You dispute, you quarrel, you fight for that which is uncertain, that of which you doubt. O men! Is this not folly? . . . We must trace a line of distinction between those that are capable of verification, and those that are not, and separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities; that is to say, all civil effect must be taken away from theological and religious opinions.

- C. F. Volney, "Ruins" (1791) The real advantage which truth has, consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favorable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it. - John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty" (1859) Men and governments must act to the best of their ability. There is no such thing as absolute certainty but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life.

        - John Stuart Mill

The development of science... requires freedom of the spirit which consists in the independence of thought from the restrictions of authoritiarian and social prejudices.

        - Albert Einstein, "Ideas and Opinions"

We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

        - Thomas Jefferson

It is our doubts that unite us; it is only our certainties that keep us apart.

        - Peter Ustinov

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

        - David Hume

It is bad enough that so many people believe things without any evidence. What is worse is that some people have no conception of evidence and regard facts as just someone else’s opinion.

        - Thomas Sowell

"Whatever doubt or doctrinal Atheism you and your friends may have, don't fall into moral atheism. Don't forget the Eternal Goodness, whatever you call it. I call it God."
        - Charles Kingsley, Victorian novelist

"They find that now they have got rid of an interfering God — a master-magician, as I call it — they have to choose between the absolute empire of accident, and a living, immanent, ever-working God."
        - Charles Kingsley, Victorian novelist


Believers in the supernatural claim to have special wisdom about the world. But real wisdom means knowing truth from falsehood, knowing the difference between evidence and wishful thinking. Yes, the real world is mysterious and sometimes frightening. But would the supernatural make it better? The real world has beauty, poetry, love and the joy of honest discovery. Isn't that enough?

- John Stossel, "The Power of Belief" A sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants to or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad ... if he thought the evidence bad but tried to force himself to believe in spite of it, that would be merely stupid. - C. S. Lewis, on the subject of faith, "Mere Christianity" While anybody is free to approach a scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly describe the methodology used as scientific, if they start with a conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation. - Judge William R. Overton (McLean v. Arkansas) Freethinkers reject faith as a valid tool of knowledge. Faith is the opposite of reason because reason imposes very strict limits on what can be true, and faith has no limits at all. A Great Escape into faith is no retreat to safety. It is nothing less than surrender. - Dan Barker Open-minded people look at the world around them and try to find the lessons there that apply to their own lives, while narrow-minded people look at the lessons their own life has brought them and try to apply these to the world at large. - M. Elizabeth Hunter ( When your belief conflicts with empirical knowledge, it is a safe bet that your belief is in error. - John AH Futterman He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave. - William Drummond Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.

        - TH Huxley

There's really no clear-cut, definitive reason why I am a humanist except that I am an enormous reader and student and humanism seems to be the logical outcome of all that reading and study.

        - Gene Roddenberry, in an interview with "The Humanist" in 1991

"The mind rules the body with the sceptre of reason."

        - Dr. Tarrant, in "The Bostonians" by Henry James


De omnibus dubitandum. All is to be doubted.

- Rene Descartes In all things it is a good idea to hang a question mark now and then on the things we have taken for granted. - Bertrand Russell Skepticism is the first step toward truth. - Diderot Ubi dubium ibi libertas: Where there is doubt, there is freedom. - Latin Proverb I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything. - TH Huxley My own suspicion is that the universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose. - JBS Haldane Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise. - Shakespeare I am so made that I cannot believe.
        - Blaire Pascal

The fact that a believer may be happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk is happier than a sober man.

- George Bernard Shaw The believer is happy. The doubter is wise. - Hungarian proverb Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. - Andre Gide Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains.... But it can put mountains where there are none. - Friedrich Nietzche "If two things don't fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that's credulity."

        - Umberto Eco

Scientisms are clusters of scientific ideas which come together and almost surprise themselves into creeds of belief, scientific mythologies which fill the very void left by the divorce of science and religion in our time. They evoke the same response as did the religions which they seek to supplant. They share with religions many of their most obvious characteristics: a rational splendor that explains everything, a charismatic leader who is highly visible and beyond criticism, canonical texts which are somehow outside the usual arena of scientific criticism, and a requirement of total commitment. In return the adherent receives what the religions had once given him: a world view, a hierarchy of importances, in short, a total explanation of man.
Marxism was one of the first such scientisms. Its central superstition is that of the class struggle, a kind of divination which gives a total explanation of the past and predecides what to do in every office and alarm of life - even though ethnicism, nationalism and unionism, those collective identity markers of modern man, long ago showed the mythical character of that struggle.
In the medical sciences the most prominent scientism has been psychoanalysis. Its central superstition is repressed childhood sexuality. The handful of early cases of hysteria which could be so interpreted became the metaphiers by which to understand all personality and art, all civilization and discontents.
Of course these scentisms about man begin with something that is true. Applied to the world as representative of all the world, though, facts become superstitions. A superstition is after all a metaphier grown wild to serve a need to know - so we may read out the past and future of man, and hear the answers that can authorize our actions.

            - Julian Jaynes, "The Origin of Consciousness"

It is precisely because it is fashionable for Americans to know no science, even though they may be well educated otherwise, that they so easily fall prey to nonsense. They thus become part of the armies of the night, the purveyors of nitwittery, the retailers of intellectual junk food, the feeders on mental cardboard, for their ignorance keeps them from distinguishing nectar from sewage.

        - Isaac Asimov, "The Armies of the Night"

Psychoanalysis pretends to investigate the Unconscious. The Unconscious by definition is what you are not conscious of. But the Analysts already know what's in it - they should, because they put it all in beforehand.
        - Saul Bellow

Psychoanalysis has a poor track record when it comes to distinguishing psychosomatic complaints from ones with less mysterious causes. In the 1890s, for example, a young woman named Emma Eckstein, who had recently undergone nasal surgery which her doctors, Freud among them, believed would cure her of the urge to masturbate, suffered from profuse bleeding. Freud eventually discovered that the surgeon had left half a metre of gauze in her nasal cavity, but after the crisis had been resolved, he decided that her bleeding nose had in fact been a symptom of hysteria. This tragi-farcical episode became a seminal moment in the history of analysis: a dream he had about poor Emma became a centrepiece of his theories.
        - Christopher Tayler, "The Telegraph"

If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking.


"I do not say that science knows everything, but I most certainly say that religion knows nothing."

       - Richards Dawkins

"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of awesome mystical power. We know this because they manage to be invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them."

- Steve Eley "My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others." - Bertrand Russell "You do not need supernatural agencies or religion or scriptures to explain the fact that human beings are capable of good and that most of the good in the world has come from that source and not from some alleged supernatural source."
        - AC Grayling, author of "Against All Gods"

Religion is a matter of the survival of the fittest cult. And the fittest cults are those which have equipped themselves with the bulkiest apparatus of irreason - creation myth, miracles, incantations, liturgical quirks, eschatological fictions, sartorial disfigurements, silly hairdos, omniscient others, genital mutilations, dietary proscriptions, and populist iconography. The shabby ineffectuality of Anglicanism derives from having not demanded all that much belief of its congregation, thus containing the germ of its own secularisation.
        - Jonathan Meades, "The Guardian"

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
        - Blaise Pascal, "Pensees" (1670)

"Today, everybody remembers Galileo. How many can name the bishops and professors who refused to look through his telescope?"
        - James Hogan

"If god wanted people to believe in him, why'd he invent logic then?"
        - David Feherty, PGA Tour golfer

"Having beliefs isn't good?"
"I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier... A belief's a dangerous thing, Bethany. People die for it. People kill for it."
        - Bethany & Rufus, "Dogma"

"Blind faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religious faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.
Blind faith can justify anything. If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die - on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith."

- Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene" Primitive man believes in his power to control nature and other men through magic... Rain and cool breezes don't always come when requested. At this stage of development, as the anthropologist Sir James Frazer says in "The Golden Bough", man stops relying on himself and throws himself at the mercy of higher beings. Thus begins religion. And a surrender of personal power. My rabbi once told me that man has always made of God what he wished to be himself.

        - Alan Lightman, "The Origin of the Universe"

"History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help."

- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love" "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen Roberts "I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment, to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure, that is all agnosticism means."

        - Clarence Darrow, in court defending the teaching of evolution (1925)

You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion... Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.

        - Aldous Huxley

Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion. The psychological explanation for this phenomenon is that life sucks and we'd all rather fantasize about being someplace else.

- Scott Adams, "The Dilbert Principle" The priests used to say that faith can move mountains, and nobody believed them. Today the scientists say that they can level mountains, and nobody doubts them. - Joseph Campbell If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus" If one were to take the bible seriously one would go mad. But to take the bible seriously, one must be already mad. - A Crowley Anyone who believes that the earth is less than 10,000 years old needs psychiatric help. - Francis Crick I know of no other book than The Bible that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of women. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, pioneering suffragette, 1848. There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral. - Rev. Alexander Campbell The night of December 25, to which date the Nativity of Christ was ultimately assigned, was exactly that of the birth of the Persian savior Mithra, who, as an incarnation of eternal light, was born the night of the winter solstice (then dated December 25) at midnight, the instant of the turn of the year from increasing darkness to light. - Joseph Campbell, "The Mythic Image" If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it. - Thomas Carlyle If, therefore, the Catholic Church also claims the right of dogmatic intolerance with regard to her teachings, it is unjust to reproach her for exercising this right. She regards dogmatic intolerance not alone as her contestable right, but also as a sacred duty. According to Romans 8:11, the secular authorities have the right to punish, especially grave crimes with death; consequently, 'heretics may be not only excommunicated, but also justly put to death.' - The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 Edition, Vol. 14, (pp.776-8) One trend that bothers me is the glorification of stupidity, that the media is reassuring people it's alright not to know anything. That to me is far more dangerous than a little pornography on the Internet.
        - Carl Sagan

"Muhammad married 11 women, kept two others as concubines and recommended wife-beating (but only as a last resort!). His third wife was 6 years old when he married her and 9 when he consummated the marriage. To say that Muhammad was a demon-possessed paedophile is not an attack. It's a fact."
        - Ann Coulter

"In 1963, when a benefactor offered to fund a chapel and Crick’s fellow Fellows voted to accept the money, he refused to accept the argument that many at the college would appreciate a place of worship and that those who didn’t were not obliged to enter it. He offered to fund a brothel on the same basis, and, when that was rejected, he resigned."
        - from Mark Steyn's obituary for Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, "The Atlantic Monthly"

"I'm all for teaching creation and allowing prayers in schools, as soon as scholars begin teaching Darwinism and geometry in church."
        - J. Michael Straczynski

Here's an idea for religious people: give up something for Lent. Like religion. That would make the world a safer and better place.
        - J Malone, with a letter to Dublin's "Evening Herald"

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. However, even committed pedestrians should know a little about the workings of the internal combustion engine, if only to acquaint themselves with the dangers they pose.
This is why it’s so worrying to discover that, last week, members of the youth parliament "Dail na nOg" overwhelmingly supported a motion calling for religion to be removed as a subject from the school curriculum. In an era when holy war is in vogue and secular science isn’t, familiarity with the supernatural faiths has never been more essential, especially for young non-believers. Religion is too important to be left to the religious.
        - Liam Fay, in Ireland's "Sunday Times"

It can sometimes look shrill and defensive to try to refute religion point by point. I tend to turn it around and just say, "Tell me why I should believe in the Bible, a book of poetry which we know was put together by committee in the third century?"
Sentient beings have a certain meaning and that lies in interpreting the observable world. And for me that is purpose enough. We have a partial understanding at least of how it all works. We are not the pinnacle of creation but neither are we completely insignificant either.
        - Paul Davies, interviewed in "The Observer"

Atheists have always had the best of the match against religion. They choose the pitch, they make the rules and, best of all, they have no goal to defend.
        - AA Gill, reviewing "The Trouble with Atheism"

"There’s no conclusive science.  My choice has no practical relevance to my life, I choose the outcome I find more comforting."
"You find it more comforting to believe that this is it?"
"I find it more comforting to believe that this simply isn’t a test."
        - A discussion on life after death from TV's "House MD"

"Why do you have to believe in the divinity of Jesus to know that robbing a bank is wrong?"
        - Matt, on "Studio 60"

Jewish babies exposed to herpes in New York, thousands of American children injured for life after the rape and torture they suffered at the hands of a compliant Catholic priesthood, prelates and mullahs outbidding each other in denial of AIDS … it's not just your mental health that is challenged by faith... What a pity that there is no hell.
        - Christopher Hitchens, on the repercussions of religious belief, "MSN Slate"

One of the most powerful passages in "God is not Great" purports to prove that "religion poisons everything" just by sticking to the letter 'B': Belfast, Beirut, Bethlehem, Bombay, Belgrade and Baghdad, where Hitchens, as a reporter, has witnessed religiously inspired cruelty in each case.
        - Max McGuinness, commenting on Christopher Hitchens, "The Irish Independent"

"The four horsemen of the counter-apocalypse: Me, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris.
        - Christopher Hitchens, on his fellow famous athiests, interviewed in "The Irish Independent"

Those who believe in a benign creator soon run into trouble when they are asked to explain an animal food-chain based on murder: at the most simple level, anyone who has seen a caterpillar writhe in utter agony as it is consumed from within by the offspring of an ichneumon fly, must doubt the decency of the divine author of such gratuitous torment; and this is before we contemplate such charming human conditions as rabies, multiple sclerosis, poliomyelitis and the bewitching tribe of tumours that kill so painfully, yet so inefficiently. For torment is the global norm, a pyramid of suffering which is congruent with the entire animal kingdom. If we could hear the ultra-sound of the final screams of the millions of animal prey killed every day, merely that their tormenters might stave off the terrible death that will anyway one day consume them, we would probably be convinced that the god responsible for all this was a very evil creator indeed.
But here is the paradox. Rulers who believed in a Divine Creator have tended to create gentler societies than have atheists. The twentieth century was the first in which various avowedly godless states came into existence: and robbed of the inhibitions caused by a belief in the afterlife, the most astonishingly lawless regimes in world history emerged. The Aztec society which removed a heart each dawn from a teenage ribcage to lure the sun-god from his couch, the Dahomey chieftain who daily dispatched a child to the afterlife to enquire after the health of his ancestors. Why, these were positively vegan compared to the godless butchers of the 20th century, the fine fellows who variously supervised human affairs from the Rhineland to Vladivostok, and from the Kamchatka Peninsula to the South China Sea. Their victims can be measured, not in the modest hundreds but in the hundreds of millions. The world has never, ever seen anything like the evil triumphs of the totalitarian secular states of the 20th century. Which is not an argument in favour of the existence of god, merely one in favour of the belief in one: it is the social utility of a theistic faith which is appealing, not the fictions which lie at its heart.
Since we are an irrational, violent species, is it so very terrible that many of us are deluded into behaving more peacefully than we might otherwise, by an unwarranted belief in a vigilant god who will posthumously reward virtue and punish vice?
        - Kevin Myers, "Irrational belief in a God may be the lesser of two evils", "Irish Independent"

In a very considered article in National Review, Michael Novak summarises what he sees as the different types of atheists:
(1) Those rationalists who believe in science, rationality, and truth, and who abhor relativism and nihilism, and who have very firm moral principles grounded in reason itself — but who see no evidence for the existence of God.
(2) Those relativists and nihilists who do believe, as Nietzsche warned, that the "death of God" has also meant the death of trust in reason and science and objective rules of morality. Such atheists, therefore, may for arbitrary reasons choose to live for their own pleasure, or for the joy of exercising brute power and will.
(3) Those who do not believe in the personal God who heeds prayers, and is concerned about the moral lives of individual human beings — the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus. Instead, some who call themselves atheists actually do recognize a principle of intelligent order and even awe-inspiring beauty in the natural world... They are at about the same stage in thinking about morality and metaphysics as the ancient Greeks.
(4) The “Methodist atheists” — those who maintain all the qualities of niceness and good moral habits and gentle feelings associated with the followers of Wesley down the generations, but do so without believing in God. In other words, they remain indebted to inherited Christian moral sentiments, even while they seldom or never darken church doors. They have come to think that believing in God is a little like believing in Santa Claus. They have outgrown the metaphysics, but not the ethics.
(5) The merely practical atheists — that is, those who by habit remain members of a religious faith, and who share a certain pietas regarding their family gods, and continue going to church according to the old routines, but whose daily behavior and speech show that they actually live as if God does not exist.
(6) Those like Friedrich von Hayek, who wished he could be religious but confessed that he seemed to have no 'ear' for it, just as some people have no ear for music. He felt he was an atheist by defect.


An honest God is the noblest work of man.
        - Robert G Ingersoll, rephrasing Alexander Pope in "The Gods"

It is a blessed thing that in every age some one has had individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions, some one who had the grandeur to say his say. I believe it was Magellan who said, "The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church." On the prow of his ship were disobedience, defiance, scorn, and success.
        - Robert G. Ingersoll, "Individuality"

While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.
        - from "The Gods" (1876)

I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their creeds. In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous promptings of the human heart. They have been true to their convictions, and, with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned every danger.
        - from "Heretics and Heresies" (1874)

There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are only consequences. The life of Christ is worth its example, its moral force, its heroism of benevolence.
        - from "The Christian Religion" (1881)

The life and death of Christ do not constitute an atonement... in so far as the life of Christ produces emulation in the direction of goodness, it has been of value to mankind.
        - from "Some Reasons Why" (1895)

I cannot believe that there is any being in this universe who has created a human soul for eternal pain. I would rather that every god would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to eternal chaos, to black and starless night, than that just one soul should suffer eternal agony.

All the martyrs in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the correctness of an opinion. Martyrdom, as a rule, establishes the sincerity of the martyr, — never the correctness of his thought. Things are true or false in themselves. Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed, established, or affected by martyrdom. An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth.
        - from "The Great Infidels" (1881)

The night of the Middle Ages lasted for a thousand years. The first star that enriched the horizon of this universal gloom was Giordano Bruno. He was the herald of the dawn.
        - from "The Great Infidels" (1881)

It seems to me that if there is some infinite being who wants us to think alike he would have made us alike.
        - from "Trial of C.B. Reynolds for Blasphemy" (1887)

I know of no crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form or other.

Call me infidel, call me atheist, call me what you will, I intend so to treat my children, that they can come to my grave and truthfully say: "He who sleeps here never gave us a moment of pain. From his lips, now dust, never came to us an unkind word."

The Declaration of Independence is the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by the representatives of a people. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom.
        - speaking in 1876

The good men, the good women, are tired of the whip and lash in the realm of thought. They remember the chain and fagot with a shudder. They are free, and they give liberty to others; whoever claims any right that he is unwilling to accord to his fellow-men is dishonest and infamous.
        - from "The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child" (1877)

The time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.

Few rich men own their own property. The property owns them.

The present is the necessary product of all the past, the necessary cause of all the future.

A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie.

Facts need no pedigree; logic has no heraldry, and the living should not be awed by the mistakes of the dead.

Happiness is not a reward — it is a consequence. Suffering is not a punishment — it is a result.

All the forces of civilization are in favor of morality and temperance. Little can be accomplished by law, because law, for the most part, about such things, is a destruction of personal liberty. Liberty cannot be sacrificed for the sake of temperance, for the sake of morality, or for the sake of anything. It is of more value than everything else. Yet some people would destroy the sun to prevent the growth of weeds.

My liberty ends where yours begin.

That which must be, has the right to be.

I am simply in favor of intellectual hospitality — that is all. You come to me with a new idea. I invite you into the house. Let us see what you have. Let us talk it over. If I do not like your thought, I will bid it a polite "good day." If I do like it, I will say: "Sit down; stay with me, and become a part of the intellectual wealth of my world." That is all.

Love is natural. Back of all ceremony burns and will forever burn the sacred flame. There has been no time in the world's history when that torch was extinguished. In all ages, in all climes, among all people, there has been true, pure, and unselfish love.

Love is the only bow on Life's dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the mother of art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart — builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody — for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to Joy, and makes royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.
        - Robert G Ingersoll, "Orthodoxy" (1884)


Bruce Neufeld's Page
FreeThinker's Quotes Page


Can I prove that reindeers cannot fly? We'll conduct a thought experiment.

Let's select, by some randomizing process, a thousand reindeer. We'll number them and get them all together in a reindeer truck (I don't know what you put reindeer in) and take them to the top of the World Trade Center in New York. We are going to test whether or not reindeer can fly. You have your reindeer all lined up, a video-camera operator standing by, lots of pads of paper and pens at work. The time is now ten past ten in the morning. OK, first experiment. Number one reindeer, please, up to the edge. Camera going? Good. Push. Uhh, write down "no". Really NO! Number two. Push. I don't know what the result of the experiment will be; I suspect strongly what it will be, based upon my meagre knowledge of the aerodynamics of the average reindeer, though I'm not an expert on it. But based upon previous accounts of what reindeer can and cannot do, I think we are going to end up with a pile of very unhappy and broken reindeer at the foot of the World Trade Center. And probably a couple of policemen will be standing by a squad car saying, "I don't know, but here comes another one."

What have we proven with this experiment? Have we proven that reindeer cannot fly? No, of course not. We have only shown that on this occasion, under these conditions of atmospheric pressure, temperature, radiation, at this position geographically, at this season, that these 1000 reindeer either could not or chose not to fly. (If the second is the case, then we certainly know something of the intelligence of the average reindeer.) However, we have not, and can not, prove the negative that reindeer cannot fly, technically, rationally, and philosophically speaking. People will often look at this example and say, "Well, how many reindeer would you have to test?" I'm not going to get into the statistics of the argument; I will only tell you that you cannot prove a negative. The other folks who claim that something is so are required to prove it. It is what we call the burden of proof. In this case, if it's so it's very easy to prove. Just show me one flying reindeer.

- James Randi, "A Report from the Paranormal Trenches" # ONLY A THEORY

"I've given more thought to the creationists demand that evolution be stricken from public school science classes, or that it be taught side-by-side with creationism because 'evolution is only a theory' and 'no one was there to witness the creation' so we cannot say for sure what really happened.'
This morning we are going to talk about the creation of the universe and the origins of life on Earth. According to the Bible, Genesis 1:1-3: 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.' Now, it is important for us to understand that no one was actually present at the creation so we don't really know what happened. Genesis 1:1-3 is only a theory, and as such cannot be treated as fact.
And it is only fair that I share with you that there are other theories of the creation. For example, some Sumerians and Babylonians, Gilbert Islanders, Koreans, and Greeks believed that the world was created from the parts of a slain monster; and some Japanese, Samoan, Persian, Chinese, and Hindu have a theory that the world was generated from an egg.
And, of course, there is that dogma being foisted upon us by the liberal media and intelligentsia, the theory of evolution. But that's just a theory, and as we all know, theories are just wild guesses and should not be taken seriously."

- Michael Shermer, " God Is 'Only a Theory' " # LOVE THY NEIGHBOR from Stalking The Wild Taboo

Southern Baptists recently counted the number of people expected to go to hell from Alabama-a whopping 46.1%, or 1.86 million souls. The New York Times (1993) explained how: "The study took each county's population and subtracted from it the membership of all churches. After that, Baptist researchers used a secret formula to estimate how many people from different denominations and faiths were probably going to heaven." Newsday (1993) reported that based on this calculation "a higher percentage of Methodists are saved than are Roman Catholics" and that "virtually everyone not belonging to a church congregation was counted among the lost."

- Jon Hartung, "Love Thy Neighbor : The Evolution of In-Group Morality" According to the New York Times, when thousands of the world's clerical leaders gathered at the second World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago one hundred years after the first such gathering in 1893, "Evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches that are embraced by many Americans shunned the gathering on theological grounds, and the established centrist and liberal denominations, like the Episcopalians and Methodists that have usually supported interfaith talks, were scarcely visible." Eastern Orthodox Christians came, but left en masse when they found themselves in the company of "neo-pagans," and Jewish groups withdrew when the Nation of Islam showed up. Sikhs and Hindus stayed but tried to push each other out of the convention center (physically), and the Dalai Lama astutely concluded "Nonsense!" in response to his own question: "If we have conflicts in the name of religion, can we help resolve other problems?" - Jon Hartung, "Love Thy Neighbor : The Evolution of In-Group Morality" # SKEPTIC RESOURCES

Rational Athiest Quotes
The Skeptic's Dictionary
James Randi Official Site
Irish Skeptics

# Return to Quotes index, or Site homepage.