I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms. [obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955]
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.
I read about an Eskimo hunter who 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 Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?"
While it cannot be proved that any experience of possession, conversion, revelation, or divine ecstasy was merely an epileptic discharge, we must ask how one differentiates "real transcendence" from neuropathies that produce the same extreme realness, profundity, ineffability, and sense of cosmic unity. Parsimony alone argues against invoking spirits, demons, or extraterrestrials when natural causes will suffice.
[The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. XII, No. 3]
Ben Jonson, In his play "Every Man in His Humour", 1598
Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care'll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman. [First known occasion of the saying that became "curiosity killed the cat"]
What is wanted is not the will to believe but the wish to find out.
One of the bad effects of an anti-intellectual philosophy is that thrives upon the errors and confusions of the intellect. Hence it is led to prefer bad thinking to good, to declare every momentary difficulty insoluble, and to regard every foolish mistake as revealing the bankruptcy of intellect and the triumph of intuition. [A History of Western Philosophy
Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.
There is something feeble about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! [Human Society in Ethics and Politics]
There is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent are full of doubt.
If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based on faith, you will realize that argument is useless and will resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the minds of the young in what is called "education".
The longer I have been an atheist, the more amazed I am that I ever believed Christian notions. [Losing Faith in Faith]
The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past, or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.
I observe that a very large portion of the human race does not believe in God and suffers no visible punishment in consequence. And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt his existence
If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth-- more than ruin, more even than death.
And all this madness, all this rage, all this flaming death of our civilization and our hopes, has been brought about because a set of official gentlemen, living luxurious lives, mostly stupid, and all without imagination or heart, have chosen that it should occur rather than that any one of them should suffer some infinitesimal rebuff to his country's pride. [The letter was written Aug. 12, 1914, eight days after the outbreak of war.]
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
To affirm that the Sun is at the centre of the universe and only rotates on its axis without going from east to west, is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our holy faith by contradicting the Scriptures
To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.
Science has beauty, power, and majesty that can provide spiritual as well as practical fulfillment. But superstition and psuedoscience keep getting in the way, providing easy answers, casually pressing our awe buttons, and cheapening the experience.
Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, "yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down. down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.
There is joy in rationality, happiness in clarity of mind. Freethought is thrilling and fulfilling -absolutely essential to mental health and happiness.
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.
You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?
I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never
again be a Christian. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment, or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being. [Losing Faith in Faith]
God hated the world so much that he sent his only son so that whoever does not believe in him will perish and be denied eternal life [Losing Faith in Faith]
You can cite a hundred references to show that the biblical God is a bloodthirsty tyrant, but if they can dig up two or three verses that say "God is love," they will claim that you are taking things out of context! [Losing Faith in Faith]
The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?
[Losing Faith in Faith]
...the way the news reaches us these days, with so much of it either "fake" or "breaking", is worse than ignorance. It's a decontextualised screech that monetises its ability to catch our attention, but takes no responsibility for advancing our understanding or avoiding disproportionate damage to our peace of mind.
The unborn are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; chy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn…
You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.
Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Eric Hoffer, 1902 - 1983; The "Longshoreman Philosopher".
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business.
If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine - but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good - and cares about any of it - to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.
It is of course always best to be led by god, and have him personally whisper into your ear. Only, when it is the devil talking he will tell you he is god, for the devil is a crafty liar. So you never know who is talking to you.
[German-born Theologian (in his magnum opus Vielleicht)
Fred Rogers, Popular U.S Childrens TV host known as Mr. Rogers
"Hmmm," Mister Rogers said, "that's a strange ad. 'Most people think of us as a great domestic airline. We hate that.' Hmmm. Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. If they can hate something like that, you wonder how easy it would be for them to hate something more important."
Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of free will and a hell of a lot of money into the bargain.
I've begun worshipping the Sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the Sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.
Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
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.
We always obeyed the law. Isn't that what you do in America? Even if you don't agree with a law personally, you still obey it. Otherwise life would be chaos. [Explaining Nazi policy and German acquiesence.]
It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
The bible must be seen in a cultural context. It didn't just happen. These stories are retreads. But, tell a Christian that -- No, No! What makes it doubly sad is that they hardly know the book, much less its origins.
Naturally, since the Sumerians didn't know what caused the flood anymore than we do, they blamed the gods. That's the advantage of religion. You're never short an explanation for anything. [The Last Man on Earth]
... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. [In reply to a students complaint that no knowledge is certain.]
If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.
I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me [Famous Last Words]
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [from "Memorial and Remonstrance"]
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end...liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition...The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern...Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
We are not a 'conservative' party, we are a party of innovation, of imagination, of liberty, of striking out in new directions, of renewed national pride and a novel sense of leadership... That's not 'conservative'. The name is all wrong.
We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed and if you read the newspaper you are misinformed.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” -Mark Twain
What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the christian church... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.
This crazy person [Galileo Galilei] wants to turn upside down the whole astronomy, but the Holy Book tells us how Josua told the Sun stay still, not the Earth
The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.
They came for the Communists, and I didn't object for I wasn't a Communist; They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object for I wasn't a Socialist; They came for the labour leaders, and I didn't object for I wasn't a labour leader; They came for the Jews, and I didn't object for I wasn't a Jew; Then they came for me and there was no one left to object.
Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. For if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Norman Birkett, Barrister, judge, politician and preacher who served as the alternate British judge during the Nuremberg Trials.
War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. 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.
am now convinced that children should not be subjected to the frightfulness of the Christian religion... If the concept of a father who plots to have his own son put to death is presented to children as beautiful and as worthy of society's admiration, what types of human behavior can be presented to them as reprehensible? [Preface to The Born-Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible.
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
Many scientists accept and apply Ockham's Razor in their work, even though it is an entirely metaphysical assumption. There is scant empirical evidence that the world is actually simple or that simple accounts are more likely than complex ones to be true. Our commitment to simplicity is largely an inheritance of 17th-century theology. [Oreskes et al, 1994, endnote 25]
Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject - otherwise there's no need for faith.
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other
For it is esteemed a kind of dishonour unto learning to descend to inquiry or meditation upon matters mechanical, except they be such as may be thought secrets, rarities, and special subtilities, which humour of vain supercilious arrogancy is justly derided in Plato... But the truth is, they be not the highest instances that give the securest information; as may well be expressed in the tale... of the philosopher, that while he gazed upwards to the stars fell into the water; for if he had looked down he might have seen the stars in the water, but looking aloft he could not see the water in the stars. So it cometh often to pass, that mean and small things discover great, better than great can discover the small.
Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.
Debating an irrational person is like giving medicine to the dead.
Once the untrained mind has made a formal commitment to a religious philosophy - and it does not matter whether that philosophy is generally reasonable and high-minded or utterly bizarre and irrational - the powers of reason are suprisingly ineffective in changing the believer's mind.
Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
[Notes on Virginia, 1782.]
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. [Notes on Virginia, 1782.]
What is it men cannot be made to believe! [To Richard Henry Lee, April 22, 1786. (on the British regarding America, but quoted here for its universal appeal.)]
Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear. [Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787]
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State. [Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802]
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. [To Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. [Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. [Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814]
Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. [To James Smith, 1822.]
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. [Letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (in the last letter he penned)
The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter.
In matters of style, swim with the current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock.
The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.
I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.
War is an instrument entirely insufficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.
It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. [from 'The Age of Reason']
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries: but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the First hath only made kings more subtle — not more just.
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
If god is as loving and merciful as some religions claim, then I'm sure he will forgive those of us who think logically. If he is as vengeful and cruel as other religions warn, then who would want to live with a tyrant like that?
If most financial analysts watched a puppy growing for the first month of its life, they would conclude that a year later it will be 400-foot-tall monster trashing downtown Tokyo.
Ethical people will do what is right, no matter what they are told. Religious people will do what they are told, no matter what is right.
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
When cryptography is outlawed, bayl bhgynjf jvyy unir cevinpl.
...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.
...man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.
I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be good and it would spread a lively terror. [Comments on the British use of poison gas against the Iraqis after World War I.]
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.