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 fifty-sixth in an apparently unending series. Suggestions for previously unused quotations are always welcome.
- Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. Philip K. Dick
- [I]t isn't simply a matter of will. Many people want desperately to believe, but just can't. They may feel tortured that their faith has evaporated, but they can't will it back into existence. If an autopsy could be done on their spiritual life, the cause of death wouldn't be murder or suicide. It would be natural causes - the organic death of a belief system that collapsed under the weight of experience and reason. - William Lobdell
- But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.
- No moral system can rest solely on authority. A. J. Ayer
- Skepticism is not a position; skepticism is an approach to claims, in the same way science is not a subject, but a method. Michael Shermer
- Faith moves no mountains but puts mountains where there are none — a quick walk through a madhouse enlightens one sufficiently about this. Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by H.L. Mencken)
- Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil. Albert Schweitzer
- There were honest people long before there were Christians and there are, God be praised, still honest people where there are no Christians. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
- A man is accepted into church for what he believes -- and turned out for what he knows. Mark Twain
- Owing to the identification of religion with virtue, together with the fact that the most religious men are not the most intelligent, a religious education gives courage to the stupid to resist the authority of educated men, as has happened, for example, where the teaching of evolution has been made illegal. So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence; and in this respect ministers of religion follow gospel authority more closely than in some others. Bertrand Russell
- If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that the assertion can't be taken on its own merits. If something is true, we don't invoke faith. Instead, we use reason to prove it. Dan Barker
- Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right. Isaac Asimov
- Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance. William Wirt
- Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives. A. Sachs
- Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. George Bernard Shaw
- You're alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act. Barbara Hall
- The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. Richard Francis Burton
- If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. Vannevar Bush
- Out of the people that ever were, almost all of them are dead. There are way more dead people, and you're all gonna die and then you're gonna be dead for way longer than you're alive. Like that's mostly what you're ever gonna be. You're just dead people that didn't die yet. Louis C. K.
- The most successful tempters and thus the most dangerous are the deluded deluders. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
and in memoriam:
For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
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