Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Bert B Beach
Seventh-Day Adventist religious liberty executive

There is little doubt that religious liberty is best exercised within the setting of the secular state. This does not mean the state should be hostile or indifferent to religious bodies, but rather that it must exhibit what has been called a "benevolent neutrality." ...
     Freedom of religion also implies the right not to have or profess a religion. This is sometimes overlooked. It is a sad commentary on religion that religionists, probably quite well-meaning at times, have throughout history tried to force fellow human beings into a required religious mold. Apart from the very wrong theological assumptions involved, this is a flagrant violation of the dignity of the human person. Coerced religion is demeaning and of little value.
      -- Bert B Beach, Bright Candle of Courage, 1989, pp. 14-15, quoted from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom (1991)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948)
American historian

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.
-- Charles Austin Beard (attributed: source unknown)

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Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
French writer and political activist

Simone de BeauvoirI cannot be angry at God, in whom I do not believe.
-- Simone de Beauvoir, The Observer (London) (January 7, 1979), quoted from Encarta® Book of Quotations (1999)

Christianity gave eroticism its savor of sin and legend when it endowed the human female with a soul.
-- Simone de Beauvoir, referring to when the Council of Nicea, by a single vote, declared woman to be "human," quoted from totse.com

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Ferdinand August Bebel (1840-1913)
German socialist leader

August BebelChristianity is the enemy of liberty and of civilization. It has kept mankind in chains.
-- August Bebel, Reichstag speech (March 31, 1881), from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

When socialism comes into power, the Roman Church will advocate socialism with the same vigor [with which] it is now favoring feudalism and slavery.
-- August Bebel, address to the Social Democratic Party Congress, Jena, 1906, from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Irish-born writer known for his absurdist plays

Samuel BeckettThe bastard! He doesn't exist!
-- Samuel Beckett: Hamm, in Endgame, after attempting to pray. Clov replies, "Not yet"

Just under the surface I shall be, all together at first, then separate and drift, through all the earth and perhaps in the end through a cliff into the sea, something of me. A ton of worms in an acre, that is a wonderful thought, a ton of worms, I believe it.
-- Samuel Beckett, from an abandoned work (1958)

How can one better magnify the Almighty than by sniggering with him at his little jokes, particularly the poorer ones.
-- Samuel Beckett: Winnie, in Happy Days, act 1 (1961)

Samuel BeckettEnough of acting the infant who has been told so often how he was found under a cabbage that in the end he remembers the exact spot in the garden and the kind of life he led there before joining the family circle.
-- Samuel Beckett (attributed: source unknown)

What do I know of man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.
-- Samuel Beckett, "Enough," in Six Residua (1978)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
US clergyman; abolitionist

There is tonic in the things that men do not love to hear. Free speech is to a great people what the winds are to oceans ... and where free speech is stopped miasma is bred, and death comes fast.
-- Henry Ward Beecher (attributed: source unknown)

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Lyman Beecher (1775-1863)
American cleric, father of Catharine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), a suffragist; Edward Beecher (1803-1895), a clergyman, educator, and abolitionist; Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a clergyman, newspaper editor, and abolitionist; Harriet Beecher Stowe.

[Disestablishment was] the best thing that ever happened to the state of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God.
-- Lyman Beecher, The Autobiography of Lyman Beecher 1961, Vol. 1, p. 253, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Beevers
Historian

I do not know that Christianity holds anything more of importance for the world. It is finished, played out. The only trouble lies in how to get rid of the body before it begins to smell too much.
-- John Beevers, World Without Faith (1935), quoted in S T Joshi, ed., Atheism: A Reader

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Francis Bellamy
American Baptist minister; author of the original Pledge of Allegiance; brother of Socialist author Edward Bellamy, whose Socialist convictions Francis shared, costing him his pastorate in Boston in 1891 for refusing to hide his Socialist convictions during the course of his sermons

Francis BellamyI pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
-- Francis Bellamy, the original Pledge of Allegiance, as it appeared in the issue of The Youth's Companion (September 8, 1892)

The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the "republic for which it stands."... And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?
     Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all.
-- Francis Bellamy, giving his reasons for writing the Pledge in the first place, quoted from Dr. John Baer, "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short History (1992)

[A] ... clumsy redundancy ... a mangling of the original.
-- Francis Bellamy, reportedly responding to the addition of "of the United States of America," quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††

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Baer: Quadricentennial Columbus Day Celebration

"In 1892 Francis Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools' quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute his 'Pledge of Allegiance.'"
-- Dr. John Baer, in his essay, "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short History" (1992), see also Baer, "The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance," from Propaganda Review (Summer, 1989)
 

Granddaughter: Would Have Resented 'Under God'

"Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change ... In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there."
-- Dr. John Baer, in his essay, "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short History" (1992)
 

Grandson: Changes 'Spoiled the Poetry' of the Pledge

He [Frances Bellamy] thought [the changes] spoiled the poetry of it. He was a pretty stern guy. Everybody has some sense of humor, but I don't think he had much.
-- John Bellamy, explaining what he knew of the author's intentions for the Pledge of Allegiance, quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††

 

Great-grandson: Bellamy Unhappy With Changes

There's a little irony in the fact that his [Francis Bellamy's] profession was a Baptist minister. You'd think immediately he would not have had bad feelings about having "under God" in the Pledge. But he was not even happy about them adding "to the United States of America."
-- Scott Bellamy, explaining what he knew of the author's intentions for the Pledge of Allegiance, quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††
 

Great-granddaughter: Godless Pledge Invites More Americans

As a regular churchgoer who has voted both Democratic and Republican, I believe that my great-grandfather [Francis Bellamy] got it right. A Pledge of Allegiance that does not include God invites the participation of more Americans.
-- Sally Wright, explaining in a 2002 letter to The New York Times what she knew of the author's intentions for the Pledge of Allegiance, quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††

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Bio quip derived in part from Robert E Nordlander, Letter to the Editor of Together in Faith (as submitted, October 29, 2001) and posted on Nordlander's e-list.

 

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

John Bellamy
Grandson of Francis Bellamy, who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance

He [Frances Bellamy] thought [the changes] spoiled the poetry of it. He was a pretty stern guy. Everybody has some sense of humor, but I don't think he had much.
-- John Bellamy, explaining what he knew of the author's intentions for the Pledge of Allegiance, quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Scott Bellamy
Great-grandson of Francis Bellamy, who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance; owner of Bellamy's sandwich shop in Trinity Commons in Cordova, Tennessee

There's a little irony in the fact that his [Francis Bellamy's] profession was a Baptist minister. You'd think immediately he would not have had bad feelings about having "under God" in the Pledge. But he was not even happy about them adding "to the United States of America."
-- Scott Bellamy, explaining what he knew of the author's intentions for the Pledge of Allegiance, quoted in Kate Santich, "Writer was protective of his 'poetic' Pledge" (The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel: October 25, 2003) ††

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

John C Bennett

The first reason for emphasizing the separation of church and state is that it is the only way of assuring the complete freedom of the church.... The second reason for believing in the separation of church and state is the preservation of the state from control by the church.... The third reason for emphasizing the separation of church and state is that it is best for the church to be on its own.
-- John C Bennett, Christians and the State 1958, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

It is obvious that the churches in America should not use their members as political pressure groups to get special ecclesiastical privileges for themselves as against other religious bodies. They should not seek legislation, even if they can influence enough votes to get it, which interferes with the religious liberty of minorities and they should be thankful that the courts stand guard at this point.
-- John C Bennett, Christians and the State 1958, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
British reformer and philosopher of law and legislation, who laid the foundations of utilitarianism

There is no pestilence in a state like a zeal for religion, independent of morality.
-- Jeremy Bentham, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The spirit of dogmatic theology poisons anything it touches.
-- Jeremy Bentham, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion.
-- Jeremy Bentham, Constitutional Code, quoted from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)
Russian-British philosopher, historian

One belief, more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the alter of the great historical ideas -- justice or progress or happiness of future generations...or emancipation of a nation or race or class...this is the belief that somewhere...there is a final solution.
-- Sir Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts Of Liberty (1958)

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Sarah Bernhardt [Henrietta Rosine Bernard] (1844-1923)
French romantic and tragic actress

Sarah BernhardtMe pray? Never! I'm an atheist.
-- Sarah Bernhardt, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

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David K Berninghausen
American educator, University of Minnesota; avid supporter of intellectual freedom; strong and persistent foe of censorship and of the loyalty oath programs that were popular in the 1950s

In order to get the truth, conflicting arguments and expressions must be allowed. There can be no freedom without choice, so sound choice without knowledge.
-- David K Berninghausen, Arrogance of the Censor (1982), quoted from Mike Reed, "Scientology, Censorship, President"

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Dr. Andrew Bernstein
American philosopher and educator; adjunct professor of philosophy at Pace University; Humanistic novelist, author of Heart of a Pagan; author of Cliff's Notes for several Ayn Rand works

Even in this secular country, the threat posed by religious fundamentalists is never very far away. Every major religious text exhorts the same principles -- that of unyielding obedience to a supernatural being, and renunciation of the intellect and personal aspirations.
-- Andrew Bernstein, regarding the theme of his novel, Heart of a Pagan, which tells of Swoop, a leading college basketball player, who moves to Iowa with the dual mission of bring their team to the championship and converting those he meets to a creed based on reason and individual achievement rather than faith, in Regina Milano, "New Novel Pits Faith vs. Freedom" (2002) an e-promo from the publisher

Many argue that Christianity is "different" from other religions -- that it is primarily about love of one's fellow man. The Crusades, The Inquisition, Calvin's Geneva all prove that this is not the case. These events were pre-eminently about obedience to authority.
-- Andrew Bernstein, as the New Testament revealis in I Corinthians 10: 4-6, upholding obedience above all else, rather than love; witness this, St Paul's call to arms, a passage well-known among modern Evangelicals: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (emphasis ours -- PAM), in Regina Milano, "New Novel Pits Faith vs. Freedom" (2002) an e-promo from the publisher

The Platonic-Christian tradition in philosophy trumpets two claims: (1) that man is a being severed into two parts, that his body belongs to this dimension of reality and his consciousness to a higher, spiritual realm -- and (2) the logical consequence of this mind-body split, the belief that this world is utterly material and carnal, that brute, bodily means are effectual, but that the intellect, since it belongs to another world, is helpless to deal with this one, that the mind is ivory-towered, inefficacious, helpless, that its constructs may be sound in theory but are futile in practice. Just as Jesus is the perfect moral expression of this view -- the weak, pacifistic, cheek-turning "lamb" in this world, but the omnipotent deity ruling the next -- so Hamlet is its perfect literary expression -- the brilliant philosopher-intellectual who excels in the theoretical realm but is helpless to deal with the practical.
-- Andrew Bernstein, in "The Philosophical Foundations of Heroism" (2001) Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty

If we lived in a Garden of Eden, in which an omnipotent deity provided all goods and full protection, then no competence on the part of human beings would be required for either the creation of values or their defense. But since metaphysical reality requires that man's values be created and produced, ability -- above all, intellectual ability -- is crucial to his survival on earth. Similarly, since evil men attempt to enslave the creators and survive as parasites off of their effort, ability -- again intellectual ability especially -- is required to defend the good against their murderous intentions. Where nothing is given to man and all must be produced -- where implacable, unyielding foes or forces (be they animate or inanimate) may provide fierce resistance to the would-be producers -- then a further quality, in addition to moral stature, is required to ensure survival: expertise, competence, power.
-- Andrew Bernstein, in "The Philosophical Foundations of Heroism" (2001) Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Tim Berra
Professor of Zoology, Ohio State University

Tim Berra with unknown PAM readerThere is no law that mandates the teaching of evolution, and there should not be, yet it is practically universally taught in universities and colleges around the world. The theory of evolution is what is taught because it is what best explains the data in a rational manner.
-- Tim?Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism (1990), pp. 139-40

For example, an unassembled bicycle that arrives at your house in a shipping carton is in a state of disorder. You supply the energy of your muscles (which you get from food that came ultimately from sunlight) to assemble the bike. You have got order from disorder by supplying energy. The Sun is the source of energy input to the earth's living systems and allows them to evolve.
-- Tim?Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism (1990), p. 126

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Matt Berry
American author, philosopher

Should we cover our heads and whimper because reality is not as we would have it? Beautiful lies are not superior to horrible truths, so why not hear the truth even when it is vulgar?
-- Matt Berry, Post-Atheism: A Mechanist's Journey from Christian Materialism to Material Spirituality, p. 73 ††

Faith is the fatigue resulting from the attempt to preserve God's integrity instead of one's own.
-- Matt Berry, Post-Atheism: A Mechanist's Journey from Christian Materialism to Material Spirituality ††

This book is not about atheism yet nonetheless was written for atheists. If I deal with theism at all, it is only to finger the strings to belief and thereby understand human tractability. I also draw a sharp line between my expedient need for an individual strategy and the need of atheists for herd unity. In short, as yet another human string, atheism draws me out of the herd of theism. Atheism is in this sense a necessary point of arrival. It is how and where I stop my inherited cultural inertia. While as an individual, atheism is my point of departure. It too is a herd I leave behind, for this is not a God-AntiGod reality.
-- Matt Berry, Post-Atheism: A Mechanist's Journey from Christian Materialism to Material Spirituality ††

This is post-atheism. I extract from my inherited culture a knowledge of human behavior and accept the predicament: "I am a machine, and my function is to lie to myself." The subjective struggle for self-control ... a new spirituality after atheism begins here.
-- Matt Berry, Post-Atheism: A Mechanist's Journey from Christian Materialism to Material Spirituality ††

I take it to be the highest endeavor and the greatest offense for a human to attempt life mastery, to break up the foundations of existence and build anew. There are many books on stark reality ... about the disease of existence. Without denying that there are such existences but far from musing on death, I assert that a human can steer toward a higher fate, a more valuable conclusion ... and, risking a trite expression, live a happier life.
-- Matt Berry, A Human Strategy ††

Perhaps this is the soft underbelly of a book exposed to the modern world: to say that one can be happier and more valuable without a "beyond" ... that one can not only learn to be content with reality, but can aggressively pursue greater and greater joy.
-- Matt Berry, A Human Strategy ††

How can one argue vigorously against an absurdly childish notion without betraying that one actually takes the issue seriously? Had Galileo not recanted, he might then have proved himself a sort of religious fanatic after all.
-- Matt Berry, The Mechanics of Virtue (p. 148) ††

In response to the fear of our unknowable future we would rather freeze ourselves into a single stage of growth at the expense of the entire metamorphosis.
-- Matt Berry, A Human Strategy (p. 121) ††

The question sets the trajectory of the answer. The crowd stands safely behind. If the crowd has aimed the canon askew, I can only lose: if I answer, my answer will be set off in vain ... if I refuse to answer, I have "avoided the battle" ... if I stop to debate the positioning of the question itself, there will be no crowd pleasing thunder ... if I seize the question and turn it around, correctly aiming at the problem -- the crowd -- I will be torn to pieces.
-- Matt Berry, A Human Strategy (p. 23) ††

There is quite often, however, in every over-crowded herd at least one insubordinate ... one idiot who actualizes the cry for "Truth at all costs!" With him alone, the act matches the principle and not the habit. He thus presents himself as an obstacle to the persistence of the error, and the culture now crucifies the highest type of its own morality.
-- Matt Berry, The Mechanics of Virtue ††

Now, what should happen if the habit-script were a mandate for an action which threatened the inertia of the script itself? For example, the actualization of a chant for "fearless honesty"? This inherited (and therefore revered) message sets the stage for a passion play. The herd receives its Holy Habit, but the chant requires an action which supersedes "mere chanting." The chant itself demands a distinction between a complacent harmony through habituation and a consistency seen only through grounded reasoning. All the while, repetition blindness prevails in the majority, and the chants and actions persist in their sacred form, rationally inconsistent with each other ... and pleasant.
-- Matt Berry, The Mechanics of Virtue ††

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Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)
English philosopher, theosophist

Annie Besant[N]o philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.
-- Annie Besant, The Gospel of Atheism (1877)

Never yet has a God been defined in terms which were not palpably self-contradictory and absurd; never yet has a God been described so that a concept of Him was made possible to human thought.
-- Annie Besant, Why I Do Not Believe in God (1887), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

The position of the atheist is a clear and reasonable one. I know nothing about God and therefore I do not believe in Him or it. What you tell me about your God is self-contradictory and is therefore incredible. I do not deny "God," which is an unknown tongue to me. I do deny your God, who is an impossibility. I am without God.
-- Annie Besant, The Gospel of Atheism (1877), quoted from Austin Cline, "Defining Atheism: Early Atheists"

If my interlocutor desires to convince me that Jupiter has inhabitants, and that his description of them is accurate, it is for him to bring forward evidence in support of his contention. The burden of proof evidently lies on him; it is not for me to prove that no such beings exist before my non-belief is justified, but for him to prove that they do exist before my belief can be fairly claimed. Similarly, it is for the affirmer of God's existence to bring evidence in support of his affirmation; the burden of proof lies on him.
-- Annie Besant, Why I Do Not Believe in God (London, 1887), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.
-- Annie Besant, The Freethinker's Textbook Part II -- Christianity, 1876

Annie BesantThis coarse and insulting way of regarding woman, as though they existed merely to be the safety-valves of men's passions, and that the best men were above the temptation of loving them, has been the source of unnumbered evils.
-- Annie Besant, regarding Paul's teaching in I Corinthians 7:8-9: "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn." Quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, pp. 320-21.

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W I B Beveridge
American scientist, historian of science

Hypothesis is a toll which can cause trouble if not used properly. We must be ready to abandon our hypothesis as soon as it is shown to be inconsistent with the facts.
-- W I B Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950, rev. 1957), quoted from Laird Wilcox, ed., "The Degeneration of Belief"

Cultivate an intellectual habit of subordinating one's opinions and wishes to objective evidence and a reverence for things as they really are.
-- W I B Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950, rev. 1957), quoted from Laird Wilcox, ed., "The Degeneration of Belief"

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PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

 

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