Society for Secular Humanists in Calgary
What follows is a collection of quotes that all have some meaning for me. Most reflect humanistic or atheistic values, some are ironic, some are funny. If anyone knows the source of any of my 'unknown' quotes or sees a quote that I've attributed to the wrong person, please contact the webmaster with the details.
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!
Our age is retrospective. Why should we not also enjoy it's original relation to the universe? Why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition ... why should we grope among the bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? The sun shines today also. There is more flax and wool in the fields. Let us demand our own works and law and worship.
It is told that the great Angelo, in decorating a church, painted some angels wearing sandals. A cardinal looking at the picture said to the artist: 'Who ever saw angels with sandals?' Angelo answered with another question: 'Who ever saw an angel barefooted?'
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
We might as well require a man to wear the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Art that teaches us, moves us, challenges us to think about the human condition in new ways, is often shocking and disturbing. It is intended to be.
Modern Darwinism makes it abundantly clear that many less ruthless traits, some not always admired by robber barons and Fuhrers - altruism, general intelligence, compassion - may be the key to survival.
Reason is not one tool of thought among many, it is the entire toolbox. To advocate that reason be discarded in some circumstances is to advocate that thinking be discarded -- which leaves one in the position of attempting to do a job after throwing away the required instrument.
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
They, who say that we should love our fellow-citizens but not foreigners, destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind, with which benevolence and justice would perish forever.
If the Bible is mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust it to tell us where we're going?
Scientific conclusions are always tentative, because the development of better tools, new approaches and new findings may make necessary refinements, changes or even discarding previously held theories and concepts. . . . The result is excitement and exhilaration in open inquiry.
The values of science and the values of democracy are concordant, in many cases indistinguishable. Science and democracy began - in their civilized incarnations - in the same time and place, Greece in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. . . . Science thrives on, indeed requires, the free exchange of ideas; its values are antithetical to secrecy. Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions. Both science and democracy encourage unconventional opinions and vigorous debate. Both demand adequate reason, coherent argument, rigorous standards of evidence and honesty.
Arguments cannot be answered with insults. . . . Kindness is strength. . . . Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. In the examination of a great and important question, every one should be serene, slow-pulsed, and calm.
My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God.
This above all, to thine own self be true,
Suppose we've chosen the wrong god? Every time we go to church, we're just making him madder and madder.
The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
Man must not check reason by tradition, but contrariwise, must check tradition by reason.
To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.
The ideas of right and wrong change with the experience of the race, and this change is wrought by the gradual ascertaining of consequences - of results.
The Church says that the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church.
It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.
Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.
Many persons have no idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
Science has done more for the development of Western civilization in 100 years than Christianity did in 1,800 years.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
We should have a bond of sympathy for all sentient beings, knowing that only the depraved and base take pleasure in the sight of blood and suffering.
The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
It is not by great acts but by small failures that freedom dies. . . . Justice and liberty die quietly, because men first learn to ignore injustice and then no longer recognize it.
There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
The so-called godly man may be more likely to do serious wrong than a man who deeply questions himself. The 'godly man' often zealously follows religious precepts that, in the end, justify an unjust injury to others, while the questioning man, addressing his own conscience, may have the better chance to consider all the circumstances and come to the just decision.
Throughout history humanity has found that both truth and ethics are essential in the secular realm. When truth and honesty did not prevail in family relations, in commerce, or in covenants or treaties between tribes and nations, trouble resulted.
The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views... which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering
The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night -- blown and flared by passion's storm -- and yet it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.
Who will say with confidence that sexual abuse is more permanently damaging to children than threatening them with the eternal and unquenchable fires of hell?
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates his duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
I'm a Leo. Leos don't believe in this astrology stuff.
Many freely confess that they believe what it makes them feel good to believe. Evidence doesn't play much of a role. They are alleviating their fear of randomness by identifying regularities that are not there.
Let us inquire what glory there is in an omnipotent being torturing forever a puny little creature who could in no way defend himself? Would it be to the glory of a man to fry ants?
What doesn't destroy me makes me stronger.
I believe there are more instances of abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches. We must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get.
I read in the newspaper that the Catholic Church finally decided that it had been theologically improper to try to convert the Jews. Whoops! Sorry for all those inquisitions, crusades, and autos-da-fe. Previous popes were wrong - infallible, perhaps, but wrong.
Children are taught that it is a virtue to accept statements without adequate evidence, which leaves them a prey to quacks of every kind in later life, and makes it very difficult for them to accept the methods of thought which are successful in science.
I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use.
Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
If abuses are destroyed, man must destroy them. If slaves are freed, man must free them. If new truths are discovered, man must discover them. If the naked are clothed; if the hungry are fed; if justice is done; if labour is rewarded; if superstition is driven from the mind; if the defenceless are protected and if the right finally triumphs, all must be the work of man. The grand victories of the future must be won by man, and by man alone.
The false notion of miracles comes of our vanity, which makes us believe we are important enough for the Supreme Being to upset nature on our behalf.
Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect that his mind was forever young, his temper ever serene; science, that never grows grey, was always his mistress. He was never without an object, for when we cease to have an object, we become like an invalid in a hospital waiting for death.
It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime, and cruelty too.
No miracle has ever taken place under conditions which science can accept. Experience shows, without exception, that miracles occur only in times and in countries in which miracles are believed in, and in the presence of persons who are disposed to believe them.
When people expect God to plan their lives for them, and protect them, they tend to lose their motivation to guide and control their own lives.
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
The idea of a superior or inferior race is a myth that has been completely refuted by anthropological evidence.
Even if I am not responsible for my situation, I am responsible for my reaction to it.
I do not support religion because it demands that we give up our most important human asset, the ability to question. It demands that we simply believe. Isn't that true of any dictator, of any totalitarian society? Insofar as social development is concerned, nothing is of greater importance than the human function of questioning. . . . Questioning led to the development of civilization.
Who speaks of liberty while the human mind is in chains?
Selling eternal life is an unbeatable business, with no customers ever asking for their money back after the goods are not delivered.
The quality of mercy is not strained;
Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The highest ethical duty is often to discard the outmoded ethics of the past.
How should I know anything about another world when I know so little of this?
Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
Religious believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate the simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists, but you have no right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists of the world with contempt. You owe them a deep debt of gratitude, for not only have they shed much light on a naturally dark world but they have very probably helped civilize your own specific religion.
The Catholics have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the pope is capable of intellectual advancement. In addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be afflicted with the same idiot forever. The Protestants have a book for a pope. The book cannot advance. Year after year, and century after century, the book remains as ignorant as ever.
With the deaths of two saints within six days of one another, you would think that the minds of every psychic and astrologer in the world would have been zapped by the rent in the cosmos. But not one, even Princess Di's own personal astrologer who was consulted a few days before the accident, predicted the awesome events of the past week.
There is no evidence that God ever interfered in the affairs of man. The hand of earth is stretched uselessly towards heaven. From the clouds there comes no help.
In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. . . . There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; . . . she was doing in all this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery.
At a conservative estimate, ten million witches were killed throughout Europe. . . . The decline of witch-belief was . . . entirely the product of religious skepticism. . . . The Catholic Church did not reform itself on this matter; it was forced by outside pressure to reform. To be sure, the Protestant churches were no better in this regard; it is simply that they had less time - only two or three centuries - to engage in the torching of witches. After all, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, stated quite correctly that disbelief in witches meant a disbelief in the Bible.
Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.
Any organization could profit from a 10-year-old member with enough strength of character to refuse to swear falsely.
Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
None can be called deformed but the unkind.
The most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.
Science is a systematic method of investigation based on continuous experimentation, observation, and measurement leading to evolving explanations of natural phenomena, explanations which are continuously open to further testing.
Disciplined adherence to authority, when viewed as an end in itself, has led to the most horrible atrocities. History is replete with examples of how otherwise decent people, when conditioned to follow orders regardless of their personal reservations, can be led to massacre men, women and children.
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish. . . .
Although it is said that faith can move mountains, experience shows that dynamite works better.
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.
As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist.
Has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? . . . No other human institution comes close.
I tell you this; no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn
The late Dr. Hans Selye, in his monumental research on stress, basically says that a long, healthy, and happy life is the result of making contributions, of having meaningful projects that are personally exciting and contribute to and bless the lives of others. His ethic was 'earn thy neighbour's love.'
I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
My belief is that no human being or society composed of human beings ever did or ever will come to much unless their conduct was governed and guided by the love of some ethical ideal.
Claims of virgin birth were a common way of glorifying famous people and mythological heroes of ancient times. For example, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Aristomenes, Alexander the Great, Plato, Cyrus, the elder Scipio, Egyptian Pharaohs, the Buddha, Hermes, Mithra, Attis-Adonis, Hercules, Cybele, Demeter, Leo, and Vulcan - all were thought of as virgin-born in at least some traditions.
It is like most other ancient books - a mingling of falsehood and truth, of philosophy and folly - all written by men, and most of the men only partially civilized. Some of its laws are good - some infinitely barbarous. None of the miracles related were performed. . . . Take out the absurdities, the miracles, all that pertains to the supernatural - all the cruel and barbaric laws - and to the remainder I have no objection. Neither would I have for it any great admiration.
I pray every single second of my life; not on my knees but with my work. My prayer is to lift women to equality with men. Work and worship are one with me. I know there is no God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him 'great.'
By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
I know of no crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form or other. The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new truth, last of all, and only when denial has become useless.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Susan Boggs, a black runaway interviewed in Canada in 1863, said of the religious slave masters: 'Why the man that baptized me had a coloured woman tied up in his yard to whip when he got home that very Sunday and her mother . . . was in church hearing him preach. He preached, "You must obey your masters and be good servants." That is the greater part of the sermon, when they preach to the coloured folks. . . .'
In the name of certainty, the greatest crimes have been committed against humanity.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
I decide on the basis of conscience. A genuine leader doesn't reflect consensus, he molds consensus.
Humility and inner peace go hand in hand. The less compelled you are to try to prove yourself to others, the easier it is to feel peaceful inside.
Integrity, honesty, and honour may not give immediate rewards or gratification, and they can be life-threatening (for example, being a whistle-blower or turning state's evidence). The absence of integrity, honesty, and honour do not always bring punishment or scorn, and can be life-aggrandizing (connivers and cheats often gain power and wealth). Therefore, morality must be its own reward.
It cannot be said too often that actions are good or bad in the light of consequences, and that a clear perception of consequences would control actions. That which increases the sum of human happiness is moral; and that which diminishes the sum of human happiness is immoral. . . . Blind, unreasoning obedience is the enemy of morality.
We are on the eve of discovering that nothing should be done for the sake of gods, but all for the good of man
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. . . .
To rest one's case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one's enemies -- that one has no rational arguments to offer.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.
Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
The priests of one religion never credit the miracles of another religion. Is this because priests instinctively know priests?
The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be believed only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called 'faith.'
The truth is . . . that the great artists of the world are never puritans, and seldom ever ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man - that is, virtuous in the YMCA sense - has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading, and it is highly improbable that the thing has ever been done by a virtuous woman.
In proportion to its power, Protestantism has been as persecuting as Catholicism.
Not material or economic conditions in the ordinary sense, but perverse religious ideas explain the suspension of civilization in Europe from the 5th to the 12th century, and in the Mohammedan world after the 15th century.
Just to the extent that the Bible was appealed to in matters of science, science was retarded; and just to the extent that science has been appealed to in matters of religion, religion has advanced - so that now the object of intelligent religionists is to adopt a creed that will bear the test and criticism of science.
Nothing discloses character like the use of power.
For every morsel of bread given to a stranger in need, hundreds have died from diseases whose cures were thwarted by organized religion's traditional opposition to science. For every word soothing the tempers of men, there have been calls to arms resulting in the death and maiming of thousands. The United Nation's Children's Emergency Fund estimates that forty thousand children die each day even as religious organizations obstruct the distribution of birth control devices in poor countries. The resultant daily pain and torturous deaths by starvation far outstrip the almsgiving and generosity religion has always claimed to espouse. Whatever percentage of this toll is attributable to church practices, surely it has added up to far more accrued pain and death over the centuries than the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler combined.
. . . I fail to find a trace [in Protestantism] of any desire to set reason free. The most that can be discovered is a proposal to change masters. From being a slave of the papacy, the intellect was to become the serf of the Bible.
Believing is easier than thinking. That's why there are so many more believers than thinkers
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
Turn over the pages of history and read the damning record of the church's opposition to every advance in every field of science. . . .
If more Christians read their Bibles there would be fewer Christians.
Life can be beautiful, profound, and awe-inspiring, even without an irate god threatening us with eternal torment.
A man is not moral because he is obedient through fear or ignorance. Morality lives in the realm of perceived obligation. . . .
Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in serving human interests.
The command of Jesus that you should desert your family for his sake has led thousands and thousands of people to desert their families and join crusades or monasteries or missions, and to feel virtuous for what they have done.
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I'm quite amused by the attempt to excuse not trying harder, by claiming that perfect is not possible; it may not be, but striving toward it as an ideal is! It is in the act of 'striving' that we demonstrate character, courage, and conscience.
As long as a man lives he should study. Death alone has the right to dismiss the school.
To educate a person in mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. That army is the bravest that can be whipped the greatest number of times and fight again.
Scientists now recognize that it is primarily the culture we have developed rather than inborn aggressive instincts that determines whether we help, ignore, or harm each other.
Even Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, and Albert Einstein made serious mistakes. But the scientific enterprise arranges things so that teamwork prevails: What one of us, even the most brilliant among us, misses, another of us, even someone much less celebrated and capable, may detect and rectify.
Religion without science is blind.
Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday singing, "Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. . . . If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. . . . If, as they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
A multitude of aspects of the natural world that were considered miraculous only a few generations ago are now thoroughly understood in terms of physics and chemistry.
On the sixth day God created man. On the seventh day, man returned the favour.
Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. . . .
Like all religions, the Holy Religion of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is based upon both Logic and Faith. We have Faith that She is Pink; we Logically know that She is Invisible, because we can't see Her.
There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.
This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate error so long as reason is free to combat it.
I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
The beginning of wisdom is the awareness that there is insufficient evidence that a god or gods have created us and the recognition that we are responsible in part for our own destiny. Human beings can achieve this good life, but it is by the cultivation of the virtues of intelligence and courage, not faith and obedience, that we will most likely be able to do so.
If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
I don't want to hurt people's feelings if I can help it. I don't want anyone unnecessarily humiliated, but I say whatever stands between you and justice must give way. . . . You must do exactly what is right, and let those who have done wrong bear the consequences.
When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions, that is the heart of science.
Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish.
Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
Some racists still reject the plain testimony written in the DNA that all the races are not only human but nearly indistinguishable. . . .
So long as we do not harm others we should be free to think, speak, act, and live as we see fit, without molestation from individuals, law, or government. . . .
It is our choice of good or evil that determines our character, not our opinion about good or evil.
The reward for doing right is mostly an internal phenomenon: self-respect, dignity, integrity, and self-esteem. . . . Not doing right may have momentary payoffs but will wreak havoc with your self-esteem, respect from others, and quality of life.
Mankind isn't evil, just uninformed.
When struck on one cheek to turn the other, is really joining a conspiracy to secure the triumph of brutality. To agree not to resist evil is to become an accomplice of all injustice.
If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties . . . must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
If judged only by the results that challenge the laws of probabilities, then the power of prayer is nil.
Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to help make others so.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
The best defence against logic is ignorance.
Intellectual freedom is essential to human society. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.
And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable - and we believe they can do it again.
We are fortunate: we are alive; we are powerful; the welfare of our civilization and our species is in our hands. If we do not speak for Earth, who will? If we are not committed to our own survival, who will be?
As the Church assumed leadership, activity in the fields of medicine, technology, science, education, history, art and commerce all but collapsed. Europe entered the Dark Ages.
The only excuse for God is that he doesn't exist.
I am for . . . each individual doing just as he chooses in all matters which concern nobody else.
Christians say that -- without exception -- their God answers all of their prayers; it's just that He sometimes says 'yes' and other times 'no', 'maybe', or 'wait'. Of course the same could be said of the rain-god, 'Bob'.
You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
To define twentieth-century humanism briefly, I would say that it is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity in this natural world and advocating the methods of reason, science, and democracy.
If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.
Artists are prophets. They define the meaning of our lives and point the way.
Of all the manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most.
Madness is the result not of uncertainty but certainty.
It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences his thoughts and feeling as something separate from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal decisions and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion
Upon the great questions of origin, of destiny, of immortality, of . . . other worlds, every honest man must say, 'I do not know.' Upon these questions, this is the creed of intelligence.
I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that. I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock 'n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
To be one's self, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity.
Maybe the REAL reason that Jesus hasn't returned is those little crosses you wear around your neck. Think about it. How would JFK feel if you wore little Mannlicher-Carcano rifles?
Fear believes--courage doubts. Fear falls up the earth and prays--- courage stands erect and thinks. Fear is barbarism---courage is civilization. Fear believes in witchcraft, devils and ghosts. Fear is religion, courage is science.
I do not regard religious opinions or political opinions as exotics that have to be kept under glass, protected from the frosts of common sense or the tyrannous north wind of logic. Such plants are hardly worth preserving. They certainly ought to be hardy enough to stand the climate of free discussion, and if they cannot, the sooner they die the better.
To destroy guide-boards that point in the wrong direction . . . to drive the fiend of fear from the mind . . . is the task of the Freethinker.
I will follow my logic, no matter where it goes, after it has consulted with my heart. If you ever come to a conclusion without calling the heart in, you will come to a bad conclusion.
Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us.
Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.
Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever. Only in religion does the consumer blame himself for the failure of the product.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
The deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914.
My heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain . . . to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.
I can cite a hundred references to show that the biblical God is a bloodthirsty tyrant, but if the Christians dig up two or three verses that say "God is love," they will claim that I am taking things out of context.
I'm an atheist and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.
Every reasonable person knows that there are good people who believe in gods and good people who don't believe in gods. Like most atheists, I do not rape, murder, or steal; I know right from wrong and don't need to follow a set of superstitious beliefs to live a moral life. The idea that only a religious person can be a good person is utterly ridiculous. In fact, perhaps it is the Atheists who are the truly good people; we try to do what is right not out of fear of some afterlife punishment, but because we know it's the right thing to do.
Absolute certainty will always elude us. We will always be mired in error. The most each generation can hope for is to reduce the error.
An atheist visited Lourdes and at the entrance saw thousands of crutches, canes and wheelchairs left by people who felt they had been cured and no longer needed them. He said, "One artificial leg would be more convincing."
Follow your bliss.
To overcome evil with good is good, to resist evil with evil is evil.
Ironically, the pope's opposition to contraceptives results in hundreds of thousands of abortions, most in illegal and unsafe conditions that threaten women's lives. Due primarily to the lack of readily available contraception, 55 million abortions are performed in the world annually. Worldwide, 182,000 women die each year from dangerous abortions. In the United States, where . . . women's right to abortion has been recognized since 1973 (over the Church's strenuous opposition), the death rate for women who obtain abortions has dropped almost 90%. So by opposing contraceptives and legalized abortion, the pope is in effect sentencing many women to die.
Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
May the good belong to all the people in the world.
If a man really believes that God once upheld slavery; that he commanded soldiers to kill women and babes; that he believed in polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion's sake; that he will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad. This belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This belief made the Puritan murder the Quaker.
The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by HomoSapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his creations; that he can be persuaded by their prayers; and becomes petulant if he does not receive this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest, and least productive industries in history.
Great people talk about ideas. Small people talk about others.
Nothing is evil which is according to nature.
The most successful people in the world aren't usually the brightest. They are the ones who persevere.
So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe.
If god wanted people to believe in him, why did he invent logic?
Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the coloured races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. To know the truth is more difficult than most men suppose, and to act with ruthless determination in the belief that truth is the monopoly of their party is to invite disaster.
The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.
The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
Why should an atheist pay more taxes so that a church, which he despises, should pay no taxes? That's a fair question. How can the apologists for the church exemption answer it?
Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Humanism involves far more than the negation of supernaturalism. It requires an affirmative philosophy . . . translated into a life devoted to one's own improvement and the service of all mankind.
May you live all the days of your life.
Boys are more likely to develop a masculine personality and acquire strong moral standards when they have a loving and nurturant rather than a threatening or fear-inspiring father.
All mainstream medical, psychological, educational, sociological and legal organizations support the position that homophobia is the problem, not homosexuality.
Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion - several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
Religion is the brainchild of fear, and fear is the parent of cruelty. The greatest evils inflicted on humankind are perpetrated not by pleasure-seekers, self-seeking opportunists, or those who are merely amoral, but by fervent devotees of religion.
Why did I become an atheist? I read the Bible from cover to cover twice. How many believers can say that?
The most important human endeavour is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance, and even our very existence depends on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to our lives.
Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything. Just give him time to rationalize it
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.
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
To date, despite the efforts of millions of true believers to support this myth, there is no more evidence for the Judeo-Christian god than any of the gods on Mount Olympus.
It is no defence of superstition and pseudoscience to say that it brings solace and comfort to people. . . . If solace and comfort are how we judge the worth of something, then consider that tobacco brings solace and comfort to smokers; alcohol brings it to drinkers; drugs of all kinds bring it to addicts; the fall of cards and the run of horses bring it to gamblers; cruelty and violence bring it to sociopaths. Judge by solace and comfort only and there is no behaviour we ought to interfere with.
Sweet are the uses of adversity.
She [the Catholic Church] worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch - the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. . . .
Faith is believing what you know ain't so.
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.
Let us read the Bible without the ill-fitting coloured spectacles of theology, just as we read other books, using our judgment and reason.
To turn the other cheek is to teach would-be cheats that cheating pays.
Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
This, in my judgment, is the highest philosophy: First, do not regret having lost yesterday; second, do not fear that you will lose tomorrow; third, enjoy today.
Men rarely manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Modern technology has conveniently provided a measuring stick by which you can determine whether or not you are conducting your business in an acceptable, ethical way. . . . You can ask yourself: How will I feel if my business dealings today are secretly recorded on a hidden video camera, and appear on this evening's television newscast for all to see?
There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.
It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.
Christianity, above all, consoles; but there are naturally happy souls who do not need consolation. Consequently, Christianity begins by making such souls unhappy, for otherwise it would have no power over them.
If fortune torments me, hope contents me.
There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one - the pulpit. It yielded at last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession - at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery text in the Bible remained; the practice changed; that was all.
Love your friends and be just to your enemies.
Winning is often simply getting up off the ground one more time than your opponent.
We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.
The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge, and only a Holy Roller in the mountains of Tennessee would dare to preach today what the popes preached in the thirteenth century.
Intellect, without heart, is infinitely cruel. . . . So that, after all, the real aristocracy must be that of goodness where the intellect is directed by the heart.
'I beseech ye . . . , think that ye may be mistaken.' I should like to have that written over the portals of every church, every school, and every courthouse, and, may I say, of every legislative body in the United States. I should like to have every court begin, 'I beseech ye . . . , think that we may be mistaken.'
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.
I do not pray. . . . I do not expect God to single me out and grant me advantages over my fellow men. . . . Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility.
When you choose wrong because it suits you right now, the message you give others is that when it suits you, you may likely do wrong again. You become a threat and liability to others. That's a pragmatic reason, outside of pride in morality, not to do wrong.
Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.
The great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights . . . not only for acquiescence in poverty, inequality, exploitation and oppression, but also for enthusiastic justifications for slavery, persecution, abandonment of small children, torture, and genocide. . . . Moreover, religion enshrined hierarchy, authority, and inequality. . . . It was the age of equality that brought about the disappearance of such religious appurtenances as the auto-da-fe and burning at the stake.
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God.
A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.
Because religious training means credulity training, churches should not be surprised to find that so many of their congregations accept astrology as readily as theology, or a channelled Atlantean priest as readily as a biblical prophet.
Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.
Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you're told.
A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.
Want to know what happens after death? Go look at some dead things.
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