Quotes from Authors Collected
in the ERB Personal Library
QUOTES ON REASON AND SUPERSTITION FROM A SELECTION
FEATURED IN THE
PERSONAL LIBRARY OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
Ed Burroughs' Personal Library contained a great many volumes by
free thinkers of his day and from down through history.
These literary giants held very strong views on Superstition and Reason.
The quotes that follow were all made these of authors
in books assembled by Edgar Rice Burroughs for his personal reading and research.Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. ~ Matthew 10:34
Bible: Jesus Christ
Religion - A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind?
Religions are conclusions for which the facts of nature supply no major premises.
War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Houri, n. A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make things cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence marks a noble discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a soul.
Infidel, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does.
Ocean: A body of water occupying 2/3 of a world made for man...who has no gills.
Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.
Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based. ~ The Devil's Dictionary
Pearl S. Buck
When men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.
Believing in gods always causes confusion.
I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings.
I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels. I have enough for this life.
We send missionaries to China so the Chinese can get to heaven, but we won't let them into our country.
Charles Darwin 1809-1882
But I own that I cannot see ... evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created that a cat should play with mice.
My theology is simple muddle. I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design, or indeed of design of any kind.
It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science.
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.
Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. -- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, p. 6
We can allow satellites, planets, suns, the universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.
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.
Ignorance more frequently begats confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
The Complete Works of Charles Darwin
E. M. Forster
Robert G. Ingersoll
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
And of all the plagues with which mankind are cursed Ecclesiastic tyranny's the worst.
I believe the spreading of Catholicism to be the most horrible means of political and social degradation left in the world.
I cannot sit under a clergyman who addresses his congregation as though he had taken a return ticket to heaven and back.
Camille Flammarion (1842-1925)
The supernatural does not exist.
Men have had the vanity to pretend that the whole creation was made for them, while in reality the whole creation does not suspect their existence.
E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
A humanist has four leading characteristics - curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race. ~ Two Cheers for Democracy
Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible. I dislike the stuff . . . My motto is: 'Lord, I disbelieve -- help thou my unbelief!'
There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.
Anatole France (1844-1924)
If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
In their censures of luxury the fathers are extremely minute and circumstantial; and among the various articles which excite their pious indignation, we may enumerate false hair, garments of any colour except white, instruments of music, vases of gold or silver, downy pillows (as Jacob reposed his head on a stone), white bread, foreign wines, public salutations, the use of warm baths, and the practice of shaving the beard, which, according to Tertullian, is a lie against our own faces, and an impious attempt to improve the works of the Creator. ~ Chapter 15, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
The evidence of the heavenly witnesses -- the fahter, the Word, and the Holy Ghost -- would now be rejected in any court of justice.
So urgent on the vulgar is the necessity of believing, that the fall of any system of mythology will most probably be succeeded by the introduction of some other mode of superstition.
The national government...will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. ~ The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872
I am only doing what the church has done for fifteen hundred years, only more effectively.
Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work. ~ Mein Kampf
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people. ~ April 26, 1933
How fortunate for leaders that men do not think (also, “What luck for rulers that men do not think”).
I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.
I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator; by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord . . . . I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people. . . .
Loyalty and responsibility toward the people and the Fatherland are most deeply anchored in the Christian faith.
I have followed the Chruch in giving our party program the characdter of unalterable finality, like the Creed. . . The Church has realized that anyghing and everything can be built up on a document of that sort, no matter how contradictory or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be brought to bear on it.
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
There is in every village a torch: the schoolmaster -- and an extinguisher: the parson.
Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of the clerical party.
Sacrificing the earth for paradise is giving up the substance for the shadow.
There shall be no slavery of the mind.
Religion is nothing but the shadow cast by the universe on human intelligence.
Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly."
Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899)
Ingersoll sold out auditoriums throughout the last quarter of the 19th century, in what became known as "the golden age of freethought." "Freethought" included atheism, agnosticism, and some left-wing political -isms as well, and had the backing of many major publications of the day publications.
Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw material cost so little, that generally the god market was fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms. ~ The Gods, 1872
An honest god is the noblest work of man. ... God has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. ... Most of the gods were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. ~ Gods, 1879
The savage prays to a stone that he calls a god, while the Christian prays to a god he calls a spirit, and the prayers of both are equally useful.
I believe in the religion of reason the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to feed and clothe the world.
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 relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called 'faith.'
I have the right to do my own thinking. I am going to do it. I have never met any minister that I thought had brain enough to think for himself and for me too. I do my own. I have no reverence for barbarism, no matter how ancient it may be, and no reverence for the savagery of the Old Testament; no reverence for the malice of the New. And let me tell you here tonight that the Old Testament is a thousand times better than the New. The Old Testament threatened no vengeance beyond the grave. God was satisfied when his enemy was dead. It was reserved for the New Testament - it was reserved for universal benevolence - to rend the veil between time and eternity and fix the horrified gaze of man upon the abyss of hell. The New Testament is just as much worse than the Old, as hell is worse than sleep. And yet it is the fashion to say that the Old Testament is bad and that the New Testament is good.
I have no reverence for any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my reason; no reverence for any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my heart; and, no matter how old it is, no matter how many have believed it, no matter how many have died on account of it, no matter how many live for it, I have no reverence for that book, and I am glad of it. ~ A Reply to Reverend Drs. Thomas and Lorimer
When I became convinced that the Universe is natural -- that all the ghosts and gods are myth, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bards, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave.
There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: "Let us be friends." ~ Interview in The Truth Seeker, 1885
Blasphemy is what an old dogma screams at a new truth.
Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense. Whoever investigates a religion as he would any department of science is called a blasphemer. Whoever contradicts a priest; whoever has the impudence to use his own reason; whoever is brave enough to express his honest thought, is a blasphemer. When the missionary speaks slightingly of the wooden god of a savage, the savage regards him as a blasphemer. To laugh at the pretensions of Mohammed in Constantinople is blasphemy. To say in St Peter's that Mohammed was a prophet of God is blasphemy. There was a time when to acknowledge the divinity of Christ in Jerusalem was blasphemy. To deny his divinity is now blasphemy in New York.
The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it.
I cannot see why we should expect an infinite God to do better in another world than he does in this.
This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.
We are satisfied that there can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.
Hands that help are far better than lips that pray.
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.
Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind?
Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come from the skies. It is not a result of "inspiration." It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied knowledge -- that is to say, of science. When man becomes great and grand enough to admit that all have equal rights; when thought is untrammeled; when worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.
An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. Certainly he ought not so to act that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the threat of fine and imprisonment. . . . If there be an infinite Being, he does not need our help -- we need not waste our energies in his defense.
Take from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains. ~ Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 1, p. 285
The few took advantage of the ignorant many. They pretended to have received messages from the Unknown. They stood between the helpless multitude and the gods. They were the carriers of flags of truce. At the court of heaven they presented the cause of man, and upon the labor of the deceived they lived.
Every sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed his will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning.
We find now that the prosperity of nations has depended, not upon their religion, not upon the goodness or providence of some god, but on soil and climate and commerce, upon the ingenuity, industry, and courage of the people, upon the development of the mind, on the spread of education, on the liberty of thought and action; and that in this mighty panorama of national life, reason has built and superstition has destroyed.
There can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.
A believer is a bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing. - Robert Ingersoll, Individuality
I have little confidence in any enterprise or business or investment that promises dividends only after the death of the stockholders.
No man with a sense of humour ever founded a religion.
Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers; it is the only prayer that deserves an answer -- good, honest, noble work.
Our ignorance is God; what we know is science.
Ministers say that they teach charity. That is natural. They live on hand-outs. All beggars teach that others should give.
For the most part we inherit our opinions. We are the heirs of habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the fashion of our garments, depend on where we were born. We are molded and fashioned by our surroundings.
Environment is a sculptor -- a painter. If we had been born in Constantinople, then most of us would have said: 'There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.' If our parents had lived on the banks of the Ganges, we would have been worshipers of Siva, longing for the heaven of Nirvana. As a rule, children love their parents, believe what they teach, and take great pride in saying that the religion of mother is good enough for them.
All who doubted or denied would be lost. -- To live a moral and honest life - to keep your contracts, to take care of wife and child – to make a happy home - to be a good citizen - a patriot - a just and thoughtful man – was simply a respectable way of going to hell.
God did not reward men for being honest, generous and brave, but for the act of faith. Without faith, all the so-called virtues were sins. And the men who practiced these virtues, without faith, deserved to suffer eternal pain. All of these comforting and reasonable things were taught by the ministers in their pulpits -- by teachers in Sunday schools and by parents at home. The children were victims. They were assaulted in the cradle -- in their mother's arms. Then, the schoolmaster carried on the war against their natural sense, and all the books they read were filled with the same impossible truths. The poor children were helpless. The atmosphere they breathed was filled with lies -- lies that mingled with their blood.
Every fact is an enemy of the church. Every fact is a heretic. Every demonstration is an infidel. Everything that ever really happened testifies against the supernatural.
The clergy know that I know that they know that they do not know.
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 teh New, he would be insane.
When worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharbge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.
The hope of science is the perfection of the human race. The hope of theology is the salvation of a few, and the damnation of almost everybody.
As people become more intelligent they care less for preachers and more for teachers.
Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?
Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.
Heresy is a cradle; orthodoxy a coffin.
Whoever imagines himself a favorite with God holds others in contempt.
Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)
The puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
Ishmael: I'll try a pagan friend (Queequeg), thought I, since Christian kindness has turned out to be hollow courtesy.
Already we have been the nothing we dread to be.
The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike Him, is because they rather distrust His Heart, and fancy Him all brain like a watch.
To work hard, to live hard, to die hard, and then to go to hell after all would be too damned hard.
George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
All the sweetness of religion is conveyed to the world by the hands of storytellers and image-makers. Without their fictions the truths of religion would for the multitude be neither intelligible nor even apprehensible; and the prophets would prophesy and the teachers teach in vain.
At present there is not a single credible established religion in the world.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
The early Christian rules of life were not made to last, because the early Christians did not believe that the world itself was going to last.
No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means.
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!
Martyrdom is the onlly way in which a man can become famous without ability.
We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough religion to make us love one another.
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.
Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
We despise all reverences and all objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our list of sacred things and yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy for us.
Man is a Religious Animal. Man 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 neighbor 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.... The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive...but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born. ~ Mark Twain, A Biography
It (the Bible) is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.
In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.
If there is a God, he is a malign thug.
God, so atrocious in the Old Testament, so attractive in the New -- the Jekyl and Hyde of sacred romance.
Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom the harder it is to get rid it.
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She 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 does not know whether to laugh or to cry.
I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of pathos . . . A man got religion, and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said, "Imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like him." The man studied his bible diligently and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked his wife into falling down stairs, and she broke her back and became a paralytic for life, he betrayed his brother into the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him into the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea; he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her into her teens deaf, dumb and blind for life; and after helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him. Then he reported to the priest, who said that was no way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way. ~ Mark Twain, Letters From the Earth
Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it.
Faith is believing something you know ain't true. It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand. Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.
There is no other life; life itself is only a vision and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad. ~ Eruption
Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast. ~ Reflections on Religion, 1906
O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it... ~ "The War Prayer"
[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology. ~ Mark Twain and the Bible
Man is a marvelous curiosity ... he thinks he is the Creator's pet ... he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea. ~ Letters from the Earth
In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing. ~ Autobiography of Mark Twain
It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
I do not fear death in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Most people can't bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?
The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it.
A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.
What God lacks is convictions — stability of character. He ought to be a Presbyterian or a Catholic or something — not try to be everything.
More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but hte text that authorized them remains.
The Bible commanded that witches should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Chruch . . . gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches. . . . Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or cry.
No church property is taxed, and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income this caused.
The easy confidence with which I know another man`s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.
Chicago 1893 Columbian Exposition Contact
I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.
There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking.
I do not believe that any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States.
The great trouble is that the preachers get the children from six to seven years of age and then it is almost impossible to do anything with them. Incurably religious -- that is the best way to describe the mental condition of so many people. Incurably religious.
So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk.
I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul.... No, all this talk of an existence for us, as individuals, beyond the grave is wrong. It is born of our tenacity of life – our desire to go on living … our dread of coming to an end.
All Bibles are man-made.
Early Writing Years in Oak Park, IL
All thinking men are atheists. (Fellow Oak Par, IL resident)
Frank Lloyd Wright
I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. -- (Fellow Oak Park, IL resident)
Contemporary Pulp Writers
H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937
If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth.
Forest J Ackerman
Later SF Writers Who Have Acknowledged a Debt to ERB
I believe a belief in any deity is adolescent, shameful and dangerous. How would you feel, surrounded by billions of human beings taking Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and the stork seriously, and capable of shaming, maiming or murdering in their name? I am embarrassed to live in a world retaining any faith in church, prayer or a celestial creator. I do not believe in Heaven, Hell or a Hereafter; in angels, demons, ghosts, goblins, the Devil, vampires, ghouls, zombies, witches, warlocks, UFOs or other delusions.
Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
God used to be the best explanation we'd got, and we've now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining.
I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone ever discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
Why can’t we see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist" says God, "For proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing.” "BUT," says Man, "The Babel Fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It proves you exist, so therefore you don't. QED.” “ Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that." And promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. "Ooh, that was easy" says Man and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed at the next zebra crossing.– Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time. - Isaac Asimov, "Free Inquiry", Spring 1982, vol.2 no.2, p.9
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
To rebel against a powerful political, economic religious, or social establishment is very dangerous and very few people do it, except, perhaps as part of a mob. To rebel against the "scientific" establishment, however, is the easiest thing in the world, and anyone can do it and feel enormously brave, without risking as much as a hangnail.
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. —Isaac Asimov
If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.
To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. - Isaac Asimov
Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all teh patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who wouild invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
Creationists make it sound like a "theory" is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
Arthur C. Clarke
It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him. ~ Clarke's autobiography
Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?
It is amazing how childishly gullible humans are. There are, for example, so many different religions - each of them claiming to have the truth, each saying that their truths are clearly superior to the truths of others - how can someone possibly take any of them seriously?
The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history my be the hijacking of morality by religion. However valuable - even necessary - that may have been in enforcing good behavior on primitive peoples, their association is now counterproductive. Yet at the very moment when they should be decoupled, sanctimonious nitwits are calling for a return to morals based on superstition.
Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.
I suspect that religion was some random by-product of mammalian reproduction . . . a necessary evil in the childhood of our species. . . but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity.
I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.
Philip K. Dick
Bill Gates - Cub Scout
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Arthur C. Clarke
Philip K. Dick
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
No, I don't believe in God. I'm not a moron. I have to have some proof of something.
God has more important things to do than talk to little French girls in jail [i.e. Joan of Arc], and give you hair growing on the palm of your hand if you masturbate.
One man's religion is another man's belly laugh. ~ Notebooks of Lazarus Long
If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill. How hard? Why, hard enough to make water run uphill, of course!
The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H. Sapiens 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 real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history.
A long and wicked life followed by five minutes of perfect grace gets you into Heaven. An equally long life of decent living and good works followed by one outburst of taking the name of the Lord in vain -- then have a heart attack at that moment and be damned for eternity. Is that the system"
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a God superior to themselves. Most Gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unkonwn without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.
L. Ron Hubbard
Writing science fiction for about a penny a word is no way to make a living, If you really want to make a million, the quickest way is to start your own religion.
The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance... logic can be happily tossed out the window. ~ The Stand (Rev. Ed.), 1990
I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will--and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain.
Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.
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.
It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. ~ The Demon-Haunted World
The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. ~ Billions and Billions
A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings, will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries. ~ Cosmos
An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth - scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many books - might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity, and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get it. What kind of society could we create if, instead, we drummed into them science and a sense of hope? ~ The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1995
In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. ~ “The Burden of Skepticism,” Lecture 1987
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe.
The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the supression of ideas.
It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. ~ Pale Blue Dot
What I'm saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job.
Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature part of nature.
I'm a born-again atheist.
The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal -- God is the Omnipotent Father -- hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash?.... The acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the acceptor to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation. It is a way to fight loneliness. Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore. ~ quoted in "2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt " by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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RELATED FEATURES IN ERBzine
The Religions of ERB Fiction
Spectres of the Supernatural
Beyond the Farthest Stars
John Carter Beginnings?
Lupoff of Mars
The Search for Ultimate Answers
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Thoughts on Science & Religion
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