“I had nearly forgotten how death plays out over time — not the biological episode that collapses it all into a nanosecond of being and nonbeing, but the slower arc of our leaving — sorting through the mail, paying the bills, stumbling upon notes. . . Have I no more than these solicitations, the invitations, these letters delivered late? I do. I have memories. I have places where I feel both his closeness and his distance. And I have the all-too-brief visitations allowed in dreams. For the nonbeliever I’ve become, it is what passes for an afterlife.”
“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting.”
“For tens of thousands of years, humans have stared up into the heavens and wondered about the origin of the universe. Up until now every culture, society, and religion has had nothing else to turn to except its creation myths, fables, or religious scriptures. Today, by contrast, we have the extraordinary privilege of being the first generation of our species to have access to a scientific theory of the universe that explains its origin and evolution.”
"I must note that although I was brought up as a Protestant, I have been an atheist my entire adult life. I do not proselytize, however. Nor do I question the faith of others. I just don't want to be obliged to accept someone else's faith as a factor in my government."
"I want evidence. I want reason and explanation . . . I like to report on what I know, what I've researched and understand."
"The atmosphere of piety in American public life has become stifling. Where is it written that if you don't like religion you are somehow disqualified from being a legitimate American? I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as god."
Nuala O’Faolain: I have done that for years, looked up at it (the stars) and given it a wink and thought 'I don't know what's going on' and I still don't know what's going on, but I can't be consoled by mention of god. I can't.
Marian Finucane: Would you like it?
NO'F: No. Oh no I wouldn't. If I start doing that something really bad is happening to my brain . . . And though I respect and adore the art that arises from the love of god and though nearly everybody I love and respect themselves believe in god, it is meaningless to me, really meaningless.
MF: The reason I asked you is because it is a source of comfort for many people?
NO'F: Well, I wish them every comfort, but it is not even bothering me. I don't even think about it. I have never believed in the Christian version of the individual creator . . .
“The object of Christ was to teach his followers how to die, rather than to instruct them how to live. . . . In Spain religion is cruel oppression, in Scotland it is a gloomy nightmare, in Rome it is priestly dominion, while in England it is simply emotional pastime. All these different phases of Christianity indicate that theological opinions depend on surrounding circumstances, and cannot therefore be the cause of the civilisation of the world.”
“I’m offended by [evangelical leaders’] actions, but I’m not offended by their opinion. They believe in a sky god who’s going to suck them up into the sky with a vacuum cleaner. What’s there to get offended by? That’s funny! That’s hilarious! Have at it, Hoss, I’d love to see it!”
“God is the greatest of man’s inventions, and we are an inventive people, shaping the tools that in turn shape us, and we have at hand the technology to tell a new story congruent with the picture of the earth as seen from space instead of the one drawn on the maps available to the prophets wandering the roads of the early Roman Empire.”
“I don’t care if religious people consider me amoral because I lack their beliefs in God. I do, however, care deeply about efforts to turn religious beliefs into law, and those efforts benefit greatly from the conviction that individually and collectively, we cannot be good without God.”
“Almost all the great poets have conversations in their poetry about doubting God, and even go all the way to dismissing. It’s such a strong tradition that it’s almost amazing that we’ve missed it.”
“I do want to add a final word about the hereafter. I do not believe in it. I think that the religions which promise various after-life scenarios basically invented them to meet the longing for an answer to life’s mysteries.”
"The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.”
“[Tom Brazaitis] was a fallen-away Catholic who in the last years of his life proudly embraced atheism. And he did not flinch those last few months [of his life].”
“I can relate [to Spanish King Charles II’s belief that the corpse of St. Francis of Assissi would cure his various illnesses]. . . . I crave my relics for the same reason Señor Bewitched bunked with the late saint. We’re religious. I used to share the king’s faith. And while I gave up God a long time ago, I never shook the habit of wanting to believe in something bigger and better than myself. So I replaced my creed of everlasting life with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ‘I believe in America,’ chants the first verse of one of my sacred texts, The Godfather.'”
George Will: I'm a heathen.
Stephen Colbert: Are you an atheist?
Will: I'm not decisive enough to be an atheist.
Colbert: You're agnostic?
“My faith is in mankind and the marvels accomplished by human ingenuity and drive. Why that makes me a pariah to [Tampa City Council member Kevin] White and others like him is beyond my ken. It certainly says more about them than me.”
"In the spring and with the coming of Easter, an old man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of gods. I am now 83 pushing 84 and the closer I come to shuffling off this mortal coil, the more mystified I am by Christian belief in the deity they call by the not very original name of God (as if there had never been others).
All gods from time immemorial are fantasies, created by humans for the welfare of humans and to attempt to explain the seemingly inexplicable. But do we, in the third year of the 21st century of the Common Era and on the springboard of colonising the universe, need such palliatives?
Wherever one looks there is conflict: Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland; Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine; Muslims and Hindus in the Indian subcontinent; Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Is not the case for atheism made?"
"Sure, I'm a soapbox atheist. But she [my daughter] doesn't have to take my word for anything. All she has to do is look around her, every day, to find the bible she needs—in the sky, sun, moon, Mars, leaves, lady bugs, stink bugs, possums, tadpoles, cardinals, the wonderful predatory praying mantises that have gotten really big and fat this year on all the insects this rainy year has brought. Life needs no introduction, explanation or excuse. Life is bigger than myth—except in California."
"I'm sure there are all sorts of higher powers like electromagnetism and gravity, and things like that. But I don't believe in a deity, no. I see no evidence for that in my life or anywhere else in the universe. Personally, people can believe what they will and they will believe what they want. I find that most deism, and certainly most theisms take a fairly narrow view of the universe, and most people’s views of God or gods seem to be rather impoverished. The universe itself, the physical world that we can perceive with our senses and grasp with our minds, seems to be far more wondrous than most people's conceptions of a deity."
“And so [my brother] Gilbert and I, brought up without a formal religion, remained throughout our lifetimes just what Father was, freethinkers. And, likewise, doubters and dissenters and perhaps Utopians. Father's rule had been 'Question everything, take nothing for granted,' and I never outlived it, and I would suggest it be made the motto of a world journalists' association.”
“Petronius was surely right in saying Fear made the gods. In primitive times fear of the unknown was normal; gratitude to an unknown was impossible.”
“The only true shield standing between women and the bible, that handbook for the subjugation of women, is a secular government. U.S. citizens must wake up to the threat of an encroaching theocracy, and shore up Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation between church and state.' ”
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. . .
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech . . .
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.
Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
Eucharist, n. A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi. A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as to what it was that they ate. In this controversy some five hundred thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled.
Evangelist, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.
Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Infidel, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does.
Pray. v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.
Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
Reverence, n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.
Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
“It was a strange little scene. Women were careening about in their cotton print dresses, and several times they nearly threw me off my feet and all but knocked my camera out of my hands as they waved their Bibles and shrieked their 'Praise Be's.' "
“Religion has kept civilization back for hundreds of years, and the biggest mistake in the history of civilization, is ethical monotheism, the concept of the one God. Let's get rid of it and be rational.”
“The thoughts of the gods are not more unchangeable than those of the men who interpret them. They advance—but they always lag behind the thoughts of men. . . . The Christian God was once a Jew. Now he is an anti-Semite.”
"Our country has been hijacked by a bunch of religious nuts. But how easy it was. That's a little scary."
"As a devout believer, [Gen.] Boykin may also wonder why it is impermissible to say that the God you believe in is superior to the God you don't believe in. I wonder this same thing as a nonbeliever: Doesn't one religion's gospel logically preclude the others'? (Except, of course, where they overlap with universal precepts, such as not murdering people, that even we nonbelievers can wrap our heads around.)”
Sample of The Truth Seeker coverage, 1892
“The Chicago World's Fair having been decreed, the kind of church people who adopt meddling as a means of grace saw that now was their day of salvation. Hitherto, with their fussy restrictions on Sunday work and amusements, they had been obliged to function merely as local nuisances. Now they would close the World's Fair on Sunday and make themselves felt as pests by all nations. . . . The meddlers resolved to memorialize Congress to pay no money, make no appropriations in behalf of the Fair, save on the promise that the key should be turned on the exhibits every Saturday night, with no relief until Monday morning. They circulated petitions to this effect, and did such a business in collecting names that in some places they claimed more signatures than there were people.”
“When Attorney General John Ashcroft repeatedly invokes religion, the Founders must be picketing in their graves. They were a mix of freethinkers, atheists, Christians, agnostics, Freemasons and Deists. . . .
. . . the Founders were, after all, revolutionaries. Their passion—especially regarding secularism—glows in the documents they forged and in their personal words.”
“The merits and services of Christianity have been industriously extolled by its hired advocates. Every Sunday its praises are sounded from myriads of pulpits. It enjoys the prestige of an ancient establishment and the comprehensive support of the State. It has the ear of rulers and the control of education. Every generation is suborned in its favor. Those who dissent from it are losers, those who oppose it are ostracised; while in the past, for century after century, it has replied to criticism with imprisonment, and to scepticism with the dungeon and the stake. By such means it has induced a general tendency to allow its pretensions without inquiry and its beneficence without proof. ”
“The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief—call it what you will—than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counter-attractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.”
Christians talk as though goodness was their idea but good behavior doesn't have any religious origin. Our prisons are filled with the devout.
I'd be more willing to accept religion, even if I didn't believe it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other but I don't think it does.”
“Who burnt heretics? Who roasted or drowned millions of 'witches'? Who built dungeons and filled them? Who brought forth cries of agony from honest men and women that rang to the tingling stars? Who burnt Bruno? Who spat filth over the graves of Paine and Voltaire? The answer is one word--CHRISTIANS.”