"The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded, because the elements —the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution— weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.
So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today."
“It would be an exaggeration to say I’m not afraid of death, but I’m not afraid of what comes after, because I’m not a believer.”
“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.”
Gardner “was an activist atheist, a proselytizing atheist. He thought that not saying you were an atheist hurt the cause of reality.”
“Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.”
“As the years went on I gradually transmogrified from being an evolutionary biologist to an evolutionary biologist atheist and now I'm more of an atheist than an evolutionary biologist. I realized that creationism, the opposition to evolution, is the least of our worries that religion promulgates, compared to someone throwing acid in the face of a schoolgirl in Afghanistan.”
List: How interested are you in debating the other side of the argument with all those God-type folks?
Brian Cox: . . . The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!
“If you can believe in God, then you can believe in anything. It’s a gang mentality.” Greg Graffin, wired.com, November 2006.
“We shall be astonished at the long continuance of the delusion that has led the human intellect astray, through the mysterious wilderness of deception, by the cunning intrigues of church and State.”
“Let there be no doubt that as they are currently practiced, there is no common ground between science and religion.”
“I myself do not believe in a god who has or had a human form and to whom I owe my existence. I believe it is man who created God in his image and not the other way round.”
“Lisi, an atheist, says the whole notion of God misses the point. He’s not after the creator of the universe—he’s after the universe itself.”
When asked he believed in God: “I don’t. No, no, no. And I imagine at our table [of California Institute of Technology faculty], the minority would.”
“Our humanist attitude should therefore throughout be to stress what we all have in common with each other and relegate quarrelsome religion to the private domain where it can do [less] harm.”
“We are looking for a complete, coherent, and simple understanding of reality. Given what we know about the universe, there seems to be no reason to invoke God as part of this description.”
“If a designer was designing us, either they’re a terrible designer or they’ve got a great sense of humor, because we’re carrying around all sorts of genes that don’t work.”
“Humans saved themselves by creating religion, which enabled them to maintain themselves somehow, to survive in the midst of an uncompromising, all-powerful nature. It is a very basic instinct that is thoroughly rooted in human nature.”
“The past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now. No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle.”
“If someone could actually prove scientifically that there is such a thing as a supernatural force, it would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science. So the notion that somehow scientists are resisting it is ludicrous.”
“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.”
"Science is the key to our future, and if you don't believe in science, then you're holding everybody back. And it's fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don't believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don't believe in science, that's a recipe for disaster. . . . The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong."
"He always said that he just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. He said to us, ‘It’s time,’ and he went to sleep."
"Your book drove away the constraint of my old superstition, as if it had been a nightmare."
But all this was shattered with the impact of the war, and then with the rapid postwar social changes in our corner of London. I myself, traumatized at Braefield, had lost touch with, lost interest in, the religion of my childhood. I regret that I was to lose it as early and as abruptly as I did, and this feeling of sadness or nostalgia was strangely admixed with a raging atheism, a sort of fury with God for not existing, not taking care, not preventing the war, but allowing it, and all its horrors, to occur.
As I write, in New York in mid-December, the city is full of Christmas trees and menorahs. I would be inclined to say, as an old Jewish atheist, that these things mean nothing to me, but Hannukah songs are evoked in my mind whenever an image of a menorah impinges on my retina, even when I am not consciously aware of it.
Oh, I have plenty of biases, all right. I'm quite biased toward depending upon what my senses and my intellect tell me about the world around me, and I'm quite biased against invoking mysterious mythical beings that other people want to claim exist but which they can offer no evidence for.
By telling students that the beliefs of a superstitious tribe thousands of years ago should be treated on an equal basis with the evidence collected with our most advanced equipment today is to completely undermine the entire process of scientific inquiry.
And one more thing: In your original message you identified yourself as an elementary school teacher. If you are going to insist on holding to a creationist viewpoint, then please stay away from my children. I want my kids to learn about "real" science, and how the "real" world operates, and not be fed the mythical goings-on in the fantasy-land of creationism.
“If some good evidence for life after death were announced, I'd be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data, not mere anecdote. As with the face on Mars and alien abductions, better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy. And in the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.”
“That he was an infidel in religious matters seems as generally allowed as it appears unaccountable.”
There are serious problems confronting society and a "humanitarian" God would not have allowed the unaccountable atrocities carried out in the name of any philosophy, religious or otherwise, to happen to anyone let alone to his/her/its chosen people. The desperate need we have for such organisations as Amnesty International has become, for me, one of the pieces of incontrovertible evidence that no divine (mystical) creator (other than the simple Laws of Nature) exists. . . . I am a devout atheist --nothing else makes any sense to me and I must admit to being bewildered by those, who in the face of what appears so obvious, still believe in a mystical creator.
“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a 'higher answer'--but none exists.”
“Public prayer is not intended to promote religious values, but to enhance the authority of some churches and some political views over others. Similarly with the posting of the Ten Commandments. It is about power, not about religion. Government by Christian or Islamic or any other faith has rarely been progressive.
And the Constitution clearly intends that there should be freedom from religion.”
“All knowledge that is not the real product of observation, or of consequences deduced from observation, is entirely groundless and illusory.”
“My views have changed from a belief that my prayers were heard to clear atheism . . . Over and over, expanding scientific knowledge has shown religious claims to be false.
None of the beliefs in gods has any merit.”
“Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat.”
“I realized early on that it is detailed scientific knowledge which makes certain religious beliefs untenable. A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically? . . . What could be more foolish than to base one's entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at the time, now appear to be quite erroneous? And what would be more important than to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs?”
“My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the 'Day of Prayer' in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say 'Enough!' Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.”
“Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely. Only with the discovery of the double helix and the ensuing genetic revolution have we had grounds for thinking that the powers held traditionally to be the exclusive property of the gods might one day be ours. . . .
[As a young man ] I came to the conclusion that the church was just a bunch of fascists that supported Franco. I stopped going on Sunday mornings and watched the birds with my father instead.”
“The deeper our insight into the methods of nature . . . the more incredible the popular Christianity seems to us.”
“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.”
“. . . as a scientist, I can not help feeling that all religions are on a tottering foundation. None is perfect or inspired.
The idea that a good God would send people to a burning hell is utterly damnable to me. I don't want to have anything to do with such a God.
I am an infidel today.”
“It is sometimes said that science has nothing to do with morality. This is wrong. Science is the search for truth, the effort to understand the world; it involves the rejection of bias, of dogma, of revelation, but not the rejection of morality.”
“I have been . . . suspected of heresy, that is, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the universe and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the same, and that it does move . . . I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic church.”
“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”