Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)
Irish dramatist whose plays realistically portray the Irish struggle for independence

Sean O'CaseyWhat time has been wasted during man's destiny in the struggle to decide what man's next world will be like! The keener the effort to find out, the less he knew about the present one he lived in.
-- Sean O'Casey, Sunset and Evening Star, "Shaw's Corner" (1954), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Here we have bishops, priests, and deacons, a Censorship Board, vigilant librarians, confraternities and sodalities, Duce Maria, Legions of Mary, Knights of this Christian order and Knights of that one, all surrounding the sinner's free will in an embattled circle.
-- Sean O'Casey, letter, 8 June 1957, to Irish Times (Dublin), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

If church prelates, past or present, had even an inkling of physiology they'd realise that what they term this inner ugliness creates and nourishes the hearing ear, the seeing eye, the active mind, and energetic body of man and woman, in the same way that dirt and dung at the roots give the plant its delicate leaves and the full-blown rose.
-- Sean O'Casey, Rose And Crown, "In New York Now" (1952), of the so-called "ugliness under the skin . . . the functioning flesh, blood, bone, muscle," quoted from the 5th volume of O'Casey's autobiography. Quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

There's no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible.
-- Sean O'Casey: Fluther Good, in The Plough and the Stars, act 1, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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David K O'Connor
Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame

Perhaps the most influential response to Socrates' "divine" wisdom came from the Stoics. They saw the ideal wise person as someone who lived according to nature. A knowledge of the providential structure of the cosmos was the central feature of this ideal, but they did not conceive of such knowledge as a unique prophetic gift. It was instead simply a manifestation of the wise person's fully developed rational capacities. Thus, they inherited both Socrates' providential view of the world and his claim to a special discernment of divine purpose while naturalizing the divine sign itself, reducing it to the discernment that was the natural attainment of the ideal wise person.
-- David K O'Connor, "Socrates and the Socratics," in Richard H Popkin, ed, The Columbia History of Western Philosophy (1999) p. 27

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Mary Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
American writer of novels and short stories focusing on humanity's spiritual deformity and flight from redemption

Flannery O'ConnorShe was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, though she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.
-- Flannery O'Connor: Greenleaf, in Everything That Rises Must Converge, published posthumously in 1965, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I'm going to preach there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from, and no Redemption because there was no Fall, and no Judgment because there wasn't the first two. Nothing matters but that Jesus was a liar.
-- Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (1952), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Does one's integrity ever lie in what he is not able to do? I think that usually it does, for free will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man. Freedom cannot be conceived simply.
-- Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (1952), quoted from Pegasos (kirjasto.sci.fi
)

Flannery O'ConnorI preach there are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else's. But behind all of them there is only one truth and that is that there's no truth.
-- Flannery O'Connor: preacher Hazel Motes, in Wise Blood, ch. 10 (1952), from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Sandra Day O'Connor
Justice, United States Supreme Court (1981-)

     • Load This Section With Frames Index

Sandra Day O'Connor[Excerpt]
The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community.
-- Sandra Day O'Connor, in her Concurring Opinion appended to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) (see notes to Passage, below)

[Excerpt]
Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.
-- Sandra Day O'Connor, in her Concurring Opinion appended to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) (see notes to Passage, below)

[Passage]
The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community. Government can run afoul of that prohibition in two principal ways.
     One is excessive entanglement with religious institutions, which may interfere with the independence of the institutions, give the institutions access to government or governmental powers not fully shared by nonadherents of the religion, and foster the creation of political constituencies defined along religious lines. [Based upon a ruling in Larkin v Grendel's Den, Inc., (1982).]
     The second and more direct infringement is government endorsement or disapproval of religion. Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community. Disapproval sends the opposite message. [Based upon a ruling in Abington School District v Schempp, (1963).]
-- Sandra Day O'Connor, suggesting a "clarification" of Establishment Clause jurisprudence, which effectively collapses the first two prongs of the Lemon test, in her Concurring Opinion appended to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), 465 US at 687, source citation commentary quoted from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Newdow v. US Congress (2002) and edited by Cliff Walker, the text and bracketed references are quoted from Lynch v. Donnelly itself, except that the bracketed references have been edited. (Feel free to compare our copy of O'Connor's Concurring Opinion.)

The purpose prong of the Lemon test requires that a government activity have a secular purpose. That requirement is not satisfied, however, by the mere existence of some secular purpose, however dominated by religious purposes.... The proper inquiry under the purpose prong of Lemon, I submit, is whether the government intends to convey a message of endorsement or disapproval of religion.
-- Sandra Day O'Connor, in her Concurring Opinion appended to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), 465 US at 687

Focusing on the evil of government endorsement or disapproval of religion makes clear that the effect prong of the Lemon test is properly interpreted not to require invalidation of a government practice merely because it in fact causes, even as a primary effect, advancement or inhibition of religion.... What is crucial is that a government practice not have the effect of communicating a message of government endorsement or disapproval of religion. It is only practices having that effect, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that make religion relevant, in reality or public perception, to status in the political community.
-- Sandra Day O'Connor, in her Concurring Opinion appended to Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), 465 US at 687

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Simon Oakley
UK atheistic activist

Religion is nothing more than the fanciful creation of charismatic leaders wishing to subvert a credulous population with explanations of the world rooted in caveman science. Until we universally embrace science and technology as the only way forward, there will be no world peace, no freedom from disease, and no real progress.
-- Simon Oakley, in a letter to Cliff Walker,

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Phil Ochs (1941-1976)
American folk singer

Phil OchsAnd I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here
-- Phil Ochs, When I'm Gone

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Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1902-1967)
American physicist, director of the atomic bomb project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, from 1943 to 1945

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.
-- Robert Oppenheimer, Life Magazine, October 10, 1949

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George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950)
British writer

George OrwellNo doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid.... Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
-- George Orwell, "Reflections on Gandhi," in Shooting an Elephant (1950), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives", from the mildest liberal to the most extreme anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
-- George Orwell, Orwell Reader

He was an embittered atheist the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him.
-- George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (2000)

'Big Brother' from the film 1984As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.
-- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, ch. 11 (1937), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, also in Encarta Book of Quotations (2000) p. 712

Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.
-- George Orwell, Reflections on Gandhi (1949), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

One defeats a fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence.
-- George Orwell, (1949), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
-- George Orwell: Winston Smith, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, pt. 3, ch. 3 (1949), speaking of O'Brien, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

George OrwellCreeds like pacifism or anarchism, which seem on the surface to imply a complete renunciation of power, rather encourage this habit of mind. For if you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics ... the more you are in the right (and) everybody else should be bullied into thinking otherwise.
-- George Orwell, The Road To Wigan Pier, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
-- George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
-- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (2000)

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John James Osborne (1929-1994)
British playwright and member of the Angry Young Men

John OsborneHere we are, we're alone in the universe, there's no God, it just seems that it all began by something as simple as sunlight striking on a piece of rock. And here we are. We've only got ourselves. Somehow, we've just got to make a go of it. We've only ourselves.
-- John James Osborne: Jean, in The Entertainer, no. 12

Don't be afraid of being emotional. You won't die of it.
-- John James Osborne, from David Hare, "John Osborne: A Lifelong Satirist of Prigs and Puritans," the speech Hare gave at the memorial service for Osborne (June, 1995), excerpted by PAM

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Max Carl Otto (1876-1968)
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison
; Unitarian Humanist

Max Carl OttoTo early man, the gods were real in the same sense that the mountains, forests, or waterfalls which were thought to be their homes were real. For a long time the spirits that lived in drugs or wines and made them potent were believed to be of the same order of fact as the potency itself. But the human creature is curious and curiosity is bold. Hence, the discovery that a reported god may be a myth.
-- Max Carl Otto, quoted in David Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism Chapter I

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Ouida [Marie Louise de la Ramée] (1839-1908)
British novelist: the pen name, a family nickname, was a childhood attempt to pronounce 'Louisa'; Ramee

OuidaChristianity has ever been the enemy of human love.
-- Ouida, The Failure of Christianity, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The radical defect in Christianity is that it tried to win the world by a bribe, and it has become a nullity.
-- Ouida, The Failure of Christianity, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Christianity has made of death a terror which was unknown to the gay calmness of the Pagan.
-- Ouida, The Failure of Christianity, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Could we see when and where we are to meet again, we would be more tender when we bid our friends goodbye.
-- Ouida, (attributed: source unknown)

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William Overton
Federal District Judge of Little Rock, Arkansas, best remembered for his definitions of science in the case which shot down the Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act (which had sought to allow the Christian dogma of creationism to be taught along side evolution in the school science classrooms). Later, zoologist and paleontologist Stephen J Gould wrote in Natural History, "Judge Overton's brilliant and beautifully crafted decision is the finest legal document ever written about this question -- far surpassing anything that the Scopes trial generated.... Judge Overton's definitions of science are so cogent and clearly expressed that we can use his words as a model for our own proceedings." Biographical information derived from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture."

[The Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act] was simply and purely an effort to introduce the biblical version of creation into the public school curricula.
-- Judge William Overton, ruling that the Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act sought to instill religious faith into the public schools under the guise of equal treatement between "Creation Science" and real science, quoted from Tim Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, ch. 5

[The statute amounted to] a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact.
-- Judge William Overton, ruling on the Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

The evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public schools.
-- Judge William Overton, ruling on the Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

[The methodology employed by the creationists] is indicative that their work is not science. A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of the facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to revision is not a scientific theory.
-- Judge William Overton, ruling on the nature of creationism in addition to the Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

(1) It is guided by natural law;
(2) It has to be explained by reference to natural law;
(3) It is testable against the empirical world;
(4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word;
(5) It is falsifiable.
-- Judge William Overton, ruling, in addition to the Arkansas' Balanced Treatment Act, and with the assistance of philosopher Michael Ruse, on whether something is scientific, a ruling which "left plenty of space for creationists to re-arrange their arguments to meet Judge Overton's now precedent-making legal criteria" (Stenger, 2001), because (1 & 2) science does not rule out discovering the supernatural, and (3, 4, & 5) many things, such as astrology, are testable (though they fail), tentative, and falsifiable (in that they can be determined to be false through empirical testing), but are not considered science by philosophers of science, quoted from and citation notes derived from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

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Robert Owen (1771-1858)
British reformer best remembered for his contribution to the Co-operative Movement and trade unionism; besides his opposition to religion (see below: "Then, my friends,..."), he believed that no one was "responsible for his will and his own actions" because "his whole character is formed independently of himself."

Robert OwenThus I was forced, through seeing the error of their foundation, to abandon all belief in every religion which had been taught to man. But my religious feelings were immediately replaced by the spirit of universal charity -- not for a sect, or a party, or for a country or a colour -- but for the human race, and with a real and ardent desire to do good.
-- Robert Owen, Life (his autobiography), quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'"

Then, my friends, I tell you that hitherto you have been prevented from even knowing what happiness really is, solely in consequence of the errors -- gross errors -- that have been combined with the fundamental notions of every religion that has hitherto been taught to men. And, in consequence, they have made man the most inconsistent, and the most miserable being in existence. By the errors of these systems he has been made a weak, imbecile animal; a furious bigot and fanatic or a miserable hypocrite; and should these qualities be carried, not only into the projected villages, but into Paradise itself, a Paradise would no longer be found!
-- Robert Owen, statement on 21 August 1817 he denounced religion as a prime source of error and distress, quoted from Jim Herrick, "Bradlaugh and Secularism: 'The Province of the Real'"

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G Bromley Oxnam (1891-1963)
Methodist bishop; founding member of the organization, Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, later named, Americans United for Separation of Church and State; President, DePauw University (1928-36); pastor of a large Los Angeles church

G Bromley OxnamIf parents have the natural right to determine the education of their children, a privilege this nation gladly gives, it follows that parents who refuse the benefits of these splendid public educational opportunities should pay for such private education as they insist upon.
-- G Bromley Oxnam, The Nation's Schools (March, 1947), from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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