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Meditation 622
Quotations XLIV

"I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking." Dorothy L. Sayers

On the other hand, an apt quotation can stimulate the mind towards original thought. A quotation better serves as the starting point for a discussion, not as a means for closing it. We will continue to publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the forty-fourth 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. A credulous mind ... finds most delight in believing strange things, and the stranger they are the easier they pass with him; but never regards those that are plain and feasible, for every man can believe such. Samuel Butler

  2. The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. Lynn Lavner

  3. We humanists behave as well we can, without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We don't fear death, and neither should you. You know what Socrates said about death...? 'Death is just one more night.'" Kurt Vonnegut

  4. The agnostic is not quite so certain as some Christians are as to what is good and what is evil. He does not hold, as most Christians in the past held, that people who disagree with the Government on abstruse points of theology ought to suffer a painful death. He is against persecution, and rather chary of moral condemnation. As for sin, he thinks it not a useful notion. He admits, of course, that some kinds of conduct are desirable and some undesirable, but he holds that the punishment of undesirable kinds is only to be commended when it is deterrent or reformatory, not when it is inflicted because it is thought a good thing on its own account that the wicked should suffer. It was this belief in vindictive punishment that made men accept hell. This is part of the harm done by the notion of sin.
    Bertrand Russell

  5. Intellect distinguishes between the possible and the impossible; reason distinguishes between the sensible and the senseless. Even the possible can be senseless. Max Born

  6. The value of the average conversation could be enormously improved by the constant use of four simple words: "I do not know." Andre Maurois

  7. I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy. Richard Feynman

  8. When you make the finding yourself -- even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light -- you never forget it. Carl Sagan

  9. Few things are harder to put up with than a good example. Mark Twain

  10. If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out? Will Rogers

  11. I am convinced that everything that is worthwhile in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit, and that the preservation of this spirit is more important than any social system whatsoever. But the men of ritual and the men of barbarism are capable of shutting up the men of science and of silencing them forever. Sinclair Lewis

  12. I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. Kahlil Gibran

  13. It is obvious that the great majority of humans throughout history have had grossly, even ridiculously, unrealistic concepts of the world. Man is, among many other things, the mistaken animal, the foolish animal. Other species doubtless have much more limited ideas about the world, but what ideas they do have are much less likely to be wrong and are never foolish. White cats do not denigrate black, and dogs do not ask Baal, Jehovah, or other Semitic gods to perform miracles for them. George Gaylord Simpson

  14. Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits. Dan Barker

  15. Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life. Bertolt Brecht

  16. There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. Alfred Korzybski

  17. Coincidence is the evidence of the True Believer. Chet Raymo

  18. Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

  19. Perfect as the wing of a bird may be, it will never enable the bird to fly if unsupported by the air. Facts are the air of science. Without them, a man of science can never rise.
    Konrad Lorenz

  20. The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers. Lewis Thomas