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If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.
Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.
Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; & anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would. I dunno.
Man is a marvelous curiosity
he thinks he is the Creator's pet
he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea.
He killed all those people -- every male.
There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed in it. They have also believed the world was flat.
The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it.
I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.
God's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.
Satan hasn't a single salaried helper; the Opposition employ a million.
Jesus died to save men -- a small thing for an immortal to do, & didn't save many, anyway; but if he had been damned for the race that would have been act of a size proper to a god, & would have saved the whole race. However, why should anybody want to save the human race, or damn it either? Does God want its society? Does Satan?
Leaving out the gamblers, the burglars, and the plumbers, perhaps we do put our trust in God after a fashion. But, after all, it is an overstatement.
What God lacks is convictions -- stability of character. He ought to be a Presbyterian or a Catholic or something -- not try to be everything.
Irreverence is another person's disrespect to your god; there isn't any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is.
Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition.
Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.
A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.
A God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell -- mouths mercy, and invented hell -- mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!
The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them. Your country and mine is an interesting one, but there is nothing there that is half so interesting as the human mind.
If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian.
There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him -- early.
... the swindle of life and the treachery of a God that can create disease and misery and crime -- create things that men would be condemned for creating-- that men would be ashamed to create.
Mine was a trained Presbyterian conscience and knew but the one duty -- to hunt and harry its slave upon all pretexts and on all occasions, particularly when there was no sense nor reason in it.
Presbyterianism without infant damnation would be like the dog on the train that couldn't be identified because it had lost its tag.
It has taken a weary long time to persuade American Presbyterians to give up infant damnation and try to bear it the best they can.
I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored, from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Phillipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and towel, but hide the looking glass.
The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive ... but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.
This is a Christian country. Why, so is hell. Inasmuch as "Strait is the way and narrow is the gate, and few -- few -- are they that enter in thereat" has had the natural effect of making hell the only really prominent Christian community in any of the worlds; but we don't brag of this and certainly it is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate.
Some years ago on the gold coins we used to trust in God. It think it was in 1863 that some genius suggested that it be put on the gold and silver coins which circulated among the rich. They didn't put it on the nickels and coppers because they didn't think the poor folks had any trust in God.... If I remember rightly, the President required or ordered the removal of that sentence from the coins. Well, I didn't see that the statement ought to remain there. It wasn't true. But I think it would better read, "Within certain judicious limitations we trust in God, and if there isn't enough room on the coin for this, why enlarge the coin.
The motto stated a lie. If this nation has ever trusted in God, that time has gone by; for nearly half a century almost its entire trust has been in the Republican party and the dollar -- mainly the dollar. I recognize that I am only making an assertion and furnishing no proof; I am sorry, but this is a habit of mine; sorry also that I am not alone in it; everybody seems to have this disease.
You can never find a Christian who has acquired this valuable knowledge, this saving knowledge, by any process but the everlasting and all-sufficient "people say."
I found out that I was a Christian for revenue only and I could not bear the thought of that, it was so ignoble.
Nothing agrees with me. If I drink coffee, it gives me dyspepsia; if I drink wine, it gives me the gout; if I go to church, it gives me dysentery.
We may not doubt that society in heaven consists mainly of undesirable persons.
The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.
Of the 417 commandments, only a single one of the 417 has found ministerial obedience; multiply and replenish the earth. To it sinner & saint, scholar & ignoramus, Christian & savage are alike loyal.
Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.
I am plenty safe enough in his hands; I am not in any danger from that kind of a Diety. The one that I want to keep out of the reach of, is the caricature of him which one finds in the Bible. We (that one and I) could never respect each other, never get along together. I have met his superior a hundred times-- in fact I amount to that myself.
When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know.
It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.
The two Testaments are interesting, each in its own way. The Old one gives us a picture of these people's Deity as he was before he got religion, the other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterward.
God, so atrocious in the Old Testament, so attractive in the New -- the Jekyl and Hyde of sacred romance.
The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes.... The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession -- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.
To this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave....
I purpose publishing these Letters
here in the world before I return to you. Two editions. One, unedited,
for Bible readers and their children; the other, expurgated, for persons
Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it.
The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.
If the man doesn't believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can't burn him.
Between believing a thing and thinking you know is only a small step and quickly taken.
Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
Against a diseased imagination demonstration goes for nothing.
It now seems plain to me that that theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one ... the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.
In God We Trust. It is the choicest compliment that has ever been paid us, and the most gratifying to our feelings. It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it always sounds well -- In God We Trust. I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true.
Nevertheless we have this curious spectacle: daily the trained parrot in the pulpit gravely delivers himself of these ironies, which he has acquired at second-hand and adopted without examination, to a trained congregation which accepts them without examination, and neither the speaker nor the hearer laughs at himself. It does seem as if we ought to be humble when we are at a bench-show, and not put on airs of intellectual superiority there.
I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chow, Manchuria, South Africa and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is a command which makes
no distinction between the following persons. They are all required to
It was not that Adam ate the apple for the apple's sake, but because it was forbidden. It would have been better for us -- oh infinitely better for us -- if the serpent had been forbidden.
If I were to construct a God I would furnish Him with some way and qualities and characteristics which the Present lacks. He would not stoop to ask for any man's compliments, praises, flatteries; and He would be far above exacting them. I would have Him as self-respecting as the better sort of man in these regards.
To trust the God of the Bible is to trust an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful master; to trust the true God is to trust a Being who has uttered no promises, but whose beneficent, exact, and changeless ordering of the machinery of His colossal universe is proof that He is at least steadfast to His purposes; whose unwritten laws, so far as the affect man, being equal and impartial, show that he is just and fair; these things, taken together, suggest that if he shall ordain us to live hereafter, he will be steadfast, just and fair toward us. We shall not need to require anything more.
The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet, also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link.... A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed, and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.
This is the only sane clerical the earthquake has exposed to view yet.
Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned.
For England must not fall: it would mean an inundation of Russian & German political degradations which would envelop the globe & steep it in a sort of Middle-Age night & slaverly which would last till Christ comes again -- which I hope he will not do; he made trouble enough before.
There's nobody for me to attack in this matter even with soft and gentle ridicule -- and I shouldn't ever think of using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above all, I couldn't venture to attack the clergymen whom you mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass house which they are occupying. I am always reading immoral books on the sly, and then selfishly trying to prevent other people from having the same wicked good time.
The inventor of their heaven empties into it all the nations of the earth, in one common jumble. All are on an equality absolute, no one of them ranking another; they have to be "brothers"; they have to mix together, pray together, harp together, hosannah together -- whites, niggers, Jews, everybody -- there's no distinction. Here in the earth all nations hate each other, and every one of them hates the Jew. Yet every pious person adores that heaven and wants to get into it. He really does. And when he is in a holy rapture he thinks he thinks that if he were only there he would take all the populace to his heart, and hug, and hug, and hug!
It is easy to see that the inventor of the heaven did not originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies of some sorry little sovereign State up in the back settlements of the Orient somewhere.
The choir always tittered and whispered all through the service. There was once a church choir that was not ill-bred, but I have forgotten where it was.
We have to keep our God placated with prayers, and even then we are never sure of him -- how much higher and finer is the Indian's God.... Our illogical God is all-powerful in name, but impotent in fact; the Great Spirit is not all-powerful, but does the very best he can for his injun and does it free of charge.
In all the ages, three-fourths of the support of the great charities has been conscience money.
Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom the harder it is to get rid it.
Customs do not concern themselves with right or wrong or reason. But they have to be obeyed; one reasons all around them until he is tired, but he must not transgress them, it is sternly forbidden.
Custom is custom: it is built of brass, boiler-iron, granite; facts, reasonings, arguments have no more effect upon it than the idle winds have upon Gibraltar.
Conformity -- the natural instinct to passively yield to that vague something recognized as authority.
It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resist. What is its seat? The inborn requirement of self-approval.
Broadly speaking corn-pone stands for self-approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of others. Conformity is the result. Corn-pone is confor[mity]. Sometimes it has a sordid business interest back of it and is calculated: but mainly is it unconscious and not calculated.
One must keep one's character. Earn a character first if you can, and if you can't, then assume one. From the code of morals I have been following and revising and revising for 72 years I remember one detail. All my life I have been honest -- comparatively honest. I could never use money I had not made honestly -- I could only lend it.
When one's character begins to fall under suspicion and disfavor, how swift, then, is the work of disintegration and destruction.
There's one thing in this world which isn't ever cheap. That's a coffin. There's one thing in this world which a person don't ever try to jew you down on. That's a coffin. There's one thing in this world which a person don't say -- "I'll look around a little, and if I find I can't do better I'll come back and take it." That's a coffin. There's one thing in this world which a person won't take in pine if he can go walnut; and won't take in walnut if he can go mahogany; and won't take in mahogany if he can go an iron casket with silver door-plate and bronze handles. That's a coffin. And there's one thing in this world which you don't have to worry around after a person to get him to pay for. And that's a coffin. Undertaking? -- why it's the dead-surest business in Christendom, and the nobbiest.
James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine was seriously ill two or three weeks ago, in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness, the report my death was an exaggeration.
... a distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.
I have never seen what to me seemed an atom of proof that there is a future life. And yet -- I am inclined to expect one.
I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.
After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; ... I should be sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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