Pithy Sayings


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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
[Blaise Pascal, 1623 to 1662]

When certainty combines with zeal in religious matters, horror always results.
[From The Sins of Scripture by John Shelby Spong, 2005]

The historical Jesus as a civilizing influence has now been tried for nearly twenty centuries. With a weird irony, not only has it not in large measure elevated humanity in the West above an earlier barbarism, but it has in fact been used as a cloak for the worst atrocities and inhumanities that history records. The foulest cruelties were perpetrated in the very name of the gentle Nazarene!
[From The Root of All Religion by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944]

But what really got under Londa's skin, I soon learned, was not the Messiah's sermon per se but the discontinuity between its sublime directives and the ignominious course of Western history, ... though I hastened to point out that the chronicles of other civilizations were likewise awash in blood. What had gone wrong? she wanted to know. When and why had the teachings of Jesus Christ become an optional component of Christianity?
[From The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow, 2008]

A wise and courageous prince with money, troops, and laws, can perfectly well govern men without the aid of religion, which was made only to deceive them; but the stupid people would soon make one for themselves, and as long as there are fools and rascals, there will be religions. Ours [Christianity] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody which has ever infected this world.
[Francois Voltaire in a 1767 letter, quoted in The Portable Voltaire edited by Ben Ray Redman, 1949]

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere is happy.
[Henry Louis Mencken, 1880 to 1956]

Science won't tell you what's moral and what's not. But by standing up on your own two feet on the terra firma of reality instead of remaining up to your eyeballs in the swamp of dogma, you'll get a much better lay of the land for navigating the moral landscape.
[From Perv by Jesse Bering, 2013]

I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.
[From Open Letter To Kansas School Board by Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen, 2005]

The Feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.
[Pat Robertson, TV evangelist, in a 1992 fundraising letter, quoted in The Most Dangerous Man in America? by Robert Boston, 1996]

‘God is all powerful. God is all good. Evil exists.’ You can logically reconcile any two of those statements, but not all three.
[From The Footprints of God by Greg Iles, 2003]

In case of Rapture, can I have your car?
[A bumper sticker]

We may all have come into existence five minutes ago, provided with ready-made memories, with holes in our socks and hair that needed cutting.
[From Religion and Science by Bertrand Russell, 1935]

It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you don't believe it completely.
[Attributed to Bertrand Russell, 1872 to 1970]

Tenskwa-Tawa paused. Alvin waited, too. One did not rush a shaman as he told of his dreams.
[From Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card, 1995]

While Eeyore frets ... and Piglet hesitates ... and Owl pontificates ... Pooh just is.
[From The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, 1982]

Once you're born, the worst has already happened.
[Zen saying in The Secret of Life by Rudy von Bitter Rucker, 1985]

"Sow a thought," someone has said, "and you reap a deed. Sow a deed, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny—for character is destiny."
[From The Buddha's Ancient Path by Thera Piyadassi, 1964]

He who regards his intellectual knowledge as ignorance, has deep insight.
He who overrates his intellectual achievement as definite truth is deeply sick.
Only when one is sick of this sickness can one cease to be sick.
One who returns his mind to the simplicity of the subtle truth is not sick,
Because he knows to break through conceptual knowledge in order to directly reach the subtle truth.
This is the foundation of his health!
[Chapter Seventy-one of Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, circa 500 BC]

The highest sage shares his moral possessions with others.
The next in wisdom shares his material possessions with others.
The man who because of his own wisdom looks down on others has never won men's hearts.
The man who in spite of his own wisdom is humble to others has never failed to win men's hearts.
[Chapter Six of The Book of Lieh-Tzu, circa 300 AD]

What did the Buddhist say to the pizza maker?
Make me one with everything.
[From Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, 2016]

I find Christmas very difficult.
[Steven Patrick Morrissey, 2004]

Don't take much interest in Christmas. Used to be great fun in the old days when it was simply an orgy of commercial excess, but now I find that people are tainting the whole thing with a lot of religious mumbo jumbo.
[Peter Cook on BBC2 in 1991, quoted in Tragically I was an Only Twin edited by William Cook, 2002]

Happy Judeo-Christian Peak Retail Season
[From Rhymes with Orange by Hilary B Price, 1997]

A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.
[Vique's Law (but who was Vique?)]

And throttle the neck of the last king with a string from the bowels of the last priest.
[Denis Diderot, 1713 to 1784, quoted in Zanoni by Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1842]

This was what Zoroaster, Moses, and Jesus taught, and what Brahmans, Magi, and Essenes believed: the Truth literally sets you free, whereas institutionalized religion is just another prison.
[From Journey of the Magi by Paul William Roberts, 1995]

Religion is the opium of the masses.
[From Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right by Karl Marx, 1844]

It's not easy being a living God.
[From The Luminous Eggs of Argyll-8 by Douglas A Davy, 2017]

She also wore a permanent expression of satisfaction that seemed to indicate that she either had seen a vision that brought her inner peace or had been struck on the head by a blow that rendered her senseless.
[From Going All the Way by Dan Wakefield, 1970]

What's wrong with a phenomenon that brings comfort to so many people? That's a bit like asking what's wrong with a lobotomy, a steady diet of happy pills, or a group like Heaven's Gate. Charismatic authority figures are always disconcerting, especially when they malign rationalism and exhort us to abandon our critical thinking powers in order to realize spiritual growth. ... Argue with them. No one who demands worship, however covertly, deserves respect.
[From Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials by Wendy Kaminer, 1999]

"God is dead," Nick said. "They found his carcass in 2019. Floating out in space near Alpha."
"They found the remains of an organism advanced several thousand times over what we are," Charley said. "And it evidently could create habitable worlds and populate them with living organisms, derived from itself. But that doesn't prove it was God."
[From Our Friends from Frolix 8 by Philip K Dick, 1970]

A climber, seeking wisdom, climbed the mountain and asked the guru, "What is the secret of life?"
The guru answered, "All is One."
The climber said, "Are you kidding?"
"You mean it isn't?" asked the guru.
[Original author unknown]

I was an atheist until I realised I was God.
[Original author unknown]

When God made man, she was having one of her off days.
[Original author unknown]

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