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-- Phil Plait, in his 2010 “Don’t Be a Dick” (“DBAD”)speech
The best idea ever thought of in the history of humanity is useless unless someone communicates it. It will die in the test tube. And in our case, what we're communicating here to people is not necessarily something they want to hear. And so, our demeanor — how we deliver this message — takes on crucial, crucial importance.
Religion belongs to that realm that is inviolable before the law of causation and therefore is closed
The history of all times and nations teaches us that exactly in the naïve, unshakable belief, furnished by religion in active life of believers, originate the most intense motives for the most
significant creative performance, not only in the field of arts and sciences but also in politics.
Under these conditions it is no wonder, that the movement of atheists (Gottlosenbewegung), which declares religion to be just a delibarate illusion, invented by power-seeking priests, and which
has for the pious belief in a higher power nothing but words of mockery, eagerly makes use of progressive scientific knowledge and in a presumed unity with it, expands in an ever-faster pace its disintegrating action on all nations of the earth and on
all social levels. I do not need to explain in any more detail that after its victory not only all the most precious treasures of our culture would vanish, but -- which is even worse -- also any prospects at a better future.
An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually
die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.
For though a man should be a complete unbeliever in the being of gods; if he also has a native uprightness
of temper, such persons will detest evil in men; their repugnance to wrong disinclines them to commit wrongful acts; they shun the unrighteous and are drawn to the upright.
We have already stated summarily what the punishment should be for temple-robbing, whether by open force or secretly. But the punishments for the various sorts of insolence in speech or action with
regard to the gods, which a man can show in word or deed, have to be proclaimed after we have provided an exordium. Let this be it: "No one believing, as the laws prescribe, in the existence of the gods has ever yet performed an impious action willingly,
or uttered a lawless word. Anyone acting in such a way is in one of three conditions: either, first, he does not believe the proposition aforesaid; or, second, he believes that though the gods exist they have no concern about men; or, third, he believes
that they can easily be won over by the bribery of prayer and sacrifice"
After reading all that has been written, and after thinking all that can be thought, on the topics of God and the soul, the
man who has a right to say that he thinks at all will find himself face to face with the conclusion that, on these topics, the most profound thought is that which can be the least easily distinguished from the most superficial sentiment.
The idea of God, infinity, or spirit stands for the possible attempt at an impossible conception.
The pioneers and missionaries of religion have been the real cause of more trouble and war than all other classes of mankind.
No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter ... than you and I; and all religion ... is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.
The public schools of this country serve the admirable function of bringing together on common ground students from a diversity of cultural and religious backgrounds. The introduction of public prayer
into such a setting jeopardizes the sense of community and unnecessarily intrudes an emotional and divisive factor.
Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President
of the United States I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments to office.
I'm anticlerical, not antireligion. If somebody believes there is God, I'm not interested
in trying to persuade that person there is no intelligent design to the universe. Where I become interested and wake up is about the temporal power of religion, things like prayer in schools, or Catholic-secular hospital mergers.
As Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in Time, in no other Western country is the teaching of Evolution regarded as controversial. Throughout the world, one way or another, most Christian denominations
have managed to reconcile belief in God with belief in the mechanisms of natural selection. A French or German or Scandinavian politician who called for students to entertain as a reasonable deduction from existing evidence the proposition that Earth
is at most 10,000 years old would be bundled off to a mental hospital.
Right now religion has the romantic aura of the forbidden -- Christ is cool. We need to bring it into the schools, which kids already hate, and associate it firmly with boredom, regulation, condescension,
makework and de facto segregation ... Prayer in the schools will rid us of the bland no-offense ecumenism that is so infuriating to us anticlericals: Oh, so now you say Jews didn't kill Christ -- a little on the late side, isn't it?
In a better world, science teachers would teach creationism along with evolution as an exercise in critical thinking.
Marco Polo (1254-1324)
The Old Man kept at his court such boys of twelve years old as seemed to him destined to become courageous men. When the Old Man sent them into the garden in groups of four, ten or twenty, he game them
hashish to drink. They slept for three days, then they were carried sleeping into the garden where he had them awakened.
Polybius (BCE 200?-118)
Since the masses of the people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate and reckless of consequence, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore,
to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death.
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
system [is] empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation....
It must be possible for an empirical or scientific system to be refuted by experience.
We have the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should tolerate even them whenever we can do so without running a great risk; but the risk may become so great that we cannot allow ourselves the
I see now more clearly than ever before that even our greatest troubles spring from something that is as admirable and sound as it is dangerous -- from our impatience to better the lot of our fellows.
The moral decisions of others should be treated with respect, as long as such decisions do not conflict with the principle of tolerance.
The use of violence is justified only under a tyranny which makes reforms without violence impossible, and should have only one aim, that is, to bring about a state of affairs which makes reforms without
Religion, oh, just another of those numerous failures resulting from an attempt to popularize
A heroic figure ... not wholly to blame for the religion that's been foisted on him.
Judge Charles Price
The court states ... to those who have asked the court by phone calls, individual
and multiple signature letters, and postcards to "save the Ten Commandments," ... that the Ten Commandments are not in peril. They are neither stained, tarnished, nor thrashed. They may be displayed in every church, synagogue, temple, mosque,
home and storefront. They may be displayed in cars, on lawns, and in corporate board rooms. Where the precious gift cannot and should not be displayed as an obvious religious text or to promote religion is on government property.
[Judge Roy Moore] has unequivocally stated that the plaques are not in the courtroom for a historical, judicial or
educational purpose, but rather, and clearly to promote religion.
It is obvious that the sole purpose of the plaques hanging in the courtroom in such a fashion in purely religious.
is quite likely, though certainly by no means definitively provable, that the central figure of the gospels is not based on any historical individual. Put simply, not only is the theological "Christ of faith" a synthetic construct of theologians, a symbolic "Uncle
Sam" figure, but if you could travel through time, like Superboy, and you went back to First-Century Nazareth, you would not find a Jesus living there.
I do not expect that the mere fact that I was once an evangelical apologist and now see things differently
should itself count as evidence that I must be right. That would be the genetic fallacy. It would be just as erroneous to think that John Rankin must be right in having embraced evangelical
Christianity since he had once been an agnostic Unitarian and repudiated it for the Christian faith.
"Heresy," by the way, simply means "choice." It came to mean "thoughtcrime," implying it was blasphemy to presume to choose your own belief instead of swallowing what the
bishops spoonfed you.
In broad outline and in detail, the life of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels corresponds to the worldwide Mythic Hero Archetype in which a divine hero's birth is supernaturally predicted and conceived,
the infant hero escapes attempts to kill him, demonstrates his precocious wisdom already as a child, receives a divine commission, defeats demons, wins acclaim, is hailed as king, then betrayed, losing popular favor, executed, often on a hilltop, and
is vindicated and taken up to heaven.
Second, the "historical Jesus" reconstructed by New Testament scholars is always a reflection of the individual scholars who reconstruct him. Albert Schweitzer was perhaps the single exception,
and he made it painfully clear that previous questers for the historical Jesus had merely drawn self-portraits. All unconsciously used the historical Jesus as a ventriloquist dummy. Jesus must have taught the truth, and their own beliefs must have been
true, so Jesus must have taught those beliefs. (Of course, every biblicist does the same! "I said it! God believes it! That settles it!"). Today's Politically Correct "historical Jesuses" are no different, being mere clones of the
scholars who design them.
I wonder how appropriate it is to try to "argue someone into the kingdom." Many apologists hotly deny any such charge, but I don't believe them. The tenor of almost all apologetics literature
makes it plain that this is their intent.
The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the
texts still might be true.
If, when we compare two versions of a story, the second known to be a retelling of the first, and find that the second has more of a miraculous element, we may reasonably conclude we have legendary
(or midrashic or whatever) embellishment. The tale has grown in the telling. This sort of comparison is common in extrabiblical research and no one holds that it cannot properly indicate legend formation there.
Personal Relationship? Channeling? Figment!
Christ of Faith and History Fit Mythic Hero Archetype
Christ Redrawn as Human -- Like So Many Gods Before Him
Jesus was eventually "historicized," redrawn as a human being of the past (much as Samson, Enoch, Jabal, Gad, Joshua the son of Nun, and various other ancient Israelite gods had already been).
As a part of this process, there were various independent attempts to locate Jesus in recent history by laying the blame for his death on this or that likely candidate, well known tyrants including Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate, and even Alexander Jannaeus
in the first century BCE! Now, if the death of Jesus were an actual historical event well known to eyewitnesses of it, there is simply no way such a variety of versions, differing on so fundamental a point, could ever have arisen!
Joseph Priestly (1733-1804)
As I conceive this doctrine to be a gross misrepresentation of the character and moral
government of God, and to affect many other articles in the scheme of Christianity, greatly disfiguring and depraving it; I shall show, ... that it has no countenance whatever in reason, or the Scriptures; and, therefore, that the whole doctrine of atonement,
with every modification of it, has been a departure from the primitive and genuine doctrine of Christianity.
if weak women went astray,
Richard Anthony Proctor (1837-1888)
Astronomy ... is of all others the science which seems to
present to us the most striking instance of waste in nature.
Concerning the gods I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of knowledge and the brevity of human life.
About the gods I have no means of knowing either that they exist or that they do not exist or what they are like to look at; many things prevent my knowing -- among others, the fact that they are never
seen and the shortness of human life.
Man is the measure of all things, of the reality of those which are, and of the unreality of those which are not.
No man is above the law.
The doctrine of the unity of God is ever an advance upon the doctrine o the trinity of God. It is a step toward the destruction of God.
The doctrine of the unity of God logically tends to Pantheism, as it did in the philosophy of Averroes [Ibn Rushd (ابن رشد), 1126-98],
and Pantheism eventually becomes atheism.
Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
The last superstition of the human mind is the superstition that religion in itself is a good thing, though it might be free from dogma. I believe, however, that the religious feeling, as feeling, is
wrong, and the civilized man will have nothing to do with it.... [When the] shadow of religion disappeared forever ... I felt that I was free from a disease.
The moment that one loses confidence in God, or immortality in the universe, [one becomes] more self-reliant, more courageous, and the more solicitous of aid where only
human aid is possible.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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