Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Samuel Rabinove
American Jewish Committee

There has never been absolute separation of church and state in America. But many religions have thrived here in large measure because of general adherence to that principle, despite certain departures from it. The greater the adherence and the fewer the departures, the better it will be for all people of all faiths. Hence those groups which uphold the separation principle, far from being "ambivalent" toward religion, are actually among its staunchest supporters.
-- Samuel Rabinove, First Things, a Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, May 1990, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975)
Indian philosopher, statesman

Sir Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanIt is not God that is worshipped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity.
-- Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, speaking of organized religion, quoted in: J A C Brown, Techniques of Persuasion, ch. 11 (1965), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
American novelist and philosopher

Ayn RandIf I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a "moral commandment" is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
-- Ayn Rand: John Galt's radio address in Atlas Shrugged

The Founding Fathers were neither passive, death-worshiping mystics nor mindless, power-seeking looters; as a political group, they were a phenomenon unprecedented in history: they were thinkers who were also men of action. They had rejected the soul-body dichotomy, with its two corollaries: the impotence of man's mind and the damnation of this earth; they had rejected the doctrine of suffering as man's metaphysical fate, they proclaimed man's right to the pursuit of happiness and were determined to establish on earth the conditions required for man's proper existence, by the "unaided" power of their intellect.
-- Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual

If devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.... The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.
-- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves -- or whether it should be ours here and now and on this Earth.
-- Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged (1957), page 735 (hardback), page 684 (paperback)

Do you believe in God, Andrei?
     Neither do I But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know.
     What do you mean?
     Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do -- then, I know they don't believe in life.
     Because, you see, God -- whatever anyone chooses to call God -- is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own.
-- Ayn Rand, from We the Living

     Ferris: Are you going to be as impractical as that?
     Rearden: The evaluation of an action as "practical," Dr. Ferris, depends on what it is that one wishes to practice.
     Ferris: Haven't you always placed your self-interest above all else?
     Rearden: That is what I am doing right now.
-- Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged

Graphic Rule

Bernstein: Rand Is One Of Our Greatest Heroes

Andrew Bernstein"In my judgment, Ayn Rand is one of the greatest heroes in the history of mankind. What makes her so? Look at the facts of her life: born, raised, educated in a dictatorship, she yearns for political freedom and, alone, defects to America. Raised in a culture dominated by Christianity, by the doctrine of man's sinfulness, she rejects it and fights for the glory of man's mind. Through years of exhausting effort, she writes two of the greatest novels in the history of world literature, struggles to get The Fountainhead published, sees Atlas Shrugged attacked by every major critic, without exception, but breaks through the hostility to achieve great commercial success. She formulates a revolutionary philosophy of reason and individualism, then gives lectures, writes essays and newspaper columns, appears on television and radio, publishes works of non-fiction and more -- in an attempt to reach out to her fellow man with what she knows is a life-giving philosophy. But many of her fellow men are uninterested or antagonistic. The Humanities professors, the literary critics, the educators, are almost unanimously opposed to her books and ideas; they attempt to stonewall her, to shut her out of the universities by means of silence or virulent attack -- but Ayn Rand's words can't be silenced and the philosophical movement she founded continues to slowly but surely grow in influence."
-- Andrew Bernstein, excerpted from his article on heroism for the Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty web site, "The Philosophical Foundations of Heroism" (2001)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

James Randi
Illusionist who exposes the parlor magic techniques of faith healers and others

James RandiNo amount of belief makes something a fact.
-- James Randi (attributed: source unknown)

To recognize that nature has neither a preference for our species nor a bias against it takes only a little courage.
-- James Randi (attributed: source unknown)

I am in a very peculiar business: I travel all over the world telling people what they should already know.
-- James Randi, speaking at the 25th Annual American Atheists Convention, held in New Jersey

Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work.
-- James Randi (attributed: source unknown)

Religion is based upon blind faith supported by no evidence. Science is based upon confidence that results from evidence -- and that confidence can be modified and/or reversed by further observations and experimentation. Science approaches truth, closer and closer, by hard dedicated work. Religion already has it all decided, and it's "in the book. It's dogma, unchangeable, and unaffected by reality and whatever facts we come upon in the real world.
-- James Randi (attributed: source unknown)

There was a small boy on crutches. I do not know his name, and I suspect I never will. But I will never forget his face, his smile, his sorrow. He is one of the millions robbed of hope and dignity by charlatans discussed in this book. Wherever and whoever he is, I apologize to him for not having been able to protect him from such an experience. I humbly dedicate this book to him and to the many others who have suffered because the rest of us began caring too late.
-- James Randi, dedication to his book, The Faith Healers

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Edmund Randolph
American founding father

A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office of public trust under the United States.
-- Edmund Randolph, address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 10, 1788, quoted in The Founders' Constitution, 1987, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Jonathan Rauch
American author, social critic

Jonathan Rauch (agency shot)In a liberal scientific society, to claim that you are above error is the height of irresponsibility.
-- Jonathan Rauch, in Kindly Inquisotors, p. 51

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

A L Rawson

Its hero [Prometheus] was their friend, benefactor, creator, and savior, whose wrongs were incurred in their behalf, and whose sorrows were endured for their salvation. He was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities; the chastisement of their peace was upon him, and by his stripes they were healed.
-- A L Rawson, Evolution of Israel's God, p. 30, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 396, describing the Greek tragedy "Prometheus Bound," and its influence upon Christian theology and subsequently upon the Hebrew Scripture Isaiah 53:5

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Chet Raymo
Professor of physics at Stonehill College; columnist for the Boston Globe

Chet RaymoThe new advocates of ID [Intelligent Design] ask that their ideas be judged by scientific, not religious, criteria. OK, let's see how well ID stacks up as a scientific alternative to Darwinism. To gauge how well ID is doing as a platform for scientific research, I logged into the best database of the biological literature. A search for keyword ''evolution'' yielded 24,000 hits in the last decade. A search for ''intelligent design'' yielded not a single piece of research. Evolution by natural selection remains the basis of every successful biological research program.
-- Chet Raymo, Science Musings: "Intelligent design does not compute," Boston Globe (June 19, 2001), quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001)

I am a cautious pilgrim of the night, a tentative wanderer among the stars. My awareness of my home in the universe is fleeting and incomplete. Into the homeless home of the sun-faced buddha I have stepped but briefly. My quest, such as it is, is rewarded with faint lights and scrawny cries, a trait here and trait there, a hint of the infinite and a tingle in the spine. Of "minute particulars" I will make my way.
-- Chet Raymo, "The Soul of the Night An Astronomical Pilgrimage"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

W Winwood Reade (1838-1875)
English traveler, author

One fact must be familiar to all those who have any experience of human nature -- a sincerely religious man is often an exceedingly bad man.
-- Winwood Reade, The Martyrdom of Man (r. 1948), p. 428; quoted in Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim (1995), p. 86

We live between two worlds; we soar in the atmosphere; we creep upon the soil; we have the aspirations of creators and the propensities of quadrupeds. There can be but one explanation of this fact. We are passing from the animal into a higher form, and the drama of this planet is in its second act.
-- Winwood Reade, The Martyrdom of Man, ch. 3, "Materials of Human History" (1872); quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Christians believe themselves to be the aristocracy of heaven upon earth, they are admitted to the spiritual court, while millions of men in foreign lands have never been presented. They bow their knees and say they are 'miserable sinners,' and their hearts rankle with abominable pride. Poor infatuated fools! Their servility is real and their insolence is real but their king is a phantom and their palace is a dream.
-- Winwood Reade, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 326

To cultivate the intellect is therefore a religious duty; and when this truth is fairly recognized by men, the religion which teaches that the intellect should be distrusted and that it should be subservient to faith, will inevitably fall.
-- Winwood Reade, quoted in David Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism "Preface"

Buried cities are beneath our feet; the ground on which we tread is the pavement of a tomb. See the pyramids towering to the sky, with men, like insects, crawling round their base; and the Sphinx, couched in vast repose, with a ruined temple between its paws. Since those great monuments were raised the very heavens have been changed. When the architects of Egypt began their work, there was another polar star in the northern sky, and the southern cross shone upon the Baltic shores. How glorious are the memories of those ancient men, whose names are forgotten, for they lived and labored in the distant and unwritten past. Too great to be known, they sit on the height of centuries and look down on fame.... The men are dead, and the gods are dead. Naught but their memories remain. Where now is Osiris, who came down upon earth out of love for man, who was killed by the malice of the evil one, who rose again from the grave and became the judge of the dead? Where now is Isis the mother, with the child Horus in her lap? They are dead; they are gone to the land of the shades. To-morrow, Jehovah, you and your son shall be with them.
-- Winwood Reade, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 390, on the antiquity of the Egyptian religion over Christianity

If we look into ourselves we discover propensities which declare that our intellects have arisen from a lower form; could our minds be made visible we should find them tailed.
-- Winwood Reade, quoted from Cyber Nation

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

George A Reid

Probably in all history there is no instance of a society in which ecclesiastical power was dominant which was not at once stagnant, corrupt and brutal.
-- George A Reid, from George Seldes, The Great Quotations (1967), also from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Salomon Reinach (1858-1932)
Hebrew scholar and critic

Religion is a sum of scruples which impede the free exercise of our faculties.
-- Salomon Reinach, Cultes, mythes et religions (1904), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

As early as the second century BC, the Jews perceived the error and pointed it out to the Greeks; but the Church knowingly persisted in the false reading, and for over fifteen centuries she has clung to her error..
-- Salomon Reinach, Orpheus, p, 197., quoted in Joseph Wheless, Forgery In Christianity, chapter 2

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Stephen Reinhardt
American Jursit, US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

I can't think of any decision where the entire Congress immediately rushes to condemn a decision by the court. It's getting to be election time and this gives everyone in Congress a chance to prove they are patriotic.
-- Stephen Reinhardt, remarking on the fallout following his court's ruling that the deliberately antiatheistic sentiments, "under God" rendered the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and therefore making it illegal to force children to recite it during public school hours, quoted from Linda Deutsch, "'Pledge' Judges Face Demonstrators" (July 17, 2002)

I think it's a bit excessive.
-- Stephen Reinhardt, remarking on hearing that a plane circled his home with the antiatheist and therefore anti-American message, "One Nation Under God" trailing in a banner, protesting his court's ruling that the deliberately antiatheistic sentiments, "under God" rendered the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and therefore making it illegal to force children to recite it during public school hours, quoted from Linda Deutsch, "'Pledge' Judges Face Demonstrators" (July 17, 2002)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

John E Remsberg
American Freethinker, author of The Christ, which made the information disseminated by Strauss and Renan available to those of us with (shall we say) a less-sophisticated education

     • Check our Big List of John E Remsberg Quotations
     • The Christ
(the book -- exclusively on Positive Atheism)

While Jesus was at Jerusalem there came a voice from heaven. For what purpose was the voice sent? For the sake of those who stood by. "Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes" (John xii, 30).
     Of what benefit was the voice when those who heard it were unable to distinguish it from thunder? "The people therefore, that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered" (29).
       -- John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 152 (1909)

The Christ is a myth. The Holy Ghost Priestcraft overshadowed the harlot Superstition; this Christ was born; and the Joseph of humanity, beguiled by the Gabriel of credulity, was induced to support the family. But the soldiers of Reason have crucified the illegitimate impostor, he is dead; and the ignorant disciples and hysterical women who still linger about the cross should take his body down and bury it.
-- John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 326 (1909)

The supernatural Christ of the New Testament, the god of orthodox Christianity, is dead. But priestcraft lives and conjures up the ghost of this dead god to frighten and enslave the masses of mankind. The name of Christ has caused more persecutions, wars, and miseries than any other name has caused. The darkest wrongs are still inspired by it. The wails of anguish that went up from Kishenev, Odessa, and Bialystok still vibrate in our ears.
-- John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 7 (1909)

There is one element in Christianity which was not borrowed from Paganism -- religious intolerance. Referring to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taouism, a writer on China says: "Between the followers of the three national religions there is not only a total absence of persecution and bitter feeling, but a very great indifference as to which of them a man may belong.... Among the politer classes, when strangers meet, the question is asked: 'To what sublime religion do you belong,' and each one pronounces a eulogium, not on his own religion, but on that professed by the others, and concludes with the oft-repeated formula 'Religions are many; reason is one; we are all brothers.'"
-- John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 377 (1909), after comparing many striking similarities between Christianity and the three ancient religions of China

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Ernest Renan (1823-1892)
French historian, archaeologist

Ernest RenanNo miracle has ever taken place under conditions which science can accept. Experience shows, without exception, that miracles occur only in times and in countries in which miracles are believed in, and in the presence of persons who are disposed to believe them.
-- Ernest Renan, The Life of Jesus (1863), from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

As a rule, all heroism is due to a lack of reflection, and thus it is necessary to maintain a mass of imbeciles. If they once understand themselves the ruling men will be lost.
-- Ernest Renan: Orlando, in Caliban, act 2, sc. 1, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

To conceive the good, in fact, is not sufficient; it must be made to succeed among men. To accomplish this less pure paths must be followed.
-- Ernest Renan, The Life of Jesus, ch. 5, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Oh God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul. ("O Dieu, s'il y a un Dieu, sauvez mon âme, si j'ai une âme!")
-- Ernest Renan (attributed: source unknown)

Ernest RenanHuman cruelty took the form of a pact with the deity. A solemn oath was made to kill everything, in which people forbade themselves any display of reason or compassion. A city or a land was devoted to destruction and it was believed an insult to God if one did not observe the abominable oath.
-- Ernest Renan, Histoire du peuple d'Israel (1887), quoted in Gerd Lüdemann, The Unholy in Holy Scripture, (pp. 39-40), expressing abhorrance of these "barbarous customs dripping with blood" described in the Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua (cited as "Renan 1894: 232" but it is unclear which work of Renan's this is because the bibliography lists only Histoire du peuple d'Israel, 1887)

For the historian, the life of Jesus finishes with his last sigh. But such was the impression he had left in the heart of his disciples, and of a few devoted women, that during some weeks more it was as if he were living and consoling them. Had his body been taken away or did enthusiasm, always credulous, create afterwards the group of narratives by which it was sought to establish faith in the resurrection? In the absence of opposing documents this can never be ascertained. Let us say, however, that the strong imagination of Mary Magdalene played an important part in the circumstance. Divine power of love! Sacred moments in which the passion of one possessed gave to the world a resuscitated God.
-- Ernest Renan, Life of Jesus, p. 296, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 240

It is evident, indeed, that such a doctrine, taken by itself in a literal manner, had no future. The world, in continuing to exist, caused it to crumble. One generation of man at the most was the limit of its endurance. The faith of the first Christian generation is intelligible, but the faith of the second generation is no longer so. After the death of John, or of the last survivor, whoever he might be, of the group which had seen the master, the word of Jesus was convicted of falsehood.
-- Ernest Renan, discussing Christ's prediction that the end of the world would occur during the lifetimes of some of his contemporaries (cf. Matthew 16:28; Luke 21:32), Life of Jesus, pp. 203, 204, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 269

Sometimes they reasoned thus: "The Messiah ought to do such a thing, now Jesus is the Messiah, therefore Jesus has done such a thing." At other times, by an inverse process, it was said: "Such a thing has happened to Jesus; now Jesus is the Messiah; therefore such a thing was to happen to the Messiah."
-- Ernest Renan, Jesus, p. 27, referring to the work of the writers of the Gospels, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 361

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Jules Renard (1864-1910)
French novelist, playwright

I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't.
-- Jules Renard, quoted from Robert Anton Wilson

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
British portrait painter and critic

There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.
     If you have great talents, industry will improve them: if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency.
-- Joshua Reynolds, speech, 11 Dec. 1769, to students of the Royal Academy, London. From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Trent Reznor
American musician, leader of Nine-Inch Nails

Trent Reznor, 3.7.00, New OrleansHis perfect kingdom of killing,
               suffering and pain
Demands devotion, atrocities
               done in his name
-- Trent Reznor, "Heresy"

     Head like a hole.
          Black as your soul.
     I'd rather die,
          Than give you Control ...
Bow down before the
Trent Reznor promo for "Head Like a Hole" (cw.color)                    one you serve;
You're going to get what
                    you deserve.
-- Trent Reznor, refrain to "Head Like a Hole"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Fredric L Rice
Founder of The Skeptic Tank website and archive

Fredric L. RiceIt's often been suggested that I, the Chairman of The Skeptic Tank, have an unhealthy obsession with what is negative and ignore the positive. Well that just may be true. From a historical perspective it can be undeniably stated that history teaches us that history teaches us nothing... that we are doomed to repeat history regardless of whether we learn the history of the world or not. It's also undeniably true that human nature, imbued upon the species through its evolutional development, seems Hell-bent upon willful self-deception and willful self-destruction simply because it feels good.... Indeed: I know of no more worthwhile effort than exposing destructive beliefs and ideologies and working to educate ignorance out of existance.... I hope that by exposing all that is destructive to humanity I can help others decide whether to ... reject human nature and strive for something beyond His petard.
-- Fredric L Rice, "What is The Skeptic Tank?"

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

John Clark Ridpath (1840-1900)
Author of History of the World: Cyclopaedia of Universal History

The most elaborate of all the celebrations of Rome was that of Saturn, held at the winter solstice, and afterwards extended so as to include the twenty-fifth of December.... The festival was called the Saturnalia. Labor ceased, public business was at an end, the courts were closed, the schools had holiday. Tables, laden with bounties, were spread on every hand, and at these all classes for the nonce sat down together. The master and the slave for the day were equals. It was a time of gift-giving and innocent abandonment. In the public shops every variety of the present, from the simplest to the most costly, could be found. Fathers, mothers, kinspeople, friends, all hurried thither to purchase, according to their fancy, what things soever seemed most tasteful and appropriate as presents.
-- John Clark Ridpath, History of the World, Vol. III, p. 97, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 405

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Richard G Rieben
US Political Philosopher

Religious bodies do not want people to "be good," they want them to behave, and to this end what is actually "good," humane and healthful behavior is a liability.
-- Richard G Rieben, Ethics for Earthlings (2000), p. 25

In creating moral retards, religion is steeped in pathology, coping with a populace of ethical degenerates: its victims. The "faithful," or the "flock," are what religion is designed to create and to cope with, i.e., with an immoral mass that acknowledges the religion's superiority and power; that is inherently wayward, but continuously deferential.
-- Richard G Rieben, Ethics for Earthlings (2000), p. 26

Religion has a vested interest in the promulgation and spread of evil -- it scatters the seeds of evil wherever it goes, destroys natural ethical systems, flouts personal ethics, is riddled with hypocrisy, and, as the Chinese have said in regard to Christianity -- and without exaggeration -- it eats baby children. But any church, any religion, any moral code, is the same as any other. They are all designed to disable the individual. People use religion to avoid having to make ethical decisions in their own lives, to avoid having to listen to their conscience, to avoid responsibility for their behavior. Hypocrisy is not anomalous, but integral, to the practice of religion.
-- Richard G Rieben, Ethics for Earthlings (2000), p. 27

Ethically, religion is an extraordinarily harmful force. Anyone with half a brain would run like hell from religion, but, once it has caught them, they very seldom have half a brain.
-- Richard G Rieben, Ethics for Earthlings (2000), p. 28

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!


The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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