Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Bishop Fulton J Sheen
Auxiliary Bishop of New York City

Fulton SheenAn atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.
-- Bishop Sheen, unwittingly speaking truth, Look, 14 December 1955, quoted from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

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Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
English novelist, author of Frankenstein

Mary ShelleyLife is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated.
-- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ch. 23 (1818)

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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
British romantic poet

Percy Bysshe ShelleyIt is only by hearsay (by word of mouth passed down from generation to generation) that whole peoples adore the God of their fathers and of their priests: authority, confidence, submission and custom with them take the place of conviction or of proofs: they prostrate themselves and pray, because their fathers taught them to prostrate themselves and pray: but why did their fathers fall on their knees?
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism

It is easier to suppose that the universe has existed for all eternity than to conceive a being beyond its limits capable of creating it.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley (attributed: source unknown)

If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE HAS SPOKEN, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism

If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism

Percy Bysshe ShelleyHere I swear, and as I break my oath may ... eternity blast me, here I swear that never will I forgive Christianity! It is the only point on which I allow myself to encourage revenge.... Oh, how I wish I were the Antichrist, that it were mine to crush the Demon; to hurl him to his native Hell never to rise again -- I expect to gratify some of this insatiable feeling in Poetry.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, letter, 3 Jan. 1811 (published in The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, vol. 1, no. 35, ed. by Frederick L Jones, 1

SPIRIT
I was an infant when my mother went
To see an atheist burned. She took me there.
The dark-robed priests were met around the pile;
The multitude was gazing silently;
And as the culprit passed with dauntless mien,
Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye,
Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly forth;
The thirsty fire crept round his manly limbs;
His resolute eyes were scorched to blindness soon;
His death-pang rent my heart! the insensate mob
Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept.
"Weep not, child!" cried my mother, "for that man
Has said, 'There is no God.'"
     -- Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem VII (1813)

And priests dare babble of a God of peace,
Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood,
Murdering the while, uprooting every germ
Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all,
Making the earth a slaughter-house!
     -- Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem (1813)

When you can discover where the fresh colors of the faded flower abide, or the music of the broken lyre, seek life among the dead. Such are the anxious and fearful contemplations of the common observer, though the popular religion often prevents him from confessing them even to himself.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism

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Michael Shermer
American skeptic; founder, The Skeptics' Society; publisher, Skeptic Magazine

Michael ShermerSo, of course, Gish's presentation was well received, which it would have been the case had he only gotten up and said "praise the Lord" and sat back down.
-- Michael Shermer, describing "Young-Earth" Creationist Duane T Gish's last debate of his career (which was against Shermer), in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 3, 2001, quoted from E-Skeptic for June 3, 2001

The evening was very professionally organized, and most of the people were exceptionally polite (and in an odd way too polite, as if they don't trust themselves), although it did make me a little nervous when one church official told me after the debate when a big crowd of people surrounded me that he had assigned me a body guard (some big guy was standing there next to me) "just in case." Just in case what? I thought Christians were suppose to be exceptionally tolerant. Well, in any case, I guess I was grateful for the gesture, "just in case."
-- Michael Shermer, describing "Young-Earth" Creationist Duane T Gish's last debate of his career (which was against Shermer), in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 3, 2001, quoted from E-Skeptic for June 3, 2001

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Sir Charles Scott Sherrington (1857-1952)
British biologist; Nobel Prizewinner (1931) for contributions to understanding central nervous system functions

Charles SherringtonIf you will, man's situation is left bleaker.... Compared with a situation where the human mind ... had higher mind and higher personality ... to lean on and to take counsel from, this other situation where it has no appeal and no resort for help beyond itself, has ... an element of tragedy and pathos. To set against that , it is a situation which transforms the human ... task ... to one of loftier responsibility.... We have, because human, an inalienable prerogative of responsibility which we cannot devolve, no, not as once was thought, even upon the stars. We can share it only with each other.
-- Sir Charles Sherrington, quoted from Antony Flew, Atheistic Humanism, p. 9

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Leo Shestov
Russian philosopher

Heretics were most often bitterly persecuted for the their least deviation from accepted belief. It was precisely their obstinacy about trifles that irritated the righteous to madness.
-- Leo Shestov, All Things Are Possible (1905), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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James Thomson Shotwell (1874-1965)
Canadian historian

James T ShotwellThe Jews emerge into history, not a nation of keen spiritual aspirations and altruistic ethics, but that pagan people, worshipping rocks, sheep and cattle, and spirits of caves and wells, of whom the Old Testament, tending towards its higher ideal, gives fragmentary but convincing evidence.
-- James T Shotwell, quoted in David Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism "Preface"

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R Sargent Shriver
Democratic candidate for Vice-President in 1972

Sargent ShriverI believe strongly in the Constitutional principle of separating church and state. Our founders were right in fearing that religious freedom would be threatened in the long run by a departure from governmental neutrality in spiritual matters.
-- Sargent Shriver, address, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC, January 1976, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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