Category Archives: Quotes

Science Quotes

This is a collection of quotes from scientists.  I thought I would include them here just to give you something to think about, especially given the prevalent ignorance about the scientific method and the growing retreat back to pre-scientific thinking.


“But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluable by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.” Charles Darwin


“I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.” Charles Darwin


“But what, after all, is faith? It is a state of mind that leads people to believe something — it doesn’t matter what — in the total absence of supporting evidence. If there were good supporting evidence then faith would be superfluous, for the evidence would compel us to believe it anyway. It is this that makes the often-parroted claim that ‘evolution itself is a matter of faith’ so silly. People believe in evolution not because they arbitrarily want to believe it but because of overwhelming, publicly available evidence.” Richard Dawkins


“Blind faith can justify anything. In a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die – on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader’s sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith.” Richard Dawkins


“Faith cannot move mountains (though generations of children are solemnly told the contrary and believe it). But it is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness. It leads people to believe in whatever it is so strongly that in extreme cases they are prepared to kill and to die for it without the need for further justification.” Richard Dawkins


“Nearly all peoples have developed their own creation myth, and the Genesis story is just the one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants. All these myths have in common that they depend upon the deliberate intentions of some kind of supernatural being.” Richard Dawkins


“Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr’s death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religious faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.” Richard Dawkins


“My mind is incapable of conceiving such a thing as a soul. I may be in error, and man may have a soul; but I simply do not believe it.” Thomas Edison


“If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?” Albert Einstein


“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” Albert Einstein


“I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.” Albert Einstein


“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; 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


“The doctrine that the earth is neither the center of the universe nor immovable, but moves even with a daily rotation, is absurd, and both philosophically and theologically false, and at the least an error of faith.” Catholic Church


“To command the professors of astronomy to confute their own observations is to enjoin an impossibility, for it is to command them not to see what they do see, and not to understand what they do understand, and to find what they do not discover.” Galileo Galilei


“It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment.” Galileo Galilei


“It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.” Galileo Galilei


“They know that it is human nature to take up causes whereby a man may oppress his neighbor, no matter how unjustly. … Hence they have had no trouble in finding men who would preach the damnability and heresy of the new doctrine from the very pulpit…” Galileo Galilei


“Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s in this century, but apples didn’t suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.” Stephen Jay Gould


“When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.” Stephen Jay Gould


“In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.” Stephen J. Gould


“Hubble’s observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time. Their existence can be ignored because it would have no onservational consequences. One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined. It should be emphasized that this beginning in time is very different from those that had been considered previously. In an unchanging universe a beginning in time is something that has to be imposed by some being outside the universe; there is no physical necessity for a beginning. One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!” Stephen Hawking


“Throughout the 1970s I had been mainly studying black holes, but in 1981 my interest in questions about the origin and fate of the universe was reawakened when I attended a conference on cosmology organized by the Jesuits in the Vatican. The Catholic Church had made a bad mistake with Galileo when it tried to lay down the law on a question of science, declaring that the sun went round the earth. Now, centuries later, it had decided to invite a number of experts to advise it on cosmology. At the end of the conference the participants were granted an audience with the pope. He told us that it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God. I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference — the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of Creation. I had no desire to share the fate of Galileo, with whom I feel a strong sense of identity, partly because of the coincidence of having been born exactly 300 years after his death!” Stephen Hawking


“The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty.” Stephen Hawking


“The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started — it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” Stephen Hawking


“Such reports persist and proliferate because they sell. And they sell, I think, because there are so many of us who want so badly to be jolted out of our humdrum lives, to rekindle that sense of wonder we remember from childhood, and also, for a few of the stories, to be able, really and truly, to believe–in Someone older, smarter, and wiser who is looking out for us. Faith is clearly not enough for many people. They crave hard evidence, scientific proof. They long for the scientific seal of approval, but are unwilling to put up with the rigorous standards of evidence that impart credibility to that seal.” Carl Sagan


“Carl did not want to believe. He wanted to know.” Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s widow)


“By any reasonable measure of achievement, the faith of the Enlightenment thinkers in science was justified. Today the greatest divide within humanity is not between races, or religions, or even, as is widely believed, between the literate and illiterate. It is the chasm that separates scientific from prescientific cultures.” Edward O. Wilson


“Prescientific 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 into the unknown, has yielded zero.” Edward O. Wilson


“[E]very major religion today is a winner in the Darwinian struggle waged among cultures, and none ever flourished by tolerating its rivals.” Edward O. Wilson


Taken from According to a survey being published in the April 3, 1997, _Nature_, 40% of scientists in the U.S. believe in God. This ratio has not changed in the 80 years since a similar survey was conducted in 1916. Biologists were the biggest doubters in 1916; physicists and astronomers are now the leading disbelievers, with 77.9% denying the existence of God. Mathematicians, who create their own universes, are the most inclined to believe in God with a total of 44.6%.

Religious Quotes

Here are some quotes from modern writers about religion, specifically questioning its properties.


“Freethinkers reject faith as a valid tool of knowledge. Faith is the opposite of reason because reason imposes very strict limits on what can be true, and faith has no limits at all. A Great Escape into faith is no retreat to safety. It is nothing less than surrender.” Dan Barker


“The next time believers tell you that ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in our founding document, tell them to stop using the word ‘trinity.’ The word ‘trinity’ appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If they are still unfazed (or unphrased), by this, then add Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural, Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, Dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative (Liberal is in), Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible.” Dan Barker


“If the answers to prayer are merely what God wills all along, then why pray?” Dan Barker


“Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.” Dan Barker


“To think that the ruler of the universe will run to my assistance and bend the laws of nature for me is the height of arrogance. That implies that everyone else (such as the opposing football team, driver, student, parent) is de-selected, unfavored by God, and that I am special, above it all.” Dan Barker


“What happens when the same number of people pray for something as pray against it? How does God decide whose prayer to answer? Does the total number of people praying for or against something matter? How about the righteousness of the supplicants? Are positive prayers answered more frequently than negative ones? Does God take the positive ones and Satan the negative? Does the intensity of the praying have any effect on the outcome? Does the length of time one devotes to praying have any effect on the frequency with which one’s prayers are answered? Do the words and phrases used in the prayer — either positive or negative — have any bearing on the success rate? Does the nature of the thing or things prayed for have any bearing on the prayer’s success rate — either positive or negative prayers? Why or why not??” Dan Barker


“It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.” Arthur C. Clarke


“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick


“If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?” Robert W. Funk


“There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.” Ruth Hermence Green


“Why is it that almost every human culture yet discovered has found it necessary to believe in an afterlife of some sort, but not a ‘before-life?’ Why are there so many versions of Heaven, Paradise and The Great Beyond, but almost none about The Great Before …” Judith Hayes


“A Roman Catholic worships a god who speaks through the Pope, while a Baptist worships a god who does not. They cannot be worshipping the same god.” Judith Hayes


“Why is every utterance of the Pope considered to be worthy of worldwide attention and respect? It’s like the fawning reverence that was accorded every banal platitude ever uttered by the late Mother Teresa. But the Pope is not exactly on the cutting edge of world events — or anything else, for that matter. It was only a little over a year ago, in October 1996, that John Paul II announced that the scientific theory of evolution could be said to be valid. That message was received with enthusiastic approval in many circles throughout the world. Warm congratulations were offered to John Paul, just as they had been in 1979. In that year he declared that the Roman Catholic Church had been mistaken when it sentenced a 70-year-old Galileo to house arrest (with threats of the tortures of The Inquisition) for insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun, not vice versa. Mistaken?! No, not mistaken. A mistake is when you slip the wrong key into your front door. The Church’s treatment of Galileo, one of the world’s few geniuses, was viciously cruel and betrays the unenlightened, progress-impeding attitude that has dominated the Church since its inception. And they were as wrong as it is possible to be.” Judith Hayes


“The believer’s response to the mystery of existence is to invoke a mysterious word–God. Such a move does little to help us understand ourselves and the universe better. Mysterious words, like mysterious answers, don’t solve mysteries. They merely obscure them by putting a verbal barrier between us and the unknown.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“Which is more bizarre–the idea that your psychology is somehow preserved by physical atoms, which are known to exist, or that your psychology is somehow preserved by a nonphysical, spiritual [soul], which is not known to exist and which cannot even in principle be observed?” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“The diverse religious stories do agree on one thing: survival [after death]. They differ merely on the details. So aren’t they good evidence for survival? No. Agreement in this case merely shows that a common theme can be found in almost all the world’s religions. Psychology can easily explain this common theme… People fear death. They fear it not just here and there, or once in a while, but everywhere and always. Fearing death, people have a strong motive to deny it… [T]he explanation in terms of human psychology is not only simpler, it is testable. The explanation in terms of survival, on the other hand, is speculative at best, more complex, and impossible to test either directly or indirectly. Thus believing in survival on the basis of religious stories isn’t belief based on good evidence. It is belief based on faith. And it is based not just on faith, but on faith that goes contrary to the best available evidence.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“If everything must come from somewhere, where does God come from? Perhaps we don’t need to explain where God comes from because God, unlike the universe, exists without any external cause. In that case, however, we’ve blatantly contradicted the very assumption that made us suppose that the universe must have been caused by God–namely, the assumption that everything must come from somewhere. Without that assumption, the existence of the universe is no longer evidence for God.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“Most people who are religious believe in the religion of their parents. But beliefs that depend on accidents of birth prove nothing.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“It is important to distinguish between the moral witness of religious people who speak out strongly about an issue that offends their moral conscience, and the use of religion as a strategic means to advance the fortunes of a particular party or candidate.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Why God would choose to reveal the truth only to some religious and political middlemen instead of to everybody is perhaps one of those mysterious, wondrous ways God works. But even if God does hand down to a few choice authorities truths about how you should live, how do you know which authorities are the genuine ones? God doesn’t extend a hand from the sky and point them out to you. It is conveniently left to the authorities themselves to enlighten you about who the proper authorities are.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“So succesful were the drafters of the Constitution in defining government in secular terms that one of the most powerful criticisms of the Constitution when ratified and for succeeding decades was that it was indifferent to Christianity and God. It was denounced by many as a godless document, which is precisely what it is.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Ralph Reed likes to quote Alexis de Tocqueville on religion’s central place in American democratic society. The quotations are not always accurate, but he is right about one important thing. Tocqueville, like Benjamin Franklin, believed that religion is essential to the health of republican liberty. However, Reed apparently closed the pages of Democracy in America too soon. Had he read further, he would not have missed Tocqueville’s point that it is dangerous for religion to tie itself to political institutions and to topical political controversy.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“If anything is unconstitutional, it is government encouragement to pray in the public schools. Moreover, the proposed constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer is offensive on two counts. First, it violates explicitly the intended secular base of the Constitution. And far worse, it encourages the political use of religion in a way that allows elected officials to evade their real responsibilities and to claim for themselves a moral high ground that they too often have done nothing to earn.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Even if there were undesirable consequences if atheism were true, this would not make atheism false. To think otherwise is to simply engage in wishful thinking. ‘If death if final, that would be a bad thing. I dont want to believe anything which results in bad things. Therefore, death is not final.’ Compare that with the following, which is no doubt on the minds of millions every week: ‘If this is not the winning lottery ticket, then I will be terribly disappointed. I do not want to believe anything which results in my being terribly disappointed. Therefore, this is the winning lottery ticket.’ By similar reasoning, no one’s house would burn down, no one would go bankrupt, no one would be killed in automobile accidents. All that would be required to avert such disasters is to realize that terrible consequences would follow if those things happened and then realize that one does not want to believe it. Then it wouldn’t happen. But clearly that is absurd.” Doug Krueger


“The god of the Bible measures up to the level of a petty and vicious tyrant. The god of the bible punishes babies for the sins of their parents (Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; 2 Samuel 12:13-19); punishes people by causing them to become cannibals and eat their children (2 Kings 6:24-33, Lamentations 4:10-11); gives people bad laws, even requiring the sacrifice of their firstborn babies, so that they can be filled with horror and know that god is their lord (Ezekiel 20:25-26); causes people to believe lies so that he can send them to hell (2 Thessalonians 2:11), and many other atrocities, far too many to list here. It would not be hard to measure up to, and exceed, that level of moral purity. Atheists surpass it every day.” Doug Krueger


“In an age in which economists take for granted that people equate well-being with consumption, increasing numbers of people seem willing to trade certain freedoms and material comforts for a sense of immutable order and the rapture of faith.” Eugene Linden, “The Future in Plain Sight”


“Religious experiences are like those induced by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and sleep deprivation: They tell no uniform or coherent story, and there is no plausible theory to account for discrepancies among them.” Michael Martin


“Although the ICR often emphasizes that it is the scientific nature of creationist theory which brings scientists to a belief in a supreme being, it is curious that they include a requirement for membership (the inerrancy of the Christian Bible) which effectively excludes Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the majority of Christian sects (who do not accept a literal reading of all parts of the Bible) from membership. It is clear that the ICR, which is the most respected of creationist groups in its attempts to appear scientifically legitimate, is essentially an organization composed solely of Christian Fundamentalists.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“The American creationist movement has entirely bypassed the scientific forum and has concentrated instead on political lobbying and on taking its case to a fair-minded electorate… The reason for this strategy is overwhelmingly apparent: no scientific case can be made for the theories they advance.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“The fact of the matter is that the fossil record not only documents evolution, but that it was the fossil record itself which forced natural scientists to abandon their idea of the fixity of species and look instead for a plausible mechanism of change, a mechanism of evolution. The fossil record not only demonstrates evolution in extravagant detail, but it dashes all claims of the scientific creationists concerning the origin of living organisms.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.” Reinhold Niebuhr


“Some of the state’s witnesses suggested that the scientific community was ‘closed-minded’ on the subject of creationism and that explained the lack of acceptance of the creation-science arguments. Yet no witness produced an article for which publication had been refused.” Judge William R. Overton


“Scientific hypotheses are always tentative; they are designed to be held only so long as they conform to the evidence. Proponents of the theistic hypothesis, on the other hand, are already sure that their hypothesis is correct; the only seek evidence to buttress a foregone conclusion.” Keith Parsons


“It is true, of course, that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the Constitution. But it was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so clearly and widely held by the American people…. [T]he right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term “fair trial” is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer home, who would deny that “religious liberty” is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance which all these terms, including “separation of church and state,” have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles.” Leo Pfeffer


“The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts still might be true.” Robert M. Price


“To rest one’s case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one’s enemies- that one has no rational arguments to offer.” Ayn Rand


“…if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking…. the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.” Ayn Rand


“To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.” Ayn Rand


“The pragmatic suggestion, that we had better teach the Christian religion whether it is true or not, because people will be much less criminal if they believe it, is disgusting and degrading; but it is being made to us all the time, and it is a natural consequence of the fundamental religious attitude that comfort and security must always prevail over rational inquiry.” Richard Robinson


“Whatever good you would do out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward hereafter, the Atheist would do simply because it is good; and being so, he would receive the far surer and more certain reward, springing from well-doing, which would constitute his pleasure, and promote his happiness.” Ernestine L. Rose


“What about complex parasites? Did this designer design complex parasites or is that evolution? I mean, you get all the good things and evolutionists get all the bad things.” Michael Ruse


“It is difficult to imagine evolutionists signing a comparable statement, that they will never deviate from the literal text of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The non-scientific nature of creation-science is evident for all to see, as is also its religious nature.” Michael Ruse


“The third major characteristic of God — “infinitude” — is the catchall, the universal modifier of Christian theology. God is not merely a being; he is infinite being. God is not merely good; he is infinite goodness. God is not merely wise; he is infinite wisdom. And so on down the list. God is exaggeration run amuck” George Smith


“This brings us to our familiar resting place. The ‘goodness’ of God is different in kind from goodness as we comprehend it. To say that God’s ‘goodness’ is compatible with the worst disasters imaginable, is to empty this concept of its meaning. By human standards, the Christian God cannot be good. By divine standards, God may be ‘good’ in some unspecified, unknowable way – but this term no longer makes any sense. And so, for the last time, we fail to comprehend the Christian God.” George Smith


“God does not exist if Big Bang cosmology, or some relevantly similar theory, is true. If this cosmology is true, our universe exists without cause and without explanation. There are numerous possible universes, and there is possibly no universe at all, and there is no reason why this one is actual rather than some other one or none at all. Now the theistically alleged human need for a reason for existence, and other alleged needs, are unsatisfied. But I suggest that humans do or can possess a deeper level of experience than such anthropocentric despairs. We can forget about ourselves for a moment and open ourselves up to the startling impingement of reality itself. We can let ourselves become profoundly astonished by the fact that this universe exists at all.” Quentin Smith


“A major function of fundamentalist religion is to bolster deeply insecure and fearful people. This is done by justifying a way of life with all of its defining prejudices. It thereby provides an appropriate and legitimate outlet for one’s anger. The authority of an inerrant Bible that can be readily quoted to buttress this point of view becomes an essential ingredient to such a life. When that Bible is challenged, or relativized, the resulting anger proves the point categorically.” Bishop John Shelby Spong


“Selling eternal life is an unbeatable business, with no customers ever asking for their money back after the goods are not delivered.” Victor J. Stenger


“Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it… One man’s faith is another man’s delusion…” Anthony Storr, “Feet of Clay”


“What distinguishes gurus from more orthodox teachers is not their manic-depressive mood swings, not their thought disorders, not their delusional beliefs, not their hallucinatory visions, not their mystical states of ecstasy: it is their narcissism.” Anthony Storr, “Feet of Clay”


“Each epoch has found in the Gospels what it sought to find there, and has overlooked what it wished to overlook.” Ludwig von Mises


“…in matters of faith, inconvenient evidence is always suppressed while contradictions go unnoticed.” Gore Vidal


“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying.” Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


“We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.” Robert Wilensky


“In conservative Christianity you are told you are unacceptable. You are judged with regard to your relationship to God. Thus you can only be loved positionally, not essentially. And, contrary to any assumed ideal of Christian love, you cannot love others for their essence either. This is the horrible cost of the doctrine of original sin.” Marlene Winell


“Intellectual ambiguity can be very uncomfortable. It is always easier to be sure of something. A religion that neatly provides all the answers saves you the frustration and anxiety that inevitably accompany a stuggle with difficult questions. Fundamentalism is especially dogmatic and detailed in describing a grand scheme. The Bible is offered as the inerrant word of God, revealing the path of history, a plan of salvation, and predictions about the future. Reasons and justifications are given. And for questions that still remain, there is the ultimate comfort that comes with trusting that a benign father God had everything under control.” Marlene Winell


“The most serious demand for unquestioned belief is, of course, the atonement. First the believer is to suspend familiar notions of justice, such as punishment for the guilty as opposed to an innocent party. You are then expected to accept the necessity of blood sacrifice for sin; that wrongdoing must be paid for, and not necessarily in proportion to the crime. A father’s sacrifice of his innocent son is supposed to be not only just but generous and wonderful. Then the temporary three-day death of this one person is supposed to wipe out all the wrongdoing and ineptitude of a species. And finally, you should believe that all you need do to erase responsibility for your actions and enter a haven of eternal reward is to believe. It’s no wonder that once a convert has wrapped his or her mind around this story, anything can be accepted as truth. The rest of fundamentalist doctrine can be easily swallowed, including Jonah.” Marlene Winell


“In the fundamentalist view, unbelievers have only two relevant attributes: They are potential converts and sources of temptation. As objects of evangelism, they are called ‘crops to be harvested,’ ‘sheep to be found,’ and ‘fish to be netted.’ Because of the danger of worldly influence (much like a contagious disease), relationships with ‘them’ must be handled gingerly. Contacts must be superficial, geared toward evangelism only, and cut short if there is not a positive response. Since Christians are already full of truth, there is no need for them to listen, nothing for them to learn, and much for them to lose by admitting alternative views into their consciousness.” Marlene Winell


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 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 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.”
George Carlin


“Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a crucial component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God…”
…Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of God”, June 2004


“And if you just do what the prophet says, all the responsibility for your actions is now totally in his hands. You can refuse to pay the guy, or even kill somebody, or whatever, and feel completely good about it. And that’s a real big part of what holds this religion [Mormon] together: it’s not having to make those critical decisions that many of us have to make, and be responsible for your decisions.”
DeLoy Bateman, as quoted in Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of God”


Pre WWII Quotes

This is a collection of quotes of interest dating before WWII.  Some of these go back to antiquity and demonstrate that some of our modern issues have been around us for a very long time.


This one is featured and seems, as of October 10, 2017, particularly appropriate:

”As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” — H. L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920.


“Beware of the man of one book.” Thomas Aquinas


“When one thinks of this organization [The Lord’s Day Alliance] with its senseless leaflets, its stern endeavors, its blank despair, its half-shut eyes blinking at life, one is reminded of the frogs in the green scum-covered pond in the woods who sit on their haunches in the dark and croak all day. No doubt these frogs believe that the germ infested pond is a sacred pool. They are oblivious of the rolling, living ocean that lies just beyond.” Clarence Darrow


“I verily believe that the great good which has been effected in the world by Christianity has been largely counteracted by the pestilent doctrine on which all the Churches have insisted, that honest disbelief in their more or less astonishing creeds is a moral offence, indeed a sin of the deepest dye, deserving and involving the same future retribution as murder and robbery. ” T. H. Huxley


“Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of treat antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, ‘Try all things, hold fast by that which is good;’ it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science.” T. H. Huxley


“A genuine first-hand religious experience…is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman. If this doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which, in purer days, it drew it own supply of inspiration.” William James, “The Varieties of Religious Experience”


“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” Thomas Jefferson


“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.” Thomas Jefferson


“The clergy…believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.” –Thomas Jefferson


“Reason and free inquiry are the only effective agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error and error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruption of Christianity could not have been purged away. Thomas Jefferson


“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” Thomas Jefferson


“I would rather belong to that race that commenced a skull-less vertebrate and produced Shakespeare, a race that has before it an infinite future, with the angel of progress beckoning forward, upward and onward forever – I had rather belong to such a race, commencing there, producing this, and with that hope, than to have sprung from a perfect pair upon which the Lord has lost money every moment from that day to this.” Robert Ingersoll


“The Declaration of Independence was a denial, and the first denial of a nation, of the infamous dogma that God confers the right upon one man to govern others.” Robert G. Ingersoll


“The Puritan believed the Bible to be the word of God, and this belief has always made those who held it cruel and wretched.” Robert Ingersoll


“…to argue with a man who has renouced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.” Robert G. Ingersoll


“It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon that book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.” Robert G. Ingersoll


“This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.” Robert G. Ingersoll


“By the efforts of these infidels, the name of God was left out of the Constitution of the United States. They knew that if an infinite being was put in, no room would be left for the people. They knew that if any church was made the mistress of the state, that mistress, like all others, would corrupt, weaken, and destroy.” Robert G. Ingersoll


“Again if the nature of the soul is immortal and makes its way into our body at the time of birth, why are we unable to remember the time already gone, and why do we retain no traces of past actions? If the power of the mind has been so completely changed that all remembrance of things past things is lost, that, I think, differs not widely from death; therefore you must admit that the soul which was before has perished and that which now is has now been formed.” Lucretius


“The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life . . .H.L.Menken

Such organizations, of course, must have leaders; there must be men in them whose ignorance and imbecility are measurably less abject than the ignorance and imbecility of the average. These super-Chandala often attain to a considerable power, especially in democratic states. Their followers trust them and look up to them; sometimes, when the pack is on the loose, it is necessary to conciliate them. But their puissance cannot conceal their incurable inferiority. They belong to the mob as surely as their dupes, and the thing that animates them is precisely the mob’s hatred of superiority. Whatever lies above the level of their comprehension is of the devil.” H.L.Menken


“The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex – because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. This his path is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.” H.L. Menken


“Woman was the second mistake of God – “Woman, at bottom, is a serpent, Heva” – every priest knows that; “from woman comes every evil in the world” – every priest knows that, too. Ergo, she is to blame for science…It was through woman that man learned to taste of the tree of knowledge…Science is the first of sins, the germ of all sins, the original sin.” Nietzche


“Some Christians pretend that Christianity was not established by the sword; but of what period of time do they speak? It was impossible that twelve men could begin with the sword; they had not the power; but no sooner were the professors of Christianity sufficiently powerful to employ the sword than they did so, and the stake and faggot too; and Mahomet could not do it sooner.” Thomas Paine


“The only sect that has not persecuted are the Quakers; and the only reason that can be given for it is, that they are rather Deists than Christians. They do not believe much about Jesus Christ, and they call the scriptures a dead letter.” Thomas Paine


“No miracle has ever taken place under conditions which science can accept. Experience shows, without exception, that miracles occur only in times and in countries in which miracles are believed in, and in the presence of persons who are disposed to believe them.” Ernest Renan


“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” Seneca the Younger


“[The mob] is easily led, on the plea of religion, at one moment to adore its kings as gods, and anon to execrate and abjure them as humanity’s common bane. Immense pains have therefore been taken to counteract this evil by investing religion, whether true or false, with such pomp and ceremony, that it may be superior to every shock, and be always observed with studious reverence by the whole people – a system which has been brought to great perfection by the Turks, for they consider even controversy impious, and so dog men’s minds with dogmatic formulas, that they leave no room for sound reason, not even enough to doubt with.” Spinosa


“There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing and predatory as it is – in our country particularly, and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree – it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime- the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor His Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt.” Mark Twain


“During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.” Mark Twain


“How insignificant we are, with our pigmy little world! …Was our small globe the favored one of all? Does one apple in a vast orchard think as much of itself as we do? …Do the pismires argue upon vexed questions of pismire theology – and do they climb a molehill and look abroad over the grand universe of an acre of ground and say. ‘Great is God, who created all things for Us?’” Mark Twain


“There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one– the pulpit. It yielded last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession– at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery texts [in the Bible] remained; the practice changed; that was all.” Mark Twain


“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” Mark Twain


“Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.” Mark Twain


“If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be — a Christian.” Mark Twain


“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” Voltaire


“But if oxen (and horses) and lions…. could draw with hands and create works of art like those made by men, horses would draw pictures of gods like horses, and oxen of gods like oxen…. Aethiopians have gods with snub noses and black hair, Thracians have gods with grey eyes and red hair.’ Xenophanes

Post WWII Quotes

“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.”  George Carlin


“Wake up. The old world is dead. The democratic republic of America is dead. We live in a new world, the world of the post-capitalist corporate feudal state. The empire of the top one percent. Corporate dictatorships are the state now, and the commercial media is state-controlled media. It’s all about keeping the public anesthetized, hypnotized, stupid, ignorant and docile. And it’s working very well.”
…secularanimist at Kevin Drum’s Rove thread, July 11, 2005


“What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we’re not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we’re living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.”
…Paul Krugman, July 15, 2005, NYT


“Maybe we’re simply not smart enough to fix the massive mess we’ve created — just as some of our early ancestral cousins couldn’t quite make the evolutionary grade either. Take Australopithicus robustus, for example. A nice enough ape, I’m sure, but not exactly the brightest bulb in the Olduvai Gorge. When his environment changed, he couldn’t adapt, until finally his last known forwarding address was at the American Museum of Natural History.

Maybe we’ve reached the end of our rope, too — that is to say, maybe we’ve risen to a level of intelligence just high enough to create problems we’re not bright enough to solve. A kind of evolutionary Peter Principle in action.

Certainly, I don’t see anything about our current national leadership, or the dominant political party in America, that would disprove my hypothesis.”
…Billmon, July 23, 2005


“Not a week goes by without someone telling me how terrorism can be solved by detroying ‘them’ – Muslims. Me, I’m not worried about Muslims. I’m worried about fundamentalism. Literalism, absolutism, extremism under the guise of faith. Any faith.” …Leonard Pitts Jr., July 30, 2005


“No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.” George W. Bush, early campaigning


“One of the requirements for holding the modern American presidency should be the possession of a serious attention span. If you want to engage in the sort of global remodeling that Bush does, it needs to be near inhuman — they should be able to synthesize Ritalin from your nail clippings.” Ezra Klein


“My generation grew up under the threat of a mushroom cloud. There is an old theatrical adage that when there’s a gun on the stage in the first act, it will go off by the third act. We have no false sense of security in this dangerous world. Nor do we embrace the equally false belief that curtailing liberty automatically makes us safer. We have seen how the promise of protection becomes a protection racket.

“Whatever it takes” does not mean “whatever the president says it takes.” Ellen Goodman, excerpts from her column, December 26, 2005.

Bertrand Russell Quotes

I am no great lover of Bertrand Russell, but he did have a wit and often made a lot of sense.  Here’s a collection of his quotes that I found of interest.


“One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it…” Bertrand Russell


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


“Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.” Bertrand Russell


“William James used to preach the ‘will to believe.’ For my part, I should wish to preach the ‘will to doubt.’ … What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.” Bertrand Russell


“The fact that a belief has a good moral effect upon a man is no evidence whatsoever in favor of its truth.” Bertrand Russell


“The fundamental defect of Christian ethics consists in the fact that it labels certain classes of acts ‘sins’ and others ‘virtue’ on grounds that have nothing to do with their social consequences.” Bertrand Russell


“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.” Bertrand Russell


“You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal laws, every step toward the diminuation of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world…” Bertrand Russell


“Man, so the theologians assure us, is so splendid a Being that he may well be regarded as the culmination to which the long ages of nebula and slime were a prelude. I think the theologians must have been fortunate in their human contacts.” Bertrand Russell


“You all know Voltaire’s remark, that obviously the nose designed to be such as to fit spectacles. That sort of parody has turned out to be not nearly so wide of the mark as it might have adapted to their environment. It is not that their environment was made to be suitable to them, but that they grew to be suitable to it, and that is the basis of adaptation. There is no evidence of design about it.” Bertrand Russell


“Then you have to say one or other of two things. Either God only speaks to a very small percentage of mankind — which happens to include yourself — or He deliberately says things are not true in talking to the consciences of savages.” Bertrand Russell


“It has been one of the defects of theologians at all times to over-estimate the importance of our planet.” Bertrand Russell


“…it is always disastrous when governments set to work to uphold opinions for their utility rather than for their truth.” Bertrand Russell


“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.” Bertrand Russell


“But in matters of theology or political theory, where a rational man will hold that at best there is a slight balance of probability on one side or the other, people argue with passion and support their opinions by physical slavery imposed by armies and mental slavery imposed by schools.” Bertrand Russell


The consequent improvement in health and increase of longevity is one of the most remarkable and admirable characteristics of our age. Even if science had done nothing else for human happiness, it would deserve our gratitude on this account. Those who believe in the utility of theological creeds would have difficulty in pointing to any comparable advantage that they have conferred upon the human race.” Bertrand Russell


…such arguments as are possible on the subject point to the probable extinction of personality at death. We may regret the thought that we shall not survive, but is a comfort to think that all the persecutors and Jew-baiters and humbugs will not continue to exist for all eternity. We may be told that they would improve in time, but I doubt it.” Bertrand Russell


“Throughout the last 400 years, during which the growth of science had gradually shown men how to acquire knowledge of the ways of nature and mastery over natural forces, the clergy have fought a losing battle against science, in astronomy and geology, in anatomy and physiology, in biology and psychology and sociology. Ousted from one position, they have taken up another. After being worsted in astronomy, they did their best to prevent the rise of geology; they fought against Darwin in biology, and at the present time they fight against scientific theories of psychology and education. At each stage, they try to make the public forget their earlier obscurantism, in order that their present obscurantism may not be recognized for what it is.” Bertrand Russell


“Theology still tries to interfere in medicine where moral issues are supposed to be specially involved, yet over most of the field the battle for the scientific independence of medicine has been won. No one now thinks it impious to avoid pestilences and epidemics by sanitation and hygiene; and though some still maintain that diseases are sent by God, they do not argue that it is therefore impious to try to avoid them. The consequent improvement in health and increase of longevity is one of the most remarkable and admirable characteristics of our age. Even if science had done nothing else for human happiness, it would deserve our gratitude on this account. Those who believe in the utility of theological creeds would have difficulty in pointing to any comparable advantage that they have conferred upon the human race.” Bertrand Russell


“Man, as a curious accident in a backwater, is intelligible: his mixture of virtues and vices is such as might be expected to result from a fortuitous origin. But only abysmal self-complacency can see in Man a reason which Omniscience could consider adequate as a motive for the Creator. The Copernican revolution will not have done its work until it has taught men more modesty than is to be found among those who think Man sufficient evidence of Cosmic Purpose.” Bertrand Russell


“There is something feeble and a little contemptable 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! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not real, he becomes furious when they are disputed.” Bertrand Russell


“Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand-in-hand” Bertrand Russell


“The expression ‘free thought’ is often used as if it meant merely opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy. But this is only a symptom of free thought, frequent, but invariable. ‘Free thought’ means thinking freely — as freely, at least, as is possible for a human being. The person who is free in any respect is free from something; what is the free thinker free from? To be worthy of the name, he must be free of two things: the force of tradition, and the tyrant of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, but in the measure of a man’s emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker.” Bertrand Russell


“I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.” Bertrand Russell


“The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.” Bertrand Russell