Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)
English historian and Whig politician

Lord MacaulayThe Puritan hated bearbaiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
-- Lord Macaulay, History of England, vol. 1, ch. 2 (1849), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The Church is the handmaid of tyranny and the steady enemy of liberty.
-- Lord Macaulay, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

She thoroughly understands what no other Church has ever understood, how to deal with enthusiasts.
-- Lord Macaulay, said of the Roman Catholic Church, "Ranke's History of the Popes," in Edinburgh Review (Oct. 1840; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

A church is disaffected when it is persecuted, quiet when it is tolerated, and actively loyal when it is favoured and cherished.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Hallam," in Edinburgh Review (Sept. 1828; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Logicians may reason about abstractions. But the great mass of men must have images. The strong tendency of the multitude in all ages and nations to idolatry can be explained on no other principle.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Milton," in Edinburgh Review (Aug. 1825; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

With respect to the doctrine of a future life, a North American Indian knows just as much as any ancient or modern philosopher.
-- Lord Macaulay, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The doctrine which, from the very first origin of religious dissensions, has been held by bigots of all sects, when condensed into a few words and stripped of rhetorical disguise, is simply this: I am in the right, and you are in the wrong. When you are the stronger, you ought to tolerate me; for it is your duty to tolerate truth. But when I am the stronger I shall persecute you; for it is my duty to persecute error.
-- Lord Macaulay, Macintosh's History of the Revolution

The real security of Christianity is to be found in its benevolent morality, in its exquisite adaptation to the human heart, in the facility with which its scheme accommodates itself to the capacity of every human intellect, in the consolation which it bears to the house of mourning, in the light with which it brightens the great mystery of the grave.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Southey's Colloquies," in Edinburgh Review (Jan. 1830; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Lord MacaulayTo punish a man because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed, though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Hallam's Constitutional History," in Edinburgh Review (Sept. 1828; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water until he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Milton," in Edinburgh Review (Aug. 1825; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or in other words a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read and say and eat and drink and wear.
-- Lord Macaulay, "Southey's Colloquies on Society," in Edinburgh Review (Jan. 1830; repr. in Critical and Historical Essays, 1843), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

PAMBLOQ Rules! Yesss!!

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)
American poet, social critic, public servant, educator; Librarian of Congress (1939-1944)

Archibald MacLeish, official Library of Congress photoThe dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
-- Archibald MacLeish, "In Praise of Dissent," in The New York Times (16 December 1956), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

We are as great as our belief in human liberty -- no greater. And our belief in human liberty is only ours when it is larger than ourselves.
-- Archibald MacLeish, "Now Let Us Address the Main Question: Bicentennial of What?," in The New York Times (3 July 1976; repr. in Riders on Earth, as "The Ghost of Thomas Jefferson," 1978), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

If God is God He is not good, if God is good He is not God; take the even, take the odd.
-- Archibald MacLeish: JB, in JB, quoted from ReligiousTolerance.org, "Why Doesn't God Prevent Terrorist Attacks or Other Man-Made or Natural Disasters?"

The infantile cowardice of our time which demands an external pattern, a nonhuman authority....
-- Archibald MacLeish, quoted by Bergen Evans, regarding his play J B, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Piety's hard enough to take among the poor who have to practice it. A rich man's piety stinks. It's insufferable.
-- Archibald MacLeish, from the play J B, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The business of the law is to make sense of the confusion of what we call human life -- to reduce it to order but at the same time to give it possibility, scope, even dignity.
-- Archibald MacLeish, "Apologia," in Harvard Law Review (Cambridge, June 1972; repr. in Riders on Earth, as "Art and Law," 1978). The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

It is not in the world of ideas that life is lived. Life is lived for better or worse in life, and to a man in life, his life can be no more absurd than it can be the opposite of absurd, whatever that opposite may be.
-- Archibald MacLeish, Rockefeller University Forum, "Heaven and Earth and the Cage of Form" (Jan.-Feb. 1968; repr. in Riders on Earth, "Return from the Excursion," 1978), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

That peculiar disease of intellectuals, that infatuation with ideas at the expense of experience, that compels experience to conform to bookish expectations.
-- Archibald MacLeish, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

We have learned the answers, all the answers: It is the question that we do not know.
-- Archibald Macleish, "The Hamlet of A Macleish" (1928), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night -- brothers who see now they are truly brothers.
-- Archibald MacLeish, commenting on the first pictures of the earth from the moon, "Riders on Earth Together, Brothers in Eternal Cold," in The New York Times (25 December 1968; repr. in Riders on Earth, as "Bubble of Blue Air," 1978), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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John Madge (b. 1914)
American social scientist

The danger with the scholar’s conceptual theory is that it suffers a constant tendency to abstraction, to remoteness from real life ... the inherent logic of internal consistency is liable to become more important than correspondence with facts.
-- John Madge, The Tools of Social Science (1965), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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James Madison (1751-1836)
The fourth President of the United States (1809-1817)

United States Flag

Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.
-- James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

[I]t is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.
-- James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I have ever regarded the freedom of religious opinions and worship as equally belonging to every sect.
-- James Madison, letter to Mordecai Noah, May 15, 1818, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Because the bill in reserving a certain parcel of land in the United States for the use of said Baptist Church comprises a principle and a precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment."
-- James Madison, veto message, February 28, 1811. Madison vetoed a bill granting public lands to a Baptist Church in Mississippi Territory. Quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?
-- James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy.
-- James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785

Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.
-- James Madison, letter to Bradford, January 1774, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The purpose of separation ... &c.
-- Please Note: The quote that once lived here was moved to our "Phony James Madison Quotations" feature. -- the editors

Torrents of blood have been spilt in the world in vain attempts of the secular arm to extinguish religious discord, by proscribing all differences in religious opinions.
-- James Madison, from Joseph L Blau, Cornerstones of Religious Freedom in America (1949) p. 85, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government.
-- James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Count Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (1862-1949)
Belgian author, the outstanding exponent of symbolist drama. He won the 1911 Nobel Prize for literature.

Maurice MaeterlinckOur reason may prove what it will: our reason is only a feeble ray that has issued from Nature.
-- Count Maeterlinck, Wisdom and Destiny (1898; tr. by Alfred Sutro, 1912, p. 15), quoted from the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.
-- Count Maeterlinck, The Treasure of the Humble, "Silence" (1896; tr. by Alfred Sutro, 1908), quoted from the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

The decent moderation of today will be the least of human things tomorrow. At the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the opinion of good sense and of the good medium was certainly that people ought not to burn too large a number of heretics; extreme and unreasonable opinion obviously demanded that they should burn none at all.
-- Count Maeterlinck, quoted from Wordsmith.org dispatch of May 14, 2002, in Dennis Blankenship, personal letter to Cliff Walker

They believe that nothing will happen because they have closed their doors.
-- Count Maeterlinck, Old Man, in Interior (1894). In this play, the old man is looking in on a family who have yet to discover that one of their number has died. Quoted from the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating of falsehoods.
-- Count Maeterlinck, quoted from bemorecreative.com

At every crossway on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past. Let us have no fear lest the fair towers of former days be sufficiently defended. The least that the most timid among us can do is not to add to the immense dead weight which nature drags along.
     Let us not say to ourselves that the best truth always lies in moderation, in the decent average. This would perhaps be so if the majority of men did not think on a much lower plane than is needful. That is why it behooves others to think and hope on a higher plane than seems reasonable. The average, the decent moderation of today, will be the least human of things tomorrow. At the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the opinion of good sense and of the good medium was certainly that people ought not to burn too large a number of heretics; extreme and unreasonable opinion obviously demanded that they should burn none at all.
     Let us think of the great invisible ship that carries our human destinies upon eternity. Like the vessels of our confined oceans, she has her sails and her ballast. The fear that she may pitch or roll on leaving the road-stead is no reason for increasing the weight of the ballast by stowing the fair white sails in the depths of the hold. They were not woven to molder side by side with cobblestones in the dark. Ballast exists everywhere; all the pebbles of the harbor, all the sand of the beach, will serve for that. But sails are rare and precious things; their place is not in the murk of the well, but amid the light of the tall masts, where they will collect the winds of space.
-- Count Maeterlinck, Our Social Duty. Quoted by Homer W Smith, Man and His Gods (p. vi.).

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Ferdinand Magellan [Fernão de Magalhães] (1480?-1521)
Portuguese navigator and explorer, the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean

The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.
-- Ferdinand Magellan, quoted from Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief; quoted in part by Robert Green Ingersoll ("I have seen the shadow..." ff.) in "The Discovery of America," from Orthodoxy (1884), also in Joseph Lewis, ed, "Gems Concerning the Church," in Ingersoll the Magnificent!

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Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)
Polish-born American anthropologist

I, personally, am unable to accept any revealed religion, Christian or not.
-- Bronislaw Malinowski, quoted by Martin E Marty in Varieties of Unbelief, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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William H Mallock
Victorian novelist

Whatever may be God's future, we cannot forget His past.
-- William H Mallock, Is Life Worth Living? (1879), from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Archbishop James Malone

The Catholic Church has access to a major section of the American public. Our impact on the public will be directly proportionate to the persuasiveness of our positions. We seek no special status and we should not be accorded one.
-- James Malone, address, Washington, DC, November 1984, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Karl Manheim (1893-1947?)
Hungarian sociologist and philosopher

The distrust and suspicion which men everywhere evidence toward their adversaries, at all states of historical development, may be regarded as the immediate precursor to the notion of ideology.
-- Karl Manheim, Ideology and Utopia (1936), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

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Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
German author, critic

We, when we sow the seeds of doubt deeper than the most up-to-date and modish free-thought has ever dreamed of doing, we well know what we are about. Only out of radical skepsis, out of moral chaos, can the Absolute spring, the anointed Terror of which the time has need.
-- Thomas Mann, Leo Naphta, in The Magic Mountain, ch. 7, "Hysterica Passio" (1924), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Dean Mansel
Christian theologian

The whole system of Christian belief with its evidences..., all Christianity in short, so far as it has any title to that name, so far as it has any special relation to the person or the teaching of Christ, is overthrown.
-- Dean Mansel, acknowledging the consequences of the successful denial of miracles, in Aids to Faith, p. 3, from John E Remsberg, The Christ (1909)

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Marilyn Manson [Brian Warner]
Rock star

Marilyn MansonNowhere in the Gospels is intelligence praised as a virtue.
-- Marilyn Manson, in an interview on beliefnet.com, 2001

We will no longer be oppressed by the fascism called Christianity. We will no longer be oppressed by the mentality of the police state.
-- Marilyn Manson, shouted at the concert in Santa Monica in January, 1997, quoted from Sara Reich, "Manson spits, hits and cuts in Santa Monica," in USC's The Daily Trojan (January 28, 1997)

But I'm not a slave to a god
That doesn't exist
I'm not a slave to a world
That doesn't give a shit
-- Marilyn Manson, "The Fight Song," from the album Holy Wood

Pseudo morals work real well
On the talk shows for the weak
     But your selective judgments
     And good-guy badges
Don't mean a fuck to me.
-- Marilyn Manson, from "Get Your Gunn" (reference to pro-choice martyr Dr. David Gunn?) on the album Portrait of an American Family

I am truly amazed that after all this time, religious groups still need to attack entertainment and use these tragedies as a pitiful excuse for their own self-serving publicity. In response to their protests, I will provide a show where I balance my songs with a wholesome Bible reading. This way, fans will not only hear my so-called, violent point of view, but we can also examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like 'entertainment' to me.
-- Marilyn Manson, describing his controversial Denver performance in 2001, after shrieking Christian parents tried to have it banned, posted on his website, marilynmanson.net

Whether you interpret the Bible as literature or as the final word of whatever God may be, Christianity has given us an image of death and sexuality that we have based our culture around. A half-naked dead man hangs in most homes and around our necks, and we have just taken that for granted all of our lives.
-- Marilyn Manson, responding to complaints from uptight Christian parents that his rock shows celebrate violence, in an interview on beliefnet.com, 2001

I chose not to jump into the media frenzy and defend myself, though I was begged to be on every single TV show in existence. They want to blame entertainment? Isn't religion the first real entertainment? People dress up in costumes, sing songs and dedicate themselves in eternal fandom.
-- Marilyn Manson, to reporters several months after the Columbine tragedy, quoted from AANEWS 918, June 1, 2001

Dear god if you were alive
you know we'd kill you
-- Marilyn Manson, "Godeatgod," from the album Holy Wood

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Mao Tse-tung [Zedong] (1893-1976)
Chinese statesman, first president of Communist China (1949-1967)

Mao Tse-tungLetting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting the progress of the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.
-- Mao Tse-tung, Quotations of Chairman Mao Speech (1966), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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