Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Philip K Dick (1928-1982)
Science-fiction writer

Philip K. DickReality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
-- Philip K Dick, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

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Charles John Huffam ["Boz"] Dickens (1812-1870)
British novelist

Charles DickensMissionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it.
-- Charles Dickens, quoted from Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness, Chapter VI

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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830-1886)
American poet

Emily DickinsonFaith is Doubt.
-- Emily Dickinson, to Susan Dickinson, her sister-in-law, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

The Supernatural is only the Natural disclosed.
-- Emily Dickinson, shades of naturalism or pantheism, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

Sweet Skepticism of the Heart
That knows and does not know
And tosses like a Fleet of Balm
Affronted by the snow
-- Emily Dickinson, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

[They] address an Eclipse every morning, whom they call their "Father."
-- Emily Dickinson, describing the god of her parents. Quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001).

Vinnie [Dickinson's sister] rocks her Garden and moans that God won't help her. I suppose he is too busy getting angry with the Wicked every day.
-- Emily Dickinson, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

Why should we censure Othello [for the jealous murder of Desdemona] when the Criterion Lover says, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me"?
-- Emily Dickinson, to Mabel Loomis Todd, editor of a posthumous collection of Dickinson's poems, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

When we think of his lone effort to live and its bleak reward, the mind turns to the myth "for His mercy endureth forever," with confiding revulsion.
-- Emily Dickinson, to her cousins Louise and Frances Norcross after President James A Garfield's abortive battle for life, quoted (in part) from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

At least to pray is left -- is left
Oh Jesus -- in the Air --
I know not which thy chamber is --
I'm knocking everywhere
-- Emily Dickinson, despite his promise to answer the knock, Jesus he never came to the door, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.
     -- Emily Dickinson, quoted from Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx," Positive Atheism (June, 2001)

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Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
French philosopher and writer of L'Encyclopédie (1751-1772), epitomizing the spirit of Enlightenment thought

     • Check out our Big List of Denis Diderot Quotations

Denis DiderotScepticism is the first step towards truth.
-- Denis Diderot, Pensées Philosophiques (1746), quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 77

The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
-- Denis Diderot, Observations on Drawing Up of Laws (1774; repr. in Selected Writings, ed. by Lester G Crocker, 1966), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

I believe in God, although I live very happily with atheists.... It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God.
-- Denis Diderot, conceding to Voltaire's defence of the concept of God (during a letter dialogue sparked by Voltaire's letter commenting on Letter to the Blind), though quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 75

The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and ... people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion.
-- Denis Diderot, Conversations with a Christian Lady (1777; repr. in Selected Writings, ed. by Lester G Crocker, 1966), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
-- Denis Diderot, Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (written 1774 for Catherine the Great; first published 1921; repr. in Selected Writings, ed. by Lester G Crocker, 1966), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination.
-- Denis Diderot, On the Interpretation of Nature, no. 15 (1753; repr. in Selected Writings, ed. by Lester G Crocker, 1966), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Gentleness and peacefulness regulate our proceedings; theirs are dictated by fury. We employ reason, they accumulate faggots. They preach nothing but love, and breathe nothing but blood. Their words are humane, but their hearts are cruel.
-- Denis Diderot, a favorable portrayal of the "tranquil abode" of the chestnut path of philosophical deism, in The Sceptic's Walk (1747), which Diderot described as a 'conversation concerning religion, philosophy and the world," quoted from and citation quips derived from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 73

Denis DiderotThere comes a moment during which almost every girl or boy falls into melancholy; they are tormented by a vague inquietude which rests on everything and finds nothing to calm it. They seek solitude; they weep; the silence to be found in cloister attracts them: the image of peace that seems to reign in religious houses seduces them. They mistake the first manifestations of a developing sexual nature for the voice of God calling them to Himself; and it is precisely when nature is inciting them that they embrace a fashion of life contrary to nature's wish.
-- Denis Diderot, comparing religious feelings to psychological experiences, particularly those during adolescence, in James the Fatalist, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 72

Short Graphic Rule

Modern Jesuits: Most Formidable Against Religion

"The most formidable machine that was ever set up against religion."
-- The Jesuit Periodical Études, the Jesuits being bitterly hostile to L'Encyclopédie even some 200 years after its publication, in an article titled "Deuxieme centenaire de L'Encyclopédie, Études (CCLXXII: 1952), quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 79n

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Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)
German-born American actress and singer

Marlene DietrichSuperstitions are habits rather than beliefs.
-- Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich's ABCs, "Superstition"

Until they come to see us from their planet, I wait patiently. I hear them saying: Don't call us, we'll call you.
-- Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich's ABCs, "Venus"

If there is a supreme being, he's crazy.
-- Marlene Dietrich, quoted in Rave magazine, November 1986, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Ellen Battelle Dietrick (?-1896?)
Vice-president: Kentucky Equal Rights Association (1888); President: Boston Suffrage League (ca.1890?)

The human race is guided by its own ideas, and only by its ideas. If thought were left perfectly free from ban of legislative or ecclesiastical censor, the best thoughts would as naturally prevail over the worst as the best seeds of the forest naturally triumph over the worst seeds.
-- Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Women in the Early Christian Ministry: A Reply to Bishop Doane, and Others, 1897, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 314

The day has gone by when a monk can tear a Hypatia from the pursuit of philosophy and throw her to a rabble of insane monastics to be dragged to a violent death.... Man has made himself a law unto himself, publishing it in his pretended "heavenly" revelations, dogmas, and statutes. Woman is not constructing a law unto herself, and she is putting it forth, not on a pretendedly supernatural, but on a natural basis.
-- Ellen Battelle Dietrick, "Cardinal Gibbons' Ignorance," Liberty (1895), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, page 307

Resolved, That we especially protest against this present attempt to force all the people to follow the religious dictates of a part of the people, as establishing a precedent for the entrance of a most dangerous complicity between Church and State, thereby subtly undermining the foundation of liberty, so carefully laid by the wisdom of our fathers.
-- Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Motion before NAWSA as to the opening of the World's Fair on Sunday, and indefinitely postponed. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's final request had been putting NAWSA on record against the closing of the World's Fair on Sunday. Reported in History of Woman Suffrage, volume IV page 217, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, pages 307-8

Persistently leavening public opinion, in a grossly superstitious age, with the theological doctrine of popular preachers, that woman is a sex of superior wickedness and inferior mentality, could have but one general result throughout Christendom. Not only did it gradually create within women themselves a passion of self-depreciation, humility and a self-hatred which led thousands of them to slowly and persistently torture themselves until relieved by insanity or death, it planed within the minds of men a jealous hatred and superstitious horror of the natural powers of women, which ultimately culminated in a veritable crusade of ecclesiastics against womankind.
-- Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Women in the Early Christian Ministry: A Reply to Bishop Doane, and Others, 1897, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 309

The only method of restoring the natural equality of dignity between men and women, lies in the demolishment of that elaborate theological structure which maintains that woman is made for the possession of man in a sense in which man is not made for woman, and that celibacy, per se, is a state of superior purity. Nature and common sense (not metaphysical sense) demonstrate that there is no good reason why any man or any woman should take, claim, or wield "lordship" over another.
-- Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Women in the Early Christian Ministry: A Reply to Bishop Doane, and Others, 1897, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 313

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Annie Dillard (b. 1945)
American author, poet

Annie DillardBy dipping us children in the Bible so often, they hoped, I think, to give our lives a serious tint, and to provide us with quaintly magnificent snatches of prayer to produce as charms while, say, being mugged for our cash or jewels.
-- Annie Dillard, An American Childhood, 1987, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator -- our very self-consciousness -- is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution.
-- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, ch. 6 (1974), The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

I don't know what it is about fecundity that so appalls. I suppose it is the teeming evidence that birth and growth, which we value, are ubiquitous and blind, that life itself is so astonishingly cheap, that nature is as careless as it is bountiful, and that with extravagance goes a crushing waste that will one day include our own cheap lives.
-- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, ch. 10 (1974), The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest:
     "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
     "No," said the priest, "not if you did not know."
     "Then why," asked the Inuit earnestly, "did you tell me?"
          -- Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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Diogenes (d. ca. 320 BCE)
Greek philosopher who founded the Cynic school of philosophy

The sacrifice of Diogenes to all the gods.
-- Diogenes, upon crushing a louse on an altar, quoted from Robert Green Ingersoll, "Why I Am An Agnostic"

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Gregory Dix (1901-1952)
British Benedictine monk

It is no accident that the symbol of a bishop is a crook, and the sign of an archbishop is a double-cross.
-- Gregory Dix, attributed to Dix in a letter to The Times (London) by Francis Bown, quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations

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