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Meditation 819
Quotations XLIX

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.  Marlene Dietrich

This is an occasional selection of quotations mostly, but not entirely, relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the forty-ninth in an apparently unending series. Quotations are indexed by author and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one. Quotations are also available as a set of downloadable pdf files (menu to the left.) Suggestions for previously unused quotations are always welcome.

  1. Anybody who believes that the earth is less than 10,000 years old needs psychiatric help. Francis Crick

  2. I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature. Thomas Jefferson

  3. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil---that takes religion. Steven Weinberg

  4. All substances are poisons: there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy. Paracelsus

  5. If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run -- and often in the short one -- the most daring prophecies seem daringly conservative. Arthur C. Clarke

  6. The point is that religion puts a value on irrationality, which makes it the perfect tool for promoting irrational beliefs like misogyny. Other ideologies can be challenged with evidence and reason, but religion is allowed a pass by most people. And that’s why it’s especially dangerous. Amanda Marcotte

  7. The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson's time. Richard Nixon

  8. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past, or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. Bertrand Russell

  9. There are three religious truths:  1) Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  2) Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.  3) Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store or at Hooters. Anonymous

  10. The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide. Ralph Waldo Emerson

  11. Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true. Francis Bacon

  12. The first clergyman was the first rascal who met the first fool. Voltaire

  13. The costs of an ignorance of science are nor just practical ones like misbegotten policies, forgone cures, and a unilateral disarmament in national competitiveness. There is a moral cost as well. It is an astonishing fact about our species that we understand so much about the history of the universe. the forces that make it tick, the stuff it's made of; the origin of living things, and the machinery of life. A failure to nurture this knowledge shows a philistine indifference to the magnificent achievements humanity is capable of; like allowing a great work of art to molder in a warehouse. Steven Pinker

  14. The faithful believe that certain truths have been 'revealed.' The skeptics and secularists believe that truth is only to be sought by free inquiry and trial and error. Only one of those positions is dogmatic. Christopher Hitchens

  15. "The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible." Arthur C. Clarke

  16. You can safely say that you have made God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. Reverend Robert Cromey

  17. Remember that what you believe will depend very much on what you are. Noah Porter
  18. 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. Carl Sagan

  19. How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash?....The acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the acceptor to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation. It is a way to fight loneliness. Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  20. It does not matter whether you are a theist or atheist, what matters is sincerity, forgiveness, and compassion. Dalai Lama