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The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous
forces in the world.
The sooner [the doctrine of original sin] disappears, the better it is for theology.
One man's vulgarity is another's lyric.
The majority has no right to impose its religion on the rest. That's a tradition as sacred as the Constitution itself to this country.
I left the Catholic Church almost thirty years ago. It is relevant to my present
attitudes that even though I rejected the Church ... I clearly remain a "cultural Catholic," much as an atheist Jew is culturally Jewish.... I am, then, what Georg Simmel called a "religious nature without religion," a pious man of
deep faith, but not in the supernatural.
Although the concept of evil has religious overtones, I know of no other term that captures the depth of what it is to have a banality toward the misery of others, to glow in the pain of others, and to do so without remorse or rethinking. It is not only that evil is raveling in the pain of others for no reason, but the "no reason" is that the other is not counted.
The [Ku Klux] Klan and the Nation [of Islam] seemed so fanatically and obviously wrong that I never veered from my belief in the oneness of humanity. Not even when, in 1963, Glenville High School students in Cleveland, Ohio -- of which I was one student -- marched to the White high school because they had trapped the few Blacks that attended inside, and we went to free them. The students taunted us, threw rocks, and the police protected Whites while trying to arrest us. I never thought of the Whites as either inferior, inherently different, or invariably evil. It was the Klan that introduced real evil. And it is the commonness of humanity -- that fact that we are fundamentally emotive beings constituted in similar ways but capable of a vast range of emotions -- that makes the possibility of evil a horror that could be practiced by any individual or group.
I want to give up the fight. Forget about destroying religionists by destroying the rational basis of their beliefs. Showing that religionists are irrational, hold internally incoherent or contradictory views, and are terrible predictors of the future has not proven effective-and it is not likely to prove effective.
What is certain now is that many of the positions of the Religious Right are meeting with outright rejection from the American people. The Religious Right is a target of wrath for a sizable majority
of the American people and a distinct political liability to those who embrace its cause.
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify
himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than
the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. An atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87 percent of the population) claiming to "never doubt the extended of God" should
be obliged to present evidence for his existence -- and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of
a single little girl -- once in a million years -- casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.
To speak plainly and truthfully about the state of our world -- to say, for instance, that the Bible and the Koran both contain mountains of life-destroying gibberish -- is antithetical to tolerance
as moderates currently conceive it. But we can no longer afford the luxury of such political correctness. We must finally recognize the price we are paying to maintain the iconography of our ignorance.
It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Hurricane Katrina struck shared your belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing
while Katrina laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were
good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Do you have the courage to admit the obvious? These people died talking to an imaginary friend.
But the greatest problem with [Pascal's] wager -- and it is a problem that infects religious thinking generally -- is its suggestion that a rational person can knowingly will himself to believe a proposition
for which he has no evidence. A person can profess any creed he likes, of course, but to really believe something, he must also believe that the belief under consideration is true. To believe that there is a God, for instance, is to
believe that you are not just fooling rself; it is to believe that you stand in some relation to God's existence such that, if He didn't exist, you wouldn't believe in him. How does Pascal's wager fit into this scheme? It doesn't.
[About] 120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. If our polls are to be
trusted, nearly 230 million Americans believe that a book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency was authored by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent deity.
Some ... sexist evil probably predates religion and can be ascribed to our biology, but there is no question that religion promulgates and renders sacrosanct attitudes toward women that would be
unseemly in a brachiating ape.
Advance warning of Katrina's path was wrested from
mute Nature by meteorological calculations and satellite imagery. God told no one of His plans. Had the residents of New Orleans been content to rely on the beneficence
of God, they wouldn't have known that a killer hurricane was bearing down upon them until they felt the first gusts of wind on their faces. And yet, as will come as no surprise to you, a poll conducted by The Washington Post found that 80 percent
of Katrina's survivors claim that the event only strengthened their faith in God.
While I heard many silly retorts to atheism at this conference, here is a list of those most in need of deflation by freethinkers:
creator who could put a cancer in a believer's stomach is above being interfered with by prayers.
When liberal Protestantism demands religious reverence for the man Jesus, it is disgusting and shocking. They cannot themselves believe that the respect in which Jesus is held by the people, and which
they have made use of in such an un-Protestant manner, can be maintained for any length of time after the nimbus of divinity has been destroyed, and they may reflect on the insufficiency of the momentary subterfuge. The Protestant principle, in its last
consequences, disposes of all kinds of dogmatic authority in a remorseless manner, and its supporters must, whether they like it or not, dispense with the authority of Christ.
As a Christian, there is no other part of the New Right ideology that concerns me more
than its self-serving misuse of religious faith. What is at stake here is the very integrity of biblical truth. The New Right, in many cases, is doing nothing less than placing a heretical claim on Christian faith that distorts, confuses, and destroys
the opportunity for a biblical understanding of Jesus Christ and of his gospel for millions of people.
During a recent evolution showdown, a visiting "creation scientist" from
California repeatedly challenged me to debate, because I support the teaching of evolution. A Charleston talk radio host blistered me on the air because I would not come on his show and quarrel with the creationist professor.
I believe the way America treats its citizens is much closer to Islam than the ways of Arab "puppet" governments. That is probably one of the advantages of being a Muslim in America: You will be heard. This doesn't mean that the American government's foreign policies, especially towards Palestine, aren't deeply flawed, but I wish my government treated me more like yours does you.
[I]t wouldn't matter if every single President since Washington had been a Bible-toting,
evangelical Christian. They weren't, of course, but even if they had been, it still would not change the secular foundation of our republic. Christians like to quote various Presidents or Supreme Court Justices who (quite incorrectly) have referred to
our "Christian nation." But what do those quotes prove? I could quote Richard Nixon, but would that prove that ours was intended to be a nation of crooks?
We all agree that neither the Government nor political parties ought to interfere
with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the Government or with political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference.
| Charles C Haynes|
First Amendment Center senior scholar
If the aim is to keep “Christ” in the shopping-mall Christmas or to ensure that pagan trees and mistletoe don’t lose their Christian labels, then it might make sense to attack presidents
and business owners who commit the “happy holiday” sin. But if the goal is to restore the religious meaning of the Christian holy day, then they are aiming at the wrong Target.
| William Hazlitt (1778-1830)|
The garb of religion is the best cloak for power.
Mankind are an incorrigible race. Give them but bugbears and idols -- it is all that they ask; the distinctions of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood, of good and evil, are worse than indifferent
That God has managed to survive the inanities of the religions that do Him homage is truly a miraculous proof of His existence.
The proofs of the existence of God are to such an extent fallen into discredit that they pass for something antiquated, belonging to days gone by.
God is, as it were, the sewer into which all contradictions flow.
Our forefathers did not erect the wall of separation because they were irreligious, but because they were religious. They saw the wall of separation as a wall of protection for both church and state
He who fights with priests may make up his mind to have his poor good name torn and befouled
by the most infamous lies and the most cutting slanders.
Religion cannot sink lower than when somehow it is raised to a state religion ... It becomes then an avowed mistress.
It is extremely difficult for a Jew to be converted, for how can he bring himself to believe in the divinity of -- another Jew?
I consider it a degradation and a stain on my honor to submit to baptism in order to qualify myself for state employment in Prussia.
In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it
is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.
Of course God will forgive me; that's His job.
Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have
the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff,
most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
The most preposterous notion that H sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can
be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there.
Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything ... just give him time to rationalize it.
The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was saved, they were damned.... Our hymns were loaded with arrogance -- self-congratulation on how cozy we were
with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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