Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations


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Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels[Christians] have ... identified their opponents, whether Jews, pagans, or heretics, with forces of evil, and so with Satan..... Nor have things improved since. The blood-soaked history of persecution, torture, murder, and destruction perpetrated in the name of religion is difficult to grasp, let alohne summarize, from the slaughter of Christians to the Crusades to the Inquisitiion to the Reformation to the European witchcraze to colonialization to today's bitter coflict in the Middle East.
-- Elaine Pagels, quoted from William Hart, Evil: A Primer (2004), pages 40-41

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Sir James Paget (1814-1899)
English surgeon and pathologist; founder of modern pathology

James PagetI know of no book which has been a source of brutality and sadistic conduct, both public and private, that can compare with the Bible.
-- James Paget, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Anglo-American political philosopher, whose writings influenced the American Revolution (1775-1783), the French Revolution (1789-1799), and freethought movements ever since; but, unfortunately, Paine could not awaken the Americans to the destruction that was their love affair with the biblical institution of human slavery until after Abraham Lincoln had read Paine's writings as a young man, and had thus been duly inspired to struggle for change

     • Check our Big List of Thomas Paine Quotations

Thomas PaineHe that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression.
-- Thomas Paine, Dissertations on First Principles of Government (July 7, 1795), as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)

When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war-whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
-- Thomas Paine, (1737-1809), The Age of Reason, pt. 1, "The Author's Profession of Faith" (1794), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that the human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. The Word of God exists in something else.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

I am sensible that he who means to do mankind a real service must set down with the determination of putting up, and bearing with all their faults, follies, prejudices and mistakes until he can convince them that he is right.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (no pagination or references)

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Sarah Palin
Former Alaska governor (2006–2009); vice-presidential candidate, 2008

Matthew ParrisI think [evolution] should be taught as an accepted principle. I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has instilled in me a respect for science. I think it should be taught in our schools. I won't ever deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is earth. But -- that is not a part of state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught in science class.
-- Sarah Palin, during her interview with Katie Couric, September 30, 2008

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Theodore Parker (1810-1860)
American Deist, Unitarian minister (pre-UU merger); social reformer; friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; greatly admired (one might say, emulated) by Abraham Lincoln

To obtain a knowledge of duty, a man is not sent away, outside of himself, to ancient documents; for the only rule of faith a practice, the Word, is very nigh him, even in his heart, and by this word he is to try all documents.
-- Theodore Parker, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 145

There is no intercessor, angel, mediator, between man and God; for man can speak and God hear, each for himself. He requires no advocates to plead for men.
-- Theodore Parker, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 145

Manly natural religion -- it is not joining the Church; it is not to believe in a creed, Hebrew, Protestant, Catholic, Trinitarian, Unitarian, Nothingarian. It is not to keep Sunday idle; to attend meetings; to be wet with water; to read the Bible; to offer prayers in words; to take bread and wine in the meeting house; love a scape-goat Jesus, or any other theological clap-trap.
-- Theodore Parker, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 145

Short Graphic Rule

Lincoln: Stands where Parker Stands

"I think I stand where that man stands."
-- Abraham Lincoln, to the Rev Dr. Collyer, upon seeing a copy of Dr Parker's sermons on a table, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 145

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Matthew Parris
British writer and social critic

     • Compare views of comedian Rowan Atkinson

Matthew ParrisAll three of our major religions in Britain -- Christianity, Islam and Judaism -- have a hateful idea at the very core. That idea is Exclusion: the "othering," if you like, of the unredeemed.
-- Matthew Parris, describing the flaws in Britain's proposed legislation outlawing antireligious "hate speech" by pointing out that through exclusionism, the major religions themselves pour undiluted "hate speech" against one another, in his Times of London commentary for Saturday, October 13, 2001

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Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist

     • See Pascal's Scary Quotations

Blaise PascalMen never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
-- Blaise Pascal, Pensees, (1670), quoted in Sam J Ervin, Jr, Preserving the Constitution, (1984), quoted from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Katherine Patterson
Author, anti-censorship activist

All of us can think of a book... that we hope none of our children or any other children have taken off the shelf. But if I have the right to remove that book from the shelf -- that book I abhor -- then you also have exactly the same right and so does everyone else. And then we have no books left on the shelf for any of us.
-- Katherine Patterson, quoted in Liberty Quotes

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Professor Friedrich Paulsen

Intellectual veracity, sincerity in matters of thought and faith, consistency in thinking, is not one of the virtues encouraged by the Church.
-- Friedrich Paulsen, from W E H Lecky History of European Morals (Vol 1, p 179), quoted from Joseph Lewis The Ten Commandments (p. 558). Lewis says Paulsen's "partiality to religion is unmistakable."

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Paulus Silentiarius (fl. Sixth Century CE)
Greek (Byzantine) poet who flourished during the reign of Justinian; contemporary and friend of Agathias; on addition to some erotic epigrams and (probably) an Anacreontic poem on the warm baths of Pythia in Bithynia, he wrote a dedication to Justinian that was recited at the second dedication of the church in 562; his works are important in any study of sixth-century Byzantine art

My name was -- (Well -- what signifies?) -- my nation --
(Well, what of that?) -- my birth and education --
(Were good or bad; of course -- no matter which) --
My life -- (Well, sink all that -- was poor or rich --
Who cares?) -- I died, aged -- (Oh, drop that stuff) --
And here I lie -- (Ay, ay -- that's sure enough.)
-- Paulus Silentiarius, showing the one aspect of our humanity that has any permanent consequence, translated by Leigh Hunt (1837), quoted from Peter Heinegg, ed, Mortalist: Readings on the Meaning of Life (Prometheus:2003)

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Charles S Peirce (1839-1914)
American mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, spectroscopist, engineer, inventor; psychologist, philologist, lexicographer, historian of science, mathematical economist, lifelong student of medicine; book reviewer, dramatist, actor, short story writer; phenomenologist, semiotician, logician, rhetorician and metaphysician

Charles S. PierceAll the progress we have made in philosophy ... is the result of that methodical skepticism which is the element of human freedom.
-- Charles S Peirce, Selected Writings, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, The Writer’s Rights (2002) p.32

Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief in anything else. On the contrary, we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe.
-- Charles S Peirce, "The Fixation of Belief," Popular Science Monthly (12 November 1877), pp. 1-15

Upon this first, an in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary, which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall in the city of philosophy: Do not block the way of inquiry.
-- Charles S Peirce, quoted from Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors

If man were immortal he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted should betray his trust, and, in short, of coming eventually to hopeless misery. He would break down, at last, as every good fortune, as every dynasty, as every civilization does. In place of this we have death.
-- Charles S Peirce (attributed: source unknown)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Laurence Peter (1919-1990)
American educator who described 'The Peter Principle': Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence

Laurence PeterOh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to believe!
-- Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977)

A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.
-- Laurence Peter (1977), quoted from Floyd College, Rome, Georgia, "Banned Books -- Quotes"

A man convinced against his will is not convinced.
-- Laurence Peter (attributed: source unknown)

There are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.
-- Laurence Peter (attributed: source unknown)

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.
-- Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977)

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Raymond J Pettine
US District Judge

Excessive government entanglement with religion can only lead to trouble. Neutrality is the sine qua non for a democracy that prizes itself in having a Bill of Rights designed to protect us against despotic abuse of authority by the government. The Constitution is a monumental blessing and its moral guidance in this pluralistic society is its tolerance and understanding for all.
-- Raymond J Pettine, address, Providence, Rhode Island, 1985, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Leo Pfeffer (b. 1910)
Jewish-American writer, commentator, and social critic; champion of religious freedom via separationism

America has given to the world a precious jewel. It has shown that a government whose concerns are purely secular and which leaves to the individual conscience of its citizenry all obligations that relate to God is the one which is actually the most friendly to religion. It is a precious jewel that we have. We should guard it well.
-- Leo Pfeffer, from Earl Raab (ed.), Religious Conflict in America, 1964, p. 163, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

A church receiving special state favors invariably pays for them in the loss of religious freedom.
-- Leo Pfeffer, Church, State & Freedom, 1967, p. 70, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Emo Philips
American comic

Emo Philips (color by cw)When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
-- Emo Philips (attributed: source unknown)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884)
American orator; leading spokesman for the abolitionist movement

Wendell PhillipsNo matter whose lips that would speak, they must be free and ungagged. The community which dares not protect its humblest and most hated member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves. If there is anything in the universe that can’t stand discussion, let it crack.
-- Wendell Phillips (1863), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Throughout that terrible night I find nothing to regret but this, that within the limits of our country, civil authority should have been so prostrated as to oblige a citizen to arm in his own defense, and to arm in vain. The gentleman says Lovejoy was presumptuous and imprudent, -- he "died as the fool dieth." And a reverend clergyman of the city tells us that no citizen has a right to publish opinions disagreeable to the community! If any mob follows such publication, on him rests its guilt! He must wait, forsooth, till the people come up to it and agree with him! This libel on liberty goes on to say that the want of right to speak as we think is an evil inseparable from republican institutions! If this be so, what are they worth? Welcome the despotism of the Sultan, where one knows what he may publish and what he may not, rather than the tyranny of this many-headed monster, the mob, where we know now what we ma do or say, till some fellow-citizen has tried it, and paid for the lesson with his life. This clerical absurdity chooses as a check for the abuses of the press, not the law, but the dread of a mob. By so doing, it deprives not only the individual and the minority of their rights, but the majority also, since the expression of their opinion may sometimes provoke disturbance from the minority. A few men may make a mob as well as many. The majority, then, have no right, as Christian men, to utter their sentiments, if by any possibility it may lead to a mob! Shades of Hugh Peters and John Cotton, save us from such pulpits!
-- Wendell Phillips , "The Murder of Lovejoy," speech given at Boston's Faneuil Hall (December 8, 1837)

Revolutions never go backward.
-- Wendell Phillips, Speech (February 12, 1861); quoted from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed (1919)

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Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
The 14th President of the United States

United States Flag

Steiner: Fiercely Opposed State Church

"[Franklin Pierce] was a member of the constitutional convention of New Hampshire in 1850. There he made a strenuous right as did John Adams in Massachusetts, to abolish that portion of the State Constitution which made the Protestant Religion the official religion of the Granite State."
-- Franklin Steiner, The Religious Views of Our Presidents, p. 65

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Steven Pinker
Cognitive Scientist

Steven PinkerThe problem with the religious solution [for mysteries such as consciousness and moral judgments] was stated by Mencken when he wrote, "Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing." For anyone with a persistent intellectual curiosity, religious explanations are not worth knowing because they pile equally baffling enigmas on top of the original ones. What gave God a mind, free will, knowledge, Steven Pinkercertainty about right and wrong? How does he infuse them into a universe that seems to run just fine according to physical laws? How does he get ghostly souls to interact with hard matter? And most perplexing of all, if the world unfolds according to a wise and merciful plan, why does it contain so much suffering? As the Yiddish expression says, If God lived on earth, people would break his window.
-- Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct (p. 560)

Of course the theory [of evolution] would be vacuous if it offered a glib explanation for every inexplicable act.
-- Steven Pinker, quoted from Jeremy C Ahouse and Robert C Berwick, "Darwin on the Mind," a review of Pinker's How the Mind Works in Boston Review (April-May 1998)

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E Royston Pike

Persecution is born of intolerance, and intolerance is the child of certainty. Before we can tolerate we must doubt.
-- E Royston Pike, Slayers of Superstition, submitted by Byron Danelius via Robert E Nordlander

Humanism is the name which seems to be increasingly favoured for the omnibus in which Rationalists, Ethicists, Secularists, Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, and indeed the whole tribe of unbelievers are being taken for a ride.
-- Royston Pike (attributed: source unknown)

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Robert M Pirsig (1928)
American Zen philosopher

Robert M. Pirsig (publicity photo for 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance' by David Brill, National Geographic photographer)You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths, or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
-- Robert Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, part ii, chapter 13 (1974)

No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow.
-- Robert Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, part ii, chapter 13 (1974)

Robert M. Pirsig (unknown photo presumably from the trip described in the book 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance')Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a thirty thousand page menu, and no food.
-- Robert Pirsig, quoted from Cyber-Nation

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Pope Pius XII
First Roman Catholic Pope to rule favorably regarding the teaching of evolution

Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid ... research and discussions ... with regard to the doctrine of evolution.
-- Pope Pius XII, in the August 12, 1950 Encyclical, Humani Generis, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!