Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Ed Babinski (b. 1956)
American librarian and atheistic rabble-rouser; editor, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, 1995); editor, Theistic Evolutionists' Forum; editor, Monkey's Uncle; editor, Cretinism or Evilution?

Consider the world's oldest, most prestigious institutions of higher learning, all founded on the notion of "Biblical infallibility," yet after continually drawing the brightest scholars and students, they eventually rejected inerrancy and the fundamentalist apologetical stance for an historical-critical approach.
-- Ed Babinski, final letter in The Habernas-Babinski Debate (on the alleged "resurrection of the saints" described in St Matthew)

I am happy enough reading the exit fundyism listserv knowing that there are many intelligent people out there who can handle themselves and their own beliefs and provide answers to others. I don't have to provide the answers, the answers are out there for people who search, and society will do what it will.
-- Ed Babinski, personal letter to Cliff Walker (October 24, 2002
)

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Isaac Backus (1724-1806)
Baptist leader of Colonial Massachusetts; champion of religious freedom via separationism

Isaac Backus[When] church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued.
-- Isaac Backus, in "An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty" (1773), quoted from Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004)

That which has made the greatest noise is a tax of three pence a pound upon tea; but your law of last June laid a tax of the same sum every year upon the Baptists in each parish, as they would expect to defend themselves against a greater one. And only because the Baptists at Middleboro have refused to pay that little tax, we hear that the first parish in said town have this fall voted to lay a greater tax upon us. All America are alarmed at the tea tax; though, if they please, they can avoid it by not buying the tea; but we have no such liberty. We must either pay the little tax, or else your people appear even in this time of extremity, determined to lay the great one upon us. But these lines are to let you know, that we are determined not to pay either of them; not only upon your principles of not being taxed where we are not represented, but also because we dare not render that homage to any earthly power, which I and many of my bretheren are fully convinced belongs only to God. Here, therefore, we claim charter rights, liberty of conscience. And if any still deny it to us, they must answer it to Him who has said, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
-- Isaac Backus, opposing taxation to support the Church, in "A Plea Before the Massachusetts Legislature" (1774), quoted, in part, from Alvah Hovey, A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev Isaac Backus (1859) p. 210, and quoted, in part, from Edwin S Gaustad, "Sins of the Fathers: Religion and the Revolution"

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Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Baron Verulam and Viscount Saint Albans (1561-1626)
English philosopher and statesman, one of the pioneers of modern scientific thought

     • Check out Francis Bacon's Scary Side

Sir Francis BaconAtheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation, all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not, but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.
-- Francis Bacon, himself no fan of atheism, nevertheless preferring it over superstition, in "Of Superstition," The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (1625); in Sidney Warhaft, ed, Francis Bacon: A Selection of His Works (1965), p. 89, quoted from George H Smith, "The Case Against God Sequel," speech delivered at Freedom From Religion Foundation mini-convention, San Francisco, July 31, 1999

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
-- Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning

Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.
-- Francis Bacon, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Physics and Psychics

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
-- Francis Bacon (attributed: source unknown)

No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of truth.
-- Francis Bacon, Of Truth

Sir Francis BaconTruth can never be reached by just listening to the voice of an authority.
-- Francis Bacon, quoted from Michael Taylor, "Francis Bacon Secret Societies"

Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
-- Francis Bacon (attributed: source unknown)

It is the wisdom of the crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour.
-- Francis Bacon (attributed: source unknown)

Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
-- Francis Bacon, Proposition touching Amendment of Laws

Knowledge is power. (Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.)
-- Francis Bacon, Meditationes Sacr. De Hresibus

Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
-- Francis Bacon, Of Death

Short Graphic Rule

Dryden: To Bacon We Owe Scientific Method

"The World to Bacon does not only owe
it's present knowledge, but its future too.
"
-- John Dryden, "To My Honor'd Friend, Dr. Charleton on His Learned and Useful Works; and More Particularly this of Stonehenge, by Him Restor'd to the True Founders," quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 31

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Joan Baez (b. 1941)
American singer and activist

Joan Baez (photo: from her second album)You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
-- Joan Baez, quoted by Dr. Paul Gorski, "Multicultural Pavilion: Quotations and Proverbs"

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Walter Bagehot (1826-1877)
British economist and journalist; editor of The Economist

Walter BagehotGreat and terrible systems of divinity and philosophy lie round about us, which, if true, might drive a wise man mad.
-- Walter Bagehot (1879), quoted from Antony Flew, Atheistic Humanism, p. 17

The mystic reverence, the religious allegiance, which are essential to a true monarchy, are imaginative sentiments that no legislature can manufacture in any people.
-- Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution "The Cabinet" (1867), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it unwise, and their conscience it is wrong.
-- Walter Bagehot, Literary Studies (1879) thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

A schoolmaster should have an atmosphere of awe, and walk wonderingly, as if he was amazed at being himself.
-- Walter Bagehot (1852), Literary Studies (vol. 1) (Hartley Coleridge; 1878), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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Cyril Bailey
Historian of ancient Greek philosophers

If we think that this search for God is a vain search, and that there is no reality to be discovered, ... then the history of religion becomes a study of the aberrations of the human mind.
-- Cyril Bailey, The Greek Atomists and Epicurus (1928), quoted from S T Joshi, ed, Atheism: A Reader, p. 137

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Philip James Bailey
English poet, wrote Festus

The late Philip Bailey in his study at the Rope Walk, Nottingham; Photo by Baker, Nottingham.Who never doubted never half-believed.
Where
doubt there truth is -- 'tis her shadow.
-- Philip James Bailey, quoted from Roderick Bradford’s biography, D M Bennett: The Truth Seeker (page 49)

The sole equality on earth is death.
-- Philip James Bailey, quoted from BrainyQuote.com

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Robert Baird

The freedom allowed in the United States to all sorts of inquiry and discussion necessarily leads to a diversity of opinion, which is seen not only in their being different denominations, but different opinions also in the same denomination.
-- Robert Baird, Religion in America 1856, p. 578, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Russell Wayne Baker (b. 1925)
American writer, long-time New York Times columnist

One of the many burdens of the person professing Christianity has always been the odium likely to be heaped upon him by fellow Christians quick to smell out, denounce and punish fraud, hypocrisy and general unworthiness among those who assert the faith. In ruder days, disputes about what constituted a fully qualified Christian often led to sordid quarrels in which the disputants tortured, burned and hanged each other in the conviction that torture, burning and hanging were Christian things to do....
-- Russell Baker, The New York Times, December 1988, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876)
Russian anarchist and political theorist who opposed Karl Marx

Mikhail BakuninIt is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
-- Mikhail Bakunin (attributed: source unknown)

Priests, kings, statesmen, soldiers, bankers and public functionaries of all sorts; policemen, jailers and hangmen; capitalists, usurers, businessmen and property-owners; lawyers, economists and politicians -- all of them, down to the meanest grocer, repeat in chorus the words of Voltaire, that if there were no God it would be necessary to invent Him.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, Dieu et l'état (1871), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1882), in seeming response to Voltaire's "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

The idea of god implies the abdication of human reason & justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty & necessarily ends in the enslavement of manking both in theory & practice.
     He who desires to worship god must harbor no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his liberty & humanity.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, his classic statement on the matter

The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the bootmaker.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consists precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

All religions, with their gods, their demi-gods, and their prophets, their messiahs and their saints, were created by the prejudiced fancy of men who had not attained the full development and full possession of their faculties.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1871), quoted from Emma Goldman, "The Philosophy of Atheism" (1916)

God, or rather the fiction of God, is thus the sanction and the intellectual and moral cause of all the slavery on earth, and the liberty of men will not be complete, unless it will have completely annihilated the inauspicious fiction of a heavenly master.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, Oeuvres, vol. 1, p. 143, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, Dieu et l'état (1871), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1871), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary Of Quotations

With all due respect, then, to the metaphysicians and religious idealists, philosophers, politicians or poets: the idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, both in theory and practice.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1871), quoted from Emma Goldman, "The Philosophy of Atheism" (1916)

People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, Circular Letter to My Friends in Italy, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Christianity is the complete negation of common sense and sound reason.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State

Religion is a collective insanity.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Theology is the science of the divine lie
-- Mikhail Bakunin, from George Seldes, ed, The Great Quotations, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We are materialists and atheists, and we glory in the fact.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987)
American writer and outspoken critic of racism

James BaldwinChristianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty -- necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels.
-- James Baldwin, "Letter from a Region in My Mind," in New Yorker (17 Nov. 1962; repr. in The Fire Next Time, 1963).

If the concept of God has any validity or use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.
-- James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
-- James Baldwin, "Letter from a Region in My Mind," in New Yorker (17 Nov. 1962; repr. in The Fire Next Time, 1963)

A devotion to humanity is...too easily equated with a devotion to a Cause, and Causes, as we know, are notoriously bloodthirsty.
-- James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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Jack Balkin
American educator, Yale Law School

.The reasoning isn’t crazy. It’s technically correct. If you’re being true to the idea that government must not take positions on religious questions, then the Ninth Circuit opinion is quite persuasive.
-- Jack Balkin, regarding the case Newdow vs. US, the first case to bar the antiatheistic addition to our Pledge of Allegiance, "under God," inserted by Congress during the peak of the McCarthy Era's scourge of atheists under the guise of squelching Communism, in Nadya Labi, "To Pledge or Not to Pledge" (Time, Jun. 29, 2002)

There is a powerful desire by majorities to assert a religious identity for the country.
-- Jack Balkin, regarding the case Newdow vs. US, the first case to bar the antiatheistic addition to our Pledge of Allegiance, "under God," inserted by Congress during the peak of the McCarthy Era's scourge of atheists under the guise of squelching Communism, in Nadya Labi, "To Pledge or Not to Pledge" (Time, Jun. 29, 2002)

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W P Ball
English writer

With one single exception, the parables attributed to Jesus are thoroughly religious and decidedly inferior in their moral tone, besides possessing minor faults. The God who is to be the object of our adoration and imitation is depicted to us as a judge who will grant vengeance in answer to incessant prayer, as a father who loves and honors the favorite prodigal and neglects the faithful and obedient worker, as an employer who pays no more for a life-time than for the nominal service of a death-bed repentance, as an unreasonable master who reaps where he has not sown and punishes men because he made them defective and gave them no instructions, as a harsh despot who delivers disobedient servants to tormentors and massacres those who object to his rule, as a judge who is merciful to harlots and relentless towards unbelievers, as a petulant king who drives beggars and outcasts into the heaven which is ignored by the wise and worthy, as a ruler of the universe who freely permits his enemy the devil to sow evil and then punishes his victims, as a God who plunges men in the flames of hell and calmly philosophizes over the reward of the blest who from Abraham's bosom behold the sight and are not permitted to bestow even so much as a drop of cold water to cool the parched tongues of their fellow-creatures amidst hopeless and unending agonies, in comparison with which all earthly sufferings are but momentary dreams.
-- W P Ball, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, pp. 310-11

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Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
French writer and a founder of the realist school of fiction

Honoré de BalzacThanks to the toleration preached by the encyclopedists of the eighteenth century, the sorcerer is exempt from torture.
-- Honoré de Balzac, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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D D Bandiste (b. 1923)
Indian rationalist; Former Hindu nationalist and top RRS activist; detained for five years following the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, he joined the Banares Hindu University in 1953 and studied the philosophies of all religions; armed with this knowledge, he became an athiest and ultimately an activist, having spent almost 50 years (2001) propagating Rationalism

Ancient mythologies obscure people’s vision and make enemies of neighbours. The Ganesh phenomenon is like the case of the moving statues in Ireland. Such episodes show that superstitious, irrational thinking persists in many societies and is actively encouraged by the inculcation of religion. Religion is essentially irrational and it encourages other forms of irrationality to flourish. At its worst, it ends in violence.
-- D D Bandiste, during one of numerous visits to Belfast, in the North of Ireland, sponsored by Belfast Humanist Group and quoted in their report of his visit (undated)

Every believer says that his was the only true religion. So is the case with nationalism.... All humans should be treated as one family.
-- D D Bandiste, during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

Every religion manifests ideals such as do not steal, do not tell lies, and so on. These are the norms for any civilized society and they should not be linked to any religion or god.
-- D D Bandiste, during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

Many quarrels can be avoided if the wortd "God" is not brought up in our work and deed.
-- D D Bandiste, during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

The study made me realise that all religions are narrow, false and out of date, too, and that the concept of god was a myth.
-- D D Bandiste, during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

The reason is that the authors of these books never moved out of their places of living.
-- D D Bandiste, on why no ancient religious book mentions the American continent; another reason the books of Scripture are outdated? they "never mention about pollution," during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

Religion is slowly losing hold over people and people are slowly becoming atheists.... Anyway, I am not disappointed with the slow.
-- D D Bandiste, during a visit to Atheist Centre (July 12, 2001), in The New Sunday Express (July 15, 2000), quoted from The Atheist (August, 2001)

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Imamu Amiri Baraka [LeRoi Jones] (b. 1934)
American writer whose poems and plays focus on racial conflict

Imamu Amiri BarakaGod is man idealized.
-- Imamu Amiri Baraka, Home: Social Essays "The Legacy of Malcolm X, and the Coming of the Black Nation" (1966), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning.
-- Imamu Amiri Baraka, "What Does Non-Violence Mean?" Home, 1966, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Rev S Baring-Gould

The religious passion verges so closely on the sexual passion that a slight additional pressure given to it bursts the partition, and both are confused in a frenzy of religious debauch.
-- S Baring-Gould, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 342

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Dan Barker
Former preacher who later co-founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation

Dan BarkerIf the Prodigal Son's a parable, and if Adam and Eve are metaphors, then maybe God is just figure of speech.
-- Dan Barker, paraphrasing an article by Ben Bova titled "Equal Time for Creationism," about the question of whether Adam and Eve were historical, which helped Barker to see through religion, in Richard von Busack, "Heretical Animals" (October 3-9, 2002: Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper)

You keep accusing me of blasphemy all of the time, but I cannot be convicted of a victimless crime.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

Atheists are suffering from bad PR What if Sesame Street had an atheist character?
-- Dan Barker, in Richard von Busack, "Heretical Animals" (October 3-9, 2002: Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper)

It turns out that the word atheism means much less than I had thought. It is merely the lack of theism.
-- Dan Barker, defending the "weak" definition for the word atheism, in, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, quoted from Austin Cline, "Defining Atheism: Contemporary Atheists"

Basic atheism is not a belief. It is the lack of belief. There is a difference between believing there is no god and not believing there is a god -- both are atheistic, though popular usage has ignored the latter.
-- Dan Barker, defending the "weak" definition for the word atheism, in, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, quoted from Austin Cline, "Defining Atheism: Contemporary Atheists"

It is wrong for a secular government to promote prayer. We think the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. What if the president declared a National Day of Cursing God because He failed us on September 11? Americans would say, "You've overstepped your authority." That's how we feel when he promotes prayer.
-- Dan Barker, in Ed Culhane, "Some Say Prayer Day Out of Bounds" (May 2, 2002: Appleton [Wisconsin] Post-Crescent), sidebar to "National Day of Prayer Offers a Pause for Reflection"

Look at the posture of prayer. It is the posture of slavery, of bowing before your master. We are a proudly rebellious country. We kicked out the master. Now here comes the government telling us to humbly bow again.
-- Dan Barker, in Ed Culhane, "Some Say Prayer Day Out of Bounds" (May 2, 2002: Appleton [Wisconsin] Post-Crescent), sidebar to "National Day of Prayer Offers a Pause for Reflection"

If the answers to prayer are merely what God wills all along, then why pray?
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

Not thinking critically, I assumed that the successful prayers were proof that God answers prayer while the failures were proof that there was something wrong with me.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

Prayer never changes the laws of nature.
-- Dan Barker, in Ed Culhane, "Some Say Prayer Day Out of Bounds" (May 2, 2002: Appleton [Wisconsin] Post-Crescent), sidebar to "National Day of Prayer Offers a Pause for Reflection"

The trouble is that neutrality is confused with hostility. We're not disrupting churches, or interrupting people's prayers. We're not fighting religion.
-- Dan Barker, responding to, "Why stir Christians up, when you know how they get?" in Richard von Busack, "Heretical Animals" (October 3-9, 2002: Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper)

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.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

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, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

It's not easy to change world views. Faith has its own momentum and belief is comfortable. To restructure reality is traumatic and scary. That is why many intelligent people continue to believe: unbelief is an unknown.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

I took about a year to fully adjust. Like there's a death at the family or a divorce, you don't just snap your fingers and it's over.
-- Dan Barker, in Richard von Busack, "Heretical Animals" (October 3-9, 2002: Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper)

Some theists, observing that all "effects" need a cause, assert that God is a cause but not an effect. But no one has ever observed an uncaused cause and simply inventing one merely assumes what the argument wishes to prove.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

I have an Easter challenge for Christians. My challenge is simply this: tell me what happened on Easter. I am not asking for proof. My straightforward request is merely that Christians tell me exactly what happened on the day that their most important doctrine was born.
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

Theists claim that there is a god; atheists do not. Religionists often challenge atheists to prove that there is no god; but this misses the point. Atheists claim god is unproved, not disproved. In any argument, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim.
      If a person claims to have invented an antigravity device, it is not incumbent on others to prove that no such thing exists. The believer must make a case. Everyone else is justified in refusing to believe until evidence is produced and substantiated.
      Some atheists feel the argument is pointless until the term "god" is made understandable. Words like "spirit" and "supernatural" have no referent in reality, and ideas like "all-knowing" and "omnipotent" are self-contradictory. Why discuss a meaningless concept?
-- Dan Barker, from Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, Chapter 17

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, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

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?
-- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

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Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891)
American showman

P. T. BarnumThe orthodox faith painted God as a revengeful being, and yet people talk about loving such a being.
-- P T Barnum, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Alan Barth (1906-1979)
American Journalist; served on editorial borad of The Washington Post for thirty years

Thought that is silenced is always rebellious. Majorities, of course, are often mistaken. This is why the silencing of minorities is necessarily dangerous. Criticism and dissent are the indispensable antidote to major delusions.
-- Alan Barth, "The Loyalty of Free Men" (1951), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Those who so glibly dismiss as "mere legal technicalities" the procedural guarantees of the Constitution limiting law-enforcement activities forget that nothing is more basic to civil liberty than freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by policemen who are masters, not servants, of the law. The most characteristic symbol of the police state is the ominous rap on the door at night. Freedom from the fear of that rap is the basic condition for the exercise of every other form of freedom. "The history of liberty," Mr Justice Frankfurter once observed, "is the history of the observances of procedural safeguards."
     For as long as men have sought to be free, arbitrary arrest has been a mark and measure of despotism. In every land and time, men have protested and fought against it. It has been a principal cause of every major uprising against established government. It was one of the grievances of the English barons against King John in 1215 and prompted their insistence in Magna Carta that "no free man shall be taken or imprisoned ... except by the legal judgement of his peers or by the law of the land." Bitter resentment against capricious arrest and incarceration was one of the prime causes of the French Revolution. And so the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen stipulated that "No man should be accused, arrested, or held in confinement except in cases determined by the law, and according to the forms which it has prescribed."
     Arbitrary arrest and arbitrary searches conducted under the infamous writs of assistance and general warrants were among the bitterest grievances against George III recited in the American Declaration of Independence. When they established their independence Americans were determined that no government of their own creation should ever engage in these forms of despotism. Accordingly, they imposed heavy restraint upon police activity in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
-- Alan Barth, The Rights of Free Men (1984)

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Sreeman Mishu Barua
Bangladeshi poet

O people, confirm your actions
you walked a lot in this planet "by God's grace"
now why don’t you become responsible for yourself?
-- Sreeman Mishu Barua, "To People -- 2"

How boundless is the strength of imagination!
It created Satan on one side, God on the other --
human beings which die off easily
most unscrupulously it presented them
with the hope of immortality.
-- Sreeman Mishu Barua, "Imagination"

All the sellers listen to thee
how long will you sell
your faulty goods duty-free
-- Sreeman Mishu Barua, "You've irritated me"

I do not acknowledge religion.
The religion that kept me isolated
from your life --
isn’t mine.
Leave that religion which
is still breast feeding you.
-- Sreeman Mishu Barua, "My Religion"

[Request contact information.]

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John F Baugh
Houston philanthropist who spends millions supporting Baylor University; founder of the food-service industry's Sysco, with $23.4 billion in sales for fiscal year 2002

John F. BaughI think you can see in my letter that I cherish my great-grandchildren being able to attend a fundamentalist-free Baylor University. I'm an old man and I've seen a lot. I saw the fundamentalists seize control of the Southern Baptist Convention. I see no compatibility between fundamentalist objectives and those of us who cherish religious freedom, personal liberty and individual rights.
-- John Baugh, calling "exceedingly ill-advised" the rumored proposal to appoint Houston evangelist Ed Young, a fundamentalist pastor, to the Baylor Board of Regents, in a letter to Regent chairman Drayton McLane Jr., quoted from Mike Copeland and Brian Gaar, "Fears of Regent Fundamentalism Strike Baylor Supporters" (The Waco [Texas] Tribune-Herald: August, 2003)

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Thomas F Bayard
US Secretary of State (1885-1889)

Religious liberty is the chief cornerstone of the American system of government, and provisions for its security are imbedded in the written charter and interwoven in the moral fabric of its laws.
-- Thomas Bayard, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Pierre Bayle (1647-1706)
French philosopher and critic; compiler of Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697); champion of religious tolerance, arguing that religion and morality are independent of one another

Pierre BayleIn matters of religion it is very easy to deceive a man, and very hard to undeceive him.
-- Pierre Bayle, Dictionary (1697), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

It has been asserted, that a moral Atheist would be a monster beyond the power of nature to create: I reply, that it is not more strange for an Atheist to live virtuously, than for a Christian to abandon himself to crime! If we believe the last kind of monster, why dispute the existence of the first?
-- Pierre Bayle, "answering Steele's complaint against atheists and deists twelve years before he made it," in the "Atheism and Atheists" entry of Historical and Critical Dictionary (1697), quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 32

[The movement of comets is part of] the ordinary works of nature which, without regard to the happiness or misery of mankind, are transported from one part of the heavens to another by virtue of the general laws of motion.
-- Pierre Bayle, joining Bernard de Fontenelle (1657-1757) and Edmund Halley (1656-1742) in the rejection of any superstitious significance in the comet, Thoughts on the Comet of 1680, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 35

Consider, I pray, whether you are not renouncing all shame and sincerity to advance such principles. Because a comet appears in a group of stars which the ancients thought fit to call the Virgin, therefore, shall our women be barren, or have frequent miscarriages, or die old maids. I know of nothing which hangs so ill together! To offer such things in seriousness, shows the greatest contempt of mankind, and the most scandalous lying impunity.
-- Pierre Bayle, taking a sideswipe at astrology, in addition to his ridicule of the belief in signs and portents, Thoughts on the Comet of 1680, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 35

So that, were it the purpose of God to produce comets as signs of his wrath it would be true to say that he is quickening a false devotion almost all over the world, increasing the number of pilgrims to Mecca, multiplying the offerings to the most famous impostors, inducing men to build mosques for Mohammedan worship, causing the invention of new superstitions among the dervishes -- in a word, stimulating many abominable things which otherwise might not have been.
-- Pierre Bayle, if God were sittiing up there making mysterious signs and wonders amidst the heavenly bodies, which could be interpreted any number of ways by different peoples, this would only increase the superstition and false religion, therefore making God the author of deception, Thoughts on the Comet of 1680, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 36 (citation quip: CW)

Do you doubt that the least effects of nature were not used as marks of the wrath of heaven? It was to the interest of pontiffs, priests, and augurs, as much as it is to the interest of lawyers and doctors that there should be lawsuits and sickness. No wonder they took care that the people should not grow slack in their religion.
-- Pierre Bayle, arguing that atheism will never become popular simply because religion is so useful in exploiting the mases, Thoughts on the Comet of 1680, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 36 (citation quip: CW)

It is only common prejudice that induces us to believe that atheism is a fearful state.
-- Pierre Bayle, considering human behaviour to be the result of temperament and custom rather than belief, Thoughts on the Comet of 1680, quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 36

There was no other God, religion, or lawful magistracy, than conscience, which teaches all men the precepts of Justice, to do no injury, to live honestly, and give everyone his due.
-- Pierre Bayle, explaining "the anarchistic atheism of Kruzen, the German, who founded a sect of Conscientianes in about 1673," Dictionary, quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 37

One must be stark mad, to believe that mankind can subsist without magistrates.
-- Pierre Bayle, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 37

I get up and retire when I wish. I go out if I wish and I do not go out if I do not desire to do so, except for the two days on which I give lectures.
-- Pierre Bayle, speaking with pleasure of the quiet life at Rotterdam, quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 37

I shall add one Remark more. That if a Religion, persecuted in a Country where it was weakest, shou'd ask her Persecutors, why they employ such violent Methods; and these answer, because God enjoins the true Religion to extirpate Heresy quocunque modo [i.e., in whatever way]; if, I say, by making this Answer, they shou'd happen to persuade the Persecuted that there really was such a command, what wou'd follow? Why this same persecuted Church, finding it self the strongest in another place, might very well say to the Communion which had tormented it in the Country where 'twas uppermost, you have taught me one Lesson that I did not know before, I am oblig'd to you for it; you have shewn me from the Scriptures, that God enjoins the faithful to distress false Communions; I shall therefore fall to persecuting you, seeing I am the true Church, and you Idolaters and false Christians, etc. It's very plain, that the stronger the Arguments be which Persecutors bring to prove that God enjoins Constraint, the smarter Rods they furnish their Adversarys to scourge themselves in another place. Each Party will engross the Proofs, the Command, the Rights of Truth; and authorize its Proceedings by every thing which the really true Religion can offer in its own behalf.
-- Pierre Bayle, Philosophical Commentary on the Words of the Gospel, 'Compel Them to Come In', ch. viii, translator anonymous, London, 1708

Compulsion in the literal Sense is maliciously misrepresented, by supposing it authorizes Violences committed against the Truth. The Answer to this; by which it is prov'd, that the literal Sense does in reality authorize the stirring up Persecutions against the Cause of Truth, and that an erroneous Conscience has the same Rights as an enlighten'd Conscience.
-- Pierre Bayle, Philosophical Commentary on the Words of the Gospel, 'Compel Them to Come In', ch. viii, translator anonymous, London, 1708

I lay down the Position, That whatever a Conscience well directed allows us to do for the Advancement of Truth, an erroneous Conscience will warrant for advancing a suppos'd Truth.
-- Pierre Bayle, Philosophical Commentary on the Words of the Gospel, 'Compel Them to Come In', ch. viii, translator anonymous, London, 1708

Short Graphic Rule

Shaftesbury: What Good this Ernest Search for Truth!

"I think the world, and in particular the learned world, much beholden to such proving spirits as these.... What injury such a one could do the world by such a search for truth with so much moderation, disinterestedness, integrity, and innocency of life, I know not. But what good he did I in particular know and feel, and must never cease to speak and own."
-- Lord Shaftesbury, paying tribute to the value of Bayle's scepticism, quoted from and citation quip by Jim Herrick, Against the Faith, p. 43

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The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea

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