Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Powerful Thoughts, Vol. 4

Welcome to the fourth installment in this series! It's been a while since the last one, but I've amassed so many awesome quotes over the past few months that the fifth will be coming up very soon. Here are some on the topic of God:
  • "They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse." –Emily Dickinson
  • "I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him." –Albert Einstein
  • "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." –Galileo Galilei
  • "Would God give a bird wings and make it a crime to fly? Would he give me brains and make it a crime to think?" –Robert Ingersoll
  • "Is it not better to place a question mark upon a problem while seeking an answer than to put the label "God" there and consider the matter solved?" –Joseph Lewis
  • "If triangles invented a god, they would make him three-sided." –Charles de Montesquieu
On Christianity:
  • "Christianity, above all, consoles; but there are naturally happy souls who do not need consolation. Consequently, Christianity begins by making such souls unhappy, for otherwise it would have no power over them." –AndrĂ© Gide
  • "Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything—just give him time to rationalize it." –Robert Heinlein
  • "There is in every village a torch: The schoolteacher. And an extinguisher: The priest." –Victor Hugo
  • "The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new truth, last of all, and only when denial has become useless." –Robert Ingersoll
  • "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government." –Thomas Jefferson
  • "The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad." –Friedrich Nietzsche
  • "Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty even if the innocent would offer itself. ... It is then no longer justice. It is indiscriminate revenge." –Thomas Paine
On religion in general:
  • "Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence." –Anon
  • "Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable." –Ambrose Bierce
  • "Where knowledge ends, religion begins." –Benjamin Disraeli
  • "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 whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence, from Jerusalem, of a lunatic asylum." –Havelock Ellis
  • "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
  • "If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again." –Penn Jillette
  • "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." –Seneca the Younger (attributed)
On reason, science and skepticism:
  • "Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice." –Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • "Skepticism is the first step towards truth." –Denis Diderot
  • "What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse. Not being open about it doesn't make it go away." –Eugene Gendlin
  • "There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts." –Richard Feynman
  • "Don't swallow your moral code in tablet form." –Christopher Hitchens
  • "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal." –Robert Heinlein
  • "Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men." –Robert Heinlein
  • "The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche." –Robert Heinlein
  • "It is a very odd world where people reject reason and yet benefit from the riches of reason." –Robin Ince
And finally, a few facepalm-inducing fundie quotes:
  • "No one...fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails...because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God." –William Lane Craig
  • "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them." –Jerry Falwell
  • "The fact that [John Kerry] would not support a federal marriage amendment [banning gay marriage], it equates in our minds as someone 150 years ago saying I'm personally opposed to slavery, but if my neighbor wants to own one or two that's OK." –Jerry Falwell
  • "I resist Islamic immigration into the United States. ... I think our immigration policies ought to be reserved for...Christians[.]" –Bryan Fischer
  • "What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church … a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them." –Martin Luther
  • "Reason is the Devil's harlot, who can do nought but slander and harm whatever God says and does." –Martin Luther
It's always a bit of a shock reading the religious quotes after the skeptical ones. To plummet from insightful brilliance to the depths of intellectual desolation can be pretty depressing. I recommend going back over your favorite quotes from the other categories to cheer you up again. I'm partial to Montesquieu's three-sided triangle god myself: what a clear and powerful way to sum up the human tendency to create anthropomorphic deities.


  1. "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

    I've always heard that attributed to Seneca (the younger).


    1. Upon further investigation, it seems it's been attributed to Seneca, and it's based on a quote from Edward Gibbon, but neither one is known to have said it. I'll edit the quote above to make that clear.

    2. So it's a great quote that no one owns up to? ;)