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Joseph McCabe (1867-1955)
Former Roman Catholic priest and scholar who renounced his faith and later wrote nearly 250 atheistic and antireligious books

Joseph McCabeAny body of men who believe in hell will persecute whenever they have the power.
-- Joseph McCabe, What Gods Cost Men

If a single one of these gentlemen is correct, if a believer of any type is right, the essential truth for man, the real drama of life, in comparison with which the secular story of the race, is a puppet-show and the unfolding of the universe is a triviality, is the dialogue of the immortal soul and the eternal God. Yet it seems that there is nothing in the world so hard to discover as this. The theory refutes itself.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Psychology of Religion, Little Blue Book 446, p. 47

An idea or institution may arise for one reason and be maintained for quite a different reason.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Psychology of Religion, Little Blue Book 446, p. 48

The theist and the scientist are rival interpreters of nature, the one retreats as the other advances.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Existence of God, p. 84

... the absence of theistic belief ...
-- Joseph McCabe, defining the word atheism, in A Rationalist Encyclopedia (1950), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

The sentiments attributed to Christ are in the Old Testament. They were familiar in the Jewish schools and to all the Pharisees, long before the time of Christ, as they were familiar in all the civilizations of the earth -- Egyptian, Babylonian, and Persian, Greek, and Hindu.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Sources of the Morality of the Gospels

Today we know not only that there is a terrible amount of disorder in the heavens -- great catastrophes or conflagrations occur frequently -- but evolution gives us a perfectly natural explanation of such order as there is. No distinguished astronomer now traces "the finger of God" in the heavens; and astronomers ought to know best.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Story of Religious Controversy, p. 86, quoted from Woolsey Teller, The Atheism of Astronomy: A Refutation of the Theory that the Universe is Governed by Intelligence (1938)

Evolution throws a wonderful light on all the struggles, eccentricities, tortuous developments of the human conscience in the past. It is the only theory of morals that does. And evolution throws just as much light on the ethical and social struggle today; and it is the only theory that does. What a strange age ours is from the religious point of view! What a hopeless age from the philosopher's point of view! Yet it is a very good age, the best that ever was. No evolutionist is a pessimist.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Human Origin of Morals, Little Blue Book 1061, p. 59

Then there is the high cultural development of the Greek-Roman civilization, and from 300 BC to 300 AD we find the thinly veiled Atheism of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics accepted by the great majority of the better educated. Atheism perishes again with the crass ignorance and clerical tyranny of the Iron Age, but it spreads widely in the light of the Arab-Persian civilization, wherever the fanatics are checked, and at the Renaissance it reappears in Christendom. The hardening of the religious attitude after the Reformation again checks it, but in the 18th Century it enters upon a development, which has, in spite of murderous clerical tyranny in some countries, proceeded steadily ever since.
-- Joseph McCabe, The Rise and Fall of the Gods (1931), quoted from Nick Harding, How to Be a Good Atheist (Oldcastle Books, Herts: 18 October 2007), page 38

I once met a pompous ass of a believer who had this religious-sense theory in an exaggerated degree. It is not at all my custom to obtrude the question of religion in conversation, but somebody maliciously tried to draw the man into debate about God with me. He would say nothing but, with comic solemnity: "I know there is a God." He would not explain further, but his meaning was clear. He felt it. He sensed it. And there is but one possible form in which he could have given precise expression to his actual experience. He was visibly annoyed, but still silent, when I put it. It is: "I have a strong conviction that God exists."
-- Joseph McCabe, The Psychology of Religion, Little Blue Book 446, p. 42

A law of nature is not a formula drawn up by a legislator, but a mere summary of the observed facts -- a "bundle of facts." Things do not act in a particular way because there is a law, but we state the "law" because they act in that way.
-- Joseph McCabe, Existence of God, quoted in Emma Goldman, The Philosophy of Atheism (1916)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Martha M McCarthy
Professor of education law and policy at Indiana University

Both Madison and Jefferson relied heavily on the theory of church-state separation espoused by John Locke who maintained that "the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate."
-- Martha M McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools (1983) p. 4. The John Locke quote is from A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689, according to McCarthy. Quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church."

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Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978)
US poet and humorist; 1961 Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry

Phyllis McGinleySin has always been an ugly word, but it has been made so in a new sense over the last half-century. It has been made not only ugly but passé. People are no longer sinful, they are only immature or underprivileged or frightened or, more particularly, sick.
-- Phyllis McGinley, The Province of the Heart, "In Defense of Sin" (1959), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Phyllis McGinleyAh, snug lie those that slumber
     Beneath Conviction's roof.
Their floors are sturdy lumber
     Their windows weatherproof.
But I sleep cold forever
     And cold sleep all my kind
For I was born to shiver
     In the draft from an open mind.
          -- Phyllis McGinley, The Province of the Heart, "In Defense of Sin" (1959), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

When blithe to argument I come,
     Though armed with facts and merry;
May providence protect me from,
     The Fool as adversary.
Whose mind to him a kingdom is,
     Where reason lacks dominion;
Who calls conviction prejudice,
     and prejudice opinion.
          -- Phyllis McGinley (1960), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

C Dennis McKinsey
Author of the newsletter Biblical Errancy and various related books and materials

Heaven is supposed to be a perfect place. Yet, it experienced a war (Revelation 12:7). How can there be a war in a perfect place and if it happened before why couldn't it happen again? Why would I want to go to a place in which war can occur? That's exactly what I'm trying to escape, aren't you?
-- C Dennis McKinsey, Biblical Errancy Pamphlet #1, The Bible is God's Word?

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Delos B McKown
Atheistic writer

Those who would seek the truth should take care that they may find it and in finding it be horrified.
-- Delos McKown, quoted from Louis W Cable, "Are the Gospels True?"

The invisible and nonexistent look much alike.
-- Delos B McKown, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Physics And Psychics

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Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
American anthropologist

Margaret MeadWe will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of the country.
-- Margaret Mead, Redbook magazine, February, 1963, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead, quoted by Mike Montalvo of Scouting For All

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Sidney E Mead

When Christians accepted the alliance with Constantine and the Roman Empire, evil because it made Jesus' kingdom-not-of-this-world the tool of very this-worldly empires, they reverted to the old principle of coercion. In doing so they repeated the fatal error so often condemned by the Jewish prophets of putting their hope for salvation in alliances with the militarily powerful. At that point "Christendom" was born, and thereafter, contrary to their true principle, for fourteen centuries with spectacular pomp and circumstance, they depended on violence and coercion, purportedly to build and maintain the kingdom of the one they worshipped as the Prince of Peace....
     It was that fourteen centuries of Western history, smeared with the blood of those who consciously or inadvertently deviated from the current orthodoxy, that those we call the founders of the Republic confronted, successfully attacked, and launched "the first new nation" in Christendom. It was "new" because where religion was concerned it was launched on what seems to have been the pre-Christendom Christian principle of sole dependence on the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God....
     Because from the sectarian's perspective religion is an all-or-nothing matter, there can be no neutrality where his species of orthodoxy is concerned. Therefore it is impossible for him to conceive of a religiously neutral civil authority. If it is not overtly "Christian" according to his sectarian definition it perforce must be "infidel," "atheist," "godless," or, as the sophisticated now commonly say, "secular." Jefferson had such sectarians in mind when he complained that "They wish it to be believed that he can have no religion who advocates its freedom."
     -- Sidney E Mead, The Old Religion in the Brave New World, 1977, pp. 39-41, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Sir Peter Brian Medawar (1915-1987)
Brazilian-born British immunologist, Nobel Lauriate in medicine (1960)

Sir Peter Brian Medawar (Nobel Foundation photo)It is naïve to suppose that the acceptance of evolution theory depends upon the evidence of a number of so-called "proofs"; it depends rather upon the fact that the evolutionary theory permeates and supports every branch of biological science, much as the notion of the roundness of the earth underlies all geodesy and all cosmological theories on which the shape of the earth has a bearing. Thus antievolutionism is of the same stature as flat-earthism.
-- Sir Peter Medawar, quoted from Robert T Pennock, Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (1999), chapter 2

To abdicate from the rule of reason and substitute for it an authentication of belief by the intentness and degree of conviction with which we hold it can be perilous and destructive. Religious beliefs give a spurious spiritual dimension to tribal enmities.
-- Sir Peter Medawar, "The Question of the Existence of God," from The Limits of Science (1984), quoted from Famous Dead Non-theists

It goes with the passionate intensity and deep conviction of the truth of a religious belief, and of course of the importance of the superstitious observances that go with it, that we should want others to share it -- and the only certain way to cause a religious belief to be held by everyone is to liquidate nonbelievers. The price in blood and tears that mankind generally has had to pay for the comfort and spiritual refreshment that religion has brought to a few has been too great to justify our entrusting moral accountancy to religious belief.
-- Sir Peter Medawar, "The Question of the Existence of God," from The Limits of Science (1984), quoted from Famous Dead Non-theists

I regret my disbelief in God.
-- Sir Peter Medawar, "The Question of the Existence of God," from The Limits of Science (1984), quoted from Famous Dead Non-theists

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Wilhelm Meinhold (1797-1851)
History professor, University of Bonn

The transfiguration and ascension of Christ may be compared to the heathen apotheosis of such heroes as Hercules, while the story of the descent into Hades is modeled after such narratives as those describing the visit of Hercules and Theseus to the lower world.
-- Wilhelm Meinhold, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 393

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Herman Melville (1819-1891)
American novelist whose allegorical exploration of psychological themes foreshadowed 20th-century literary concerns

Herman MelvilleFaith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.
-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. 7 (1851)

The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike Him, is because they rather distrust His heart, and fancy Him all brain like a watch.  (You perceive I employ a capital initial in the pronoun referring to the Deity; don't you think there is a slight dash of flunkeyism in that usage?).
-- Herman Melville, from a June, 1851, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne

We incline to think that God cannot explain His own secrets and that He would like a little information upon certain points Himself.  We mortals astonish Him as much as He us.  But it is this Being of the matter; there lies the knot with which we choke ourselves.  As soon as you say Me, a God, a Nature, so soon you jump off from your stool and hang from the beam.  Yes, that word is the hangman.  Take God out of the dictionary, and you would have Him in the street.
-- Herman Melville, from an undated 1851 letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne

I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has turned out to be hollow courtesy.
-- Herman Melville: Ishmael in Moby Dick

The idea of Jehovah was born here.... Out of the rude elements of the insignificant thoughts thoughts that are in all men, they reared the transcendent conception of a God.
-- Herman Melville, journal entry, marveling that the conception of deity could come from the arid and infertile Palestine (1856)

When my eye rested on an arid height, spirit partook of the barrenness. -- Heartily wish Niebuhr & Strauss to the dogs. The deuce take their penetration & acumen. They have robbed us of the bloom.
-- Herman Melville, journal entry made during his tour of the Holy Land, in a dyspeptically nostalgic mood (1856), damning Strauss and Niebuhr for having "robbed us" of the mystique of the myth of Christ? By this point in his life, Melville was agnostic, but still subject to mystical hankerings.

Queegqueg no care what god made him shark ... wedder Fejee god or Nantucket god; but de god what made him shark must be one dam Ingin.
-- Herman Melville: Queegqueg in Moby Dick, quoted by Robert Anton Wilson in his review of the 1968 Tennessee Williams film, Suddenly, Last Summer

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.
-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

I baptize you not in the name of the father, but in the name of the devil. (Ego baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli.)
-- Herman Melville: Captain Ahab, mocking the Christian baptismal formula as he anoints, in the blood of his three pagan harpooners, the barb of his prized harpoon, the one with which he intends to dart Moby Dick (read God), in Moby Dick

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Gary Sloan: Lambasts the Ways of Deity

Moby-Dick, by the way, is nothing less than an extended allegory on the villainy of God.  Unlike Paradise Lost, which Milton wrote to justify the ways of God to man, Melville wrote Moby-Dick to lambast the ways of deity.  Melville's method is largely one of indirection.
-- Gary Sloan, in a letter to Cliff Walker (September, 2001)

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Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)
American editor and critic

H. L. MenckenThe so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters.
-- H L Mencken, "Homo Neanderthalensis" (coverage of the Scopes Trial) The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1925 (posted in Positive Atheism's Historical section)

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous.... Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.... True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force.... But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them.... He has no right to preach them without challenge.
-- H L Mencken, "Aftermath" (coverage of the Scopes Trial) The Baltimore Evening Sun, September 14, 1925 (posted in Positive Atheism's Historical section)

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.
-- H L Mencken, Minority Report (1956)

Men become civilized not in proportion to their willingness to believe but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
-- H L Mencken (attributed: source unknown)

Theology: An effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into terms of the not worth knowing.
-- H L Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy, "Sententiæ: Arcana Cœlestia" (1949), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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George Meredith (1828-1909)
English novelist and poet

George Meredith (portrait: G.F. Watts, 1893; National Portrait Gallery, London)The man or the country that fights priestcraft and priests is to my mind striking deeper for freedom than can be struck anywhere.
-- George Meredith, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

When I was quite a boy I had a spasm of religion which lasted six weeks.... But I never since have swallowed the Christian fable.
-- George Meredith, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The man who has no mind of his own lends it to the priests.
-- George Meredith, Fortnigbtly Review (1909), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Insulting Quotations

Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!
     -- George Meredith, Modern Love, Sonnet 50 (1862), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Cynicism is intellectual dandyism without the coxcomb's feathers.
-- George Meredith: Clara Middleton, quoting Mr. Whitford, in The Egoist, ch. 7 (1879), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

George MeredithNot till the fire is dying in the grate,
Look we for any kinship with the stars.
Oh, wisdom never comes when it is gold,
And the great price we paid for it full worth:
We have it only when we are half earth.
Little avails that coinage to the old!
     -- George Meredith, Modern Love, sonnet 4 (1862), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Joost A M Merloo

In my own experience, I have been amazed to see how unrealistic are the bases for political opinion in general. Only rarely have I found a person who has chosen any particular political party -- democratic or totalitarian -- through study and comparison of principles.
-- Joost A Merloo, The Rape Of The Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing (1956), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

The tension of a mysterious danger is even more unbearable than danger itself. People hate the vacuum of an unknown situation. They want security. They even prefer war to the insecure expectation of a war with its threat of enemy surprise. This vague fearful expectation acts on their fantasies. They anticipate all kinds of mysterious dangers; they begin to provoke them. It is the evocation of fear and danger in order to escape the tension of insecurity.
-- Joost A Merloo, Patterns of Panic, quoted from Rupert N Urquhart, The Peril of Panic (1961, rev., 1996) in Technocracy Digest (ca. "early 1961," rev. 3rd quarter 1996, No. 321)

The bulk of the totalitarian-minded in the democratic societies are men and women who are attracted to this destructive way of life for inner emotional reasons unknown to themselves.
-- Joost A Merloo, The Rape Of The Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing (1956), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
French-American Roman Catholic monk, poet

Thomas MertonIf I had a message to my contemporaries, I said, it was surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.... If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted. If a university concentrates on producing successful people, it is lamentably failing in its obligation to society and to the students themselves.
-- Thomas Merton, quoted in James E Kiefer, "Thomas Merton, Monk, Poet, Spiritual Writer"

The danger of education, I have found, is that it so easily confuses means with ends. Worse than that, it quite easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated gradtuates -- people literaly unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they and their contemporaries have conspired to call "life".
-- Thomas Merton, quoted in James E Kiefer, "Thomas Merton, Monk, Poet, Spiritual Writer"

The most awful tyranny is that of the proximate utopia where the last sins are currently being eliminated and where, tomorrow, there will be no sins because all the sinners have been wiped out.
-- Thomas Merton (1948), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Jean Meslier (1678-1733)
A Catholic priest who kept his atheism to himself while alive and revealed it to the world after death

... inventions and purely human institutions...
-- Jean Meslier, describing religions in his Testament (first and second sections), quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 42

You will think, perhaps, my dear friends, that among the great number of false religions there are in the world, my intention will be to except from their number at least Christianity, apostolic and Roman, which we profess and which we say is the only one to teach genuine truth, the only one which recognises and adores, as is required, the true God, and the only one which leads men on the path to salvation and eternal happiness. But disabuse yourself, my dear friends, disabuse yourself of that, and generally of all that your pious ignoramuses, or your mocking and self-interested priests and doctors, press you to say and to believe, under the false pretext of the infallible certitude of their supposedly sacred and divine religion.... Your religion is no less vain, no less superstitious than any other; it is not less false in its principles, not less ridiculous and absurd in its dogmas and maxims; you are no less idolaters than those you blame and condemn for idolatry; the idols of the pagans and of your religion are only different in names and figures. In a word, all that your priests and doctors preach to you with such eloquence touching the grandeur, excellence and sanctity of the mysteries that they make you adore, all that which they recount to you with such gravity, with the certainty of their claimed miracles and all that which is given out to you with such zeal and such assurance concerning the grandeur of the rewards of heaven, and concerning the terrifying punishments of hell, are no more at bottom than illusions, errors, dreams, fictions and impostures, invented firstly for political ends and ruses, continued by deceivers and impostors; finally received and believed blindly by the ignorant and rude common people, and then eventually maintained by the authority of the great, and the sovereigns of the earth, who have favoured the abuses, the errors, the superstition and the imposture which are upheld by their laws in order to hold the mass of men in yoke and make them do all that their rulers want.
-- Jean Meslier, Testament, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 42-3

To discover the true principles of morality, men have no need of theology, of revelation, or of gods. They need but common sense. They have only to look within themselves, to reflect upon their own nature, to consult their obvious interests, to consider the object of society and of each of the members who compose it, and they will easily understand that virtue is an advantage, and that vice is an injury to beings of the species.
     Let us teach men to be just, benevolent, moderate, and sociable, not because their gods exact it, but to please men.
     Let us tell them to abstain from vice and crime, not because they will be punished in another world, but because they will suffer in the present world.
-- Jean Meslier, from Le Bon Sens, submitted by Robert E Nordlander

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Voltaire: Most Singular Phenomenon

"[Meslier was] the most singular phenomenon ever seen among all the meteors fatal to the Christian religion."
-- Voltaire, quoted from Wayne Jackson, "The Character Of Atheism," in The Christian Courier (July 26, 1999)

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!