Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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James Albert Michener (1907–1997)
American novelist known for incorporating detailed research into the historical settings of his works

James A. MichenerI am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril.
-- James A Michener, The World Is My Home (1991)

I kept careful record of the impact of religion on the election in my county. The religious issue permeated every meeting I conducted. It influenced Republicans and Democrats alike. Ministers preached politics publicly and churches distributed the most vicious electioneering materials. Practically no one I met escaped the pressure of this overriding problem and both parties were ultimately forced to make their major calculations with the religious question a foremost consideration.
-- James A Michener, Report of the County Chairman, 1961, pp. 106-107. Michener was chairman of Citizens for Kennedy in Bucks County, PA, during the 1960 Presidential campaign.Quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Religious hatreds ought not to be propagated at all, but certainly not on a tax-exempt basis.
-- James A Michener, Report of the County Chairman, p. 95. Michener discovered that most of the "avalanche of anti-Catholic hate literature" which deluged Bucks County came from tax-exempt religious publications and church newsletters. Quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Giovanni Miegge

Religious liberty is primarily a man's liberty to profess a faith different from that of the dominant religion, and to unite in public worship with those who share his faith.
-- Giovanni Miegge, Religious Liberty, 1957, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Alexander Meiklejohn (1872–1964)
American First Amendment scholar

Alexander Meiklejohn (photo: Brown University Archives)The Amendment might have said, "Except in times and situations involving 'clear and present danger' to the national security, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." Or it might have read, "Only when, in the judgement of the legislature, the interests of order and security render such action advisable shall Congress abridge the freedom of speech." But the writers of the Amendment did not adopt either of these phrasings or anything like them. Perhaps a minor reason for their decision was the practical certainty that the Constitution, if presented in that form, would have failed adoption. But more important than such questionable historical speculation are two reasons which are as valid today as they were when the Amendment was decreed.
     First, our doctrine of political freedom is not a visionary abstraction. It is a belief which is based in long and bitter experience, which is thought out by shrewd intelligence. It is the sober conviction that, in a society pledged to self-government, it is never true that, in the long run, the security of the nation is endangered by the people.
     Whatever may be the immediate gains and losses, the dangers to our safety arising from political suppression are always greater than the dangers to that safety arising from political freedom. Suppression is always foolish. Freedom is always wise. That is the faith, the experimental faith, by which we Americans have undertaken to live.
-- Alexander Meiklejohn, Testimony on the Meaning of the First Amendment during the first session of the 84th Congress (1955)

Civilization is not a burden. It is an opportunity.
-- Alexander Meiklejohn (attributed: source unknown)

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Max Lerner on Meiklejohn's Free Speech Position:

"Meiklejohn’s position is that free speech in a democracy is not an absolute flowing from the boundless source of some presumed 'natural right.' It is a practical necessity of 'self-government by universal suffrage,' for if the citizens are not permitted to argue out the issues of government, how can they be what they must be in a democracy -- the rulers as well as the ruled?"
-- Max Lerner, "Man and Social Man," a review of Meiklejohn’s Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government, published in The New Republic, vol. 119, September 13, 1948, pp. 21-22

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John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)
British philosopher-economist, who had a great impact on 19th-century British thought, not only in philosophy and economics but also in political science, logic, and ethics

John Stuart Mill (portrait: George Frederic Watts, 1873, National Portrait Gallery, London)God is a word to express, not our ideas, but the want of them.
-- John Stuart Mill, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The world would be astonished if it new how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete skeptics in religion.
-- John Stuart Mill, Autobiography Of John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II Moral Influences in Early Youth. My Father's Character and Opinions" (1873)

So natural to mankind is intolerance ... that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be booted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle.
-- John Stuart Mill, The Spirit Of The Age, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

Every established fact which is too bad to admit of any other defence is always presented to us as an injunction of religion.
-- John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes -- will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.
-- John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty (1859)

There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life.
-- John Stuart Mill (attributed: source unknown)

It is conceivable that religion may be morally useful without being intellectually sustainable.
-- John Stuart Mill, "The Utility of Religion"

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Arthur Miller (b. 1915)
American dramatist, whose works are concerned with the responsibility of each individual to other members of society

Arthur MillerJerusalem is ... the fabled city which for the Western mind is as much dream as stone ... a compressed symbol of our most sublime aspirations along with our most disgusting, hatefully brainless excursions into religious bigotry and fratricide.
-- Arthur Miller, comment on dust jacket of Jerusalem: City of Mirrors, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

There are many who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God any more.
-- Arthur Miller, The Crucible (1953), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

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Robert Andrews Millikan (1868–1953)
American physicist, first to isolate the electron and measure its charge

Three ideas stand out above all others in the influence they have exerted and are destined to exert upon the development of the human race: The idea of the Golden Rule, the idea of natural law, and the idea of age-long growth, or evolution.
-- Robert Millikan, Forbes Magazine

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Charles Wright Mills (1916–1962)
American sociologist

As a social and as a personal force, religion has become a dependent variable. It does not originate; it reacts. It does not denounce; it adapts. It does not set forth new models of conduct and sensibility; it imitates. Its rhetoric is without deep appeal; the worship it organizes is without piety. It has become less a revitalization of the spirit in permanent tension with the world than a respectable distraction from the sourness of life.
-- Charles Wright Mills, The Nation, March 8, 1958, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Dean Milman
In his time, England's highest authority on early Christian history

The same convulsion would displace the stones which covered the ancient tombs and lay open many of the innumerable rock-hewn sepulchres which perforated the hills on every side of the city, and expose the dead to public view. To the awe- struck and depressed minds of the followers of Jesus, no doubt, were confined these visionary appearances of the spirits of their deceased brethren.
-- Dean Milman, History of Christianity, Vol. I, p. 336, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, page 241, regarding the passage in Matthew 27:52-3: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

Christianity disdained that its God and its Redeemer should be less magnificently honored than the demons (gods) of Paganism. In the service it delighted to breathe, as it were, a sublimer sense into the common appellations of the Pagan worship, whether from the ordinary ceremonial or the more secret mysteries. The church became a temple; the table of the communion an altar, the celebration of the Eucharist, the appalling, or unbloody sacrifice.... The incense, the garlands, the lamps, all were gradually adopted by zealous rivalry, or seized as the lawful spoils of vanquished Paganism and consecrated to the service of Christ.
     The church rivaled the old heathen mysteries in expanding by slow degrees its higher privileges.... Its preparatory ceremonial of abstinence, personal purity, ablution, secrecy, closely resembled that of the Pagan mysteries (perhaps each may have contributed to the other).
     -- Dean Milman, History of Christianity, Vol. III, pp. 312, 313, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, page 404

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Alan Alexander Milne (1882–1956)
English playwirght, novelist children's writer; creator of Winnie the Pooh

A. A. MilneThe Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief -- call it what you will -- than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.
-- A A Milne, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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John Milton (1608–1674)
English poet, whose prose was devoted to the defense of civil and religious liberty

John MiltonGive me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all other liberties.
-- John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The liberty of conscience, which above all other things ought to be to all men dearest and most precious ...
-- John Milton, The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, 1915, p. 36, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.
-- John Milton, Areopagitica: a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England (1644), quoted from W E H Lecky, Rationalism in Europe (Rev 1878) vol. II p. 77

If a man believes things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
-- John Milton, Areopagitica: a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England (1644), quoted from W E H Lecky, Rationalism in Europe (Rev 1878) vol. II p. 77

For truth is strong next to the Almighty. She needs no policies or stratagems or licensings to make her victorious. These are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.
-- John Milton, Areopagitica: a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England (1644), quoted from W E H Lecky, Rationalism in Europe (Rev 1878) vol. II p. 81

As good almost kill a man as kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye.
-- John Milton, Areopagitica: a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England (1644), from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973)
Austrian-born economist

Ludwig von MisesScientific criticism has no nobler task than to shatter false beliefs.
-- Ludwig von Mises, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

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Wilson Mizner (1876–1933)
US dramatist, wit, raconteur

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
-- Wilson Mizner, quoted in H L Mencken's Dictionary of Quotations (1942) SOURCE, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

It is criminal negligence to leave suckers lying around to tempt honest men.
-- Wilson Mizner (attributed: source unknown)

God help those who do not help themselves.
-- Wilson Mizner (attributed: source unknown)

If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism; if you steal from many, it's research.
-- Wilson Mizner, from Alva Johnston, The Legendary Mizners (1953) ch. 4

Life is a tough proposition and the first hundred years are the hardest.
-- Wilson Mizner (attributed: source unknown)

Those who welcome death have only tried it from the ears up.
-- Wilson Mizner (attributed: source unknown)

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Conrad Henry Moehlman

To call public education godless betrays invincible ignorance, infinite prejudice, and complete misunderstanding of what religion is all about.
-- Conrad Henry Moehlman, School and Church: The American Way, 1944, pp. 97-98, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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