“I believe that complete separation of church and state is one of those miraculous things which can be best for religion and best for the state, and the best for those who are religious and those who are not religious.
I believe that the history of the First Amendment and also the Constitution itself, which forbids religious tests for public office, have testified to the healthful endurance of a principle which is the greatest treasure the United States has given the world: the principle of complete separation of church and state. I'm here to tell you that that principle is endangered today. ”
“I am a child of the Enlightenment. I think irrational belief is a dangerous phenomenon, and I try to consciously avoid irrational belief.”
“It is pure illusion to think that an opinion which passes down from century to century to century, from generation to generation, may not be entirely false.”
"[Before Force and Matter, 1855] what did the world at large know then of the first achievements of science? The vast majority were sunk in their blind faith in authority and the Bible . . . they did not wish to know, because such things clearly contradicted the pleasant legends of the Bible, whose naive story of creation led to little reflection. Into this frog-pond was suddenly flung the log of Force and Matter. No wonder there was a universal croak."
“ . . . [A]re not all the television Christians in reality armchair atheists? In value and in reality they live without the God they profess; despite ten million Bibles sold each year, they are religiously illiterate.”
“According to your belief [Christian clergy], my kind of man — secular, prideful, agnostic and all the rest of it — is among the damned. I'm on my own. You've got your God.”
"If I was promised that we could sit with Marx in some great Deli Haus in the hereafter, I might believe in it! Sure, I find inspiration in Jewish stories of hope, also in the Christian pacifism of the Berrigans, also in Taoism and Buddhism. I identify as a Jew, but not on religious grounds. Yes, I believe, as Pascal said, 'The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.' There are limits to reason. There is mystery, there is passion, there is something spiritual in the arts—but it is not connected to Judaism or any other religion."
“[Vern Bullough] will be sorely missed as one of the leading secular humanists in North America and the world.”
"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
“Religion has been compelled by science to give up one after another of its dogmas, of those assumed cognitions which it could not substantiate..”
“Yes, I believe in revelation, but a permanent revelation of man to himself and by himself, a rational revelation that is nothing but the result of the progress of science and of the contemporary conscience, a revelation that is always only partial and relative and that is effectuated by the acquisition of new truths and even more by the elimination of ancient errors. We must also attest that the progress of truth gives us as much to forget as to learn, and we learn to negate and to doubt as often as to affirm.”
“What I want to happen to religion in the future is this: I want it to be like bowling. It's a hobby, something some people will enjoy, that has some virtues to it, that will have its own institutions and its traditions and its own television programming, and that families will enjoy together. It's not something I want to ban or that should affect hiring and firing decisions, or that interferes with public policy. It will be perfectly harmless as long as we don't elect our politicians on the basis of their bowling score, or go to war with people who play nine-pin instead of ten-pin, or use folklore about backspin to make decrees about how biology works.”
“It was while I was studying philosophy that I came to understand. . . that it is no sign of moral or spiritual strength to believe that for which one has no evidence, neither a priori evidence as in math, nor a posteriori evidence as in science. . . . It's a violation almost immoral in its transgressiveness to shirk the responsibilities of rationality.”
“O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die:
grant me wisdom, will, & wit,
purity, probity, pluck, & grit.
Trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind,
gimme great abs and a steel-trap mind,
and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice --
these little blessings would suffice
to beget an earthly paradise:
make the bad people good --
and the good people nice;
and before our world goes over the brink,
teach the believers how to think.”
—Philip Appleman, from Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie
“I have to tell you this, whoever you are:
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn't be lost forever --
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.”
“Of God, the Devil and Darwin, we have really good scientific evidence for the existence of only Darwin.”
“The political climate in our house was generally and loosely left: it was unthinkable that a Jew, our sort of Jew, the artisan Jewish worker, self-employed, poor, Yiddish-speaking, unassimilated, non-religious, could be anything but socialistic.”