Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)
Spanish philosophical writer; leading member of 'the Generation of 1898'

Miguel de UnamunoThe skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.
-- Miguel de Unamuno, Essays and Soliloquies, "My Religion" (1924), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Hell has been conceived as a police institution, to inspire fear in this world. But the worst of it all is that it no longer frightens anyone, and therefore it will have to be closed down.
-- Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life

At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right.
-- Miguel de Unamuno, in a confrontation with fascist General Milan-Astray at the University of Salamanca on October 12, 1936

The so-called rational doctrine of the substantiality and spirituality of the soul, along with all the apparatus accompanying it, is a doctrine born of man's need to base upon reason his undeniable longing for immortality and his consequent belief in this immortality. All the sophistries which aim at proving that the soul is simple and incorruptible substance stem from this source. Further, the very concept of substance itself, as defined and fixed by Scholasticism, a concept which does not bear criticism, is a theological concept specifically designed to sustain faith in the immortality of the soul.
-- Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life, quoted from Craig Chalquist, "Miguel de Unamuno on Compassion, Love of God, and the Tragic Sense of Life"

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Benjamin F Underwood
Opposed an unsuccessful attempt to have Christianity recognized by the US Constitution in 1876

There is no argument worthy of the name that will justify the union of the Christian religion with the State. Every consideration of justice and equality forbids it ... Every sentiment of honor, every manly feeling, a righteous indignation at injustice. a determination to submit to no religious intolerance, love of peace and the welfare and prosperity of our country, with an ardent and unfaltering attachment to republican institutions -- all combine to induce us to demand a separation of Church and State, total and complete, now, henceforth, and forever.
-- Benjamin F Underwood, The Practical Separation of Church and State, 1878, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Thankful for all the blessings that have been secured to us by the struggles and sacrifices of our fathers, let us show our gratitude and pay the debt we owe them to those who shall come after us, by adding to what we have received in strengthening the foundations of freedom, so that no fury of religious fanaticism will ever be able to destroy them. Long live the Republic! May she continue to grow in greatness and grandeur till her light and glory shall fill the earth.
-- Benjamin F Underwood, The Practical Separation of Church and State, 1878, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Updike (1932–2009)
US author, critic

John UpdikeWhenever religion touches science, it gets burned. In the sixteen century astronomy, in the seventeenth microbiology, in the eighteenth geology and paleontology, in the nineteenth Darwin's biology all grotesquely extended the world-frame and sent churchmen scurrying for cover in ever smaller, more shadowy nooks, little gloomy ambiguous caves in the psyche where even now neurology is cruelly harrying them, gouging them out from the multifolded brain like wood lice from under the woodpile. Barth had been right: totaliter aliter. Only by placing God totally on the other side of the humanly understandable can any final safety for Him be secured.
-- John Updike, Roger's Version (submitted by Bill Wickes, Corvallis, Oregon)

The guarantee that our self enjoys an intended relation to the outer world is most, if not all, we ask from religion. God is the self projected onto reality by our natural and necessary optimism. He is the not-me personified.
-- John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, ch. 6 (1989)

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Peter Ustinov (1921–2004)
British actor, director, and writer

Peter Ustinov Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.
-- Peter Ustinov, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The habit of religion is oppressive, an easy way out of thought.
-- Peter Ustinov, quoted in Everybody's magazine (1957), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other.
-- Peter Ustinov, Dear Me (1977), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

Peter Ustinov, re-creating Mark Twain's travels described in 'Following the Equator'There is no question but that if Jesus Christ ... were to come back today, he would find it virtually impossible to convince anyone of his credentials despite the fact that the vast evangelical machine on American television is predicated on His imminent return among us sinners.
-- Peter Ustinov (attributed: source unknown)

The truth is really an ambition which is beyond us.
-- Peter Ustinov, International Herald Tribune (Paris, 12 March 1990)

Once we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our mind, our one duty is to furnish it well.
-- Peter Ustinov, Dear Me, Ch. 20

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