Positive Atheism’s Big List of Quotations

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Walter Frederick Mondale (b 1928)
Vice-President of the United States under the Carter administration (1977-1981)

Walter MondaleToday, the religion clauses of the First Amendment do not need to be fixed; they need to be followed.
Walter Mondale, address to B’nai B’rith, Washington, DC, September 6, 1984, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The Queen of England is Defender of the Faith but the President of the United States is Defender of the Constitution, which defends all faiths.
Walter Mondale, address to B’nai B’rith, Washington, DC, September 6, 1984, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Whatever his private beliefs and religious practice, a president must be the guardian of the laws which ensure America’s religious diversity.
Walter Mondale, address to B’nai B’rith, Washington, DC, September 6, 1984, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Jacques Lucien Monod (1910-1976)
French biochemist and Nobel laureate, who discovered the operon system that controls gene action in bacteria

Jacques Lucien Monod (Nobel Foundation Portrait)[Excerpt]:
man at last knows that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity....
Jacques Monod, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

[Passage]:
The ancient covenant is in pieces; man at last knows that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.
Jacques Monod, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

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James Monroe (1758-1831)
The fifth President of the United States (1817-1825)

United States Flag

It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.
James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, Tuesday, March 4, 1817

It is not necessary for me to tell you how much all your countrymen — I speak of the great mass of the people — are interested in your welfare. They have not forgotten the history of their own Revolution and the difficult scenes through which they passed; nor do they review its several stages without reviving in their bosoms a due sensibility of the merits of those who served them in that great and arduous conflict. The crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I trust never will stain, our national character. You are considered by them as not only having rendered important services in our own Revolution, but as being on a more extensive scale the friend of human rights, and a distinguished and able defender of public liberty. To the welfare of Thomas Paine the Americans are not, nor can they be indifferent.
James Monroe, to Thomas Paine, remarking on the American public’s indifference to Paine’s accomplishments during the Revolution because Paine had published “The Age of Reason,” an anti-Bible tract, quoted from Robert Green Ingersoll, “Vindication Of Thomas Paine

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Gilman: Monroe Reticent On Beliefs

He was extremely reticent in his religious sentiments, at least in all that he wrote. Allusions to his belief are rarely, if ever, to be met with in his correspondence.
Daniel C Gilman, Monroe’s biographer, quoted in Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of our Presidents, p 94
 

Steiner: Monroe Reticent On Beliefs

A still later biography by George Morgan does not say even so much as this one by Gilman. The six volumes of his Writings confirm the fact of his reticence on religious subjects.
Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of our Presidents, p 94

If a member of the Episcopal Church is supposed to be a communicant, Washington and William Henry Harrison were not Episcopalians; and there is no evidence Madison, Monroe, Taylor, Tyler and Arthur were. The lumping together of so many Presidents as Episcopalians is due to the fact that St John’s Church of that denomination, in Washington, is now located, as it was a hundred years ago, only 3,00 yards from the Whit House, on Lafayette Square. St John’s has always been an aristocratic exclusive church, and required certificates of social standing from those who applied for membership.
Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of our Presidents, p 8
 

Anonymous: Monroe Aids Infidel Paine

“[Thomas] Paine was imprisoned in the Luxembourg on December 28, 1793, and released on November 4, 1794. His liberation was secured by his old friend, James Monroe (afterwards President), who had succeeded his (Paine’s) relentless enemy, Gouvemeur Morris, as American Minister in Paris. He was found by Monroe more dead than alive from semi-starvation, cold, and an abscess contracted in prison, and taken to the Minister’s own residence. It was not supposed that he could survive, and he owed his life to the tender care of Mr and Mrs Monroe. It was while thus a prisoner in his room, with death still hovering over him, that Paine wrote Part Second of ‘The Age of Reason.’”
Anonymous author of the “Editor’s Introduction To ‘The Age Of Reason’” from a reprint of Paine’s classic work, which earned him the scorn of many of the American citizens he had helped to free, which scorn prevented him his rightful place in the memories of Americans throughout history
 

Wilson: Early Presidents Not Religious

The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
     “Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism.
The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831, first sentence quoted in John E Remsberg, “Six Historic Americans,” second sentence quoted in Paul F Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp 14-15

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Ashley Montagu (b 1905)
British anthropologist, author of The Elephant Man, A Study In Human Dignity

The Good Book — one of the most remarkable euphamisms ever coined.
Ashley Montagu, from Laurence J Peter, Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)
French essayist whose works are considered the highest expression of 16th-century French prose. Lecky called him ‘the first great representative of the modem secular and rationalistic spirit.’

My reason is not framed to bend or stoop: my knees are.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays, bk 3, ch 8, “Of the Art of Conferring” (tr by John Florio, 1588). The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm, and yet will make Gods by dozens.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays, bk 2, ch 12, “An Apology of Raimond Sebond” (tr by John Florio, 1580). The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, quoted by James A Haught in “Honest Minds, Past and Present.”

Men of simple understanding, little inquisitive and little instructed, make good Christians.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations.

[I]t is setting a high value upon our opinions, to roast men alive on account of them.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, quoted by Lecky, Rationalism in Euorope.

[I]t is far more probable that our senses should deceive us, than that an old woman should be carried up a chimney on a broom stick; and that it is far less astonishing that witnesses should lie, than that witches should perform the acts that were alleged.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, quoted by Lecky, Rationalism in Euorope.

How many things served us but yesterday as articles of faith, which today we deem but fables?
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays, bk 1, ch 26, “It Is Folly to Refer Truth or Falsehood to Our Sufficiency” (1580-88; tr by John Florio). The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

To honor him whom we have made is far from honoring him that hath made us.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays, bk 2, ch 12, “An Apology of Raimond Sebond” (1580; tr by John Florio). The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (attributed: source unknown)

Death pays all debts. (La mort nous acquitte de toutes nos obligations.)
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays

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Lecky: Montaigne Unclouded By Theism

It has been justly remarked by Malebranche, that Montaigne is an example of a writer who had no pretensions to be a great reasoner, but who nevertheless exercised a most profound and general influence upon the opinions of mankind. It is not, I think, difficult to discover the explanation of the fact. In an age which was still spell-bound by the fascinations of the past, he applied to every question a judgment entirely unclouded by the imaginations of theologians, and unshackled by the dictates of authority. His originality consists, not so much in his definite opinions or in his arguments, as in the general tone and character of his mind. He was the first French author who had entirely emancipated himself from the retrospective habits of thought that had so long been universal; who ventured to judge all questions by a secular standard, by the light of common sense, by the measure of probability which is furnished by daily experience.... While Catholics, Protestants, and Deists were vying with each other in their adoration of the past; while the ambition of every scholar and of every theologian was to form around his mind an atmosphere of thought that bore no relation to the world that was about him; while knowledge was made the bond-slave of credulity, and those whose intellects were most shackled by prejudice were regarded as the wisest of mankind, it was the merit of Montaigne to rise, by the force of his masculine genius, into the clear world of reality; to judge the opinions of his age with an intellect that was invigorated but not enslaved by knowledge; and to contemplate the systems of the past, without being dazzled by the reverence that had surrounded them. He looked down upon the broad field of history, upon its clashing enthusiasms, its discordant systems, the ebb and flow of its ever-changing belief, and he drew from the contemplation a lesson widely different from his contemporaries.... [H]e ... obtained an intense and realised perception of the fallibility of the human intellect; a keen sense of the absurdity of an absolute deference to the past, and of the danger of punishing men with death on account of opinions concerning which we can have so little assurance. These things led him to suspect that witchcraft might be a delusion. The bent and character of his mind led him to believe that witchcraft was grossly improbable. He was the first great representative of the modem secular and rationalistic spirit.... This was not the happy guess of ignorance. It was the direct result of a mode of thought which he applied to all theological questions. Fifty years earlier, a book embodying such conceptions would have appeared entirely incomprehensible, and its author would perhaps have been burnt. At the close of the sixteenth century, the minds of men were prepared for its reception, and it flashed like a revelation upon France. From the publication of the essays of Montaigne, we may date the influence of that gifted and ever enlarging rationalistic school, who gradually effected the destruction of the belief in witchcraft, not by refuting or explaining its evidence, but simply by making men more and more sensible of its intrinsic absurdity.
W E H Lecky, Rationalism in Europe

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Comte de Montalembert
French Catholic liberal of the 19th century

Religious liberty, sincere and equal for all, without privilege ... in a word the free church in a free nation, such has been the program which inspired my first efforts and which I have persevered, after thirty years of struggle, in considering just and reasonable.
Montalembert, quoted in M Searle Bates, Religious Liberty: An Inquiry (1945), quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
French philosopher, lawyer

Charles de MontesquieuNo kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.
Charles de Montesquieu, Lettres persanes (1721), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

If triangles made a god, they would give him three sides.
Charles de Montesquieu, Lettres Persanes, letter 59 (1721)

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Henry Marie Joseph Millon de Montherlant (1895-1972)
French dramatist

Henry de Montherlant (portrait: Mac' Avoy, Etude pour le portrait de Henry de Montherlant, July 30, 1948)Religion is the venereal disease of mankind.
Henry de Montherlant, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

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