Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations
No-Frames Quotes Index
Load This File With Frames Index
Home to Positive Atheism
|Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)|
American teacher and reformer
The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-distrust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciple.
Thought means life, since those who do not think so do not live in any high or real sense.
Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strength, not my weakness.
|Ethan Allen (1738-1789)|
In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.
I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not.
Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle that they are laboring to dethrone: but if they argue without reason (which, in order to be consistent with themselves they must do), they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.
There is not any thing, whilch has contributed so much to delude mankind in religious matters, as mistaken apprehensions concerning supernatural inspiration or revelation; not considering that all true religion originates from reason, and can not otherwise be understood, but by the exercise and improvement of it.
|Steve Allen (d. 2000)|
American actor; author; social critic; Guinness Book's 'most prolific composer of modern times' (8,500 songs -- though three years of piano lessons comprised his entire musical education); Jack of all trades; pioneer in the medium of television
The fundamentalist believer is mostly a weird intellectual who often lacks real faith altogether. As a self-appointed attorney for God, who is in no need of attorneys, he very easily turns out to be more godless than the agnostic and the unbeliever. At all events, he seems deaf to poetry.
The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife -- a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it's being held.
I do occasionally envy the person who is religious naturally, without being brainwashed into it or suckered into it by all the organized hustles.
If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.
Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.
How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?
If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.
To YOU I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
In real life, Keaton believes in God. But she also believes that the radio works because there are tiny people inside it.
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work ... I want to achieve it through not dying.
If Woody Allen were a Muslim, he'd be dead by now.
The present emphasis upon civil religion is a flagrant toying with the First Amendment. Various trends in national life suggest that a civil religion of the majority might find religious liberty something it did not care to preserve.
As a nation we have revisited that bitter lesson all too often since the school prayer decision of 1962. In the name of prayer and "family values," large numbers of citizens have reacted to their neighbors with hate and anger when public school religious practices have been challenged as violating the Bill of Rights. It is astounding and depressing to witness people who claim that school prayer is necessary to return the nation to spiritual values, attacking with vicious and intemperate behavior fellow citizens who disagree with their solution. In the name of their deity, these self-styled keepers of public morality exhibit the most outrageous forms of discrimination, hate, and intimidation against those who challenge organized prayer in public schools. And the venom has not been diluted over the thirty-four years since Engle. Further, on those occasions where the challenge to school prayer originated with Jewish citizens, the ugly head of anti-Semitism lurks all to close to the surface.
Over and over again throughout this book we witness the majority of citizens in a given community, in the name of prayer, abusing and tyrannizing those who have challenged local-or-state-endorsed religious practices. And these represent only a few examples: the problem itself is too widespread for every instance to be included here. Establishment in the name of the majority has bred hooligans ready to threaten fellow citizens, harassing both adults and children alike in the name of prayer. The disease of de facto religious establishments is evident today in the vicious treatment by community majorities of those courageous citizens who seek protection under the First Amendment.
|Gordon Willard Allport (1897-1967)|
American psychology professor
People who are aware of, and ashamed of, their prejudices are well on the road to eliminating them.
Author of 'The God Part of the Brain'
In the "higher" animals, most particularly among the mammals, threatening circumstances elicit a particular type of pain we refer to as anxiety. Anxiety constitutes a type of pain meant to prompt these "higher" order animals to avoid potentially hazardous circumstances. For example, a rabbit is cornered by a mountain lion. In such a situation, the rabbit is pumped with adrenaline, charged with the painful symptoms of anxiety, all meant to incite the rabbit to most effectively escape from the source of its discomfort, in this case the mountain lion. In its healthiest form, anxiety is meant to prompt an animal to avoid or escape a potentially hazardous experience. In humans, however, once we became aware of the fact that death was not only inescapable but that it could come at any moment, we were left in a state of constant mortal peril, a state of unceasing anxiety -- much like rabbits perpetually cornered by a mountain lion from which there is no escape. With the emergence of self-awareness, humans became the dysfunctional animal, rendered helpless by an inherent and unceasing anxiety disorder. Unless nature could somehow relieve us of this debilitating awareness of death, it's possible our species might have soon become extinct. It was suddenly critical that our animal be modified in some way that would allow us to maintain self-conscious awareness, while enabling us to deal with our unique awareness of our own mortalities, of death.
What's a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority.
|Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881)|
Swiss poet and philosopher
We are always making God our accomplice so that we may legalize our own inequities. Every successful massacre is consecrated by a Te Deum, and the clergy have never been wanting in benedictions for any victorious enormity.
Our systems, perhaps, are nothing more than an unconscious apology for our faults -- a gigantic scaffolding whose object is to hide from us our favorite sin.
Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be outraged by silence.
Emancipation from error is the condition of real knowledge.
A belief is not true [simply] because it is useful.
A lively, disinterested, persistent liking for truth is extraordinarily rare. Action and faith enslave thought, both of them in order not to be troubled or inconvenienced by reflection, criticism or doubt.
There is an illusion of central position, justifying ones own purposes as right and everybody elses as wrong, and providing a proper degree of paranoia. Righteous ends, thus approved, absolve of guilt the most violent means.
The efficacy of religion lies precisely in what is not rational, philosophic, nor eternal; its efficacy lies in the unforeseen, the miraculous, the extraordinary. Thus religion attracts more devotion according as it demands more faith -- that is to say, as it becomes more incredible to the profane mind.
The philosopher aspires to explain away all mysteries, to dissolve them into light. Mystery, on the other hand, is demanded and pursued by the religious instinct; mystery constitutes the essence of worship.
|Tori Amos (b. 1964)|
American singer and songwriter
This whole Christian theology thing is that god came down to experience life through his son. Well, how's he experiencing life if he doesn't get laid? Give me a break. And why would he not get laid, as he created the apparatus in the first place?
|Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959)|
The gods of men are sillier than their kings and queens, and emptier and more powerless.
|Maya Angelou [Marguerite Johnson] (b. 1928)|
American poet, writer, activist
People whose history and future were threatened each day by extinction considered that it was only by divine intervention that they were able to live at all. I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human being become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of respectability at a commensurate speed.
We really are 15 countries, and it's remarkable that each of us thinks we represent the real America. The Midwesterner in Kansas, the black American in Durham -- both are certain they are the real American.
The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.
The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.
Whatever else I might have thought of [President George W] Bush's call, with its assumption that prayer is some sort of miracle Vicks VapoRub for the national charley horse, it's clear that his hands were reaching for any hands but mine.
So, I'll out myself. I'm an Atheist. I don't believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don't believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance. I believe that the universe abides by the laws of physics, some of which are known, others of which will surely be discovered, but even if they aren't, that will simply be a result, as my colleague George Johnson put it, of our brains having evolved for life on this one little planet and thus being inevitably limited. I'm convinced that the world as we see it was shaped by the again genuinely miraculous, let's even say transcendent, hand of evolution through natural selection.
When I sent out a casual and nonscientific poll of my own to a wide cast of acquaintances, friends and colleagues, I was surprised, but not really, to learn that maybe 60 percent claimed a belief in a God of some sort, including people I would have bet were unregenerate skeptics. Others just shrugged. They don't think about this stuff. It doesn't matter to them. They can't know, they won't beat themselves up trying to know and for that matter they don't care if their kids believe or not.
Still, the current climate of religiosity can be stifling to nonbelievers, and it helps now and then to cry foul. For one thing, some of the numbers surrounding the deep religiousness of America, and the rarity of nonbelief, should be held to the fire of skepticism, as should sweeping statistics of any sort. Yes, Americans are comparatively more religious than Europeans, but while the vast majority of them may say generically that they believe in God, when asked what their religion is, a sizable fraction, 11 percent, report "no religion," a figure that has more than doubled since the early 1970's and that amounts to about 26 million people.
Among the more irritating consequences of our flagrantly religious society is the special dispensation that mainstream religions receive. We all may talk about religion as a powerful social force, but unlike other similarly powerful institutions, religion is not to be questioned, criticized or mocked.
"[The Free Inquirer had ridiculed Scripture and tried to show] that the prophet Moses was an impostor, the sacred truths and miracles recorded and set forth in the Pentateuch were impositions and false inventions, and thereby to infuse and propagate irreligious and diabolical opinions in the minds of his majesty's subjects and to shake the foundation of the civil and ecclesiastical government established in this kingdom."
|Jean Anouilh (1910-1987)|
Every man thinks God is on his side. The rich and powerful know he is.
With God, what is terrible is that one never knows whether it's not just a trick of the devil.
|Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906)|
American feminist leader and suffragist
To no form of religion is woman indebted for one impulse of freedom.
The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God.
I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
I tell them I have worked 40 years to make the WS platform broad enough for Atheists and Agnostics to stand upon, and now if need be I will fight the next 40 to keep it Catholic enough to permit the straightest Orthodox religionist to speak or pray and count her beads upon.
What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our Association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it.
Stanton, Anthony, Gage: Protracted Shame
Throughout this protracted and disgraceful assault on American womanhood, the clergy baptized each new insult and act of injustice in the name of the Christian religion, and uniformly asked God's blessing on proceedings that would have put to shame an assembly of Hottentots.
What can be accomplished by a few principles is not effected by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle, which is nature, and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle, which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
Please Feel Free
Grab some quotes to embellish your web site,
Use them to introduce the chapters of a book or
Poster your wall! Graffiti your (own) fence.
That's what this list is for!
In using this resource, however, keep in mind that
If you decide to build your own online
There's something to be said