Positive Atheism’s Big List of Quotations
No-Frames Quotes Index
Load This File With Frames Index
Home to Positive Atheism
I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.
The public school, like the state, under whose authority it exists, and by whose taxing power it is supported, should be simply a civil institution, absolutely secular and not at all religious in its purposes, and all practical questions involving this principle should be settled in accordance therewith.
Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.
[Agnostics are] people who, like myself, confess themselves to be hopelessly ignorant concerning a variety of matters, about which metaphysicians and theologians, both orthodox and heterodox, dogmatize with the utmost confidence.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.
The “Creed of Christendom” is alien to my nature, both emotional and intellectual.
There is no origin for the idea of an afterlife, save the conclusion which the savage draws from the notion suggested by dreams.
Religion has been compelled by science to give up one after another of its dogmas, of those assumed cognitions which it could not substantiate.
The preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality.
We hear with surprise of the savage who, falling down a precipice, ascribes the failure of his foothold to a malicious demon; and we smile at the kindred notion of the ancient Greek, that his death was prevented by a goddess who unfastened for him the thong of the helmet by which his enemy was dragging him. But daily, without surprise, we hear men who describe themselves as saved from shipwreck by “divine interposition” ... and the Christian priest who says prayers over a sick man in the expectation that the course of the disease will be stayed, differ only in respect of the agent from whom they expect supernatural aid.
The idea of disembodied spirits is wholly unsupported by evidence, and I cannot accept it.
Divine right of kings means the divine right of anyone who can get uppermost.
The cruelty of a Fijian god, who, represented as devouring the souls of the dead, may be supposed to inflict torture during the process, is small compared with the cruelty of a God who condemns men to tortures which are eternal.
Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom.
Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.
The more specific idea of Evolution now reached is — a change from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter.
Philosophy has no end in view, save truth. Faith looks for nothing but obedience and piety.
I believe that a triangle, if it could speak, would say that God is eminently triangular, and a circle that the divine nature is eminently circular; and thus would every one ascribe his own attributes to God.
Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic.
Laws which prescribe what everyone must believe, and forbid men to say or write anything against this or that opinion, are often passed to gratify, or rather to appease the anger of those who cannot abide independent minds.
The proper study of a wise man is not how to die but how to live.
I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.
Theism, as a way of conceiving God, has become demonstrably inadequate, and the God of theism not only is dying but is probably not revivable. If the religion of the future depends on keeping alive the definitions of theism, then the human phenomenon that we call religion will have come to an end. If Christianity depends on a theistic definition of God, then we must face the fact that we are watching this noble religious system enter the rigor mortis of its own death throes.
A major function of fundamentalist religion is to bolster deeply insecure and fearful people. This is done by justifying a way of life with all of its defining prejudices. It thereby provides an appropriate and legitimate outlet for one’s anger. The authority of an inerrant Bible that can be readily quoted to buttress this point of view becomes an essential ingredient to such a life. When that Bible is challenged, or relativized, the resulting anger proves the point categorically.
They amuse themselves by playing an irrelevant ecclesiastical game called “Let’s Pretend.” Let’s pretend that we possess the objective truth of God in our inerrant Scriptures or in our infallible pronouncements or in our unbroken apostolic traditions.
I could not believe that anyone who has read this book would be so foolish as to proclaim that the Bible in every literal word was the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God. Have these people simply not read the text? Are they hopelessly misinformed? Is there a different Bible? Are they blinded by a combination of ego needs and naïveté?
What the mind cannot believe the heart can finally never adore.
You know, they are fooling us, there is no God.
The Pope? How many divisions has he got?
Check our Big List of Elizabeth Cady Stanton Quotations
Embrace truth as it is revealed to-day by human reason.
The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.
The whole tone of Church teaching in regard to woman is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading.
Heavenly Father and Mother, make us thankful for all the blessings of this life, and make us ever mindful of the patient hands that oft in weariness spread our tables and prepare our daily food. For humanity’s sake, Amen.
When I first heard from the lips of Lucretia Mott that I had the same right to think for myself that Luther, Calvin, and John Knox had, and the same right to be guided by my own convictions, and would no doubt live a higher, happier life than if guided by theirs, it was like suddenly coming into the rays of the noon-day sun, after wandering with a rushlight in the caves the earth.
I have endeavoured to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women, and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at last that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church.
The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others.
If [Abraham] Lincoln had lived and died an obscure Springfield lawyer and politician, he would unquestionably have been classed by his neighbors among Freethinkers. But, as is
customary with the Church, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, when Lincoln became one of the great of the World an attempt was made to claim him. In trying to arrive at a correct comprehension of Lincoln’s theology, this fact should be borne in mind in
sifting the testimony. Another very important warping influence which should not be lost sight of was Lincoln’s early ambition for political preferment. Now, the shrewd American politician with an elastic conscience joins some Church, and is always seen
on Sunday in the front pews. But the shrewd politician who has not an elastic conscience — and this was Lincoln’s case — simply keeps mum on his religious views, or, when he must touch on the subject, deals only in platitudes.
No other single innovation had so much impact on history.
People value religion on the basis of cost, and they don’t value the cheapest ones the most. Religions that ask nothing get nothing.
... I don’t believe establishment is good for churches. It gets them involved in the worldly realm in ways that are unsuitable and corrupting. By the end of Constantine’s reign, we see people competing madly to become bishops because of the money. After that, Christianity was no longer a person-to-person movement.
The main thing you’ve got to recognize is that success is really about relationships and not about faith. What happens is that people form relationships and only then come to embrace a religion. It doesn’t happen the other way around. That’s really critical, and it’s something that you can only learn by going out and watching people convert to new movements. We would never, ever, have figured that out in the library. You can never find that sort of thing out after the fact — because after the fact people do think it’s about faith. And they’re not lying, by the way. They’re just projecting backwards.
... All questions concerning the rise of Christianity are one: How was it done? How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization? Although this is the only question, it requires many answers — no one thing led to the triumph of Christianity.
There’s a consensus among historians that the numbers [of Christian martyrs] weren’t large at all, and that we may know the name of just about every single martyr....
As for miracles: listen, people do get healed — spontaneously and, it would seem, miraculously. There’s not a physician on earth who would deny that. What is the agency? I don’t know. But to deny that people in tabernacles around the United States are getting healed is simply wrong. There’s no reason to deny that these things happen just because we don’t share the definitions put on them by the people of another time or place.
That’s true [that I’m “not religious as that term is conventionally understood,”] though I’ve never been an atheist. Atheism is an active faith; it says, “I believe
there is no God.” But I don’t know what I believe. I was brought up a Lutheran in Jamestown, North Dakota. I have trouble with faith. I’m not proud of this. I don’t think it makes me an intellectual. I would believe if I could, and I may be able to
before it’s over. I would welcome that.
Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729)
Check out Scary, Scary Sir Richard Steele
I love to consider an Infidel, whether distinguished by the title of deist, atheist, or free-thinker, ...
Why is it that the less intelligence people have, the more spiritual they are? They seem
to fill all the vacant, ignorant spaces in their heads with soul. Which explains how it is that the less knowledge they have, the more religion.
We know that there is no absolute knowledge, that there are only theories; but we forget this. The better educated we are, the harder we believe in axioms.
Morality is only moral when it is voluntary.
Darrow explains Steffens’ irony
“Everything serious that he says is a joke and everything humorous that he says is dead serious.”
That’s all religion is — some principle you believe in ... man has accomplished far more miracles than the God he invented. What a tragedy it is to invent a God and then suffer to keep him King.
There ain’t no answer. There ain’t going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.
Obviously, if theism is a belief in a God and atheism is a lack of a belief in a God, no third position or middle ground is possible. A person can either believe or not believe in a God. Therefore, our previous definition of atheism has made an impossibility out of the common usage of agnosticism to mean “neither affirming nor denying a belief in God.”
Because of the confusion surrounding the term “agnosticism,” it would seem better to use the very similar term “rationalism” in its place when referring to the original Huxleyan meaning of the term. The use of “rationalist” for “agnostic” would also seem to be less ambiguous.
If theism is the belief in the existence of God, then a-theism ought to mean “not theism” or “without theism.” Actually, there is no notion of “denial” in the origin of the word, and the atheist who denies the existence of God is by far the rarest type of atheist — if he exists at all. Rather, the word atheism means to an atheist “lack of belief in the existence of a God or gods.” An atheist is one who does not have a belief in God, or who is without a belief in God. The importance of these distinctions is that one cannot understand what one cannot define accurately. An atheist cannot deny the existence of that which he finds to be without meaning, namely the term *God. In order to deny the existence of something, one must know what the term one is denying means.
We should always keep an open mind about any new phenomenon in nature. To merely say “that’s impossible, therefore it doesn’t exist,” is to commit a serious error. A much better approach
would be to say “That’s quite unlikely, but show me the evidence you have that says that it may be so.” It would be the height of arrogance to think that man knows everything possible about the Universe or the Earth. There are many things yet to be
discovered, and that is why we have scientific research (or any kind of research). That should be the rationalist’s approach to parapsychology and the occult.
Many of the innovations in science and philosophy have come from unbelievers, some of whom died for their “unbeliefs.” Without unbelief, we might well be living in the Dark Ages
or at least in the intellectual equivalent of that time.
By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God.
However sugarcoated and ambiguous, every form of authoritarianism must start with a belief in some group’s greater right to power, whether that right is justified by sex, race, class, religion or all four. However far it may expand, the progression inevitably rests on unequal power and airtight roles within the family.
In the realm of science, all attempts to find any evidence of superhatural beings, of metaphysical conceptions, as God, immortality, infinity, etc., thus have failed, and if we are honest, we must confess that in science there exists no God, no immortality, no soul or mind as distinct from the body.
No evidence or proof of the existence of a God has been found in the phenomena of nature, based on experience.
Marking dynamos for repair $10,000.00 -- 2 hours labor $10.00; knowing where to mark $9,990.00.
The only excuse for God is that he doesn’t exist.
All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.
Check our Interview with Particle Physicist Victor J Stenger (November, 1999)
Any attempt at understanding humanity must include an explanation of the hold that supernatural belief continues to have on most of the human race.
When people start using science to argue for their specific beliefs and delusions, to try to claim that they’re supported by science, then scientists at least have to speak up and say, “You’re welcome to your delusions, but don’t say that they’re supported by science.”
Scientific evidence for God’s existence is being claimed today by theists, many of whom carry respectable scientific or philosophical credentials. “He” who is neither a “she” nor an “it” supposedly answers prayers and otherwise dramatically affects the outcome of events. If these consequences are as significant as believers say, then the effects should be detectable in properly controlled experiments.
The battle over the validity of evolution has been publicly posed as a scientific one. However, you will find little sign of it in scientific journals, where such quarrels as exist are over details, not the basic concept.... Evolution has proved so useful as a paradigm for the origin and structure of life that it constitutes the foundation of the sciences of biology and medicine.
In short, evolution is as close to being a scientific fact as is possible for any theory, given that science is open-ended and no one can predict with certainty what may change in the future. The prospect that evolution by natural selection, at least as a broad mechanism, will be overthrown in the future is about as likely as the prospect of finding out some day that the Earth is really flat. Unfortunately, those who regard these scientific facts as a threat to faith have chosen to distort and misrepresent them to the public.
From this experience, I have learned what science asks of us when we claim the existence of an extraordinary new phenomenon. It requires much, including years of hard work, uncompromising honesty, and willingness to accept failure. I can quickly recognize fallacious logic or faulty experimental procedure when I read a paper that purports to observe something that goes beyond existing knowledge. I am dubious and suspicious whenever an important result has been obtained too easily or too quickly, and reported in the media before it has run the gamut of critical review by disinterested, knowledgeable parties.
To most theistic believers, human life can have no meaning in a universe without God. Quite sincerely, and with understandable yearning for a meaning to their existence, they reject the possibility of no God. In their minds, only a purposeful universe based on God is possible and science can do nothing else but support this “truth.”
The argument from design stands or falls on whether it can be demonstrated that some aspect of the universe such as its origin or biological life could not have come about naturally. The burden of proof is ... on the supernaturalist to demonstrate that something from outside nature must be introduced to explain the data.
And if thou slay Him, shall the ghost not rise?
Here’s what happens when you die — you sit in a box and get eaten by worms. I promise you that when you die, nothing cool happens.
I’m sickened by all religions. Religion has divided people. I don’t think there is any difference between the pope wearing a large hat and parading around with a smoking purse and an African painting his face white and praying to a rock.
I don’t think any religion makes any sense and I think people who are into that are really getting duped, and I don’t think Judaism makes any more sense than Christianity, and I don’t think Christianity
makes any more sense than Scientology. But here’s a guy, L Ron Hubbard, who told all his friends, “Look, I’m gonna start a religion, ‘cause I can’t make any money as a science fiction writer.” [Laughter] I mean, he admitted
that publicly! At least with Jesus Christ, you can’t go talk to the guy.
Please, with the God talk. Hate to break it to you, but there is no God.
Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904)
How much intellect
and zeal runs to waste in the spasmodic efforts of good men to cling to the last fragment of decaying systems, to galvanize dead formulæ into some dim semblance of life! Society
will not improve as it might when those who should be leaders of progress are staggering backward and forward with their eyes passionately reverted to the past. Nay, we shall never be duly sensitive to the miseries and cruelties which make the world
a place of torture for so many, so long as men are encouraged in the name of religion to look for a remedy, not in fighting against surrounding evils, but in cultivating aimless contemplations of an imaginary ideal. Much of our popular religion seems
to be expressly directed to deaden our sympathies with our fellow men by encouraging an indolent optimism; our thoughts of the other world are used in many forms as an opiate to drug our minds with indifference to the evils of this; and the last word
of half of our preachers is, 'dream rather than work.'
The graphic emphasis placed on those first lines is rather hard to square with the proposition that the monument expresses no particular religious preference.
“Respecting” means concerning or with reference to. But it also means with respect— that is “reverence,” “good-will,” “regard” to. Taking into account this richer meaning, the Establishment Clause, in banning laws that concern religion, especially prohibits those that pay homage to religion.
If the historic landmark on the hill in Boerne happened to be a museum or an art gallery owned by an atheist, it would not be eligible for an exemption from the city ordinances that forbid an entanglement
of the structure. Because the landmark is owned by the Catholic Church, it is claimed that RFRA gives its owner a federal statutory entitlement to an exemption from a generally applicable, neutral civil law. Whether the Church would actually prevail
under the statute or not, the statute has provided the Church with a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain. This governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion, is forbidden by the First Amendment ...
Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual’s freedom to choose his own creed
is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority. At one time, it was thought that this right merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the
conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism. But
when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.
This conclusion derives support not only from the interest in respecting the individual’s freedom of conscience, but also from the conviction that religious beliefs worthy of respect are the product of free and voluntary choice by the faithful and from recognition
of the fact that the political interest in forestalling intolerance extends beyond intolerance among Christian sects — or even intolerance among “religions” — to encompass intolerance of the disbeliever and the uncertain.
One must have a mind of winter
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
Please Feel Free
Grab some quotes to embellish your web site,
Use them to introduce the chapters of a book or
Poster your wall! Graffiti your (own) fence.
That's what this list is for!
In using this resource, however, keep in mind that
If you decide to build your own online
There's something to be said