Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947)
American educator who advocated peace through education and won the Nobel Prize in 1931

Nicholas Murray ButlerPersecution on racial and religious grounds has absolutely no place in a nation given over to liberty.
-- Nicholas Murray Butler, New York Times, October 8, 1941, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
English author

Samuel ButlerAn honest God's the noblest work of man.
-- Samuel Butler, spoofing Alexander Pope's remark that "An honest man's the noblest work of God," quoted from Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods

There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951, p. 120)

When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness that he hath committed and doeth that which is neither lawful nor quite right, he will generally be found to have gained in amiability what he has lost in holiness.
-- Samuel Butler, Notebooks, ch. 2 (1912)

What is faith but a kind of betting or speculation after all? It should be, "I bet that my Redeemer liveth."
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1912; 1951)

Belief like any other moving body follows the path of least resistance.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951, p. 220)

The more unpopular an opinion is, the more necessary it is that the holder should be somewhat punctilious in his observance of conventionalities generally.
-- Samuel Butler, Notebooks (1912), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

A clergyman can hardly ever allow himself to look facts fairly in the face. It is his profession to support one side; it is impossible, therefore, for him to make an unbiased examination of the other.
-- Samuel Butler, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma, or want of dogma, that the danger lies.
-- Samuel Butler, The Way Of All Flesh (1903), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

If God wants us to do a thing, he should make his wishes sufficiently clear. Sensible people will wait till he has done this before paying much attention to him.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951, p. 116)

People in general are equally horrified at hearing the Christian religion doubted, and at seeing it practised.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951, p. 310), see variation below

They would have been equally horrified at hearing the Christian religion doubted, and at seeing it practised.
-- Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, ch. 15 (1903), a variation of the above

Prayers are to men as dolls are to children. They are not without use and comfort, but it is not easy to take them seriously.
-- Samuel Butler, Notebooks (1912)

Vaccination is the medical sacrament corresponding to baptism.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951)

How holy people look when they are sea-sick!
-- Samuel Butler, Notebooks, "Written Sketches" (1912)

An apology for the Devil -- it must be remembered that we have only heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.
-- Samuel Butler, in H Festing Jones ed., Notebooks (1912), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

To himself every one is an immortal. He may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.
-- Samuel Butler, Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1951, p. 117)

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R Freeman Butts (1928 - 1998)
American writer and painter

If the American people wish to adhere to the principle of separation as seen in the long perspective of history, they should decide to prohibit non-sectarian religious instruction in public schools as a form of multiple establishment of religion.
-- Freeman Butts, The American Tradition in Religion and Education, 1950, p. 189, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The strength and vitality of the churches in America were in no small measure the result of the principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state embodied in the First Amendment and in the bill of rights of the several state constitutions. Virtually every state as it came into the Union in the nineteenth century adopted the principles that the state guaranteed freedom of religious conscience and that the state would not use public funds to aid or support any churches or their schools.
-- Freeman Butts, The Education of the West (1973), p. 307, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

One of the thorniest aspects of the first modernization process was the confrontation between establishments of religion and those seeking separation of church and state. The establishments of religion were looked upon as citadels of the traditional standing orders that had to be stormed if the forces of modernity were to be victorious. The political struggles over disestablishment were constant, severe, and often debilitating. Only in the United States was a reasonably clear-cut victory won for the separation of church and state. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons why the United States was able to forge ahead so rapidly in its modernization. There were no enormously powerful land-owning churches to hold off political reform or economic development as they did in Eastern and Southern Europe, and for a time in France, England, and Germany.
     But it also turned out that political action based upon a secular theory of natural rights was not the only, perhaps not even the most important, aspect of the disestablishment process. The political role of nonconformist, dissenting churches, or radical Protestant sects who believed in the free exercise of religion without interference by government in religious creed or practice proved to be indispensable. "Separatists" like the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, and Mennonites were opposed to establishments of religion on principle, but even those who were believers in a close alliance between church and state (Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Lutheran, Catholic) began to see the values of separation in societies where they were not the dominant church. Thus, the religious heterogeneity of the American colonies helped to undermine the religious establishments which had benefitted from laws that imposed the doctrines of the preferred church and taxes that were levied upon everyone for the support of the established clergy.
     -- Freeman Butts, The Education of the West (1973), p. 304, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Bydem
“The seventeenth century poet-laureate of freedom”

Monarchies may take God's name, but Democracies are Atheistic in their very frame.
-- John Bydem, Quoted by Atheist Centre's Lavanam in a speech given at the Atheist Community Center (Portland, Oregon); Note: since this speech was transcribed from a video tape of the speech, the spelling of the name may be erroneous..

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Lord Byron; George Gordon Noel Byron [Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale] (1788-1824)
British poet acclaimed as one of the leading figures of the romantic movement

Lord ByronA material resurrection seems strange and even absurd except for purposes of punishment, and all punishment which is to revenge rather than correct must be morally wrong, and when the World is at an end, what moral or warning purpose can eternal tortures answer?
-- Lord Byron, Detached Thoughts, no. 96 (1821-22) in Byron's Letters and Journals, vol. 9, 1979

If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.
-- Lord Byron, Byron's Letters and Journals, vol. 3 (1974), entry for 27 Nov. 1813

All are inclined to believe what they covet, from a lottery-ticket up to a passport to Paradise.
-- Lord Byron, Byron's Letters and Journals, vol. 3 (1974), entry for 27 Nov. 1813

Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the Apostles would have done as they did.
-- Lord Byron, Don Juan, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Lord ByronI do not believe in any revealed religion. I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating upon another.
-- Lord Byron, letter to the Rev Francis Hodgson (1811), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We have fools in all sects, and impostors in most; why should I believe mysteries no one can understand, because written by men who chose to mistake madness for inspiration and style themselves Evangelicals?
-- Lord Byron, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I am surrounded here by parsons and methodists, but as you will see, not infested with the mania.
-- Lord Byron, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Of religion I know nothing -- at least, in its favor.
-- Lord Byron, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I hope to merit Heaven by making earth a Hell
-- Lord Byron, quoting a zealot in Childe Harold, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

It [Catholicism] is by far the most elegant worship, hardly excepting the Greek mythology. What with incense, pictures, statues, altars, shrines, relics, and the real presence, confession, absolution, -- there is something sensible to grasp at. Besides, it leaves no possibility of doubt; for those who swallow their Deity, really and truly, in transubstantiation, can hardly find any thing else otherwise than easy of digestion.
-- Lord Byron, letter, 8 March 1822, to poet Thomas Moore Letters and Journals, vol. 9, 1979

The basis of your religion is injustice. The Son of God the pure, the immaculate, the innocent, is sacrificed for the guilty. This proves his heroism, but no more does away with man's sin than a school boy's volunteering to be flogged for another would exculpate a dunce from negligence.
-- Lord Byron, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 276

I am no Platonist; I am nothing at all. But I would sooner be a Paulician, Manichean, Spinozist, Gentile, Pyrrhonian, Zoroastrian, than one of the seventy-two villainous sects who are tearing each other to pieces for the love of the Lord and hatred of each other.
-- Lord Byron, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 324

He thought about himself, and the whole earth,
     Of man the wonderful, and of the stars,
And how the deuce they ever could have birth;
     And then he thought of earthquakes, and of wars,
How many miles the moon might have in girth,
     Of air-balloons, and of the many bars
To perfect knowledge of the boundless skies --
     And then he thought of Donna Julia's eyes....
 
'Twas strange that one so young should thus concern
     His brain about the action of the sky;
 If you think 'twas philosophy that this did,
     I can't help thinking puberty assisted.
-- Lord Byron, Don Juan. Don, sixteen years old, has fallen head over with his pretty tutor, Donna Julia. Not understanding the language of testosterone, he spends a lot of time wandering through the woods entertaining philosopical thoughts. Then comes this stanza (Canto I, stanza 92). Compare this with Denis Diderot's likening of religious feelings with adolescent stirrings in James the Fatalist.

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

 

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