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G Gordon Liddy
Former FBI agent; international attorney; convicted in 1974 for his role in Watergate; syndicated talk-show host

G. Gordon LiddyThree people can keep a secret as long as two of them are dead.
-- G Gordon Liddy, to skeptical author Michael Shermer, upon being asked by the latter about the "massive cover-up" angle to which conspiracy theorists commonly appeal, quoted in Michael Shermer, "Fox Goes to the Moon, but NASA Never Did: The No-Moonies Cult Strikes" (February 17, 2001)

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Robert Jay Lifton, MD
American psychiatrist, author, world renowned expert on violence and genocide

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. (photo: The Sage Colleges,Troy, New York; Armenian Lecture series)The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliche. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed.
-- Robert Jay Lifton, MD, Thought Reform And The Psychology Of Totalism (1961), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
The 16th President of the United States (1861-1865)

United States Flag

Abraham LincolnMy earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death (Willie died in 1862)

What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Mary Todd Lincoln in William Herndon's Religion of Lincoln, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.
-- Abraham Lincoln, Manford's Magazine, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 144

It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.
-- Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper, quoted from Antony Flew, How to Think Straight, p. 17

The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.
-- Abraham Lincoln, regarding the Churches, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 143

Short Graphic Rule

Nelson: Same Opinion as Ingersoll

"In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same opinion as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out, he remained an unbeliever. Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book, in which he endeavored to prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."
-- Judge James M Nelson, who had an intimate acquaintance with Lincoln in Washington, in the Louisville Times, in 1887, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 137

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Gustaf Lindborg
Swedish author

The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail.
-- Gustaf Lindborg (attributed: source unknown)

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Robert Mitchell Lindner (1914-1956)
American psycoanalyst

Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.
-- Robert Lindner, quoted from Cyber-Nation

In the crowd, herd or gang, it is a mass-mind that operates -- which is to say, a mind without subtlety, a mind without compassion, a mind, finally, uncivilized.
-- Robert Lindner, Must You Conform? (1956), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Mass Man, the universal psychopath, is born when the individual ego is weakened to the point at which it loses separate identity and is forced, for security, to merge with the mass.
-- Robert Lindner, Must You Conform? (1956), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Conformity, humility, acceptance -- with these coins we are to pay our fares to paradise.
-- Robert Lindner, Must You Conform? (1956), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

How protean are the devices available to human intelligence when it lends itself to the persistence of the conformist error.
-- Robert Lindner, quoted from Multicultural Pavilion

[Schools are] vast factories for the manufacture of robots.
-- Robert Lindner (attributed: source unknown)

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Walter Lippman (1889-1974)
American columnist; winner of the Pulitzer Prize twice; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson; co-founded The New Republic

Walter Lippman (photo: cover of ''Time'' magazine, September 27, 1937)When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.
-- Walter Lippman, The Indispensable Opposition (1939), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Where all think alike, none thinks very much.
-- Walter Lippman, quoted from Newton Joseph, Ph.D, "'It Is the Way You Think" (March 8, 2002)

The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble across a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it representative of a whole class.
-- Walter Lippman, Public Opinion (1929), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement -- that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it -- that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.
-- Walter Lippman, A Preface To Politics (1914), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

It is not the idea as such which the censor attacks, whether it be heresy or radicalism or obscenity. He attacks the circulation of the idea among the classes which in his judgment are not to be trusted with the idea.
-- Walter Lippman, "The Nature of the Battle Over Censorship," in Men of Destiny, p. 98

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David Little
American religious liberty scholar

Just as force ought to play no part in inspiring and directing religious belief, so religious belief ought to play no part in inspiring and directing the use of force.
-- David Little, "The Reformed Tradition," from The First Freedom: Religion and the Bill of Rights, ed. by James E Wood, Jr., J M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, 1990, p. 31, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

By means of the Lockean and Baptist connections, the single most important and determinative contribution [Roger] Williams made to the articulation of the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state in late eighteenth-century America was his doctrine of the free conscience, and the web of beliefs surrounding that doctrine.
     There can be no doubt that the concept of the conscience and its right to free exercise lay at the heart of the thinking of individuals like Jefferson and Madison, thinking that finally produced the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
     -- David Little, "The Reformed Tradition," from The First Freedom: Religion and the Bill of Rights, ed. by James E Wood, Jr., J M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, 1990, p. 21, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

It needs to be remembered that for both Madison and Jefferson the conscience is the "nerve-center," so to speak, of moral knowledge and deliberation, and, as such, constitutes the core of self-identity of each human being. Conscience and personal consciousness are deeply intertwined. This condition, of course, establishes the "equal rights of conscience." Any attempt to seize control over the operations of another's conscience, to decide for that person what is right and wrong, or what constitutes that person's spiritual destiny, is to subvert that other person by robbing it of its moral center. Thus, were the rights of conscience "inalienable." To tolerate the transfer or "alienation" of one's conscience into someone else's hands is tantamount to self-destruction. Applying that idea to the relations between citizen and magistrate, Jefferson asserted that "our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit."
-- David Little, "The Reformed Tradition," from The First Freedom: Religion and the Bill of Rights, ed. by James E Wood, Jr., J M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, 1990, p. 24, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Locke (1632-1704)
English philosopher, who founded the school of empiricism

John LockeSo that, in effect, religion, which should most distinguish us from beasts, and ought most peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men most often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts themselves. Credo, quia impossibile est: I believe, because it is impossible, might, in a good man, pass for a sally of zeal; but would prove a very ill rule for men to choose their opinions or religion by.
-- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Faith is the assent to any proposition not made out by the deduction of reason but upon the credit of the proposer.
-- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

The Church which taught men not to keep faith with heretics, had no claim to toleration.
-- John Locke, from F H Perrycoste, Influence of Religion upon Truthfulness (p. 171); quoted from Joseph Lewis The Ten Commandments (p. 558)

I find every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, it is a matter of faith, and above reason.
-- John Locke (attributed: source unknown)

New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
-- John Locke, Essay on Human Understanding

[Excerpt]:
I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other.
-- John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration(1689), quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

[Passage]:
But, however, that some may not colour their spirit of persecution and unchristian cruelty with a pretence of care of the public weal and observation of the laws; and others, under pretence of religion, may not seek impunity for their libertinism and licentiousness; in a word, that none may impose either upon himself or others, by the pretences of loyalty and obedience to the prince, or of tenderness and sincerity in the worship of God; I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion, and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other.
-- John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration(1689), as quoted by Glen E Thurow, Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion (1976), pp. 1-2, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"

As the magistrate has no power to impose by his laws the use of any rites and ceremonies in any church, so neither has he any power to forbid the use of such rites and ceremonies as are already received, approved, and practised by any church; because if he did so, he would destroy the church itself; the end of whose institution is only to worship God with freedom, after its own manner.
-- John Locke, from Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States Vol. I, p. 144, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate.
-- John Locke, from A Letter Concerning Toleration, quoted by Martha M McCarthy in A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools

We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.
-- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.
-- John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, sct. 88 (1693), from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Jack London (1876-1916)
American novelist

Jack LondonI am a hopeless materialist. I see the soul as nothing else than the sim of activities of the organism plus personal habits -- plus inherited habits, memories, experiences, of the organism. I believe that when I am dead, I am dead. I believe that with my death I am just as much obliterated as the last mosquito you and I squashed.
-- Jack London, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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George C Lorimer (1838-1904)
US Baptist preacher; former actor who memorized his sermons

Biographies by preachers are of no value. If they admire a man they always make him a saint, while if they dislike one, they always make him a demon.
-- George C Lorimer, spoken at Carnegie Hall, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Views of Our Presidents, p. 129

Education is about the only thing lying around loose in the world, and it's about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he's willing to haul away.
-- George C Lorimer, Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to his Son

Because a fellow has failed once or twice, or a dozen times, you don't want to set him down as a failure till he's dead or loses his courage - and that's the same thing.
-- George C Lorimer, quoted from Eugene Raudsepp, ed, The World's Best Thoughts on Success & Failure, 1981

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John Love-Jensen (b. 1966)
American computer scientist

By day, theists half disbelieve in God.
-- John "Eljay" Love-Jensen, a half-empty counter to Edward Young's empty assertion, "By night an atheist half believes in God"

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937)
US author of fantasy and horror novels

H. P. LovecraftIt is easy to remove the mind from harping on the lost illusion of immortality. The disciplined intellect fears nothing and craves no sugar-plum at the day's end, but is content to accept life and serve society as best it may. Personally I would not care for immortality in the least. There is nothing better than oblivion, since in oblivion there is no wish unfulfilled. We had it before we were born, yet did not complain. Shall we whine because we know it will return? It is Elysium enough for me, at any rate.
-- H P Lovecraft, In Defence of Dagon (1921), quoted from S T Joshi, Atheism: A Reader, p. 107

H. P. LovecraftWe all know that any emotional bias -- irrespective of truth or falsity -- can be implanted by suggestion in the emotions of the young, hence the inherited traditions of an orthodox community are absolutely without evidential value.... If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences. With such an honest and inflexible openness to evidence, they could not fail to receive any real truth which might be manifesting itself around them. The fact that religionists do not follow this honourable course, but cheat at their game by invoking juvenile quasi-hypnosis, is enough to destroy their pretensions in my eyes even if their absurdity were not manifest in every other direction.
-- H P Lovecraft, letter to Maurice W Moe, 3 August 1931, in August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, ed, Selected Letters 1929-1931 (1971), pp. 390-91, quoted from S T Joshi, ed, "Introduction," Atheism: A Reader, p. 17

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Amy Lawrence Lowell (1874-1925)
American poet, critic, Pulitzer Prize winner; best known for bringing the Imagist movement to America

Amy Lowell's favorite photo of herselfI know that a creed is the shell of a lie.
-- Amy Lowell, What's O'Clock (1925), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Time! Joyless emblem of the greed
Of millions, robber of the best
Which earth can give
     -- Amy Lowell, New York at Night, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Heywood Broun

Heywood Broun"She was upon the surface of things a Lowell, a New Englander and a spinster. But inside everything was molten like the core of the earth.... Given one more gram of emotion, Amy Lowell would have burst into flame and been consumed to cinders."
-- Heywood Broun, in Amy Lowel's obituary. During her lifetime, Lowell was critized for her lesbianism as well as her obesity, arguing that she must not have experienced true passion, reflecting a common prejudice that women who are overweight cannot possibly be sexual beings. She won the Pulitzer Prize a year after her death for "What's O'Clock."

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C Stanley Lowell
American advocate for state-church separation

From the days of ancient Egypt until now the interlocking of church and state has been one of the most prolific sources of mankind's ills. Both church and state have suffered immeasurably from this relationship, but the people themselves have been the principal victims.
     It was the genius of the American founding fathers to detect this flaw in the all but universal pattern of church-state relationships. Their determination to separate church and state was the direct result of this discovery.
    
-- C Stanley Lowell, The Great Church-State Fraud, 1973, p. 7, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
American poet and editor

James Russell LowellFreedom is the only law which genius knows.
-- James Russell Lowell, "Elizabethan Dramatists, Omitting Shakespeare: John Webster" (1843; published in Lowell's Early Prose Writings, 1902), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

It seems to me that the bane of our country is a profession of faith either with no basis of real belief, or with no proper examination of the grounds on which the creed is supposed to rest.
-- James Russell Lowell, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Where Church and State are habitually associated, it is natural that minds, even of a high order, should unconsciously come to regard religion as only a subtler mode of police.
-- James Russell Lowell, Literary Essays, Vol. III, p. 186, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

They talk about their Pilgrim blood,
Their birthright high and holy!
A mountain-stream that ends in mud
Methinks is melancholy.
-- James Russell Lowell, An Interview with Miles Standish, st. 11, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

James Russell LowellIt is mediocrity which makes laws and sets mantraps and spring-guns in the realm of free song, saying thus far shalt thou go and no further.
-- James Russell Lowell, "Elizabethan Dramatists, Omitting Shakespeare: John Webster" (1843; published in Lowell's Early Prose Writings, 1902), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.
-- James Russell Lowell (attributed: source unknown)

The true ideal is not opposed to the real but lies in it; and blessed are the eyes that find it.
-- James Russell Lowell, quoted from Keith Mohler, ed, "Webster's Electronic Quotebase" (1994)

There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
-- James Russell Lowell, "Democracy," address, 6 Oct. 1884, Birmingham, England (published in Democracy and Other Addresses, 1887), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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F L Lucas
British author

The only hope I can see for the future depends on a wiser and braver use of the reason, not a panic flight from it.
-- F L Lucas, The Search for Good Sense

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Titus Lucretius Carus (BCE 94?-55?)
Roman poet who turned the philosophy of Epicurus into a great philosophical poem, De Return Natura (On the Nature of Things); he sought to free humanity from the fear of death and of the gods, which he considered the main cause of human unhappiness

LucretiusNature does all things spontaneously, by herself, without the meddling of the gods.
-- Lucretius, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The nature of the universe has by no means been made through divine power, seeing how great are the faults that mar it.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Poor humanity, to saddle the gods with such a responsibility and throw in a vindictive temper. What griefs they hatch for themselves, what festering sores for us, what tears for our prosperity! This is not piety, this oft-repeated show of bowing a veiled head before a graven image; this bustling to every altar; this kow-towing and prostration on the ground with palms outspread before the shrines of the gods; this deluging of vow on vow. True piety lies rather in the power to contemplate the universe with a quiet mind.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 24

If anyone decided to call the sea Neptune, and corn Ceres, and to misapply the name of Bacchus rather than to give liquor its right name, so be it; and let him dub the round world "Mother of the Gods" so long as he is careful not really to infest his mind with base superstitions.
-- Lucretius, quoted from Antony Flew, Atheistic Humanism, p. 20

Too often in time past, religion has brought forth criminal and shameful actions.... How many evils has religion caused?
-- Lucretius, remarking on King Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter to the gods to ensure success of a military campaign, De Rerum Natura, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

When the supreme violence of a furious wind upon the sea sweeps over the waters the chief admiral of a fleet along with his mighty legions, does he not crave the gods' peace with vows and in his panic seek with prayers the peace of the winds and favouring breezes. Nonetheless, he is caught up in the furious hurricane and driven upon the shoals of death.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

Assuredly whatsoever things are fabled to exist in deep Acheron [Hades], these all exist in this life. There is no wretched Tantalus, fearing the great rock that hangs over him in the air and frozen with vain terror. Rather, it is in this life that fear of the gods oppresses mortals without cause, and the rock they fear is any that chance may bring.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

Certainly it was no design of the atoms to place themselves in a particular order, nor did they decide what motions each should have. But atoms were struck with blows in many ways and carried along by their own weight from infinite times up to the present. They have been accustomed to move and to meet in all manner of ways. For this reason, it came to pass that being spread abroad through a vast time and trying every sort of combination and motion, at length those come together that produce great things, like earth and sea and sky and the generation of living creatures.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

Forbear to spew out reason from your mind, but rather ponder everything with keen judgment; and if it seems true, own yourself vanquished, but, if it is false, gird up your loins to fight.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

There is so much wrong with the world. (tanta stat praedita culpa)
-- Lucretius, returning the Argument From Design with the Argument Drom Evil, De Rerum Natura, 5.199, quoted from S T Joshi, ed, "Introduction," Atheism: A Reader, p. 14

Since you must admit that there is nothing outside the universe, it can have no limit and is accordingly without end or measure. It makes no odds in which part of it you may take your stand; whatever spot anyone may occupy, the universe stretches away from him just the same in all directions without limit.
-- Lucretius, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

The generations of living things pass in a short time, and like runners hand on the torch of life.
-- Lucretius, seeming to comment on evolution, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

The mind like a sick body can be healed and changed by medicine.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

Fear is the mother of all gods.
-- Lucretius, quoted in Victor J Stenger, Physics and Psychics (1990) P 76

Rest, brother, rest. Have you done ill or well
Rest, rest, There is no God, no gods who dwell
Crowned with avenging righteousness on high
Nor frowning ministers of their hate in hell.
-- Lucretius, translation into verse by Creech, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Human life lay foul before men's eyes, crushed to the dust beneath religion's weight.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Famous Dead Non-thesits

So much wrong could religion induce.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

Long time men lay oppress'd with slavish fear
Religion's tyranny did domineer ...
At length a mighty one of Greece began
To assert the natural liberty of man,
By senseless terrors and vain fancies let
To slavery. Straight the conquered phantoms fled.
-- Lucretius, an ode to Epicurus, the "mighty one of Greece," translation into verse by Creech, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.
-- Lucretius, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Those things that are in the light we behold from darkness.
-- Lucretius, epigraph to Denis Diderot's anonymously published essay on the scientific method, Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 80

What is food to one man is bitter poison to others.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

And life is given to none freehold, but it is leasehold for all.
-- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift
     I see the suns, I see the systems lift
Their forms; and even the systems and the suns
     Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.
-- Lucretius, quoted from Woolsey Teller, The Atheism of Astronomy: A Refutation of the Theory that the Universe is Governed by Intelligence (1938)

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The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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