Freethinker quotes

topic posted Sun, March 19, 2006 - 2:43 PM by  Jon
One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
-Arthur C. Clarke

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure—that is all that agnosticism means.
-Clarence Darrow, Scopes trial, 1925

To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
-Isaac Asimov

Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
-Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary

Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Men have ascribed to God imperfections that they would deplore in themselves.
-W. Somerset Maugham

To have a positive religion is not necessary. To be in harmony with yourself and the universe is what counts, and this is possible without positive and specific formulation in words.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
-Emo Philips, stand-up comedian

In the beginning there was nothing and God said, “Let there be light,” and there was still nothing but everybody could see it.
-Dave Thomas

A good sermon should be like a woman’s skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials.
-Ronald Knox

How wise are thy commandments, Lord. Each of them applies to somebody I know.
-Samuel Levenson

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
-G.K. Chesterton

I don’t believe in atheists.
-Neal Boortz

I’ve never understood how God could expect His creatures to pick the one true religion by faith—it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.
-Robert A. Heinlein (Jubal Harshaw in Stranger in a Strange Land)

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
-Robert A. Heinlein

When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.
-Peter O’Toole

Creationists make it sound as though a theory is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
-Isaac Asimov

The Bible contains legendary, historical and ethical contents. It is quite possible to consider them separately, and one doesn’t have to accept the legends in order to get the ethics. Fundamentalists make a grave mistake to insist on the letter of the writings, because they drive away many who can’t swallow the Adam-and-Eve bit.
-Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov: A Memoir

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
-Thomas Paine

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
-Bertrand Russell

The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooist brutality, is patently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with the dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes.
-John Adams

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.
-Mark Twain

And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter.
-Thomas Jefferson

God himself has no right to be a tyrant.
-William Godwin

Science has done more for the development of Western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred years.
-Jeff Burroughs

This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religions in it.
-John Adams

If the gods do evil then they are not gods.

Ignorance and superstition ever bear a close and mathematical relation to each other.
-James Fenimore Cooper

The nearer to the church, the further from God.
-John Heywood

Those of little faith are of little hatred.
-Eric Hoffer

Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other “sins” are invented nonsense.
-Robert A. Heinlein

A divinely inspired book, admirably suited for the needs of one’s neighbors.
-Ambrose Bierce, definition of “Bible”, Devil’s Dictionary

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.
-H.L. Mencken

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.
-John Morley

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
-Galileo Galilei

Which is it: Is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s?
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Woman was God’s second mistake.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?
-Jules Feiffer

A pious man is one who would be an atheist if the king were.
-Jean de la Bruyère

I think it’s ironic that the only people who claim that humans are too advanced to have evolved naturally are the ones who demonstrate the least advanced mode of thinking.

Because they know not the forces of nature, and in order that they may have comrades in their ignorance, they suffer not that others should search out anything, and would have us believe like rustics and ask no reason... But we ask in all things a reason must be sought.
-William of Conches

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
-Thomas Paine

If you have two religions in your land, the two will cut each other’s throats; but if you have thirty religions, they will dwell in peace.

People fashion their God after their own understanding. They make their God first and worship him afterwards.
-Oscar Wilde

We have fossils... We win!
-Lewis Black, on creationism

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.
-Albert Einstein

Almost everyone who has read history in a more than casual manner knows that when the great figure of God appears in a controversy, the shooting cannot be far off.
-Stewart H. Holbrook

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. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
-George Bernard Shaw

The believer is happy. The doubter is wise.

Everything that we think God has in his mind necessarily proceeds from our own mind; it is what we imagine to be in God’s mind, and it is really difficult for human intelligence to guess at a divine intelligence. What we usually end up with by this sort of reasoning is to make God the color-sergeant of our army and to make Him as chauvinistic as ourselves.
-Lin Yutang

It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action.
-Lin Yutang

If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

You see many stars at night in the sky but find them not when the sun rises; can you say that there are no stars in the heaven of day? So, O man! because you behold not God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
-William Shakespeare

That is the whole trouble with being a heretic. One usually must think out everything for oneself.
-Aubrey Menan

God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters.
-H.L. Mencken (I just want to say that is kind of harsh; I don’t believe that, but I like H.L.
Mencken and it’s a good quote nonetheless.)

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
-H.L. Mencken

Man cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.
-Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.
-Oscar Wilde

With most people unbelief in one thing is founded upon blind belief in another.
-Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. What we know as blind faith is sustained by innumerable unbeliefs.
-Eric Hoffer, on mass movements in general, not religion in particular

If there were no God, there would be no atheists.
-G.K. Chesterton

Mysteries are not necessarily miracles.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
-Eric Hoffer

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.
-Graham Greene

Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.
-Thomas Jefferson

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
-Abraham Lincoln

It is a fine thing to establish one’s own religion in one’s heart, not to be dependent on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not a lesser, but a greater thing.
-D.H. Lawrence

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
-Steven Weinberg, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
-Thomas Jefferson

All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.

Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.
-Aldous Huxley

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were...more trouble than they were worth.
-Worf, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Homefront”

Historically the belief in heaven and the belief in utopia are like compensatory buckets in a well: when one goes down the other comes up. When the classic religions decayed, communistic agitation rose in Athens (430 B.C.), and revolution began in Rome (133 B.C.); when these movements failed, resurrection faiths succeeded, culminating in Christianity; when, in our eighteenth century, Christian belief weakened, communism reappeared. In this perspective the future of religion is secure.
-Will Durant

The Christian churches were offered two things: the spirit of Jesus and the idiotic morality of Paul, and they rejected the higher inspiration... Following Paul, we have turned the goodness of love into a fiend and degraded the crowning impulse of our being into a capital sin.
-Frank Harris

Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.
-Voltaire, on his deathbed, to a priest asking that he renounce Satan

Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis.
-Pierre Laplace, to Napoleon on why his works on celestial mechanics make no mention of God

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
-Matthew 20:15

When someone tells me that “the Almighty told me to do this,” I want to see the transcript.
-Fred Reed

Science is the record of dead religions.
-Oscar Wilde

The only way to reconcile science and religion is to set up something which is not science and something that is not religion.
-H.L. Mencken

Scientists were rated as great heretics by the church, but they were truly religious men because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe.
-Albert Einstein

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
-Albert Einstein

The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.
-Albert Einstein

True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.
-Albert Einstein

Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority.
-Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show

If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. ...But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion.
-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
posted by:
offline Jon
SF Bay Area