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George Bernard Shaw

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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Irish-born British playwright and a founder of the Fabian Society, he wrote plays of iconoclastic social criticism

George Bernard ShawThe fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
-- Bernard Shaw, Androcles and the Lion, Preface (1916)

In your Salvation shelter I saw poverty, misery, cold and hunger. You gave them bread and treacle and dreams of heaven. I give from thirty shillings a week to twelve thousand a year. They find their own dreams; but I look after the drainage.
-- Bernard Shaw: Undershaft, in Major Barbara, act 3. Undershaft, an armaments manufacturer, here argues with his daughter (Barbara) about the effects on the poor of their differing points of view. From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

All the sweetness of religion is conveyed to the world by the hands of storytellers and image-makers. Without their fictions the truths of religion would for the multitude be neither intelligible nor even apprehensible; and the prophets would prophesy and the teachers teach in vain.
-- Bernard Shaw, Back to Methusaleh, Preface (1921)

Whoever admits that anything living is evil must either believe that God is malignantly capable of creating evil, or else believe that God has made many mistakes.
-- Bernard Shaw, introducing the second chapter of William Hart's book, Evil: A Primer (2004), page 23

At present there is not a single credible established religion in the world.
-- Bernard Shaw, from the final paragraph in the Intruduction to Major Barbara, quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)

We know now that the soul is the body, and the body the soul. They tell us they are different because they want to persuade us that we can keep our souls if we let them make slaves of our bodies.
-- Bernard Shaw: Ellie, in Heartbreak House, act 2

What is wrong with priests and popes is that instead of being apostles and saints, they are nothing but empirics who say "I know" instead of "I am learning," and pray for credulity and inertia as wise men pray for scepticism and activity.
-- Bernard Shaw, The Doctor's Dilemma, "The Latest Theories," Preface (1911)

Common people do not pray; they only beg.
-- Bernard Shaw, Misalliance (1910), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
-- Bernard Shaw, Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

I'm not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead -- ahead of myself as well as you.
-- Bernard Shaw: Bishop of Chelsea, in Getting Married

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
-- Bernard Shaw (attributed: source unknown)

Science becomes dangerous only when it imagines that it has reached its goal.
-- Bernard Shaw, The Doctor's Dilemma, Preface, "The Latest Theories" (1911)

Education: A succession of eye-openers each involving the repudiation of some previously held belief.
-- Bernard Shaw (attributed: source unknown)

George Bernard ShawYou are all fundamentalists with a top dressing of science. That is why you are the stupidest of conservatives and reactionists in politics and the most bigoted of obstructionists in science itself. When it comes to getting a move on you are all of the same opinion: stop it, flog it, hang it, dynamite it, stamp it out.
-- Bernard Shaw: a naturalist, addressing other members of the Caravan of the Curious, in The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (1932). From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.
-- Bernard Shaw, Preface to Mrs. Warren's Profession, quoted from Floyd College, Rome, Georgia, "Banned Books -- Quotes"

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
-- Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, "Maxims for Revolutionists: Liberty and Equality" (1903)

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
-- Bernard Shaw: Apollodorus, in Caesar and Cleopatra, act 3

He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
-- Bernard Shaw: Caesar, in Caesar and Cleopatra, act 2

The early Christian rules of life were not made to last, because the early Christians did not believe that the world itself was going to last.
-- Bernard Shaw: Hotchkiss, in Getting Married

A miracle is an event which creates faith. Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive; therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle.
-- Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan (1924), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

George Bernard ShawThe Jews generally give value. They make you pay; but they deliver the goods. In my experience the men who want something for nothing are invariably Christians.
-- Bernard Shaw: The Nobleman, in Saint Joan, sc. 4 (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

What is laisser-faire but an orthodoxy? The most tyrannous and disastrous of all the orthodoxies, since it forbids you even to learn.
-- Bernard Shaw, The Doctor's Dilemma, Preface, "The Technical Problem" (1911)

Self-denial is not a virtue: it is only the effect of prudence on rascality.
-- Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, "Maxims for Revolutionists: Virtues and Vices" (1903)

Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!
-- Bernard Shaw (attributed: source unknown)

What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which habitually acts.
-- Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

George Bernard ShawI believe in Michael Angelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; in the might of design, the mystery of color, the redemption of all things by Beauty everlasting, and the message of Art that has made these hands blessed. Amen. Amen.
-- Bernard Shaw: the dying artist Dubedat, in The Doctor's Dilemma, act 4. In a letter to the London Evening Standard (22 Nov. 1906), Shaw replied to criticism of this speech, which had been "reprobated on all hands as a sally of which only the bad taste of Bernard Shaw could be capable," with the admission that he had borrowed it from Richard Wagner, "An End in Paris," vol. 7 (1841; tr. by Ashton Ellis), where the dying musician begins his creed with the words, "I believe in God, Mozart, and Beethoven...." From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The national anthem belongs to the eighteenth century. In it you find us ordering God about to do our political dirty work.
-- Bernard Shaw: A member of the Caravan of the Curious, in The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (1932). From The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world.
-- Bernard Shaw: Keegan, in John Bull's Other Island, act 2

Every step of progress means a duty repudiated and a Scripture torn up.
-- Bernard Shaw, quoted from an Emmanuel Haldemann-Julius "Little Blue Book" (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

The Christian doctrine of the uselessness of punishment and the wickedness of revenge has not, in spite of its simple common sense, found a single convert among the nations.
-- Bernard Shaw, quoted from an Emmanuel Haldemann-Julius "Little Blue Book": details shortly (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

The fires of Smithfield and the Inquisition were lighted by earnestly pious people who were kind and good as as kindness and goodness go.
-- Bernard Shaw, quoted from an Emmanuel Haldemann-Julius "Little Blue Book": details shortly (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

Beware of the man whose god is in the skies.
-- Bernard Shaw, quoted from an Emmanuel Haldemann-Julius "Little Blue Book": details shortly (our thanks goes out to Jerry for this)

What bereaved people need is a little comic relief, and this is why funerals are so farcical.
-- Bernard Shaw, quoted from Curmudgeon-Online

Don't order any black things. Rejoice in his memory; and be radiant: leave grief to the children. Wear violet and purple.... Be patient with the poor people who will snivel: they don't know; and they think they will live for ever, which makes death a division instead of a bond.
-- Bernard Shaw, Letter of condolence, 5 July 1913 (published in Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters, vol. 3, 1965). Shaw added: "Let the children cry a little if they want to: it is natural."

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