Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations

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Joel Moody
American author from the state of Kansas

Men of generous culture or of great learning, and women of eminent piety and virtue, from the humble cottage to the throne, have been led out for matters of conscience and butchered before a mad rabble lusting after God. The limbs of men and women have been torn from their bodies, their eyes gouged out, their flesh mangled and slowly roasted, their children barbarously tortured before their eyes, because of religious opinion.
-- Joel Moody, Science of Evil: First Principles of Human Action (1871), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Irish poet

Thomas MooreFaith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.
     -- Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh: The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan (1817), quoted Bartlett's

Ye shall have miracles, aye, sound ones too,
Seen, heard, attested, everything but true.
     -- Thomas Moore, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 267

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Sen. Robert B Morgan

Demagoguery from the pulpit is no different from demagoguery on the campaign trail. If anything, it is worse, because it clothes itself in self-righteousness.
-- Robert B Morgan, address, April 1980, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn (1838-1923)
English Liberal politician and writer

John MorleyWhere it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.
-- John Morley, Voltaire (1872), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

You [Christianity] have so debilitated the minds of men and women that generations must come and go before Europe can throw off the yoke of your superstition.
-- John Morley, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, also James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

All religions die of one disease -- that of being found out.
-- John Morley, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, also James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
-- John Morley, On Compromise, ch. 5 (1874), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

They act as if they supposed that to be very sanguine about the general improvement of mankind is a virtue that relieves them from taking trouble about any improvement in particular.
-- John Morley, On Compromise, ch. 5 (1874), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Our opinions are less important than the spirit and temper with which they possess us, and even good opinions are worth very little unless we hold them in a broad, intelligent, and spacious way.
-- John Morley, Critical Miscellanies (1871-1908), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

He who hates vice hates men.
-- John Morley (attributed: source unknown)

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Lance Morrow
American writer for Time Magazine since 1965 with over 130 cover stories to his credit

Faith, the sweetest refuge and consolation, may harden, by perverse miracle, into a sword -- or anyway into a club or a torch or an assault rifle. Religious hatreds tend to be merciless and absolute.
-- Lance Morrow, Time, March 15, 1993, p. 24, from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Marcus Morton
Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Marcus Morton[The] operations of the human mind, especially in the adoption of religious faith, [are] entirely above all civil authority.
-- Marcus Morton, on the conviction for blasphemy of publisher Abner Kneeland, quoted from Roderick Bradford’s biography, D M Bennett: The Truth Seeker (page 100)

[Every person] has a constitiutionhal right to discuss the subject of God, to affirm or deny his existence.
-- Marcus Morton, on the conviction for blasphemy of publisher Abner Kneeland, quoted from Roderick Bradford’s biography, D M Bennett: The Truth Seeker (page 100)

I cannot agree that a man may be punished for willfully doing what he has a legal right to do.
-- Marcus Morton, on the conviction for blasphemy of publisher Abner Kneeland, quoted from Roderick Bradford’s biography, D M Bennett: The Truth Seeker (page 100)

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Moschus (fl. ca. BCE 150)
Greek poet in the pastoral tradition who, with Bion, was an immediate imitatior of the Alexandrine Theocritus in the 3rd century BCE, founder of the school of homoerotic idyllic poetry

Ah! When the mallow in the croft dies down,
      Or the pale parsley or the crisped anise,
Again they grow, another year they flourish;
      But we, the great, the valiant, and the wise,
Once covered over in the hollow earth,
      Sleep a long, dreamless, unawakening sleep.
-- Moschus, giving an early glance at the idea of death's finality, even if neglecting to point out that death is just as final for floral annuals as it is for fauna, translated by Walter Savage Landor (1842), quoted from Peter Heinegg, ed, Mortalist: Readings on the Meaning of Life (Prometheus:2003)

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Johann von Mosheim (1694-1755)
Church historian and Lutheran preacher

Several histories of his [Christ's] life and doctrines, full of pious frauds and fabulous wonders, were composed by persons whose intentions perhaps were not bad, but whose writings discovered the greatest superstition and ignorance. Nor was this all; productions appeared which were imposed upon the world by fraudulent men, as the writings of the holy Apostles.
-- Johann von Mosheim, quoted in John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 273. Remsberg asks: "Is the above less true of the [New Testament] books we are reviewing?"

It is, at the same time, as undoubtedly certain, as it is extravagant and monstrous, that the worship of the martyrs was modeled, by degrees, according to the religious services that were said to the goals before the coming of Christ.
-- Johann von Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, p. 98, on the modeling of the Roman Catholic martyrs after pagan deities and the Roman Catholic liturgy after ancient pagan polytheistic ritual, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 357

The profound respect paid to the Greek and Roman mysteries, and the extraordinary sanctity that was attributed to them, was a further circumstance that induced the Christians to give their religion a mystic air, in order to put it upon an equal foot, in point of dignity, with that of the Pagans. For this purpose they gave the name of "mysteries" to the institutions of the gospel, and decorated particularly the holy Sacrament with that solemn title. They used in that sacred institution, as also in that of baptism, several of the terms employed in the heathen mysteries and proceeded so far at length, as even to adopt some of the rites and ceremonies of which these renowned mysteries consisted.
-- Johann von Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, p. 56, admitting that the mysteries of the Roman god Bacchus and goddess Ceres were adopted by the early Christians, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 404

The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations, by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.... Hence it happened that in these times the religion of the Greeks and Romans differed very little in its external appearance from that of the Christians. They had both a most pompous and splendid ritual. Gorgeous robes, mitres, tiaras, wax-tapers, croziers, processions, lustrations, images, gold and silver vases, and many such circumstances of pageantry, were equally to be seen in the heathen temples and the Christian churches.
-- Johann von Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, p. 105, admitting very early Paganization of the Christian Church, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 416

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Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)
American Quaker minister, abolitionist, feminist

Lucretia MottThere is a broad distinction between religion and theology. The one is a natural, human experience common to all well-organized minds. The other is a system of speculations about the unseen and the unknowable, which the human mind has no power to grasp or explain, and these speculations vary with every sect, age, and type of civilization. No one knows any more of what lies beyond our sphere of action than thou and I, and we know nothing.
-- Lucretia Mott, the words that inspired Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as described in the latter's "I Had the Same Right to Think"

I have no idea of submitting tamely to injustice inflicted either on me or on the slave. I will oppose it with all the moral powers with which I am endowed. I am no advocate of passivity.
-- Lucretia Mott, quoted from about.com, "Women's Voices: Quotations from Women"

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan
United States Senator from New York (1976-2001)

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (photo: New York State Democratic Party)Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.
-- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, quoted from John Stear, No Answers in Genesis

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Herbert J Muller (1905-1980)
American scholar

Science remains the author of our major problem, in its gift of tremendous power that has been terribly abused; but for the wise use of this power we need more, not less, of the objective dispassionate scientific spirit. For our philosophical purposes we need more of its integrity and its basic humility, its respect at once for the fact and the mystery.
-- Herbert J Muller, The Uses of the Past (1952)

The First Crusade ... set off on its two-thousand-mile jaunt by massacring Jews, plundering and slaughtering all the way from the Rhine to the Jordan. "In the temple of Solomon," wrote the ecstatic cleric Raimundus de Agiles, "one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses" bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God.
-- Herbert J Muller, from Laurence J Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Religion can no longer rest its claims on a dogmatic supernaturalism, because any dogma that is irreconcilable with tested knowledge must be rejected.... [One] sentence ... sums up the dark and deadly pages of Chistian history: "If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
-- Herbert J Muller, The Uses of the Past (1952)

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Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900)
German-born British philologist and Orientalist

All truth is safe, and nothing else is safe; and he who keeps back the truth, or withholds it from men, from motives of expediency, is either a coward or a criminal, or both.
-- Max Müller, The Science of Religion, p. 11

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Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
Norwegian painter and printmaker who played a vital role in the development of German expressionism

Edward Munch (Self-Portrait)‘The Scream’ by Edward Munch (This image is in the public domain.)From my rotting body,
flowers shall grow
and I am in them
and that is eternity.
-- Edvard Munch (attributed: source unknown)

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Sukumar Muralidharan
Delhi bureau chief for Frontline, a biweekly news magazine

It's very much a reality of the culture here in India that scholars have to face harassment and intimidation. The Hindu nationalist lobby is trying to force a kind of polarization in terms of a singular cultural inheritance on one side and all the rest on the other side. And their idea of the inheritance is very much their own construct, not a full reading of history.
-- Sukumar Muralidharan, describing the hold that the Bharatiya Janata Party holds even on scholarship, in his comments on the wild reaction against the book by Dwijendra Narayan Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow, quoted from Emily Eakin, "Holy Cow a Myth? An Indian Finds the Kick Is Real" (The New York Times: August 17, 2002)

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Lionel Murphy
Justice, High Court of Australia

The purpose of the United States establishment clause was clearly to prevent the recognition of and assistance to religion which plagued European countries over many centuries. The religious wars of ancient times were repeated after the Middle Ages and into modern times. In the United Kingdom the struggle between the contending Catholic and Protestant factions, with the emergence of Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, Lollards and many other religious groups, was a bitter illustration of the attempts of religious factions to get the assistance of the state in propagating their views and if possible, suppressing their rivals. The history has a very important economic aspect. One of the dangers of subsidising religious institutions and granting them financial privileges (such as exemption from income tax, land and municipal rates, sales and other taxes) is that such institutions tend to become extremely wealthy, to aggrandize and to become states within a state. The corrective has often been a more or less violent seizure of the assets of the religious institutions, sometimes by the existing sovereign (as did Henry VIII), sometimes by revolutionary movements, which in many countries have had as one of their main objects the suppression of religious institutions and the seizure of their wealth.
-- Lionel Murphy, Dissenting opinion in Attorney-General for Victoria v. the Commonwealth, 33 ALR 321 at 358 (1981) from Lionel Murphy, The Rule of Law, Ed. by Jean and Richard Ely, Akron Press, Sydney, 1986. Quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

The purpose of our [Australian] establishment clause is the same as that in the United States' Constitution. There does not seem to be any real doubt that if the establishment clause is construed in Australia as it is in the United States, ... then the challenged laws are unconstitutional. Section 116 of the Constitution does not assert or deny the value of religion (including religious teaching). It secures its free exercise, but denies that the Commonwealth can support religion in any way whatsoever. The Commonwealth cannot be concerned with religious teaching -- that is entirely private. Section 116 recognises that an essential condition of religious liberty is that religion be unaided by the Commonwealth.
-- Lionel Murphy, Dissenting opinion in Attorney-General for Victoria v. the Commonwealth, 33 ALR 321 at 358 (1981) from Lionel Murphy, The Rule of Law, Ed. by Jean and Richard Ely, Akron Press, Sydney, 1986. Quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Rev John Courtney Murray

The right to religious freedom has its foundation, not in the church or society or the state, but in the very dignity of the human person.
-- John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths, 1960, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Atheist activist

Madalyn Murray O'HairAn Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair (attributed: source unknown)

Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, statement to the court, Murray v. Curlett

An Atheist loves himself and his fellowman instead of a god. An Atheist knows that heaven is something for which we should work now -- here on earth -- for all men together to enjoy.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, statement to the court, Murray v. Curlett

But people ... don't even know what atheism is. It's not a negation of anything. You don't have to negate what no one can prove exists. No, atheism is a very positive affirmation of man's ability to think for himself, to do for himself, to find answers to his own problems. I'm thrilled to feel that I can rely on myself totally and absolutely; that my children are being brought up so that when they meet a problem they can't cop out by foisting it off on God. Madalyn Murray's going to solve her own problems, and nobody's going to intervene. It's about time the world got up off its knees and looked at itself in the mirror and said: "Well, we are men. Let's start acting like it."
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

I was shamed into it by my son, Bill, who came to me in 1960 -- he was 14 then -- and said: "Mother, you've been professing that you're an atheist for a long time now. Well, I don't believe in God either, but every day in school I'm forced to say prayers, and I feel like a hypocrite. Why should I be compelled to betray my beliefs?" I couldn't answer him. He quoted the old parable to me: "It is not by their words, but by their deeds that ye shall know them" -- pointing out that if I was a true atheist, I would not permit the public schools of America to force him to read the Bible and say prayers against his will. He was right. Words divorced from action supporting them are meaningless and hypocritical. So we began the suit. And finally we won it. I knew it wasn't going to make me the most popular woman in Baltimore, but I sure as hell didn't anticipate the tidal wave of virulent, vindictive, murderous hatred that thundered down on top of me and my family in its wake.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, describing why she pursued what eventually became Murray v. Curlett in 1963), in the Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

The neighborhood children, of course, were forbidden by their parents to play with my little boy, Garth, so I finally got him a little kitten to play with. A couple of weeks later we found it on the porch with its neck wrung.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

Here goes: "You should be shot!" ... "Why don't you go peddle your slop in Russia?" ... "YOU WICKID ANAMAL" ... "I will KILL you!" ... "Commie, Commie, Commie!" ... "Somebody is going to put a bullet through your fat ass, you scum, you masculine Lesbian bitch!" ... "You will be killed before too long. Or maybe your pretty little baby boy. The queer-looking bastard. You are a bitch and your son is a bastard" ... "Slut! Slut! Slut! Bitch slut from the Devil!" That'll give you the general idea. Oh -- just one more; I love this one: "May Jesus, who you so vigorously deny, change you into a Paul."
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, reading some mail from Christians, in the Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

Intolerance has always been one of the cornerstones of Christianity -- the glorious heritage of the Inquisition.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

We wish our Christian brothers would be honest and permit us our heroes. We do not deny them theirs.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, "Rewriting of History by Christians" (February 17, 1969)

So my life and the life of my family has been completely disrupted in absolutely every way. But it's been worth it. It's uncovered a vast cesspool of illegitimate economic and political power in which the Church is immersed right up to its ears, and I intend to dive in headfirst and pull it out of there dripping wet for all the world to see -- no matter how long it takes, no matter whose feet get stepped on in the process, no matter how much it costs, no matter how great the personal sacrifice.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

Actually, I don't like Atheists very much -- at least most of them -- because they are not motivated to move into the community and attempt to correct the injustices which are everywhere apparent against them.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Radio Address #151

I think this would be the best of all possible worlds if everybody were an atheist or an agnostic or a humanist -- his or her own particular brand -- but as for compelling people to this, absolutely not. That would be just as infamous as their imposing Christianity on me. At no time have I ever said that people should be stripped of their right to the insanity of belief in God. If they want to practice this kind of irrationality, that's their business. It won't get them anywhere; it certainly won't make them happier or more compassionate human beings; but if they want to chew that particular cud. they're welcome to it.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

But the most heinous crime of the Church has been perpetrated not against churchmen but against churchgoers. With its poisonous concepts of sin and divine punishment, it's warped and brainwashed countless millions. It would be impossible to calculate the psychic damage this has inflicted on generations of children who might have grown up into healthy, happy. productive, zestful human beings but for the burden of antisexual fear and guilt ingrained in them by the Church. This alone is enough to condemn religion.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

About six years ago, Life magazine ran an article on the historicity of Jesus, and I was floored to find that they conceded the only evidence we have for his existence is in the Gospels. But don't take Life's word for it. In his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus, the most definitive study that's ever been done on the subject, Albert Schweitzer admitted that there isn't a shred of conclusive proof that Christ ever lived, let alone was the son of God. He concludes that one must therefore accept both on faith.
-- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Playboy Interview (October, 1965)

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