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Meditation 803
Quotations XLVIII

"I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking." Dorothy L. Sayers

On the other hand, an apt quotation can stimulate the mind towards original thought. A quotation better serves as the starting point for a discussion, rather than a means for closing it. We will continue to publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the forty-eighth in an apparently unending series. Quotations are indexed by author and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one. Quotations are also available as a set of downloadable pdf files (menu to the left.) Suggestions for previously unused quotations are always welcome.

  1. The whole point of Christianity is that everyone in the world, from Charles Manson to Mother Teresa, deserves to go to hell.  Sean Ningen

  2. The raw fruits of the earth were made for human sustenance. Even the white tails of rabbits, according to some theologians, have a purpose, namely to make it easier for sportsmen to shoot them. There are, it is true, some inconveniences: lions and tigers are too fierce, the summer is too hot, and the winter too cold. But these things only began after Adam ate the apple; I before that, all animals were vegetarians, and the season was always spring. If only Adam had been content with peaches and nectarines, grapes and pears and pineapples, these blessings would still be ours. Bertrand Russell

  3. You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. Richard Feynman

  4. We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie. Thomas Paine

  5. Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to interfere with private life. Lord Melbourne on hearing a sermon on adultery.

  6. At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved in the next few hundred years. Arthur C. Clarke

  7. It is a very curious thing about superstition. One would expect that the man who had once seen his morbid dreams were not fulfilled would abandon them for the future; but on the contrary they grow even stronger just as the love of gambling increases in a man who has once lost in a lottery. Soren Kierkgaard

  8. Atheists do not so much reject God as bad arguments in His favor. Jack Provensha

  9. I considered atheism, but there weren't enough holidays. Anonymous

  10. The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos. Stephen Jay Gould

  11. Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome. Isaac Asimov

  12. If your ancient, authoritarian, immutable belief system is truly threatened by a handful of popular novels, if your ostensibly all-powerful, unyielding creed is rendered meek and defenseless when faced with the story of a fiery, rebellious young girl who effortlessly rejects your stiff misogynistic religiosity in favor of adventure, love, sex, the ability to discover and define her soul on her own terms, well, it might be time for you to roll it all up and shut it all down and crawl back home, and let the divine breathe and move and dance as she sees fit. Mark Morford

  13. The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Dorothy Parker

  14. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. Susan B. Anthony

  15. I can 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. Charles Darwin

  16. Fear prophets... and those prepared to die for the truth for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them. Umberto Eco

  17. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is. Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

  18. It is not things in themselves which trouble us, but our opinions of things. Epictetus

  19. The Devil is an idea, just an idea, but an idea is hard to kill, an idea can escape. Dr. Who

  20. He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Sir Winston Churchill