was crying because the Holy Ghost had come into my life, and I had seen Jesus. But I was really crying because I couldn't bear to tell her that I had lied, that I had deceived everybody in the church, that I hadn't seen Jesus, and that now I didn't believe there was a Jesus any more, since he didn't come to help me.
There shall be no slavery of the mind.
There is in every village a torch: the schoolmaster -- and an extinguisher: the parson.
Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of the clerical party.
Sacrificing the earth for paradise is giving up the substance for the shadow.
Superstition, bigotry and prejudice, ghosts though they are, cling tenaciously to life; they are shades armed with tooth and claw. They must be grappled with unceasingly, for it is a fateful part of human destiny that it is condemned to wage perpetual war against ghosts. A shade is not easily taken by the throat and destroyed.
The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge.
A saint addicted to excessive self-abnegation is a dangerous associate; he may infect you with poverty, and a stiffening of those joints which are needed for advancement -- in a word, with more renunciation than you care for -- and so you flee the contagion.
Monasticism, as it existed in Spain and still exists in Tibet, is a wasting disease of civilization. It puts a stop to life. Quite simply, it depopulates. Claustration is castration. It has been the scourge of Europe. Add to this the violence so often inflicted on the conscience, the enforced vocations ... the closed mouths and minds, so much intelligence condemned to the imprisonment of vows for life, the burial of living souls. No matter who you are, the thought of so much suffering and degradation must cause you to shudder at the sight of a veil or cassock, those two shrouds of human invention.
We know the clerical party; it is an old party. This it is which has found for the truth those two marvelous supporters, ignorance and error. This it is which forbids to science and genius the going beyond the Missal and which wishes to cloister thought in dogmas. Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of it. Its history is written in the history of human progress, but it is written on the back of the leaf. It is opposed to it all. This it is which caused Prinelli to be scourged for having said that the stars would not fall. This it is which put Campanella seven times to torture for saying that the number of worlds was infinite and for having caught a glimpse of the secret of creation. This it is which persecuted Harvey for having proved the circulation of the blood. In the name of Jesus it shut up Galileo. In the name of St Paul it imprisoned Christopher Columbus. To discover a law of the heavens was an impiety, to find a world was a heresy. This it is which anathematized Pascal in the name of religion, Montaigne in the name of morality, Moliere in the name of both morality and religion. There is not a poet, not an author, not a thinker, not a philosopher, that you accept. All that has been written, found, dreamed, deduced, inspired, imagined, invented by genius, the treasures of civilization, the venerable inheritance of generations, you reject.
The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: and whoever is moved by faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.
Nothing is so convenient as a decisive argument ... which must at least silence the most arrogant bigotry and superstition, and free us from their impertinent solicitations. I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument ... which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endures. For so long, I presume, will the accounts of miracles and prodigies be found in all history, sacred and profane.
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.... Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happens in the common course of nature.... There must, therefore, be an uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as an uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.
When any one tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle.
Examine the religious principles which have, in fact, prevailed in the world, and you will scarcely be persuaded that they are anything but sick men's dreams.
I say then, that belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain. This variety of terms, which may seem so unphilosophical, is intended only to express that act of the mind, which renders realities, or what is taken for such, more present to us than fictions, causes them to weigh more in the thought, and gives them a superior influence on the passions and imagination.
Separation of Church and State is one of America's greatest contributions to modern religion and politics. The adoption of this as a political principle marks an epoch in the history of mankind. Previously at least half the wars of Europe and half the internal troubles since the founding of Christianity had a religious basis. America put an end to religious wars: for herself through the acts of the period on constitution-making; for the world at large through the power of the example thus set.
At least nine times since that date a resolution proposing an amendment to the preamble has been introduced into Congress. However, it has never got beyond the committee to which it had been referred. The following is the pioneer resolution as it was introduced by Mr. Frye of Maine:
We can be the optimist who brightly says, "This is the best of all possible worlds," or the pessimist who gloomily nods his head and says, "How true."
In general, separateness, mortality and renewal have always been the friends of evolutionary progress. The corollary is that universality, immortality and persistency can only have been its enemies.
What is it like to be ourselves? How can a piece of matter which is a human be the basis for the experience each one of us recognizes as what it's like to be us? How can a human body and a human brain also be a human mind?
Defined in psychological terms, a fanatic is a man who consciously over-compensates a secret doubt.
You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion.... Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.
Single-mindedness is all very well in cows or baboons; in an animal claiming to belong to the same species as Shakespeare it is simply disgraceful.
Christianity accepted as given a metaphysical system derived from several already existing and mutually incompatible systems.
The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar.... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour.
Maybe this world is just another planet's hell.
The end cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.
The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior "righteous indignation" -- this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.
Which is better: to have Fun with Fungi or to have Idiocy with Ideology, to have Wars because of Words, to have Tomorrow's Misdeeds out of Yesterday's Miscreeds?
I recall the story of the philosopher and the theologian. The two were engaged in disputation and the theologian used the old quip about a philosopher resembling a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat -- which wasn't there. "That may be," said the philosopher: "but a theologian would have found it."
Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat.
Sooner or later, false thinking brings wrong conduct.
Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.
It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts.
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best -- that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.
I doubt the fact, to begin with, but if it be so even, what is this but in grand words asking me to believe a thing because I like it.
Fact I know; and Law I know; but what is this Necessity, save an empty shadow of my own mind's throwing?
It is because the body is a machine that education is possible. Education is the formation of habits, a superinducing of an artificial organisation upon the natural organisation of the body.
I would rather be the offspring of two apes than be a man and afraid to face the truth.
Better live a crossing-sweeper than die and be made to talk twaddle by a "medium" hired at a guinea a seance.
It ought not to be unpleasant to say that which one honestly believes or disbelieves. That it so constantly is painful to do so, is quite enough obstacle to the progress of mankind in that most valuable of all qualities, honesty of word or of deed.
It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what Agnosticism asserts; and, in my opinion, it is all that is essential to Agnosticism. That which Agnostics deny and repudiate, as immoral, is the contrary doctrine, that there are propositions which men ought to believe without logically satisfactory evidence; and that reprobation ought to attach to the profession of disbelief in such inadequately supported propositions.
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
Whoso clearly appreciates all that is implied in the falling of a stone can have no difficulty about any doctrine simply on account of its marvelousness. But the longer I live, the more obvious it is to me that the most sacred act of a man's life is to say and to feel, "I believe such and such to be true." All the greatest rewards and all the heaviest penalties of existence cling about that act. The universe is one and the same throughout; and if the condition of my success in unraveling some little difficulty of anatomy or physiology is that I shall rigorously refuse to put faith in that which does not rest on sufficient evidence, I cannot believe that the great mysteries of existence will be laid open to me on other terms. It is no use to talk to me of analogies and probabilities. I know what I mean when I say I believe in the law of the inverse squares, and I will not rest my life and hopes upon weaker convictions. I dare not if I would.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
Please Feel Free
Grab some quotes to embellish your web site,
Use them to introduce the chapters of a book or
Poster your wall! Graffiti your (own) fence.
That's what this list is for!
In using this resource, however, keep in mind that
If you decide to build your own online
There's something to be said