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Meditation 526
Quotations XL

"I hate quotations, tell me what you know." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But as some people do like quotations and think they can be useful in succinctly communicating an opinion, we will publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the fortieth in an apparently unending series. Quotations are now indexed by author and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one.

  1. Back when I was still a recovering Catholic, the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden used to infuriate me beyond belief. It seemed incredibly unfair that every human born since those two would come into the world indelibly stained with Original Sin just because Adam and Eve disobeyed the Almighty and ate the apple. Under this scenario, we’re all born with three strikes against us; we don’t even get a chance to screw up. Nick Welsh

  2. No man is wise enough by himself. Titus Maccius Plautus

  3. We make simple moral judgments, remain unconscious of the self-interest which colors them, support them with an enthusiasm which derives from our waning but still influential evangelical piety, and are surprised that our contemporaries will not accept us a saviours of the world. Reinhold Niebuhr

  4. Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.Bertrand Russell

  5. To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.Marcel Proust

  6. When it comes to God's existence, I'm not an atheist and I'm not an agnostic. I'm an acrostic. The whole thing puzzles me. George Carlin

  7. In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing. Mark Twain

  8. Don't bury the life you have been given in this world in fantasies of the next; don't betray yourself with impossible dreams. David Horowitz

  9. Now please state the scientific theory of creationism. Dr. Pepper

  10. The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system. The history of our study of our solar system shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources. Carl Sagan

  11. Rhetoric is useful because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, so that, if decisions are improperly made, they must owe their defeat to their own advocates; which is reprehensible. Further, in dealing with certain persons, even if we possessed the most accurate scientific knowledge, we should not find it easy to persuade them by the employment of such knowledge. For scientific discourse is concerned with instruction, but in the case of such persons instruction is impossible. Aristotle

  12. I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse. Isaac Asimov

  13. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Virgil

  14. Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast on nature. Jacob Bronowski

  15. Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not. Edith Sitwell

  16. Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all. Wally 'Famous' Amos

  17. 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. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  18. Such evil deeds could religion prompt. Jane Austen

  19. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. Peter Ustinov

  20. Agnosticism is not properly described as a negative creed, nor indeed as a creed of any kind, except in so far as it expresses absolute faith in the validity of a principle, which is as much ethical as intellectual. This principle may be stated in various ways, but they all amount to this: that it is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.Thomas Henry Huxley