Quotes & Excerpts
…religion, whether Neoplatonic or Christian or Spaghettimonsterish, is bad for science and always will be, so long as it has any power to undermine or impede freethought, and insofar as it will (and it will) always generate antiscientific enclaves whom we will forever have to battle just to maintain the status of scientific knowledge and values. This is how it was. This is how it is. And until religion is gone, this is how it will always be.–Richard Carrier
[A]rguing from the gaps is an argument from ignorance. If they don’t do this,
then this universe looks indistinguishable from a universe without God in it at all…Unless we can prove we do not live in a Matrix, or are not dreaming right now, or are not some brains in a vat, then believers will opine we all have faith. And if they can get us to admit this then they drive a whole truckload of Christian assumptions through that small crevice. Can we prove any of these things are not the case? Then they have every bit of a right to believe the wildly improbable things they do about a triune god, an incarnation, transfiguration, resurrection, ascension, and final judgment. This is a huge non-sequitur. There is no parity here at all…-John Loftus
[S]keptics must always appreciate how hard it is for people to have their beliefs challenged. It is, quite literally, a threat to their brain’s sense of survival. It is entirely normal for people to be defensive in such situations. The brain feels it is fighting for its life….it should be comforting to all skeptics to remember that the truly amazing part of all of this is not that so few beliefs change or that people can be so irrational, but that anyone’s beliefs ever change at all. Skeptics’ ability to alter their own beliefs in response to data is a true gift; a unique, powerful, and precious ability. It is genuinely a “higher brain function” in that it goes against some of the most natural and fundamental biological urges.-Gregory W. Lester
Because evolution built belief mainly out of off-the-shelf components that evolved for other purposes, we often lose track of where our beliefs come from—if we ever knew—and even worse, we are often completely unaware of how much we are influenced by irrelevant information…We feel as if our beliefs are based on cold, hard facts, but often they are shaped by our ancestral system in subtle ways that we are not even aware of…when context tells us one thing, but rationality another, rationality often loses.-Gary Marcus
Religion claims to set its followers free, while all the time holding them in thrall and insisting they kiss the hand of their jailer. There can be no true freedom so long as religion still keeps the human mind in shackles.-Paula Kirby
Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.-Stephen Hawking
There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.-Stephen Hawking
God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players (i.e., everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
-Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman
Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.
-Stephen Hawking on his theory of how the universe began
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
-Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
-Stephen Henry Roberts
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.
-Delos B. McKown
Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.
To say that atheism requires faith is as dim-witted as saying that disbelief in pixies or leprechauns takes faith. Even if Einstein himself told me there was an elf on my shoulder, I would still ask for proof and I wouldn’t be wrong to ask.
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain….In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.
-Richard Feynman (Caltech physicist and Nobel laureate)
Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one has ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the nonexistence of Zeus or Thor, but they have few followers now.
-Arthur C. Clarke
If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests.
-Baron d’Holbach, Système de la Nature
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life.
There are certain persons with a sort of rabies, who live only to infect the mass. If the young do not watch out, they will find themselves, before so very many years are past, engulfed in a howling manifestation of mob insanity, truly terrifying to think of. It will be better to be dead than to live to see it. Sanity, wholeness, is everything. In the name of piety and purity, what a mass of disgusting insanity is spoken and written. We shall have to fight the mob, in order to keep sane, and to keep society sane.
-D. H. Lawrence
It is not acceptable to have a religion where the alternative to faith is punishment — that’s how you train dogs, not develop people.
– Deng Ming-Dao
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.
-Mark Twain [referring to the Bible]
“Heaven help us!” said the old religion; the new one, from its very lack of that faith, will teach us all the more to help one another.
Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!
–Conan the Barbarian
An “ideology” is like a spirit taking up its abode in a body: it makes that body hop around in certain ways; and that same body would have hopped in different ways had a different ideology happened to inhabit it.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
-George Bernard Shaw
Theology is a thing of unreason altogether, an edifice of assumptions and dreams, a superstructure without a substructure.
You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.
If we are going to teach “creation science” . . . as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.
Science . . . has opened our eyes to the vastness of the universe and given us light, truth and freedom from fear where once was darkness, ignorance and superstition.
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.
Science has done more for the development of Western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred.
The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God.
Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.
Science . . . has been accused of undermining morals–but wrongly. The ethical behavior of man is better based on sympathy, education and social relationships, and requires no support from religion. Man’s plight would, indeed, be sad if he had to be kept in order through fear of punishment and hope of rewards after death.
Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men–above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, but also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.
Thus I was forced, through seeing the error of their foundation, to abandon all belief in every religion which had been taught to man. But my religious feelings were immediately replaced by the spirit of universal charity–not for a sect or a party, or for a country or a colour, but for the human race, and with a real and ardent desire to do them good.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.
The Atheist does not say “There is no God,” but he says, “I know not what you mean by God; I am without idea of God; the word ‘God’ is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation.”
I wouldn’t want my doctor thinking that intelligent design was an equally plausible hypothesis to evolution any more than I would want my airplane pilot believing in the flat Earth.
Well I don’t think we’re for anything. We’re just products of evolution. You can say “Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose.” But I’m anticipating having a good lunch.
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with any of the superstitions of the Christians religion.
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, of the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust.
Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love.