"Something to think about" archive

[1, 2, 3]

Note: The following quotes got chosen for the message and not for historical purposes. Unlike other areas in the Freethinkers site, no one here has thoroughly checked the sources. If you wish to use these quotes as reliable sources, please research them for accuracy, especially the quotes without citations. If you find a citation error, please let me know. Ed.

There is something feeble and contemptible about a man who cannot face life without the help of comfortable myths.

--Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

We [scientists] don't reject the supernatural merely because we have an overweening philosophical commitment to materialism; we reject it because entertaining the supernatural has never helped us understand the natural world. Alchemy, faith healing, astrology, creationism—none of these perspectives has advanced our understanding of nature by one iota.

--Jerry Coyne (Don't Know Much Biology)

I can only reiterate that their [Muslim males] problem is not so much that they desire virgins as that they are virgins; their emotional and psychic growth irremediably stunted in the name of god, and they safety of many others menaced as a consequence of this alienation and deformation.

--Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great)

The comforts that we enjoy are entirely the results of man’s wisdom. They did not come about from reading the Bible or praying to God.

--Farell Till; Former clergyman, Editor of The Skeptical Review

To be an atheist requires strength of mind and goodness of heart found in not one of a thousand.

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet, critic, journalist, philosopher

No theory is too false, no fable too absurd for acceptance when embedded in common belief. Men will submit to torture and death, mothers will immolate their children [for] beliefs they accept.

--Henry George (1839-1897)

Anyone who engages in the practice of psychotherapy confronts every day the devastation wrought by the teachings of religion.

--Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.

The Bible doesn’t forbid suicide. It’s Catholic directive, intended to slow down their loss of martyrs.

--Ellen Blackstone

The silly, sickly superstition of the sacrifice of Jesus should be left to die. It sprang from falsehood and has no basis in fact, in reason or in truth.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

[I]t really is important to know the history of philosophy if you're going to do philosophy, and the reason is actually very simple. The history of philosophy is a history of very tempting mistakes, and the people that we study in the history of philosophy—Plato and Aristotle and Kant and all the rest—they were not dummies. They were really smart people and they made stunning errors. These are very tempting mistakes. So you really have to learn the history of philosophy if you're going to do it well. Or you have to learn some of it. Because otherwise you just reinvent the wheel. You end up falling in the same old traps.

--Daniel C. Dennett (E.O. Wilson + Daniel Dennett)

[A]s many Israeli religious courts have confirmed. . . an easy way to spot an inhumane killer was to notice that he was guided by a sincere and literal observance of the divine instruction.

--Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great)

The problem with Christians, Jews, and Muslims is that when they finely get around to stopping to think about something, they just stop, they never really get to the thinking part.

--Ignots Pistachio

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.

--John F. Kennedy

Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain.

--Richard Dawkins

If you seem to witness such a thing [a miracle], there are two possibilities. The first is that the laws of nature have been suspended (in your favor). The second is that you are under a misapprehension, or suffering from a delusion. Thus the likelihood of the second must be weighed against the likelihood of the first.

--Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great)

I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it...

--John Stuart Mill (Autobiography)

All my moral and intellectual being is penetrated by an invincible conviction that whatever falls under the dominion of our senses must be in nature and, however exceptional, cannot differ in its essence from all the other effects of the visible and tangible world of which we are a self-conscious part. The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is--marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural which (take it as you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.

--Joseph Conrad (Author's note to The Shadow-Line)

With so many mindbytes to be downloaded, so many mental codons to be replicated, it is no wonder that child brains are gullible, open to almost any suggestion, vulnerable to subversion, easy prey to Moonies, Scientologists and nuns.

--Richard Dawkins

The story is not found in our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John; its writing style is very different from what we find in the rest of John (including the stories immediately before and after); and it includes a large number of words and phrases that are otherwise alien to the Gospel. The conclusion is unavoidable: this passage was not originally part of the Gospel.

--Barton Ehrman (on John 8:3-11, about the woman taken in adultery)

His aversion to religion, in the sense usually attached to the term, was of the same kind with that of Lucretius: he regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion, but to a great moral evil. He looked upon it as the greatesgt enemy of morality: first, but setting up factitious excellencies--belief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind--and causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtue: ball above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishies indeed all the phrases of adulation, but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful.

--John Stuart Mill (on his father, in the "Autobiography")

I’ve invented a few collective nouns, which I think is a distinct service to the language. (A collective noun is one that designates a group of specific things. For example, the collective noun for “sheep” is “flock,” and for “geese” – when not flying! – is “gaggle.”) I choose to refer to a gathering of psychics as a “giggle,” for conmen, it’s a “fleece,” and for prophets, a “failure.” One wag on the JREF Forum came up with “Congress” as a collective for conmen, but that was unkind. I use an “absence” for a group of homeopaths, I refer to a “confusion” of parapsychologists, and a “cackle” of witches. Palmists are gathered as a “handful,” it’s a “struggle” of astrologers, and more than three phrenologists become a “bump.” And a group of spoonbenders can be called, a “desperation.”

--James Randi (James Randi Newsletter)

Some of us still get all weepy when we think about the Gaia Hypothesis, the idea that earth is a big furry goddess-creature who resembles everybody's mom in that she knows what's best for us. But if you look at the historical record -- Krakatoa, Mt. Vesuvius, Hurricane Charley, poison ivy, and so forth down the ages -- you have to ask yourself: Whose side is she on, anyway?

--Barbara Ehrenreich

We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.

--Richard Dawkins

I have a friend who's an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don't agree with. He'll hold up a flower and say, 'Look how beautiful it is,' and I'll agree. But then he'll say, 'I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.' I think he's kind of nutty. [...] There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.

--Richard P. Feynman

The priests of the different religious sects . . . dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.

--Thomas Jefferson (letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820)

The plan was for Jesus to come to Earth two thousand years ago with a pocketful of miracles and souls for the people who were then alive. After his return to heaven from Earth (it is about twelve septillion miles from Earth to the edge of our galaxy with four hundred billion suns to dodge) he is going to build those mansions, come back before his generation dies out, finally put an end to the world which has been such a rotten disappointment, and deposit most of these souls in hell. No wonder heaven is only 12,000 furlongs wide, long, and high.

--Ruth Hurmence Green ( "What I Found When I 'Searched the Scriptures,'" from The Book of Ruth,1982)

No one should force religion from existing; everyone should have the freedom of expression. However, the history of religion demonstrates that it does not deserve respect, nor should it be allowed to influence governments or to force unbelievers to their ways.

--The Heretic Hermit

Science does something that religion never does, and never will do: science welcomes and incorporates facts as they are presented, whether they agree with the theory to which they apply, or not, and adjusts any discovery to incorporate the newly-discovered evidence – thus growing and improving the view we have of reality. Science is never “proven” – it offers a view that explains the world as we see it, a view that is subject to improvement, adjustment, or even reversal, if the facts require that to be done; science gets better by discrete steps, getting closer to the truth, with each step. Religion, on the other hand, is set, hardened, incorrigible, dogmatic, and incapable of changing its notions. It rules as a dictator, denying any and all facts that oppose its dogma. It does not grow.

--James Randi (James Randi Newsletter)

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

--Anne Lamott

Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.

--James Madison (letter to William Bradford, Jr., January 1774)

Christians think nothing of condemning nonbelievers to eternal suffering, but will forgive the most atrocious crimes committed by themselves.

--Ignots Pistachio

Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously deny it.

--Richard Dawkins

Prayer is like a pump in an empty well, it makes lots of noise, but brings no water.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

God said: "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:14)
Popeye said: "I yam what I yam." (Popeye song, the original)
Therefore, God and Popeye are the same.

--From "Syllogisms Gone Wild"

Many persons seem to make themselves quite easy about immortality & the existence of a personal God by intuition; & I suppose that I must differ from such persons, for I do not feel any innate conviction on any such points.

--Charles Darwin (in a letter to Charles Lyell)

Poets are always complaining that scientists take away from the beauty of the stars. Mere globs of gas atoms! Nothing is mere. I too can see the stars on a desert night and feel them. Stuck on this tiny carousel my little eye can catch million year old light. But what of the pattern, the meaning, the why? For far more awesome is the truth than any artists of the past could imagine. Where are the poets of the present to speak of it? Who are the poets who can speak of Jupiter as if he was a man - and when it is a huge spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must remain silent?

--Richard P. Feynman

When religion comes in at the door common sense goes out at the window.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

Mythology is where all gods go to die.

--Sam Harris (God's dupes)

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

--Thomas Jefferson

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest:
"If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
"No," said the priest, "not if you did not know."
"Then why," asked the Inuit earnestly, "did you tell me?"

--Annie Dillard (from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

Religion is not a nice thing. It is potentially a very dangerous thing because it involves a heady complex of emotions, desires, yearnings and fears.

--Karen Armstrong

It seems that schizoid tendencies are revered in Christianity. You couldn’t be a Saint unless you demonstrate what are now known to be several symptoms of Schizophrenia: Hearing voices and knowing them to be real, projective charisma, supernormal strength or agility, preternatural sensitivity to other’s thoughts, and so on. The bible and chronology of Saints document many textbook cases of schizophrenia. It usually manifests in women at the onset of adolescence (e.g: Joan of Arc) or men at the end of adolescence (pick anyone from Moses forward).

--Dangerous Intersection.org

Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

People who rely most on God rely least on themselves.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

Christians argue that we can't see God because he is immaterial, invisible, and unknowable. Hey, that’s the same meaning as nonexistence!

--Ignots Pistachio

What has been the fruits of Christianity? ...Superstition, bigotry and persecution.

--James Madison, 4th president of the U.S.

I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age. And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head

--Bill Maher

If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.

--General Marquis de Lafayette, 1789

If some peoples pretend that history or geography gives them the right to subjugate other races, nations, or peoples, there can be no peace.

--Ludwig von Mises

How religioius believers justify war: Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who teaches my hands to wage war, and my fingers to do battle.

--The Bible, Psalms 144:1

The gods of men are sillier than their kings and queens, and emptier and more powerless.

--Maxwell Anderson

When religion gets into the driving seat, all hell breaks loose.

--Salman Rushdie (in a talk at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 11 Oct. 2006)

Every injustice that has ever been fastened upon women in a Christian country has been "authorized by the Bible" and riveted and perpetuated by the pulpit.

--Helen H Gardener, Men, Women and Gods

Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?

--Robert G. Ingersoll

Christians are atheists too: a conversation

Atheist: You’re an atheist too.
Christian: No I’m not, I believe in God.
Atheist: Oh yes you are and I can prove it.
Christian: OK then, go ahead and prove it. <chuckle>
Atheist: I am your God. Do you believe it?
Christian: Of course not!
Atheist: See? I told you so.

Never yet has a God been defined in terms which were not palpably self-contradictory and absurd; never yet has a God been described so that a concept of Him was made possible to human thought.

--Annie Besant (Why I Do Not Believe in God, 1887)

A clarification of Christianity: Thou shalt not kill, except in the name of God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost.

--Xavier Cross

[W]hen you think about it, the doctrine of a life-to-come is not such an uplifting idea after all because it necessarily devalues life on earth. Just remember the most famous people in recent memory who acted in expectation of a reward in the hereafter: the conspirators who hijacked the airliners on 9/11.

--Stephen Pinker (The Mystery of Consciousness)

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.

--Voltaire (attributed)

I am fond of saying that reading the Bible turned me into an atheist.

--Ruth Hurmence Green (Preface to The Born-Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible)

All those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand...

--Kurt Vonnegut

When you grow up in America things like Christianity waters down your feeling... When you're taught to love everybody, taught to love you're enemies, what value does that put on love?

--Marilyn Manson

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you're trying for

--John Mayer (Belief)

As every student in Philosophy 101 learns, nothing can force me to believe that anyone except me is conscious. This power to deny that other people have feelings is not just an academic exercise but an all-too-common vice, as we see in the long history of human cruelty. Yet once we realize that our own consciousness is a product of our brains and that other people have brains like ours, a denial of other people's sentience becomes ludicrous. "Hath not a Jew eyes?" asked Shylock. Today the question is more pointed: Hath not a Jew--or an Arab, or an African, or a baby, or a dog--a cerebral cortex and a thalamus? The undeniable fact that we are all made of the same neural flesh makes it impossible to deny our common capacity to suffer.

--Stephen Pinker (The Mystery of Consciousness)

An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too carefully guarded against....Every new and successful example therefore of a PERFECT SEPARATION between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance....religion and government will exist in greater purity, without (rather) than with the aid of government.

--James Madison (in a letter to Livingston, 1822)

While travelling near Tampa, Florida I passed the "Jehovah's Witness Assembly Hall" and was struck by the fact that that must be where they make them.


Because morality is a social necessity, the moment faith in god is banished, man's gaze turns from god to man and he becomes socially conscious. Religious belief prevented the growth of a sense of realism. But atheism at once makes man realistic and alive to the needs of morality.

--Gora (Atheism and Morality)

There is no sadder grief than that which lies at the bottom of a life that has been wrecked through deception.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

One of the most persistent fallacies about the Christian Church is that it kept learning alive during the Dark and Middle Ages. What the Church did was to keep learning alive in the monasteries, while preventing the spread of knowledge outside them.... Even as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, nine-tenths of Christian Europe was illiterate.

--Margaret Knight ("Gentle Jesus" in "Christianity: The Debit Account",1975)

[T]he unprovable dogma of an immortal soul. It's not just that an understanding of the physiology of consciousness will reduce human suffering through new treatments for pain and depression. That understanding can also force us to recognize the interests of other beings--the core of morality.

--Stephen Pinker (The Mystery of Consciousness)

It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range in time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different plants, and all these atoms with all their motions and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil - which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama. So I believe its not the right picture.

--Richard P. Feynman (Perfectly Reasonable Deviations, from the "Beaten Track")

We must remember that "thought" means abstraction.

--Robert Anton Wilson (Email to the Universe)

The belief that one's faith is the only true religion too often leads to a disturbing level of intolerance, and this intolerance includes the assumption that nonbelievers cannot be as moral as believers.

--Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil)

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect.

--James Madison (in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774)

The careful student of history will discover that Christianity has been of very little value in advancing civilization, but has done a great deal toward retarding it.

--Matilda Joslyn Gage (Woman, Church and State, 1893)

Death makes me realize how deeply I have internalized the agnosticism I preach in all my books. I consider dogmatic belief and dogmatic denial very childish forms of conceit in a world of infinitely whirling complexity. None of us can see enough from one corner of space-time to know "all" about the rest of space-time.

--Robert Anton Wilson (TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution)

It takes more guts to stop a war than it does to start one.

--Ignots Pistachio

Christians tell me that they have a higher destiny than the lower animals, because Homo Sapiens can reason. But the Bible tells me that this gift of reason, which they call god-given, may be the match that lights the fires of hell for all who dare to use it, since whatever is not of faith is sin.

--Ruth Hurmence Green ("What I Found When I 'Searched the Scriptures,'" from The Book of Ruth, 1982)

[Creeds] have been the bane and ruin of the Christian church, its own fatal invention, which, through so many ages, made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and at this day divides it into castes of inextinguishable hatred to one another.

--Thomas Jefferson (letter to Thomas Whitmore, June 5, 1822)

A theologian is a person who uses the word "God" to hide his ignorance.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

From Augustine down, theologians have tried to compel people to accept their special interpretation of the Scripture, and the tortures of the inquisition, the rack, the thumb-screw, the stake, the persecutions of witchcraft, the whipping of naked women through the streets of Boston, banishment, trials of heresy, the halter about Garrison's neck, Lovejoy's death, the branding of Captain Walker, shouts of infidel and atheist, have all been for this purpose.

--Matilda Joslyn Gage

I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.

--Thomas Jefferson (notes for a speech, ca. 1776, quoted from Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations, 1988)

Wars of aggression are the most barbarous of all human endeavors and are, more often than not, the instruments of insane tyrants who hear voices.

--Rodrigue Tremblay

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.

--John Morley

[I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.

--James Madison (letter to Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring, 1832)

The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God.

--Susan B. Anthony

For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.

--Annie Besant (The Freethinker's Textbook Part II -- Christianity, 1876)

Notwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together;

--James Madison (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822)

The Gish Principle -- If a gap exists between two fossil species, and an intermediate fossil species is discovered, then two gaps are present now and evolution is disproved even more.

--Graham Kendall

If my interlocutor desires to convince me that Jupiter has inhabitants, and that his description of them is accurate, it is for him to bring forward evidence in support of his contention. The burden of proof evidently lies on him; it is not for me to prove that no such beings exist before my non-belief is justified, but for him to prove that they do exist before my belief can be fairly claimed. Similarly, it is for the affirmer of God's existence to bring evidence in support of his affirmation; the burden of proof lies on him.

--Annie Besant (Why I Do Not Believe in God, London, 1887)

Most men would kill the truth if truth would kill their religion.

--Lemuel K. Washburn

It is thought strange and particularly shocking by some persons for a woman to question the absolute correctness of the Bible. She is supposed to be able to go through this world with her eyes shut, and her mouth open wide enough to swallow Jonah and the Garden of Eden without making a wry face.... Of all human beings a woman should spurn the Bible first.

--Helen H. Gardener (Men, Women and Gods)

The military has the policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” That means a man who openly admits to homosexuality can’t serve in the military. From this I can make a safe prediction that if Congress ever allows a military draft, we will see a surge of homosexuality in America.

--Ignots Pistachio

If my interlocutor desires to convince me that Jupiter has inhabitants, and that his description of them is accurate, it is for him to bring forward evidence in support of his contention. The burden of proof evidently lies on him; it is not for me to prove that no such beings exist before my non-belief is justified, but for him to prove that they do exist before my belief can be fairly claimed. Similarly, it is for the affirmer of God's existence to bring evidence in support of his affirmation; the burden of proof lies on him.

--Annie Besant (Why I Do Not Believe in God, London, 1887)

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history [attempts where religious bodies had already tried to encroach on the government].

--James Madison (Detached Memoranda, 1820)

Scarecrow: Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don't they?
Dorothy: Why yes.. I suppose they do...

--Wizard of Oz

The good part of Christmas is not always Christian -- it is generally Pagan; that is to say, human, natural.

--Robert G. Ingersoll

Interpersonally, we don't challenge everyone's crazy beliefs about medical therapies or alien abduction or astrology or anything else. Yet if the president of the U.S. started talking about how Saturn was coming into the wrong quadrant and is therefore not a good time to launch a war, one would hope that the whole White House press corps would descend on him with a straitjacket. This would be terrifying--to hear somebody with so much power basing any part of his decision-making process on something as disreputable as astrology. Yet we don't have the same response when he's clearly basing some part of his deliberation on faith.

--Sam Harris (in an interview)

Hypothesis is a toll which can cause trouble if not used properly. We must be ready to abandon our hypothesis as soon as it is shown to be inconsistent with the facts.

--W. I. B. Beveridge (The Art of Scientific Investigation)

So, I'll out myself. I'm an Atheist. I don't believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don't believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance. I believe that the universe abides by the laws of physics, some of which are known, others of which will surely be discovered, but even if they aren't, that will simply be a result, as my colleague George Johnson put it, of our brains having evolved for life on this one little planet and thus being inevitably limited. I'm convinced that the world as we see it was shaped by the again genuinely miraculous, let's even say transcendent, hand of evolution through natural selection.

--Natalie Angier (Confessions of a Lonely Atheist)

This religion and the Bible require of woman everything, and give her nothing. They ask her support and her love, and repay her with contempt and oppression.

--Helen H. Gardener (Men, Women and Gods)

Whatever else I might have thought of [President George W] Bush's call, with its assumption that prayer is some sort of miracle Vicks VapoRub for the national charley horse, it's clear that his hands were reaching for any hands but mine.

--Natalie Angier, "Confessions of a Lonely Atheist," in New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2001

Religion is evolutionary dangerous to Homo sapiens. Although it had its start from social conditioning that began only a few thousand years ago, it is dangerous because it eventually kills off its members through war, suicide, or ignoring scientific ideas which could save lives. The weeding out has already begun. Only a couple of hundred years ago, almost everyone had religious beliefs. But today, China, Scandinavian and many European are mostly atheistic. Unfortunately, biological evolution is slow so it will take a few thousand years or more before total religious extinction occurs. Of course if a religious faction starts a thermonuclear war, it could cause the extinction of the entire human race in an instant.

--Ignots Pistachio

If a person really believes that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. It may even be reasonable to kill them. If a person thinks there is something that another person can say to his children that could put their souls in jeopardy for all eternity, then the heretic next door is actually far more dangerous than the child molester. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism or politics.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

Religion is responsible for a lot of the problems in the history of the world and it’s not something that I practice or recommend, but to each his own.

--Salman Rushdie when asked, “Does religion play a constructive role in any democratic society?” (in a talk at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 11 Oct. 2006)

The mind is not like a wax tablet. On a tablet you cannot write the new till you rub out the old; on the mind you cannot rub out the old except by writing in the new. Beware of the idols of the mind, the fallacies into which undisciplined thinkers most easily fall. They are the real distorting prisms of human nature. Among them, idols of the tribe assume more order than exists in chaotic nature; those of the imprisoning cave, the idiosyncrasies of individual belief and passion; of the market place, the power of mere words to induce belief in non-existent things; and of the theater, unquestioning acceptance of philosophical beliefs and misleading demonstration. Stay clear of these idols, observe the world around you as it truly is, and reflect on the best means of transmitting reality as you have experienced it; put into it every fiber of your being.

--Edward O Wilson

The idea, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is not simple, but compounded of a great number of ideas.

--Benedict de Spinoza

The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Science requires truthfulness in order for its very existence. Religion, on the other hand, does not. Religion only requires that people believe it’s true. Lying to people to get them to believe is perfectly ok.

--Ignots Pistachio

Sometimes I think that if I were going to sue the Catholic Church, it would be for denying me the natural “wonder” that I might have had for the world for almost forty years. That’s the worst thing that religion does, it quells the natural curiosity of human beings towards their surroundings. It’s a drug that makes you feel good in the short run, but makes you pay highest price, it takes your curiosity and awe away.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney’s blog., 20 Nov. 06)

'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.' The adage is true as long as you don't really believe the words.

--Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)

I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance.

--Christopher Marlowe

While most Americans believe that getting rid of religion is an impossible goal, much of the developed world has already accomplished it. Any account of a ”god gene“ that causes the majority of Americans to helplessly organize their lives around ancient works of religious fiction must explain why so many inhabitants of other First World societies apparently lack such a gene. The level of atheism throughout the rest of the developed world refutes any argument that religion is somehow a moral necessity. Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.

--Oscar Wilde

We can never solve our significant problems from the same level of thinking we were at when we created the problems.

--Albert Einstein

Prayers never bring anything... They may bring solace to the sap, the bigot, the ignorant, the aboriginal, and the lazy - but to the enlightened it is the same as asking Santa Claus to bring you something for Xmas.

--W. C. Fields

Imagine our surprise when we noticed that in patient LB the left hemisphere said it believed in God whereas the right hemisphere signaled that it as an atheist. The inter-trial consistency of this needs to be verified but at the very least it shows that the two hemispheres can simultaneously hold contradictory views on God, an observation that should send shock waves through the theological community. When a patient like this eventually dies, will one hemisphere end up in hell and the other in heaven?

--V.S. Ramachandran on the two hemispheres of the brain (A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness)

There is in every village a torch – the teacher: and an extinguisher – the clergyman.

--Victor Hugo

Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.

--Mark Twain

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

--Thomas Paine

George Bush says he speaks to God every day. And Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to God through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.

--Sam Harris

In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind old men as guides.

--Heinrich Heine

When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn't exist before the Big Bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It's like asking for directions to the edge of the Earth. The Earth is a sphere, it doesn't have an edge, so looking for it is a futile exercise.

We are each free to believe what we want, and it's my view that the simplest explanation is there is no god. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization: There is probably no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

--Stephen Hawking (Curiosity - Did God Create The Universe?)

Morality is doing what is right, regardless what we are told. Religious dogma is doing what we are told, no matter what is right.

--Andy Thomson (Why We Believe in Gods)

Creationists are always looking for “the missing link,” but evolution doesn’t work by a single link. A specie evolves from at least two reproductively isolated groups from the same specie. The isolated groups are then driven by genetic drift or adaptive pressures until they can no longer reproduce, even if they were no longer isolated. So at what point do you label this group a new specie? At the point of isolation or at some point in time after isolation where they begin to look different? If you claim the new specie at the time of initial separation, the Creationists scream “but they’re the same specie,” and if you claim the new specie when they begin to look differently, the Creationists will yell, “But where is the missing link?” The same goes with the evolution of language. People who spoke Latin were isolated into various groups. They began to speak in accents but they could still understand each other. When the accents became so undecipherable to the point of no communication, they became different languages, a different specie of language so to speak. Thus we have French, Spanish, Italian, and all the other romance languages. Where are their missing links?

--Ignots Pistachio

My cat, Val, cannot possibly know that she is a mammal and all the amazing ways that mammals have come up with, or rather – evolved into – on this planet. There is great joy in understanding even that little thing. She cannot. And I can. And anyone, any human, can too - who is willing to look into it. And yet we, as a society, have chosen to lie to our children – in my mind, keep them animals of a different sort – keep them blind and looking only a few feet away instead of seeing even a little bit bigger picture.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney’s blog, 2 Nov. 06)

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grader, more subtle, more elegant”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.

--Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot)

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

--Robert A. Heinlein

One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

--George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)

Government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

--Ludwig von Mises

Today, we have this even larger federal government, more and more of it being war-related, surveillance-related. I mean it's gone beyond our wildest Clinton administration dreams. I think progressives can't just be seen as pro-big-government when big government has gotten so nasty. Katrina's a perfect example of how militarized the government has gotten even when it's supposedly trying to help people. The initial response of the government was a military one. When they finally got people down there, it was armed guards to protect the fancy stores and keep people in that convention center – at gunpoint.

--Barbara Ehrenreich

I believe there's something out there watching over us. Unfortunately, it's the government.

--Woody Allen

Part of empire is the way it's penetrated our society, the way we've become dependent on it. … The military budget is starting to bankrupt the country. It's got so much in it that's well beyond any rational military purpose. It equals just less than half of total global military spending. And yet here we are, stymied by two of the smallest, poorest countries on Earth. Iraq before we invaded had a GDP the size of the state of Louisiana, and Afghanistan was certainly one of the poorest places on the planet. And yet these two places have stopped us.

--Chalmers Johnson

The good things of the Roman Empire are what we remember about it – the roads, the language, the laws, the buildings, the classics. … But we pay very little attention to what the Roman Empire was to the people at its bottom – the slaves who built those roads … the oppressed and occupied peoples who were brought into the empire if they submitted, but radically and completely smashed if they resisted at all. … We Americans are full of our sense of ourselves as having benign imperial impulses. That's why the idea of the American Empire was celebrated as a benign phenomenon. We were going to bring order to the world. Well, yes… as long as you didn't resist us. And that's where we really have something terrible in common with the Roman Empire. … We must reckon with imperial power as it is felt by people at the bottom. Rome's power. America's.

--James Carroll

The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religion have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – God is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.

--Gore Vidal

There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where to they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism.

--Senator Barry Goldwater

If America ever gets hit again by another suicide bomber or a nuclear bomb, it won’t be because our enemies hate our freedoms. Rather, it will be for revenge from the United States military killing their innocent citizens, or destroying their land, or threatening them by calling them “evil.” George Bush hasn’t made us safer; he has created enemies that will continue to hate us for generations.

--Pelican the Politician

Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands.

--Sean O’Casey

I came to the conclusion that, given the technology of modern warfare, war is inevitably a war against children, against civilians. When you look at the ratio of civilian to military dead, it changes from 50-50 in World War II to 80-20 in Vietnam, maybe as high as 90-10 today. … When you face that fact, war is now always a war against civilians, and so against children. No political goal can justify it, and so the great challenge before the human race in our time is to solve the problems of tyranny and aggression, and do it without war.

--Howard Zinn

It's always been my view that the people of this part of the Earth would like some of our democracy. They would like a few packets of human rights off our supermarket shelves. They want freedom. But they want another kind of freedom - freedom from us. And this we do not intend to give them. Which is why our Middle East presence is heading into further darkness. Which is why I sit on my balcony and wonder where the next explosion is going to be. For, be sure, it will happen. Bin Laden doesn't matter any more, alive or dead. Because, like nuclear scientists, he has invented the bomb. You can arrest all of the world's nuclear scientists but the bomb has been made. Bin Laden created al-Qa'ida amid the matchwood of the Middle East. It exists. His presence is no longer necessary.

--Robert Fisk (The Age of Terror - a landmark report)

Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.

--John Adams

I believe the spreading of Catholicism to be the most horrible means of political and social degradation left in the world.

--Charles Dickens

[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.

--Christopher Hitchens

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

--John Adams

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

--Henry Louis Mencken

Traditional Christianity teaches that morality comes from religion, but this is demonstrably false even from a Biblical standpoint. For example, the story of Abraham where God’s order to murder his son must be obeyed was not immoral because it was written before the Mosaic law had been established. Yet Abraham knew it was wrong because he instinctively felt it was wrong. Morals come out of biological instinct, not religion. Abraham knew murder was wrong, even without his faith. But with faith, he gained the ability to murder.

--Ignots Pistachio

BTW, doesn't it seem odd that the "evidence for the existence of god" is completely hidden from the greatest human minds who spend their professional lives exploring how the universe functions, yet it is perfectly clear to uneducated simpletons who have access to internet-linked terminals?


By asking priests to deny their own sexual needs, to expect them to hate themselves if they feel sexual feelings for those of the same sex, (or anyone for that matter), by compounding the problem by attracting men who are underdeveloped sexually and therefore have something to be gained by becoming a priest (I'm not saying that all men who become priests are this way, I'm saying the institution of the church allows for and even inadvertently encourages this type of priest) it creates an environment that makes this sort of abuse happen. And it will definately continue to happen, so long as priests are expected to be celibate.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 04 May 2005)

You need a society that understands and wants liberty before they can have a democracy.

--Pelican the Politician

Those who are enslaved to their sects are not merely devoid of all sound knowledge, but they will never even stop to learn.

--Galen, Greek physician, 129-200 C.E.

If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.

--General Marquis De Lafayette, 1789

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.

--Isaac Asimov

Religious moderation is a relaxation of the standards of adherence to ancient taboos and superstitions. That’s really all it is. Moderate Christians have agreed not to read the bible literally, and not read certain sections of it at all, and then they come away with a much more progressive, tolerant and ecumenical version of Christianity. They just pay attention to Jesus when he’s sermonizing on the Mount, and claim that is the true Christianity. Well that’s not the true Christianity. It’s a selective reading of certain aspects of Christianity. The other face of Christianity is always waiting in the book to be resurrected. You can find the Jesus of Second Thessalonians who’s going to come back and hurl sinners into the pit. This is the Jesus being celebrated in the Left Behind novels. This is the Jesus that half the American population is expecting to see come down out of the clouds.

--Sam Harris (Truthdig Interview)

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.

--Edgar Allan Poe

Thanks to Christianity I turned to Buddhism. Thanks to Buddhism, I began to doubt. Thanks to doubt, I became an atheist. Thanks to atheism, I became a nonbeliever. Thanks to nonbelief I turned to science. Thanks to science I learned how to think.

--Ignots Pistachio

We just cannot adopt toward ourselves the same attitudes that we adopt easily and in fact, reflexively, when others commit crimes. No matter how strong the evidence.

--Noam Chomsky (Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers)

[I]n the Bullshit Department, the businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman. Cause I gotta tell ya the truth, folks, when it comes to bullshit, big time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe, in awe, of the all time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion!…No contest, no contest!!

--George Carlin

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.

--Tommy Smothers

[O]ld beliefs die hard even when demonstrably false.

--Edward O. Wilson (Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge)

When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; when we have no reasons, or bad ones, we have lost our connection to the world and to one another. Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: One’s convictions should be proportional to one’s evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isn’t--indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable--is both an intellectual and a moral failing. Only the atheist has realized this. The atheist is simply a person who has perceived the lies of religion and refused to make them his own.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

--Mark Twain

[P]rescientific people… could never guess the nature of physical reality beyond the tiny sphere attainable by unaided common sense. Nothing else ever worked, no exercise from myth, revelation, art, trance, or any other conceivable means; and notwithstanding the emotional satisfaction it gives, mysticism, the strongest prescientific probe in the unknown, has yielded zero.

--Edward O. Wilson (Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge)

[W]e shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.

--Lynn White, Jr. ("The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis", Science V. 155 No. 3767 (10 March 1967), pp. 1203-1207.)

In one Gospel Jesus says, “Whoever is not against me, is with me.” And in another Gospel he says, “Whoever is not with me, IS against me.” I mean – isn’t that direct contradiction?

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 18 May 2005)

The thing to reiterate is that every Christian knows exactly what it’s like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims, for instance. Muslims have the same reasons for being Muslim as Christians have for being Christian. They have a book they’re sure was written or dictated by the creator of the universe–because the book says that it was written or dictated by the creator of the universe. Christians look at Muslim discourse and find it fundamentally unpersuasive. Christians aren’t lying awake at night worrying about whether they should convert to Islam. Why not? Because Muslims can’t really back up their claims. They are clearly engaged in a style of discourse that is just not intellectually honest. It’s not purposed to genuine inquiry into the nature of the world. It is a reiteration of dogma, and they are clearly committed to a massive program of self-deception. Every Christian recognizes this about every religion other than Christianity. So every Christian knows exactly what it is like to be atheist. They just don’t turn the same candor and intellectual honesty on to their own faith.

--Sam Harris (Truthdig Interview)

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

--Samuel Adams

There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave.

--Louis Kronenberger

The division between faith and reason is a half-measure, till it is frankly admitted that faith has to do with fiction, and reason with fact.

--Sir Leslie Stephen

What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak.

--George Santayana

[T]he religious, at least many of the ones who write to me, seem to feel that this world is not of our concern, that this world is bad and hedonistic, and that there is another world where God is where there is perfect harmony and caring. And this secular world is bad, and this world of God is good. I guess to me, I think it’s exactly the opposite. I think the Universe is a cold abyss. A fascinating, profoundly awe-inspiring, majestic, beautiful, terrible, heartless, unfathomable, large abyss. And I think that this world, where I live amongst people I care about deeply, to be lovely and small and sweet and painful and poignant.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog, 20 Aug. 2005)

For those who support and agree (but regrettably) of Israel’s killing of Lebanese civilians in order to get to Hezbollah, I want to ask you this question:

If Hezbollah were hiding amongst civilian Jews in Israel, would you support the bombings and collateral killings of Israel civilians to get at Hezbollah the way you support the killing of civilians in Lebanon?

I didn’t think so.

--Pelican the Politician   

If religious war is ever to become unthinkable for us, in the way that slavery and cannibalism seem poised to, it will be a matter of our having dispensed with the dogma of faith.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

Freethinkers were the only consistent opponents of censorship from the 1870s until the First World War; nearly a half century before there was an American civil Liberties Union, without a body of judicial precedent to bolster their argument, freethinkers spoke out in defense of those accused of obscenity and blasphemy...

--by Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism)

New scanning technologies show that perception activates the same brain areas as imagination. Perhaps for this reason, the brain cannot reliably distinguish between recorded experience and internal fantasy.

--Thomas Lewis, M.D., et al (A General Theory of Love)

That is, long before there were such institutions as states and governments, or such concepts as laws and rights, religion emerged as the social structure to enforce the rules of human interactions. The history of the modern nation-state with constitutional rights and protection of basic human freedoms can be measured in mere centuries, whereas the history of organized religion can be measured in millennia, and the history of the evolution of moral sentiments can be measured in tens of millennia.

--Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil)

No more harmful nonsense exists than this common supposition that deepest insight into great questions about the meaning of life or the structure of reality emerges most readily when a free, undisciplined, and uncluttered (read, rather, ignorant and uneducated) mind soars above mere earthly knowledge and concern.

--Stephen Jay Gould (I Have Landed)

Obscenity is not a quality inherent in a book or picture, but is solely and exclusively a contribution of the reading mind, and hence cannot be defined in terms of the qualities of a book or picture.

--Theodore Schroeder

If atheism is a religion then abstinence is a form of sex.

--Karl Johanson

Needless to say, a rational argument against religious faith is not an argument for the blind embrace of atheism as a dogma. The problem that the atheist exposes is none other than the problem of dogma itself--of which every religion has more than its fair share. There is no society in recorded history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

Wars based on principle are far more destructive... the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.

--Allan Watts

Don't get me wrong: I love nuclear energy! It's just that I prefer fusion to fission. And it just so happens that there's an enormous fusion reactor safely banked a few million miles from us. It delivers more than we could ever use in just about 8 minutes. And it's wireless!

--William McDonough, leading ecological thinker (upon being asked why some green thinkers neglect to mention nuclear energy as a viable renewable energy source.)

Isn't it ironic? One of the favorite themes of the Christian Conversion Corps is that, if we don't worship a deity, we must be worshiping ourselves. Yet it seems that this is precisely what, in fact, the theists themselves are doing. They worship a God with the same views, ideals, even personality traits as themselves - the God in the mirror.

--Rosa Williams

There's no reason, in theory, why god's presence couldn't be measured or detected in some way. The only reason that believers claim that god "can't" be detected in this way is because god isn't detected, and so a vast and intricate rationale has to be devised to explain this vast, loving, eternal, all-powerful "something" which is, in every external, objective respect, indistinguishable from nothing.


Faith is nothing more than the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.

--Sam Harris (An Atheist Manifesto)

But what gets me is when religion encourages no questioning, blind faith, and then when it’s taught to children I go nuts. Children should not be taught about religion at all. They have no real critical thinking skills, they can’t. It’s really abusive, in my mind, that people teach children about God without letting them know the arguments for the other side and explaining that they will make their own decision about these matters when they are skilled at critical thinking.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 16 May 2005)

Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them.

--Allan Watts

In a reversal of all historic and even prehistoric precedent, it is normal today to consider people who are more concerned with cosmic reality than with making money, to be out of touch and unrealistic. As a people, we now have the scientific ability to see so much more deeply into the universe than ancient people, yet we experience it so much less and connect with it almost not at all. This widespread cultural INDIFFERENCE TO THE UNIVERSE is a staggering reality of our time – and possibly our biggest mental handicap in solving global problems.

--Joel R. Primack (The View from the Center of the Universe)

He walks, He talks. He loves the smell of beef cooking. He hates Gay people and shellfish. He's a serial killer. And in the sequel He even knocks up a teen-age chick.

--Robert Anton Wilson, talking about the Biblical God (Email to the Universe)

[I]f there are any lessons to be learned from history, it is that we should be skeptical of all points of view, including those of the skeptics. No one is infallible, and no one can claim a monopoly on truth or virtue. It would be contradictory for skepticism to seek to translate itself into a new faith. One must view with caution the promises of any new secular priest who might emerge promising a brave new world-- if only his path to clarity and truth is followed. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to temper the intemperate and to tame the perverse temptation that lurks within.

--Paul Kurtz (The Transcendental Temptation)

Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.

--Potter Stewart

It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.

--F.A. Hayek (The Constitution of Liberty)

The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic cleanser, urging his people on to acts of genocide.

--Richard Dawkins (The Root Of All Evil?, Part 2)

Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.

--Allan Watts

Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.

--Will Durant

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.

--Bertrand Russell

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

--Clarence Darrow

[I]t took me so many years to distinguish between believing in things that were real and not real. Not just God, but in other things too: synchronicity, destiny, fate, pre-ordained coincidence. But life is not any less wonderful for not letting myself succumb to those fantasies. In fact it’s more wonderful.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 18 May 2005)

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.


The only freedom that is of enduring importance is the freedom of intelligence, that is to say, freedom of observation and of judgment, exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worthwhile. The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or, with the external or physical side of activity.

--John Dewey

Whenever a Christian says that something is absurd, I just laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

--Ignots Pistachio

The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

--John Stuart Mill

Seems to me that Christians worship the incredible shrinking god. I mean at one time it was supposedly capable of flinging thousands of billions of galaxies into existence with a mere thought. By the time of Noah, it was reduced to flooding an insignificant speck in the cosmos. By the time of Moses, its best trick was moving a tiny portion of a minor sea aside for a short while. By the time of Jesus, it has to send a delegate on its behalf who leaves behind only rumors that he was able to turn water into another beverage, or render himself extra buoyant. Now it counts as a miracle if a water stain grows mold that kind of looks like a bearded face which could be claimed to resemble this supposed delegate. How much more pathetic can this god get? How do Christians manage to sing praises of its glory and greatness without feeling like fools--or at best, like new parents gushing over their toddler's ability to make a pee.


By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes is his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.

--Lord Acton

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.

--Mark Twain (Notebook, 1935)

We should allow only one kind of censorship: self-censorship. Devices for implementing self-censorship exist on all devices. TVs and radios have off-knobs; books have covers. Even the human body has built-in self-censorship devices: closed eyelids, fingers to plug ears, and closed minds to prevent one from even thinking about things.

--Pelican the Politician

There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.

--James Joyce

Second order effects, such as belief in belief, makes fanaticism.

--Alfred Korzybski (Science and Sanity, 1933)

As for the [9/11 conspiracy] theories, I don't think they can be taken very seriously. I think they are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of evidence, and also failure to think through the issues clearly.

--Noam Chomsky (interview)

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.

--Henry Steele Commager

There are many reasons why people believe weird things, but certainly one of the most pervasive is that most people have never heard a good explanation for the weird things they hear or read about.

--Michael Shermer (Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown)

G’head. Believe whatever crazy-ass no-evidence-for-it thing you like. The sky is bright red and Martians live in the ground. Fine! My evidence doesn’t add up that way. But if yours does, then, just please don’t live near me or keep telling me about it.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 28 April 2005)

Any religion that sports an instrument of torture and death as its symbol, I want to stay far away from.

--Ignots Pistachio

The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.

--James Madison

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

--Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)

The history of Christianity has been largely written in blood, the blood of those whom it has sought to proselytize as well as that of those Christians who did not share the theology or ambitions of the male clerical oligarchy that has always wielded power in Christendom. This ignoble distinction is not nor has it ever been the exclusive prerogative of any particular denomination or sect; it is a living legacy of horror that is tragically common to the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox bodies of Christian churches.

--John J. Dunphy

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views... which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

--Dr Who

People must understand that science is inherently neither a potential for good nor for evil. It is a potential to be harnessed by man to do his bidding.

--Glenn T. Seaborg ( US physicist, 1912, Elements of the Universe)

When we liberate people from the constraints of geographical control, opportunities for specialization arise and the access to everything which you can’t make yourself grows.

--Johan Norberg

It’s always been so curious to me, the Church’s stand on communism. If you read the Bible, outside of a couple of passages, and one parable that I can think of, Jesus is constantly admonishing people to give up everything they have for the poor right and left. Jesus would TOTALLY have been a communist.

--Julia Sweeney (Julia Sweeney blog 21 April 2005)

[Those] who have an excessive faith in their theories or in their ideas are not only poorly disposed to make discoveries, but they also make very poor observations.

--Claude Bernard (French physiologist, 1865)

I often say . . . that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

--Lord Kelvin

If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.

--Robert G. Ingersoll

No matter what the cause, even though it be to conquer with tanks and planes and modern artillery some defenseless black population, there will be no lack of poets and preachers and essayists and philosophers to invent the necessary reasons and gild the infamy with righteousness. To this righteousness there is, of course, never an adequate reply. Thus a war to end poverty becomes an unanswerable enterprise. For who can decently be for poverty? To even debate whether the war will end poverty becomes an exhibition of ugly pragmatism and the sign of an ignoble mind.

--John T. Flynn (As We Go Marching)

Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist.

--Academician Prokhor Zakharov (For I Have Tasted The Fruit)

To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light, but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

--Albert Einstein

The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion.

--Justice Robert H. Jackson

Don’t believe everything you think.

--Ignots Pistachio

There is a story about Clare Booth Luce complaining that she was bored with hearing about the Holocaust. A Jewish friend of hers said he perfectly understood her sensitivity in the matter; in fact, he had the same sense of repetitiousness and fatigue, hearing so often about the Crucifixion.

--Herbert Gold (Selfish Like Me)

So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it is unwise and their conscience tells them it is wrong.

--Walter Bagehot

Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.

--Andrei Sakharov

War is the most striking instance of the failure of intelligence to master the problem of human relationships.

--Harry Elmer Barnes

When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker, a raving lunatic.

--Dresden James

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.

--David Hume

Tis nobler to lose honor to save the lives of men than it is to gain honor by taking them.

--David Borenstein

The attempt to silence a man is the greatest honour you can bestow on him. It means that you recognize his superiority to yourself.

--Joseph Sobran

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

--Thomas Paine

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

--Justice Robert H. Jackson

Only reason can convince us of those three fundamental truths without a recognition of which there can be no effective liberty: that what we believe is not necessarily true; that what we like is not necessarily good; and that all questions are open.

--Clive Bell

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.

--Mohandas Gandhi

As a classical liberal, I am in favor of capitalism, not capitalists. There’s a big difference. I believe very firmly in the separation of politics and economics. Politicians ought to make laws (laws that penalize fraud, for example). Corporations ought to make money. That is not the case in a mixed economy, where roles are so undefined that politicians interfere in business, and corporations can seek (and attain) political benefits and privileges.

--Johan Norberg

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.

--Bertrand Russell

Without doubt the greatest injury of all was done by basing morals on myth. For, sooner or later, myth is recognized for what it is, and disappears. Then morality loses the foundation on which it has been built.

--Lord Herbert Louis Samuel

Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it.

--Woodrow Wilson

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

--Thomas Paine

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

--John Adams (1772)

Every Christian who tries to escape the path of a speeding bullet with fear in his eye is an example of a "foxhole conversion" to atheism and proves they don't really believe in a heavenly paradise in the hereafter. There are a hell of a lot more of those conversions than there are of atheists to Christians.

--Darrell Plank

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.

--James Madison (Detached Memoranda, 1820)

Leave the matter of religion to the family, the altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.

--Ulysses S. Grant, 1875

If one of the requisites for emotional health is acceptance of ambiguity and uncertainty, then divinity-oriented religiosity is the unhealthiest state imaginable: since its prime reason for being is to enable the religionist to believe in god-commanded certainty.

--Dr. Albert Ellis (from "The Case Against Religiosity")

War means blind obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton destruction, and irresponsible murder.

--Alexander Berkman

During the whole Nazi period religious education in the schools was never forbidden, but on the contrary was generously encouraged. Despite this, after the war the churches demanded, more or less as compensation, that there must be Catholic schools and religion classes, so that "something like that" never happened again. In fact, however, one has to ask oneself if the religion classes before and during the Nazi period didn't contribute substantially to Christian support for the war as the "work of God," through their inculcation of the doctrine of "obedience to the authorities."

--Johann Neumann (1945: The German churches before and afterwards)

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

--Joseph Conrad

The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it. It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society; it is belief.

--George Bernard Shaw

According to the bishops, the democratic notions of the freedom and equality of all men and all classes, together with the right of free expression of opinion posed a grave threat not only to the Catholic Church, but also to the population as a whole (23.10.1922). Accordingly they branded the democratic revolution as "the hour of the powers of darkness." From that point onwards, with increasing boldness, vice had unfurled its "shameful banners" and besmirched the "pure morals, the sacrament of marriage and the sacredness of the family."

--Johann Neumann (1945: The German churches before and afterwards)

Christianity is so frightening and depressing that Christians have to steal the fun and laughter from the pagan holidays just to make their religion palatable.

--Reagan the Pagan

The weight of the evidence has become so heavy that opposition to the fact of evolution is laughable to all who are acquainted with even a fraction of the published data. Evolution is a fact: as much a fact as plate tectonics or the heliocentric solar system.

--Richard Dawkins (from edge.org)

I live in a culture that wholeheartedly embraces the idea that man is inherently evil, and that human beings will not behave themselves unless they live their short lives under the constant threat of immanent and eternal agony. Such a premise affects me very much; I have to live with these people, who one way or another are in constant fear of (not for) their own souls. I don't want my children associating with people who are trained from birth to loathe themselves. It strikes me as very unhealthy.

--Elf Sternberg

Propaganda has become a bad word thanks to Adolf Hitler and the Catholics who invented the term. So instead of using this bad word, politicians today simply use other terms like: spin doctoring, talking points, etc.

--Pelican the Politician

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them, you're a mile away, and you have their shoes.

--Jack Handey

Believing means I'm unsure. If something is true, then either I know it or I don't know it. Therefore, I don't need to believe in anything.

--Ignots Pistachio

Good scientific methodology is not an abstract set of rules dictated by philosophers. It is conditioned by, and determined by, the science itself and the scientists who create the science. What may have constituted scientific proof for a particle physicist of the 1960's-namely the detection of an isolated particle-is inappropriate for a modern quark physicist who can never hope to remove and isolate a quark. Let's not put the cart before the horse. Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy.

--Leonard Susskind

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.

--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

With the defeat of the Nazis, the German Reich with its complete infrastructure collapsed, leaving only the two large churches with their practically undamaged organisational structure. All the other organisations, the political parties, the freethinkers' organisations and the unions had been forbidden and broken up.

--Johann Neumann (The Churches in Germany Before and After 1945)

In any other field, you can argue about politics, taste in music, poetry. There's never the feeling that you're supposed to tiptoe away. You're just not allowed to criticize someone's belief if it's a religious belief, though you're perfectly allowed if it's about politics.

--Richard Dawkins (Religion for Dummies)

We first fought...in the name of religion, then Communism, and now in the name of drugs and terrorism. Our excuses for global domination always change.

--Serj Tankian

Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.

--Don Hirschberg

The Wizard of Oz is more believable. And more fun.

--James Randi on "Why I Deny Religion" (online newsletter, 25 July 2003)   

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

--International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, 1946

You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.

--Daniel Knode

A survey of all the evidence forces us to conclude that Hitler believes himself destined to become an Immortal Hitler, chosen by God to be the New Deliverer of Germany and the Founder of a new social order for the world. He firmly believes this and is certain that in spite of all the trials and tribulations through which he must pass he will finally attain that goal. The one condition is that he follow the dictates of the inner voice that have guided and protected him in the past.

--Walter Langer, psychoanalyst (in his psychological profile of Adolf Hitler) [Italics added]

[T]he claim that something - say the bacterial flagellum - is too complex to have evolved by natural selection is alleged, by a lamentably common but false syllogism, to support the "rival" intelligent design theory by default. This kind of default reasoning leaves completely open the possibility that, if the bacterial flagellum is too complex to have evolved, it might also be too complex to have been created. And indeed, a moment's thought shows that any God capable of creating a bacterial flagellum (to say nothing of a universe) would have to be a far more complex, and therefore statistically improbable, entity than the bacterial flagellum (or universe) itself - even more in need of an explanation than the object he is alleged to have created.

--Richard Dawkins (from "Intelligent Thought")

(I had) a deep religiosity, which, however, found an abrupt ending at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies. It was a crushing impression. Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude towards the convictions which were alive in any specific social environment - an attitude which has never again left me.

--Albert Einstein (Autobiographical Notes, 1949)

Men rarely (if ever) dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.

--Robert Heinlein (Time Enough for Love)

Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.

--Mahatma Gandhi

It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.

--Richard Dawkins (responding to The Edge's 2005 question)

We cannot tolerate war in this world anymore. Wars are not only disastrous for the societies directly involved but also fatal for all of mankind.

--Whitney Harris (a principle prosecutor in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial)

A deep unfaltering belief signals an alarm that you have great ignorance about something.

--Ignots Pistachio

Three weeks ago my mother died. At the end of her funeral the priest left us with these words as a final reminder of what had been said repeatedly in a variety of ways for the past two days: "We who leave here in sorrow know that we will one day be reunited with her in joy." My concern here is not with the truth or falsity of this preposterous belief, but with its psychological function as a guarantee that offers human beings a way to deprive death of its finality. And of the terror that prospect entails. The function of guarantees is to enable human beings to bear events and contingencies that would otherwise be too traumatic. There is much that we can face apparently only when we can deny it through the working of what we'll soon see is an entire system of guarantees. Such perhaps is one accurate estimation of what it means to be a human being, to remain a child of one's needs and desires disguising that fact in the form of ideas and concepts.

--Walter A. Davis (Of Pynchon, Thanatos and Depleted Uranium. Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq, 10 Oct. 04)  

The power of the executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.

--Sir Winston Churchill (In a telegram by Churchill from Cairo to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, 21 Nov. 1943)

One of the reasons I find the Bible incredulous is that when god speaks to people, nobody ever really freaks out and questions their sanity. I find that awfully convenient. Or, when these preachers on TV say god spoke to them, what the fuck? Shouldn't this be front-page news? Either god is speaking to them and we have a modern day prophet and the newfound words should be published everywhere, or they are criminals for swindling their donations.

--Howard Campbell (Poker Without Cards)

And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

--James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

In the Middle East, the Bronze Age people of Canaan--the ancient region between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean that roughly corresponds to Israel--also failed to adapt to the drying out of their lands around 2200 BC(E). In their case, says Arlene Rosen of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, "it was their beliefs that were their undoing. In Canaan, people believed that environmental disasters were caused by a deity unhappy with the people," she says. Like the Mayans, the Canaanites could have coped with the new conditions by introducing new irrigation systems for their crops.

Instead, they attributed the shift in climate to the wrath of the gods, built more temples and prayed for better times. Within a short time, the cities and towns were abandoned and the people became nomadic hearders.

--'Rigid' cultures caught out by climate change (article in the 5 March 1994 edition of New Scientist)

The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadequate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: "Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possible have." In other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied.

--Martin Luther King, Jr. ("The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus," 1950)

We live in a twisted world, where right is wrong and wrong reigns supreme. It is a chilling fact that most of the world's leaders believe in nonsensical fairytales about the nature of reality. They believe in Gods that do not exist, and religions that could not possibly be true. We are driven to war after war, violence on top of violence to appease madmen who believe in gory mythologies. These men are called Christians, Muslims and Jews.

--Cenk Uygur (If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are wrong)

Be comforted that we have each other to depend on! When waters rise and swallow crops, we count on one another to plant those crops again, to rebuild homes, to care for our sick! Some blame God and demand we make sacrifice to Him. If your village was being flooded would you, Erasmus, butcher your daughters like Abraham tried with Isaac, because some priest told you God demanded it? Or would you try to build canals to divert the water, understanding that there is a mechanism to why floods happen and no God has anything to do with it.

--Hypatia (from Brian Trent's novel, "Remembering Hypatia")

The great snare of thought is uncritical acceptance of irrational assumptions.

--Will Durant

In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds- that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.

--Justice Robert H. Jackson

If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.

--Albert Camus

People think that epilepsy is divine simply because they don't have any idea what causes epilepsy. But I believe that someday we will understand what causes epilepsy, and at that moment, we will cease to believe that it's divine. And so it is with everything in the universe.


The great progress that has been made in medicine and in science has not necessarily been made by men and women who don't believe in anything supernatural but it has been made by men and women who when they are studying it refuse to believe that there is anything supernatural.

--Dr. Sherwin Nuland (author of "How We Die," in an interview on C-Span's "Book TV")

Korzybski suggested dozens of reforms in our speech and our writings, most of which I try to follow. One of them is if people said 'maybe' more often, the world would suddenly become stark, staring sane. Can you see Jerry Falwell saying: "Maybe God hates gay people. Maybe Jesus is the son of God.' Every muezzin in Islam resounding at night in booming voices: 'There is no God except maybe Allah. And maybe Mohammed is his papa. Think about how sane the world would become after a while.

--Robert Anton Wilson (Premature Illumination)

This is the most incompetent government in U.S. history.

--Jerry Springer (On Air America, 21 Sept. 2005)

The philosophical reason why "fair trade" is not in fact fair, comes from the definition of justice. For me, justice is acting in harmony with reality, making decisions on the basis of what reality and the standard of human life require. Oxfam's notion of "fair trade" is the opposite of this: they advocate paying prices for coffee which are in direct conflict with supply and demand, and with the competence and efficiency of the coffee producers, i.e. in conflict with reality. Any departure from reality, for any reason whatsoever, has disastrous consequences.

--Johan Norberg

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

--Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

What's wrong with this picture:

1. On 20 Oct. 2005, Lashaun Harris heard voices that told her to dump her three young children into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay so that she could feed them to the sharks. The people of San Francisco and the world were shocked and outraged. She was promptly arrested and charged with murder.

2. George W. Bush heard the voice of God telling him he should invade Iraq. He lied to Congress and the American people and in 2003, he started an illegal war which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent children (and adults). The world was outraged yet this murderer has not been arrested and to this day remains a free man.

To recapitulate a historical fact that took over 50 years to rescue from myth: the United States did not bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki "to end the war and save countless lives." It did so for four reasons (and in the knowledge that a defeated Japan was pursuing terms of surrender through several diplomatic channels): (1) to avenge Pearl Harbor, (2) to justify the amount of money spent developing the Bomb, (3) to create a laboratory whereby our scientific, medical, and military personnel could study its effects, and (4) to impress the Russians -and the world- with this opening salvo of the Cold War. In short, Hiroshima was the first act of global terrorism. That story couldn't be told, however, and still encounters strenuous resistance from most Americans, because it exposes too many of the guarantees we want to have about our Nation and its actions in history.

--Walter A. Davis (Of Pynchon, Thanatos and Depleted Uranium. Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq. 10 Oct. 04)

It is the Christian attitude that gradually empties the world of its substance... since the substance resided in a conglomeration of symbols.

--Jaspers (quoted by Albert Camus in "The Rebel")

When the thunderous clouds of fascists past and corporatists present finally dissipate over the vast lands of the United States, leaving in its wake a nation recovering from the violent downpours of mass lunacy, fear and collective schizophrenia that have caused a dustbowl-style drought of humanity in the nation of gluttonous undertakings, it will finally be seen, beyond the enveloping haze of post 9/11 hypnosis hindering American visibility, the devastation of what was done to us and what has been done to the world in our name, oftentimes with our willing consent and through our complicit guilt through silence and acquiescence.

--Manuel Valenzuela (Rise of the Amerikan Nazis Part III of III: Amerikan Terrorists, American Tragedy)

Brother will kill brother

Spilling blood across the land.
Killing for religion.
Something I don't understand.

--"Holy Wars The Punishment Due" by Megadeth

People who talk of outlawing the atomic bomb are mistaken - what needs to be outlawed is war.

--Leslie Richard Groves

We have a Department of Defense (once called the Department of War), but it is really a Department of Offense, and we don't have a Department of Peace. Without a department to balance the warmongers, we will forever continue as a nation of war.

--Pelican the Politician

The Catholic Church was the first organization to recognize that gamering consensus was an effective path to ruling people. The church was the first to employ this tactic. Using this tactic means that they recognized that if you seize the mind, the body will follow.

--Howard Campbell (Poker Without Cards)

As the great biologist J B S Haldane growled, when asked what might disprove evolution: "Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian." Evolution, like all good theories, makes itself vulnerable to disproof. Needless to say, it has always come through with flying colours.

--Richard Dawkins (from the edge.org)

There's something problematic when any religion is taken literally and when people try to impose it on others. It was true for Christianity and Europeans, who historically were happy to go the Holy Land and slaughter religious infidels there. Just 400 years ago in Europe, we had wars on religious grounds. The key was that Europe figured out ways of having different beliefs without slaughtering one another. It was secularization that saved the West, and the same thing has to happen with Islam. People don't have to give up religion, but they have to confine it to a private sphere and not try to impose it via force.

--Johan Norberg

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

--Adam Savage (from MythBusters)

Christians, Islamics, and Jews make the best soldiers. They make themselves feel good about killing others, or sacrificing their lives for someone, or something else. They will even commit the ultimate sacrifice for the tiniest scrap of superstition, with the full confidence that their Sacred Scripts allow such conduct.

--Pelican the Politician

Faith is a reason to become stupid: 'From this point forward, I will remain stupid.' To me, faith-based organizations are responsible for everything I see wrong with this planet. Research-based organizations are responsible for everything I like about it. Before the French Revolution, the average life expectancy was 37 years. Now it's 78 years. All due to research-based organizations. Not at all due to faith-based organizations. All faith-based organizations give you is George Bush. Research-based organizations give you cures for disease.

--Robert Anton Wilson (Premature Illumination

I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.

--Christopher Marlowe

We did not raise armies for glory or for conquest.

--Thomas Jefferson

The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it.

--Lazarus Long, Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlein

Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor.

--A pirate, from St. Augustine's "City of God"

If religionists applied reason and science to their faith, their religion would simply die. That's why faith must oppose science for its very survival.

--Ignots Pistachio

I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven ­ time and again ­ to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.

--James Randi (on his weekly newsletter, 02 Sept. 2005)

When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong.

--Richard Dawkins (citing a maxim when explaining the evolution & creationism debate)

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

--John Adams

You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear-
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade-
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught, before it's too late!
Before you are six, or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate-
You've got to be carefully taught,
You've got to be carefully taught!

--Oscar Hammerstein II (from Rogers & Hammerstein's South Pacific)

Obviously I'm using a metaphor to describe what is essentially a comprehensive assault on scientific expertise. I don't mean a literal war, but I'm referring to the fact that scientific expertise has been undermined very systematically by the Bush Administration and by the Republican Congress on issues ranging from evolution to global climate change to embryonic stem cell research. I think that it's appropriate to talk about this comprehensive assault, using that kind of figurative language.

--Chris Mooney 

The uneasy paradox which so many live with in this country - of being first-and-foremost rugged individuals, out to plunder what they can and paying as little tax as they can get away with, while at the same time believing that America is a robust, model society - has reached a crisis point this week.

--Matt Wells (New Orleans crisis shames US)

Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy needs to stand trial before congress today... Take whatever idiot they have at the top, give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot.

--Aaron Broussard (president of Jefferson Parish)

In passing, I have to ask if our President has seen fit to blame God for the thousands of dead innocents, the loss of property that made millions homeless, the displacement and separation of families, the destruction of fine buildings and the general damage to our way of life ­ which took place and continues to take place despite his assurance that he'd prayed to God ­ begged for mercy ­ about the situation. One Reverend on TV thanked God for diverting Katrina slightly east so that New Orleans didn't receive it directly; what it did to Mississippi as a result of that divine response, wasn't mentioned. The governor of Louisiana declared a Day of Prayer, with no noticeable effect.

--James Randi (on his weekly newsletter, 02 Sept. 2005)

The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.

--Ramsey Clark

If you want someone or organization to prey on you, here's what you do: Don't think. Believe. Have some strong faith in something, anything. Let other people think for you. The quickest way, however, is just to become a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew.

--Ignots Pistachio

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

--Mahatma Gandhi

Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?

--Kahlil Gibran

Those who choose to abstain from beliefs have great wisdom, for belief in even one false premise can lead to unimaginable disasters.

--Spatch Pentameter

The fundamental defect in the present state of democracy is the assumption that political and economic freedom can be achieved without first freeing the mind. Freedom of mind is not something that spontaneously happens. It is not achieved by the mere absence of obvious restraints. It is a product of constant, unremitting nurture of right habits of observation and reflection.

Until the taboos that hedge social topics from contact with thought are removed, scientific method and results in subjects far removed from social themes will make little impression upon the public mind. Prejudice, fervor of emotion, bunkum, opinion and irrelevant argument will weigh as heavily as fact and knowledge. Intellectual confusion will continue to encourage the men who are intolerant and who fake their beliefs in the interests of their feelings and fancies.

--John Dewey (Science, Belief, and the Public, 1924)

It occurs to me that the primary agenda of the powers that be is to induce FAITH. Faith means you are obligated to not think stuff through-- whatever they tell you not to think through.

--"Ben Mack" (Poker Without Cards)

You cannot reason with those to whom reason is a stranger, or with those driven by fear and ignorance.

--Steve Champeon

To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war.

--Ludwig von Mises

Conservatives who hate liberalism should contemplate whether conservatism or liberalism would better the world. Fascists and Islamic terrorists are hard-line conservatives. Do you really think their conservative nature makes things better? Now imagine if they all became liberals. They would no longer harbor an ideology that promotes war. Science would progress. Education and medical care would dominate their concerns. They might even see the benefit of a government similar to the first secular government in the world: the Constitutional government as founded by American liberals.

--Pelican the Politician

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil.

--George Orwell

It's liberty for all, democracy's our style, unless you are against us, then it's prison without trial.

--Mick Jagger

I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.

--Charles Darwin

To speak of God, to think of God, is in every respect to show what one is made of.... I have always wagered against God and I regard the little that I have won in this world as simply the outcome of this bet. However paltry may have been the stake (my life) I am conscious of having won to the full. Everything that is doddering, squint-eyed, vile, polluted and grotesque is summoned up for me in that one word: God!

--Andr Breton (Surrealism and Painting, footnote, 1928)

Things have come to pass where lying sounds like truth, truth like lying... The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labor of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge... [marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.

--Theodor Adorno (Minima Moralia)

The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.

--Marcus Tullius Cicero

The First World War was wholly Christian in origin. The three emperors were devout and so were the more warlike of the British Cabinet.

--Bertrand Russell

In contrast to the ancient world, the unity of the Christian and Marxist world is astonishing. The two doctrines have in common a vision of the world which completely separates them from the Greek attitude. Jaspers defines this very well: "It is a Christian way of thinking to consider that the history of man is strictly unique."

--Albert Camus (The Rebel)

I will not swear on God. I will not swear on God, because I don't believe in the conceptual sense and in this nonsense. What I will swear on is my children and my grandchildren.

--Marlon Brando (refusing to recite a religious oath while testifying at his son Christian's trial, 1990. Source: Who's Who in Hell edited by Warren Allen Smith)

I note with interest that more and more commentators and columnists are getting around to asking questions about the basic rights that Americans are supposed to have about worshipping - or not worshipping - any of the hundreds of different varieties of deities that our species has invented to make the human condition more bearable and less confounding; having a "God did it" explanation to fall back on, allows us not to think about heavy matters. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion, but that's getting increasingly difficult to achieve.

--James Randi (in his weekly online newsletter)

"Fundamentalism" might have been revived even if the Great War had not occurred. But it is reasonable to suppose that it would have not assumed such an intolerant and vituperative form, if so many educated men, in positions of leadership, had not deliberately cultivated resort to bitter intolerance and to coercive suppression of disliked opinions during the war... Until highly respectable and cultivated classes of men cease to suppose that in economic and political matters the importance of the end of social stability and security justifies the use of means other than those of reason, the intellectual habit of the public will continue to be corrupted at the root, and by those from whom enlightenment should be expected.

--John Dewey (Science, Belief, and the Public, 1924)

Now must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in god on the minds of children, producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

--Charles Darwin

A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be...surer of the noose than a private homicide.

--H. G. Wells

By analogy, imagine an archaeologist looking for the transition from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile in a large lot where carriages and automobiles have been dumped for the past 150 years. On the bottom layer, he would find many carriages, and above, he would find many autos and auto parts starting with the first popular car - the Model-T Ford. But what are his chances of finding one of the first experimental cars that looked like a carriage with a motor attached - the automotive missing link?

--David W. Briggs (in response to creationists bleating about the lack of transitional life-forms in the fossil record)

Tis nobler to lose honor to save the lives of men than it is to gain honor by taking them.

--David Borenstein

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

--Albert Einstein

Enlightenment is man's leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own intelligence!

--Immanuel Kant (What Is Enlightenment? 1784)

Divine ordination is a very dangerous idea, especially when combined with military power (the United States has 10,000 nuclear weapons, with military bases in a hundred different countries and warships on every sea). With God's approval, you need no human standard of morality. Anyone today who claims the support of God might be embarrassed to recall that the Nazi storm troopers had inscribed on their belts, "Gott mit uns" ("God with us").

--Howard Zinn (The Power and the Glory)

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) 

If you make peaceful change impossible... you make violent revolution inevitable.

--President John F. Kennedy

Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?

--Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner (on the Ten Commandments ruling, June 27, 2005)

Every new & successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.

--James Madison (letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822)

War and religion; one cannot exist without the other.

--Pelican the Politician

Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.

--Will Durant (Story of Civilization, Vol IV: Age of Faith)

In spite of all the yearnings of men, no one can produce a single fact or reason to support the belief in god and in personal immortality.

--Clarence Darrow

So, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, if you go for all these fairy tales, that "evil" woman convinced the man to eat the apple, but the apple came from the Tree of Knowledge. And the punishment that was then handed down, the woman gets to bleed and the guy's got to go to work, is the result of a man desiring, because his woman suggested that it would be a good idea, that he get all the knowledge that was supposedly the property and domain of God. So, that right away sets up Christianity as an anti-intellectual religion. You never want to be that smart. If you're a woman, it's going to be running down your leg, and if you're a guy, you're going to be in the salt mines for the rest of your life. So, just be a dumb fuck and you'll all go to heaven. That's the subtext of Christianity.

--Frank Zappa

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.

--Sir R. F. Burton (Arabian Nights, vol. 10)

You don't have to give the Republicans Hell. All You have to do is tell the truth, and they'll think that it's Hell.

--Harry Truman

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.

--Bertrand Russell

I'm a nonbeliever. I don't believe in the existence of a God. I don't believe in the Christian dogma. I find it horrifyingly silly. The intolerance that flows from organized religion is the most dangerous thing on the planet.

--Jane Rule (Brave Souls: Writers and Artists Wrestle with God, Love, Death and the Things that Matter, by Douglas Todd)

Not only is war a form of legalized murder, but it is mass serial killing. Take all the infamous serial killers throughout history (including Jack-the-Ripper, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer) and a single war makes them all look like rank amateurs. So if you support any offensive war, consider yourself just as culpable of murder as the most insane serial killer.

--Sarah Bellum

If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.

--Thomas Jefferson (letter to William Short, 28 July 1791)

There is only one religion that exists throughout all history, the belief in eternity. This belief is a deception.

--Albert Camus (The Rebel)

The creationists' fondness for "gaps" in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don't know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don't understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don't go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don't work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don't squander precious ignorance by researching it away.

--Richard Dawkins (Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant)

What you don't know isn't the problem; it's what you do 'know' that just isn't so.

--Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley)

In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

--George Orwell

Don't tell me God works in mysterious ways. There's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else he's forgotten all about us.... How much reverence can you have for a Supreme being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in his divine system of creation? What in the world was going through that warped, evil, scatological mind of his when he robbed old people of the ability to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did he ever create pain? ... Why couldn't he have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of his celestial choirs? Or a system of red-and-blue neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead? ... What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power he had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess he made of it instead, his sheer incompetence is almost staggering.... Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like him as even a shipping clerk!

--Yossarian to Lt. Scheisskopf's wife (Catch 22, by Joseph Heller)

Senator [Coleman], in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right, and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives, 1600 of them American soldiers, sent to their deaths on a pack of lives, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies. If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, who's dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened, to President Chirac, who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens, you are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

--George Galloway (member of Briton's Parliament, in a US Senate hearing)

As words are not the things we speak about, and structure is the only link between them, structure becomes the only content of knowledge. If we gamble on verbal structures that have no observable empirical structures, such gambling can never give us any structural information about the world. Therefore such verbal structures are structurally obsolete, and if we believe in them, they induce delusions or other semantic disturbances.

--Alfred Korzybski (Science and Sanity, 1933)

In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them.

--Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Buddhist monk)

My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the 'Day of Prayer' in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say 'Enough!' Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.

--"Time to Stand Up" (written for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sept. 2001)

We evolved as a social primate species whose language ability facilitated the exchange of such association anecdotes. The problem is that although true pattern recognition helps us survive, false pattern recognition does not necessarily get us killed, and so the overall phenomenon has endured the winnowing process of natural selection.

--Michael Shermer (Turn Me On, Dead Man)

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.

--Voltaire (from the Essay on Tolerance)

At the time of its Founding, the United States seemed to be an infertile ground for religion. Many of the nation's leaders - include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin - were not Christians, did not accept the authority of the Bible, and were hostile to organized religion. The attitude of the general public was one of apathy: in 1776, only 5 percent of the population were participating members of churches.

--Ian Robertson (Sociology, 3rd edition)

Every man, who reasons, soon becomes and unbeliever.

--Paul Henri Thiry, Baron D'Holbach

It is always easier to believe than to deny. Our minds are naturally affirmative.

--John Burroughs

'Believing' cannot tip the scales in making a historical judgement about whether something really happened. I can choose to believe that George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock, but my believing that he did it has nothing to do with whether or not he really did do it. So also with the story of Jesus walking on water: Believing that he did it has nothing to do with whether he really did do it. 'Belief' cannot be the basis for historical conclusions; it has no direct relevance.

--Marcus J. Borg ("Faith and Scholarship," August, 1993, Bible Review)

Anyone who engages in the practice of psychotherapy confronts every day the devastation wrought by the teachings of religion.

--Nathaniel Branden (Ph.D. Psychologist, author The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem)

All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with liberty.

--Henry Clay (Address, U.S. House of Representatives, March 24, 1818)

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

--Saul Bellow

Religion is the most inflammatory enemy-labelling device in history.

--Richard Dawkins (Time to Stand Up)

Whenever religion is involved, terrorists kill more people.

--Dr. Bruce Hoffman (director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University, Scotland)

You mean you LIKE the thought that you've been created especially to worship your creator, and after you die you'll honor it throughout eternity? That's your purpose in existence--to be a cosmic cheering squad for a deity so vain and insecure that it needs constant reassurance that it's supreme? No thank you!

--Aviva (on alt.atheism)

One also has to understand that the legacy of the black church has hardly been progressive. While it did help blacks weather the storms of slavery and postslavery racism, it also hindered them from developing a modern outlook and keeps some of them locked in a religious provincialism (victimized by hucksters) allowing a patriarchal authoritarianism to take root along with a hostility to ideas and other means of self-assertion that wasn't even challenged until the civil rights era.

--Norman Kelley (The Head Negro In Charge Syndrome)

QUESTION: But, how does (fill in the blank) actually (work, do what you claim, etc.)?

ANSWER: It's so complex I can't explain it, you wouldn't understand.

REBUTTAL: That's not correct. If you won't explain it, I won't understand. But if you can't explain it, then you don't understand!

Q: Is anti-Semitism integral or incidental to Christianity?

PF: That's a heartbreaker. In modern middle-class America, is it intrinsic? No. But anti-Semitism has been integral to Christianity. When you think about it, the Holocaust was the greatest, most energetic, most spontaneous Christian ecumenical movement since the Crusades: Lithuanian Orthodox, German Lutherans, Catholic Frenchmen - everybody pitched in to kill Jewish civilians, children.

--Paula Fredriksen (historian of early Christianity in an interview)

It is the true believer's ability to "shut his eyes and stop his ears" to the facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacle nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence.

--Eric Hoffer, (The True Believer, response to Martin Luther's faithful shutting-out of contrary evidence, in Table Talk, Number 1687)

History aside, the almost universal opinion that one's own religious convictions are the reasoned outcome of a dispassionate evaluation of all the major alternatives is almost demonstrably false for humanity in general. If that really were the genesis of most people's convictions, then one would expect the major faiths to be distributed more or less randomly or evenly over the globe. But in fact they show a very strong tendency to cluster... which illustrates what we all suspected anyway: that social forces are the primary determinants of religious belief for people in general. To decide scientific questions by appeal to religious orthodoxy would therefore be to put social forces in place of empirical evidence...

--Paul Churchland (Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind)

I don't know. And I think that's a great way to end an interview. 'I don't know.' There's more that I don't know, than there is that I do know.

--Robert Anton Wilson (in an interview)

What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.

--Stephen W. Hawking (Der Spiegel, 1989)

A religious person is a dangerous person. He may not become a thief or a murderer, but he is liable to become a nuisance. He carries with him many foolish and harmful superstitions, and he is possessed with the notion that it is his duty to give these superstitions to others. That is what makes trouble. Nothing is so worthless as superstition....

--Marilla M. Ricker (Science Against Creeds," I Am Not Afraid Are You?")

Violence has come to be regarded by ever larger sectors of the population... as a legitimate instrument, indeed as the only instrument to change reality and achieve progress and development. This, to put it simply, is madness. A good part of this violence proceeds from a political fiction, from the idea that through a system and a body of ideas you can capture reality in its entirety and express it, organize it and reform it in a perfectly logical way. Every ideology leads ultimately to fanaticism, and fanaticism is fiction trying to impose itself on reality in the name of science.

--Mario Vargas Llosa (Fictions that Breed Violence)

As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.

--William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.

--Alexis de Tocqueville

When you legislate personal belief, you're in violation of freedom of religion. The Catholic Church may espouse its opinion on abortion to the members of its congregation. But they are in violation of separation of church and state when they try to proselytize their abortion politics on people who are not Catholics.

--John Irving (interview in Mother Jones, May/June 1997)

The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies.

--Basil O'Connor

Technology disappeared and the Church became the most cohesive power in Western society. The extensive aqueduct and plumbing systems vanished. Orthodox Christians taught that all aspects of the flesh should be reviled and therefore discouraged washing as much as possible. Toilets and indoor plumbing disappeared. Disease became commonplace as sanitation and hygiene deteriorated. For hundreds of years, towns and villages were decimated by epidemics.

--Helen Ellerbe (The Dark Side of Christian History)

If we, who live outside asylums, act as if we lived in a fictitious world-- that is to say, if we are consistent with our beliefs-- we cannot adjust ourselves to actual conditions, and so fall into many avoidable semantic difficulties. But the so-called normal person practically never abides by his beliefs, and when his beliefs are building for him a fictitious world, he saves his neck by not abiding by them. A so-called "insane" person acts upon his beliefs, and so cannot adjust himself to a world which is quite different from his fancy.

--Alfred Korzybski (Science and Sanity, 1933)

It is pure illusion to think that an opinion which passes down from century to century to century, from generation to generation, may not be entirely false.

--Pierre Bayle (Thoughts on the Comet, 1682)

The clergy, no less than the capitalist class, lives on the backs of the people, profits from the degradation, the ignorance and the oppression of the people.

--Rosa Luxemburg (Socialism and the Churches,1905)

There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.

--Mark Twain ("Bible Teaching and Religious Practice," Europe and Elsewhere, 1923)

But we, wretched unbelievers, we bear our own burdens; we must say, 'I myself did it, I. Not God, not Satan; I myself!'

--Olive Schreiner (The Story of an African Farm)

If faith cannot be reconciled with rational thinking, it has to be eliminated as an anachronistic remnant of earlier stages of culture and replaced by science dealing with facts and theories which are intelligible and can be validated.

--Erich Fromm (Man for Himself, 1947)

The nearest I can make it out, 'Love your Enemies' means, 'Hate your Friends.'

--Benjamin Franklin

[I am] not just an atheist, but a total nonbeliever.

--David Cronenberg (interview in Esquire magazine, Feb. 1992)

Masochistic self-sacrifice is an integral part of most major organized religions... Orthodox religions deliberately instill guilt (self-damnation) in their adherents and then give these adherents guilt-soothing rituals to (temporarily) allay these kind of self-damning feelings.

--Dr. Albert Ellis (The Case Against Religiosity)

The Bible is not the verbally inspired, inerrant word of God; it is just a collection of contradictory, discrepant books that were written by superstitious ethnocentrics who thought that the hand of God was directing the destiny of the Hebrew people.

--Farrell Till (former minister and missionary for the Church of Christ)

Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration -- courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.

--H.L. Mencken

This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure republic, which is practicable on a large scale of country or population. And we have examples of it in some of our States constitutions, which, if not poisoned by priest-craft, would prove its excellence over all mixtures with other elements; and, with only equal doses of poison, would still be the best.

--Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Taylor, 28 May 1816)

The Religious-Right wants to keep deformed fetuses and vegetable state victims (the undead) alive while they approve of the killing of innocent women, children, and men in their "moral" wars, and thorough their cutting of social services. Their plan, taken to the extreme, would result in the earth filled with brainless, zombies. Hey wait a minute, I'm describing the mental condition of the Religious-Right!

--Bloatus the Obvious

We would be 1,500 years ahead if it hadn't been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best minds at the stake.

--Catherine Fahringer

'Whatever you might say the object "is", well it is not.'

--Alfred Korzybski (Science and Sanity, 1933)

The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason.

--Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard, 1758)

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.

--Isaac Asimov

Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.

--Mark Twain

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.

--Isaac Asimov

We conjurors are never more amused than when we hear that canard, "Seeing is believing." We, above all others, know well that such a claim is not necessarily true...!

--James Randi (From Randi's Newsletter)

One of Bush Sr's numerious lies to the American people:

"I can tell you this: If I'm ever in a position to call the shots, I'm not going to rush to send somebody else's kids into a war."

--George H. W. Bush

It is clearly not human nature that causes people to hurt one another. People of gentler cultures share the same human nature as we of Western civilization; it is our beliefs that differ.

--Helen Ellerbe (The Dark Side of Christian History)

Ideas that cannot be defended by reason and evidence can lead anywhere, and, if there is no warrant for one's belief, there is no telling where it will end.

--Paul M. Pfalzner, medical biology physicist

The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short circuit destroying the mind.

--Ayn Rand

The worst criminals are not half so immoral as the creators and perpetrators of the unquestionable hell of Christian theology.

--M.M. Mangasarian (Morality Without God, 1913)

Richard Nixon crossed the line when he began murdering foreigners in the name of "family values"- and George Bush crossed it when he sneaked into office and began killing brown skinned children in the name of Jesus and the American people.

--Hunter S. Thompson (Kingdom of Fear)

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

--Mark Twain (Autobiography of Mark Twain)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

--H. L. Mencken

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

--William Kingdon Clifford

The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable. A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by some people as a morbid aberration. The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has made Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life.

--Bertrand Russell

Is it even vaguely possible that some New Age Republican whore-beast of a false president could actually make Richard Nixon look like a liberal?

--Hunter S. Thompson (Kingdom of Fear)

The Church had devastating impact upon society. As the Church assumed leadership, activity in the fields of medicine, technology, science, education, history, art and commerce all but collapsed. Europe entered the Dark Ages.

--Helen Ellerbe (The Dark Side of Christian History)

If all the historic books of the Bible were blotted from the memory of mankind, nothing of value would be lost.

--Robert Ingersoll

Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established.

--Ludwig Feuerbach

The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history.

--Noam Chomsky

We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

--Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man "Knowledge or Certainty")

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people.

--Joe Conason

There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.

--Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Weiss vs. District Board, March 18, 1890

How so many absurd rules of conduct, as well as so many absurd religious beliefs, have originated, we do not know; nor how it is that they have become, in all quarters of the world, so deeply impressed on the minds of men; but it is worthy of remark that a belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life, while the brain is impressionable, appears to acquire almost the nature of an instinct; and the very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason.

--Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man)

Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning.

--Albert Einstein

Men become superstitious not because they had too much imagination, but because they were not aware that they had any.

--George Santayana

Facism is a religious concept.

--Benito Mussolini (Facism, Institutions And Doctrines)

History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.

--Robert A. Heinlein

The US military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

--Senator Ted Kennedy

Devout deity-inspired religionists tend to sacrifice human love for godly love (agape) and to withdraw into monastic and holy affairs at the expense of intimate interpersonal relationships. They frequently are deficient in social competance. They spend immense amounts of time, effort, and money on establishments rather than on social welfare. They foment religious fights, feuds, wars, and terrorism...They encourage charity that is highly parochial and that is linked to god's glory more than to the alleviation of human suffering. Their altruism is highly alloyed with egotistically proving to god how great and glorious they can be as human benefactors.

--Dr. Albert Ellis (The Case Against Religiosity)

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

--Albert Einstein

I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do.

--D. Dale Gulledge

Where is it written that if you don't like religion you are somehow disqualified from being a legitimate American? What was Mark Twain, a Russian? When did it become un-American to have opinions about the origin and meaning of the universe that come from sources other than the body of dogma of organizations approved by the federal government as certifiably Judeo-Christian? Is it American to believe that God ordered Tribe X to abjure port, or that he caused Leader Y to be born to a virgin, why is it suddenly un-American to doubt the prime mover of this unimaginably vast universe of quintillions of solar systems would likely be obsessed with questions involving the dietary and biosexual behavior of a few thousand bipeds inhabiting a small part of a speck of dust orbiting a third-rate star in an obscure spiral arm of one of millions of more or less identical galaxies?

--Hendrik Hertzberg

It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

--Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man "Knowledge or Certainty")

The only thing that guarantees that (sufficiently complex) beliefs actually represent the world, are chains of evidence and argument linking them to the world. Only on matters of religious faith do sane men and women regularly dispute this fact.

--Sam Harris, Neuroscientist (responding to The Edge's 2005 question)

In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available... in America right now.

--Merle Haggard

PROPAGANDA: New Latin, first used in the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, an organization established by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.

1) The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.2) Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.

Before the Christian dismisses atheism as irrational or condemns the atheist as immoral, he should consider the disturbing possibility that the God of Christianity is himself an atheist. And if this is true, it means that the Christian worships, obeys, and has devoted his life to an atheistic being who does not believe in any power superior to himself, never prays, is utterly without faith, and who does not acknowledge any authority, either cognitive or moral, external to himself.

Satan is not an atheist--that much is clear--for he believes in the God of Christianity. We thus have the intriguing spectacle of a battle between two titans, with God the Atheist on the side of good, and Satan the Theist on the side of evil. And if the Bible is to be believed, the Atheist will ultimately triumph over the Theist.

--George H. Smith (The Case Against God Sequel)

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

--Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

--Ayn Rand

When the sacrifice of several generations has proved insufficient, we must then embark on an infinite period of universal strife one thousand times more destructive than before, then the conviction of faith is needed in order to accept the necessity of killing and dying. This new faith is no more founded on pure reason than were the ancient faiths.

--Albert Camus (The Rebel)

When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei [the voice of the people is the voice of God], as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science.

--Charles Darwin (quoted from Stephen J. Gould's "Ever Since Darwin")

The only excuse for God is that he does not exist.


If peace... only had the music and pagaentry of war, there'd be no wars.

--Sophie Kerr

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything--you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.

--Robert A. Heinlein

I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions.

--Robert Anton Wilson (Thought of the Month, 3.11.93 Jia Shen, Year of the Monkey)

To those who warn that it would be inhumane and wrong to leave Iraq soon, I ask: What's so humane about sticking around and killing again and again?

--Helen Thomas

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.

--Alexis de Tocqueville

There are many reasons why people believe weird things, but certainly one of the most pervasive is that most people have never heard a good explanation for the weird things they hear or read about.

--Michael Shermer (Science Friction:Where the Known Meets the Unknown)

People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

--Dave Barry

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.

--Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

History has shown that religions eventually die out. The ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman religions all had long reigns but they all died out. The same will happen to Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, but atheism will live on regardless of what new religion replaces the old. It gives me special satisfaction to realize that atheism will still be around, long after Christianity has died out.

--Ignots Pistachio

The United States did not invade Iraq out of some great humanitarian compassion to protect the Iraqi people, nor did the administration defend the invasion on those grounds early on. (Remember how Iraq was an imminent threat with weapons of mass destruction targeted to destroy us?) Nor did the Iraqis ask for us to save them from Saddam.

--Helen Thomas

Mathematics has the completely false reputation of yielding infallible conclusions. Its infallibility is nothing but identity. Two times two is not four, but it is just two times two, and that is what we call four for short. But four is nothing new at all. And thus it goes on and on in its conclusions, except that in the higher formulas the identity fades out of sight.

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (quoted from J. R. Newman's The World of Mathematics)

Unhappily, an unerring fact of human nature is that we habitually reject the evidence of our own senses. If we want to believe something, then we often find a way to do so regardless of evidence to the contrary. Believing is seeing and not the other way around.

--Errol Morris (Not Every Picture Tells a Story, 20 Nov. 2004)

If you want to know if you're insane, ask yourself if you have an unwavering belief, one that you could never disavow no matter what. If you answered yes, then you're insane.

--Ignots Pistachio

A believer is a bird in a cage. A freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing.

--Robert Ingersoll

The error of confusing cause and effect. There is no more dangerous error than that of mistaking the effect for the cause: I call it the real corruption of reason. Yet this error belongs among the most ancient and recent habits of mankind: it is even hallowed among us and goes by the name of 'religion' or 'morailty.'

--Frederich Nietzsche (Twilight of the Idols)

I never cease being dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe.

--Leo Rosten (1908 - )

I was brought up as a devout Catholic. I had long since stopped believing in God. I always wondered, if things really hit the fan whether I would, under pressure, turn around and say a few Hail Marys and say, 'get me out of here.' It never once occurred to me. If I had even thought that was the way out, or some sort of solace, or it was the time to meet my maker and go to paradise, I would have just stopped still. Then I would have died.

--Joe Simpson, mountain climber, after saving himself from falling into a crevice in the Peruvian Andes (Touching the Void)

What blinds us, or makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness that our beliefs have grown obsolete and should be put aside.... This is I think much of the problem of the modern dilemma: Direct experience has been discounted, and in its place all kinds of belief systems have been erected.... If you believe something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite; which means that a degree of your human freedom has been forfeited in the act of committing yourself to this belief.

--Terrence McKenna

The Principle of Uncertainty fixed once for all the realisation that all knowledge is limited. It is an irony of history that at the very time when this was being worked out there should rise, under Hitler in Germany and other tyrants elsewhere, a counter-conception: a principle of monstrous certainty. When the future looks back on the 1930s it will think of them as a crucial confrontation of culture as I have been expounding it, the ascent of man, against the throwback to the despots' belief that they have absolute certainty.

--Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man "Knowledge or Certainty")

Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.

--Josef Stalin (attributed) [Rush Limbaugh used this alleged Stalin quote on his radio program in November, 2000.]

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

--Isasc Asimov

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.

--Bertrand Russell (Skeptical Essays, 1928)

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

--Gerry Spence (How to Argue and Win Every Time)

The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.

--Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964)

That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking as it is true...

--Thomas Paine

There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilisation, into a regiment of ghosts-- obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

--Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man, "Knowledge or Certainty")

The only defensible war is a war of defense.

--G. K. Chesterton

Force always attracts men of low morality.

--Albert Einstein

In a Democracy, people get the kind of government they deserve.

--Adlai Stevenson

It is easier to stay out than get out.

--Mark Twain

If a patient came into my office warning of an imminent attack on the US with weapons of mass destruction without there being any evidence whatsoever that this would occur, and saying that we had to strike first and "take out" all those who were a threat to us as a first step toward world domination, I would diagnose him as suffering from paranoid and grandiose delusions and perhaps as psychotic. And, fearing that he constituted a potential danger to himself or others, I would commit him to a psychiatric hospital for a period of evaluation and treatment. I suspect that some of my colleagues with licenses to practice psychiatry in Washington DC are struggling with the decision to exercise their clinical, ethical, and legal responsibilities to protect the public now that the US Congress has failed to do so.

--Eric Chivian MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Published in The Guardian, Jan. 6th)

Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.

--Noam Chomsky

When a belief becomes dominant in American psychological circles one can be sure of one thing: that belief refers to something that no longer exists.

--Walter A. Davis (Of Pynchon, Thanatos and Depleted Uranium. Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq, 10 Oct. 04)

I think it's a total nightmare and disaster, and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it.

--Tucker Carlson on the Iraq war (conservative co-host on Crossfire)

If I knew then, what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.

--William F. Buckley, Jr.

The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.

--George Orwell

No citizen should be free to commit his country to war.

--Thomas Jefferson (to James Monroe, 1793)

So to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; the highest excellence is to subdue the enemy's army without fighting at all.

--Sun Tzu The Art of War

Before Iraq neo-con fantasy was a dream that longed for projection in the belief that it could be realized in reality. It is now a delusion sustained only by denying reality.

--Walter A. Davis (Of Pynchon, Thanatos and Depleted Uranium. Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq. 10 Oct. 04)

Protect the sanctity of marriage? Sanctity is a religion term that means a state of holiness or sacredness. Atheists get married. We have secular marriage. In what sense does sanctity apply to them? For our government to enforce sanctity of anything violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

--Ignots Pistachio

Politics is not religion and we should govern on the basis of evidence, not theology.

--Bill Clinton

This is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history. It has engaged in extraordinarily irresponsible policies not only in foreign and economic but also in social and environmental policy. This is not normal government policy. Now is the time for people to engage in civil disobedience.

--George A. Akerlof (2001 Nobel Prize Laureate)

The war... was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forebearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.

--Robert E. Lee

In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.

--Mark Twain

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

--Howard Thurman

They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness.

--Louise Erdrich

When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.

--Mark Twain (Mark Twain's Autobiography)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe.

--Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988), paraphrasing Sir Walter Scott

Take from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains.

--Robert G. Ingersoll (Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 1)

Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.

--Mikhail Gorbachev

Think about it. A being capable of flinging hundreds of billions of galaxies into existence comes to one microbial blue speck in the cosmos, assumes the form of a human animal in a minor scrub land province in a primitive age, performs unremarkable tricks which any third rate magician these days can surpass, and he dies in total obscurity, unnoticed and unrecorded by any chronicler of the period, leaving behind only rumors that he was ever here at all--and even the paltry rumors are indistinguishable from the ordinary and commonplace myths that humans think up in abundance. Does that really make sense to you? Does that sound like the modus operandi of an omnipotent god?


Ironically, Baumeister concludes, the myth of evil itself may lead to greater violence: "The myth encourages people to believe that they are good and will remain good no matter what, even if they perpetrate severe harm on their opponents. Thus, the myth of pure evil confers a kind of moral immunity on people who believe in it.... Belief in the myth is itself one recipe for evil, because it allows people to justify violent and oppressive actions. It allows evil to masquerade as good."

--Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil)

Gods always behave like the people who created them.

--Zora Neale Hurston

There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.

--Henry Havelock Ellis

A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy.

--Benjamin Disraeli

We have all taken risks in the making of war. Isn't it time that we should take risks to secure peace?

--J. Ramsay MacDonald

God for you is where you sweep away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges to our intelligence. You simply turn your mind off and say God did it.

--Carl Sagan (Contact)

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.

--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.

--Seneca the Younger

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

--Robert Pirsig

Wars are inevitable... as long as we believe that wars are inevitable. The moment we don't believe it anymore it is not inevitable.

--Lydia Sicher

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose-and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

--Abraham Lincoln

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

--John Stuart Mill (Letter, to the Conservative MP, Sir John Pakington, 1866)

Religion hinges upon faith, politics hinges upon who can tell the most convincing lies or maybe just shout the loudest, but science hinges upon whether its conclusions resemble what actually happens.

--Ian Stewart (1945--)

Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.

--Frank Dane

War creates peace like hate creates love.

--David L. Wilson

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

--Edward Abbey (1927-1989)

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people...

--Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man a religion and he'll starve to death praying for a fish.

--Judith Bandsma

War and religion give government leaders the means to control citizens, and when citizens lose power, there goes democracy.

--Pelican the Politician

The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.

--Robert Lynd

The being we call god is merely a pawn working for a powerful and rational force in some far-off galaxy. This force is trying to weed out people who are irrational by seeing who would be stupid enough to believe in his god illusion so easily. Those that believe in this illusion, he will send to eternal damnation and he will deliver the rational beings, those who stoically refused to believe in a god, to heaven.

--Nicholas Yee

Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.

--John Stuart Mill

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.

--Ashley Montague (1905-1999)

The beliefs that have no bases on reality need the most defending. That gives reason why religions require propaganda machines (churches), armies and conservative politics in order to force-fit their myths into pseudo realities.

--Pelican the Politician

A man without god is like a fish without a bicycle.

--Robert Anton Wilson (Cosmic Trigger Vol 1)

The first step to filling in a gap in knowlege is to correctly label it as a gap in your knowlege, but too many people cover up their unsightly gaps with a duct tape they call "god".

--Steve Mading

The Wizard of Oz is more believable. And more fun.

--James Randi on "Why I Deny Religion" (online newsletter, 25 July 2003)

I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian God may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them. The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.

--Bertrand Russell (A History of Western Philosophy, 1945)

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.

--Howard Zinn

...religious belief has been a massively negative force in human history, causing great suffering and conflict, and standing deliberately in the way of most of mankind's efforts at progress, freedom and flourishing.

--A C Grayling (21st century English philosopher, from an interview on Amazon.co.uk)

Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.

--Bertrand Russell

Mrs. O [reading her horoscope]: You have green, scaly skin, and a soft yellow underbelly with a series of fin-like ridges running down your spine and tail. Although lizardlike in shape, you can grow anything up to thirty feet in length with huge teeth that can bite off great rocks and trees. You inhabit arid sub-tropical zones and you wear spectacles.

Mrs. Trepidatious: It's very good about the spectacles.

Mrs. O: It's amazing!

--From Monty Python's Flying Circus ("What the Stars Foretell," episode 37)

Some people are gentle and generous, others are ruthless; some are pornographers and others devote their lives to the service of God. It has been tempting over the ages to imagine that these striking differences must be due to the special features of some extra thing (a soul) installed somehow in the bodily headquarters. We now know that tempting as this idea still is, it is not supported in the slightest by anything we have learned about our biology in general and our brains in particular. The more we learn about how we have evolved, and how our brains work, the more certain we are becoming that there is no such extra ingredient.

--Danniel C. Dennett (Freedom Evolves)

I did not lose my faith, I gave it up purposely. The motivation that drove me into the ministry is the same that drove me out. I have always wanted to know.

--Dan Barker, ex-preacher (Losing faith in faith)

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means.

--George Bernard Shaw

God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time -- life and death -- stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don't think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.

--Richard Feynman (quoted by P. C. W. Davies and J. Brown in Superstrings: A Theory of Everything,p. 208.)

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official...

--Theodore Roosevelt

In science, those holding views contrary to scientific assertions may differ either in a dignified manner or heatedly, but with rare exceptions opponents are unlikely to urge that their adversaries be consigned to flames or to make it illegal to promulgate divergent opinions. But in religion, where speculation outweighs factual knowledge, feelings are more likely to be rigid, even violent, in expression.

--Steve Allen (More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality)

Science is inquiry. Religion is presupposition. Reasoning people do not accept religious dogma without evidence. We may never know all the answers, but science has solved a great deal of the most important questions. Religion has an answer for everything, but solutions to nothing.

--Agnosticator (of the Agnostics/Atheists Forum)

I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. I must of course admit that if such an opinion became common it would completely transform our social life and our political system; since both are at present faultless, this must weigh against it.

--Bertrand Russell (Sceptical Essays)

These are the basic beliefs of theism: the belief in the supernatural and the belief in the inherently unknowable.

--George H. Smith (Atheism: The Case Against God)

The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance... logic can be happily tossed out the window.

--Stephen King

Explanations of the origin and nature of the world and life are not final truths passed down through generations by mendicant monks preserving the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients; instead, they are always provisional and ever changing, and are best couched in empirical evidence, experimental testing, and logical reasoning.

--Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil)

Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come from the skies. It is not a result of "inspiration." It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied knowledge -- that is to say, of science. When man becomes great and grand enough to admit that all have equal rights; when thought is untrammeled; when worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.

--Robert G. Ingersoll (Reply to the Indianapolois Clergy)

I have something to say to the religionist who feels atheists never say anything positive: You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil--you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself.

--Dan Barker, ex-preacher (Losing Faith in Faith)

A couple of weeks ago, out here on Broadway, a guy comes up to me and says, "I'm a Navy surgeon. And I was on a ship off Iraq the night you made your speech at the Oscars and I was very angry at you. I remember yelling with the others at the screen. Now I just want to apologize. You were right. You were telling the truth." And I said, "Listen, you don't owe me any apology. Apologize for what? That you believed your Commander-in-Chief? That you believed the President of the United States? Why should you feel bad? You should believe the President, because if we can't believe our President we're in deep trouble. You don't have to apologize for anything."

--Michael Moore

Tis nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.


The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don't have to understand anything, no physics, no biology... I wanted to understand.

--James Watson, a discoverer of DNA

Because religion imprisoned the mind with visions of eternal rewards and punishments in the afterlife, it prevented men and women from devising rational solutions to finite earthly problems.

--Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism)

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

--James Madison

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: This is our country. The legally expressed will of the majority is the supreme law of the land. We are responsible for what our Government does. We cannot excuse ourselves because of the act of some king, or the opinions of nobles. We are the kings. We are the nobles. We are the aristocracy of America, and when our Government does right we are honored, and when our Government does wrong the brand of shame is on the American brow.

--Robert G. Ingersoll (The Chicago and New York Gold Speech)

The true contrast between science and myth is more nearly touched when we say that science alone is capable of verification.

--George Santayana (The Life of Reason)

It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.

--Ernestine Rose

I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist... We have separation of church and state in the United States of America.

--John Kerry

I went into the Army believing that if you want peace you must prepare for war. I now believe that if you prepare thoroughly for war you will get it.

--Sir John Frederick Maurice

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.


You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into.

--Jonathan Swift

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.

--Michael Parenti, political scientist and author

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

--Girl blogger in Iraq (speaking about Bush's army)

Every fact is an enemy of the church. Every fact is a heretic. Every demonstration is an infidel. Everything that ever really happened testifies against the supernatural.

--Robert G. Ingersoll ("Orthodoxy", 1884)

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.

--Bertrand Russell

Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley

Chickenhawk n. A person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it; particularly when that enthusiasm is undimmed by personal experience with war; most emphatically when that lack of experience came in spite of ample opportunity in that person's youth.

--Michael Moore (from his web site)

It's not easy to change world views. Faith has its own momentum and belief is comfortable. To restructure reality is traumatic and scary. That is why many intelligent people continue to believe: unbelief is an unknown.

--Dan Barker (Losing Faith in Faith)

You will find men like him in all of the world's religions. They know that we represent reason and science, and, however confident they may be in their beliefs, they fear that we will overthrow their gods. Not necessarily through any deliberate act, but in a subtler fashion. Science can destroy a religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the nonexistance of Zeus or Thor, but they have few followers now.

--Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End)

Theists have good reasons for not believing in every god but their own. Atheists make no exception for the last one.

--Brett Lemoine

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

--James Madison

It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.

--Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper (from Antony Flew: How to Think Straight)

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.

--Robert A. Heinlein

It is customary to suppose that, if a belief is widespread, there must be something reasonable about it. I do not think this view can be held by anyone who has studied history. Practically all the beliefs of savages are absurd. In early civilizations there may be as much as one percent for which there is something to be said. In our own day (but at this point I must be careful), we all know that there are absurd beliefs in Soviet Russia. If we are Protestants, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Catholics. If we are Catholics, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Protestants. If we are Conservatives, we are amazed by the superstitions to be found in the Labour Party. If we are Socialists, we are aghast at the credulity of Conservatives. I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions. My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

--Bertrand Russell (Is There a God?, 1952)

Artists may pour out their angst; philosophers and theologians may fume, lament, and obfuscate; but only science can know.

--Stephen Jay Gould

Did you learn how to think or how to believe?

--Ralph Nader (to his son, inquiring about what he learned in school that day)

Christians hold that their faith does good, but other faiths do harm. At any rate, they hold this about the Communist faith. What I wish to maintain is that all faiths do harm. We may define 'faith' as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. When there is evidence, no one speaks of 'faith.' We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.

--Bertrand Russell (Human Society in Ethics and Politics)

Human life has no meaning independent of itself. There is no cosmic force or deity to give it meaning or significance. There is no ultimate destiny for man. Such a belief is an illusion of humankind's infancy. The meaning of life is what we choose to give it. Meaning grows out of human purposes alone. Nature provides us with an infinite range of opportunities, but it is only our vision and our action that select and realize those that we desire.... Thus the good life is achieved, invented, fashioned in an active life of enterprise and endeavor. But whether or not an individual chooses to enter into the arena depends upon him alone. Those who do can find it energizing, exhilarating, full of triumph and satisfaction. In spite of failures, setbacks, suffering, and pain, life can be fun.

--Paul Kurtz

You must have a reason, I think, for yourself and for others as to why you are skeptical. These things are not likely to be true; therefore, you need proof of them. We're not required to prove a negative; we can't do that. I can't prove telepathy doesn't exist. I remember getting a question years ago. A lady stood up in the audience and said, "Can you prove to me that ESP doesn't exist?" I said, "No, I can't." She sat down with her arms folded and replied "Ah ha." That was a victory for her. I went on to explain that I can't prove a negative. My question is, "Do you believe in it?" She said, "Absolutely." I asked if she could prove that it is so. She said, "Well, I'm quite convinced of it." "That's not my question," I responded. "Can you prove that it is so? You're the one making the claim."

--James Randi

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