Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Elie Wiesel

Elie WieselNever shall I forget those flames which consumed my Faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never....
-- Elie Wiesel, Night

Elie Weisel at age 15A voice behind me asked, "Where is God? Where is He? Where can He be now?" and a voice within me answered: "Where? Here He is -- He has been hanged here, on these gallows."
-- Elie Wiesel, Night

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Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] (1854-1900)
Irish-born writer

Oscar WildeTruth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.
-- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891)

The nineteenth century is a turning point in history, simply on account of the work of two men, Darwin and Renan, the one the critic of the Book of Nature, the other the critic of the books of God. Not to recognise this is to miss the meaning of one of the most important eras in the progress of the world.
-- Oscar Wilde, Gilbert, in The Critic as Artist, pt. 2 (Intentions, 1891)

Self-denial is the shining sore on the leprous body of Christianity.
-- Oscar Wilde, from Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde (1918)

Medievalism, with its saints and martyrs, its love of self-torture, its wild passion for wounding itself, its gashing with knives, and its whipping with rods -- Medievalism is real Christianity, and the medieval Christ is the real Christ.
-- Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism," in the Fortnightly Review, (1891), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.
-- Oscar Wilde (attributed: source unknown)

The worst vice of the fanatic is his sincerity.
-- Oscar Wilde, from Laird Wilcox and John George, eds., Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds

The sign of a Philistine age is the cry of immorality against art.
-- Oscar Wilde, "Lecture Delivered to the Art Students of the Royal Academy, June 30 1883," in Essays and Lectures (1908)

Religion is the fashionable substitute for belief.
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

Oscar WildeAgitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation.
-- Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man Under Socialism," in Fortnightly Review (1891; 1895)

It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him.
-- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, in Fortnightly Review (1891; 1895)

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
-- Oscar Wilde, from Laird Wilcox and John George, eds., Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds

No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true.
-- Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Mr. W H, ch. 1 (first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July 1889)

The worse form of tyranny the world has ever known is the tyranny of the weak over the strong. It is the only tyranny that lasts.
-- Oscar Wilde, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.
-- Oscar Wilde, quoted from Floyd College, Rome, Georgia, "Banned Books -- Quotes"

There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.
-- Oscar Wilde: Lord Henry, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 17 (1891)

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Wendell Willkie
Republican candidate for US President, 1940

I am not interested in the support of anybody who stands for any form of prejudice as to anybody's race or religion. I don't want it. I have no place in my philosophy for such beliefs. I don't have to be President of the United States but I do have to live with myself.
-- Wendell Willkie, statement repudiating the endorsement of the anti-Semitic Social Justice magazine during the 1940 presidential campaign, August 27, 1940. From Gustavus Myers, History of Bigotry in the United States, 1943, page 413, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the color of their skin.
-- Wendell Willkie, quoted from conservativeforum.org

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William I [William the Conqueror] (1027?-1087)
King of England

William the ConquerorWilliam, by the grace of God, King of the English, to R Bainard, G de Magnavilla, and P de Valoines, and to my other faithful ones of Essex and of Hertfordshire and of Middlesex, greeting. Know all of you and my ther faithful ones who remain in England, that in a common council and by the advice of the archbishops and bishops, and abbots, and of all the princes of my kingdom, I have decided that the episcopal laws, which up to my Rime in the kingdom of the English have not been right or according to the precepts of the holy canons, shall be emended. Wherefore I command, and by royal authority decree, that no bishop or archdeacon shall any longer hold, in the hundred court, pleas pertaining to the episcopal laws, nor shall they bring before the judgment of secular men any case which pertains to the rule of souls; but whoever shall be summoned, according to the episcopal laws, in any case or for any fault, shall come to the place which the bishop shall choose or name for this purpose, and shall there answer in his case or for his fault, and shall perform his law before William the ConquerorGod and his bishop not according to the hundred court, but according to the canons and the episcopal laws. But if any one, elated by pride, shall scorn or be unwilling to come before the judgment seat of the bishop, he shall be summoned once and a second and a third time; and if not even then he come to make amends, he shall be excommunicated; and, if it be needful to give effect to this, the power and justice of the king or the sheriff shall be called in But he who was summoned before the judgment seat of the bishop shall, for each summons, pay the episcopal fine. This also I forbid and by my authority interdict, that any sheriff, or provost, or minister of the king, or any layman concern himself in the matter of laws which pertain to the bishop, nor shall any layman summon another man to judgment apart from the jurisdiction of the bishop. But judgment shall be passed in no place except within the episcopal see, or in such place as the bishop shall fix upon for this purpose.
-- William the Conquerer, in a very early expression of the separation of religion from government, that is, the separation of civil authority (secular matters) and state-established ecclesiastical authority (religious matters), quoted from "Ordinance of William I Separating the Spiritual and Temporal Courts," quoted from Ernest F Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (1896)

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Harry A Williams
British religion writer; radical theologian

All fanaticism is a strategy to prevent doubt from becoming conscious.
-- Harry A Williams, The True Wilderness (1965), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

A great deal of what passes for current Christianity consists in denouncing other people's vices and faults.
-- Harry A Williams, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

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Roger Williams (1603?-1683)
English clergyman; founder of the American colony of Rhode Island; one of the original separationists

Roger WilliamsEnforced uniformity confounds civil and religious liberty and denies the principles of Christianity and civility.
     That cannot be a true religion which needs carnal weapons to uphold it.
     No man shall be required to worship or maintain a worship against his will.
     -- Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenet of Persecution (1640), quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

All civil states with their officers of justice, in their respective constitutions and administrations, are ... essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the Spiritual, or Christian, State and worship ... An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state confounds the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
-- Roger Williams, from Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States Vol. I, Page 199, quoted from the Joint Baptist Committee's pamphlet, "Critique of David Barton's 'America's Godly Heritage'"

When they have opened a gap in the ... wall of separation between the Garden of the Church and the wildernes of the world, God hath ever ... made his Garden a Wildernesse.
-- Roger Williams, 1644, Writings, 1:392

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Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Pulitzer Prizewinning American playwright

Tennessee WilliamsAll your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.
-- Tennessee Williams, The Night of the Iguana, 1961, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Bird Wilson
American historian

The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
     Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism.
-- The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831, first sentence quoted in John E Remsberg, Six Historic Americans, second sentence quoted in Paul F Boller, George Washington & Religion, pages 14-15

Perfect religious freedom [was] established in the United States, without any control exercised by the civil authority over spiritual concerns. In consequence of this, every denomination was ... without ... disadvantages arising from the connection of religion with secular policy.
-- Bird Wilson, Memior of the Life of the Right Reverend William White (1839) page 88, quoted from Gene Garman, "Church and State Separation"

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Edward O Wilson

Edward O. WilsonTrue character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. The principles are fitted together into what we call integrity, literally the integrated self, wherein personal decisions feel good and true. Character is in turn the enduring source of virtue. It stands by itself and excites admiration in others. It is not obedience to authority, and while it is often consistent with and reinforced by religious belief, it is not piety.
-- Edward O Wilson, Consilience

Yes, the natural sciences are telling us a great deal about human origins, the origins of our species the origins of our minds; we're on our way to explaining a large part of it. I'll accept an answer provided only by such means as obtaining and exploring, analyzing and arguing over the evidence--not because of a scribe's myopic view of the subject written 500 years before the birth of Christ!
-- Edward O Wilson, from Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, "Is Science a 'Satisfying Replacement' for Religion? A Conversation with EO Wilson," quoted from the United Universists website

Science needs the intuition and metaphorical power of the arts, and the arts need the fresh blood of science ... Interpretation is the logical channel of consilient explanation between science and the arts. The arts ... also nourish our craving for the mystical.
     The world that preliterate humans factually perceive is only a small fragment of the full natural world. Thus by necessity the primitive mind is continually tuned to mystery.... We are all still primitives compared to what we might become ... aware of fewer of one in a thousand of the kinds of organisms ... that sustain ecosystems around [us]. By focusing on the peculiarly human niche in the continuum, we can if we wish (and we so desperately wish) inhabit the productions of art with the same sense of beauty and mystery that seized us at the beginning. No barrier stands between the material world of science and the sensibilities of the hunter and the poet.
-- Edward O Wilson, quoted from the United Universists front page

The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology.
-- Edward O Wilson, Consilience, quoted in Natalie Angier, "Confessions of a Lonely Atheist," New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2001

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Robert Anton Wilson
American author, philosopher

The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.
-- Robert A Wilson, Right Where You Are Sitting Now

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Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
The 28th President of the United States (1913-1921)

United States Flag

Woodrow WilsonIt does not become America that within her borders, where every man is free to follow the dictates of his conscience, men should raise the cry of church against church. To do that is to strike at the very spirit and heart of America.
-- Woodrow Wilson, address, November 4, 1915, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Woodrow WilsonMay it not suffice for me to say ... that of course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.
-- Woodrow Wilson, letter to an academic, August 29, 1922, quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Sherwin Theodore Wine (1928–2007)
The first Humanist Rabbi; provost of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism; Co-founder of Americans for Religious Liberty, a Separatioist group; founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (and several simillar groups), easily the 'Father' of Humanistic Judaism, describing it as a humanist movement within Judaism that emphasizes secular Jewish culture and Jewish history rather than belief in God as sources of Jewish identity

Sherwin T. WineFor many years freedom struggled with an idea. It was a powerful idea, so powerful that many people tortured and killed others to make it real. The devotees of this idea believed, with all their heart, that no nation could long survive without the help of God. Nor would it endure without the guidance of his chosen ministers. State and religion must be one, just as child and parent are one, just as subject and master are one.
     Two hundred years ago the forces of freedom challenged this idea. The children of the new enlightenment rose up to defy the tyranny of arrogant clergy and the censorship of pious bureaucrats. They boldly proclaimed that the state must be free from religious coercion and that religion must be free from state control. All individuals have the right to pursue the dictates of their own conscience. All citizens even have the right not to be religious at all.
     -- Sherwin T Wine, service, The Birmingham Temple, Farmington Hills, Michigan, October 21, 1988, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our Puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.
     The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against all unjust coercion and irrational conformity.
     This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies.
     -- Sherwin T Wine, service, The Birmingham Temple, Farmington Hills, Michigan, October 21, 1988, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Thomas A Wiseman, Jr
US District Judge

Use of the mechanism of government to enforce momentary majoritarian morality upon which there is no real consensus, creates greater divisiveness in society, disrespect for law and disrespect for the moral authority of the particular religion.
-- Thomas A Wiseman, Jr, address, Pulaski, Tennessee, December 29, 1985, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Witherspoon (1723-1794)
President of Princeton University; the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence; separationist; ancestor of Cliff Walker

John WitherspoonGod grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable.
-- John Witherspoon, address at Princeton, May 17, 1776, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!