Looking For Quotes

I’m considering a caper
With a printer and some paper
But my brain has turned to vapor
And I’ve only so much ink
I am looking for quotations
I can pin up in locations
That will tickle the sensations
And might make the readers think
If you know a bit of writing
That’s important or exciting
Whether feather-soft or biting
Or just something that you heard.
Give me statements; give me questions—
I am open to suggestions—
Just some atheist expressions
Cos I’d like to spread the word

Ok, so I’m looking for quotes I can use for a flyer campaign (yes, there is more to it than that; no, I’m not telling you). These would need to be relatively brief (since they will be printed on a sheet of paper and posted to a typical university bulletin board, and will be ignored if they are too wordy), interesting (my goodness, there are an awful lot of boring quotations about atheism out there!), and accurate (founding fathers quotes, especially, have been distorted to the point of pain, by both sides; I don’t want to propagate lies).


Atheism in its negation of gods is at the same time the strongest affirmation of man, and through man, the eternal yea to life, purpose, and beauty.
–Emma Goldman, 1916

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?
–Douglas Adams

The collections of atheist quotes I have seen collected elsewhere have (because they were collected for other purposes) tended to be too wordy, too familiar, and sometimes flat-out wrong. There are pragmatic reasons for briefer, pithier quotes here–something that can be read from across a room. And I tend to see the same quotes over and over again, so it would be cool if we could throw out the interweb databases altogether and just go with books, songs, movies, fortune cookies, poetry, users manuals, celebrity tattoos, or whatever you might have seen a nice quote hiding in.

And of course, it goes without saying that this would be a nice collection for anyone else who wants to use it–say, just as a public service, an atheist quote of the day/week/month/whatever in your local student paper, or chalked on the sidewalk next to the stuff the campus christian crusade wrote.

Anyway… Got quotes?


  1. Joan Fowler says

    Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent,evil or imaginary. Take your pick and choose wisely. Sam Harris

  2. machintelligence says

    I found one:

    Which is it, is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s?
    — Nietzsche

    BTW are quotes from unknown authors acceptable?

  3. philipelliott says

    You may find this helpful: http://atheistweb.org/posts

    One of my favorites:

    “If there is a God and he oversaw all of the wars and natural disasters on this planet… I think everyone should run. That dude has a temper.”

    Jamie Kilstein

  4. Blueaussi says

    “Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.”

    “You know what they call “alternative medicine”
    That’s been proved to work?

    Tim Minchin, in “Storm”

  5. Nobby says

    A little bleak, but still pretty good:

    “Man is condemned to be free; because once he is thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does” -Jean-Paul Sarte

  6. rikitiki says

    So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh, which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…”
    – Ricky Gervais

  7. Randomfactor says

    “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen F Roberts

  8. Randomfactor says

    And just because he’s so often quoted the other way:

    I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. –Albert Einstein

  9. agenoria says

    Popular Science Apr 1889, p774 – Thomas Huxley writing about agnosticism.

    But the worship of a God who needs forgiveness and help, and deserves pity every hour of his existence, is no better than that of any other voluntarily selected fetich.

    (Spelling as in original)

  10. Joan says

    Ok..Here are some. I could not pick just one if my life depended upon it:

    “Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” – Christopher Hitchens

    “Each religion believes the others to be false, and all are correct.” – Chamfort

    “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg

    -“Mark Twain and the Three R´s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.109
    “One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it – they also believed the world was flat.”

    -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.”

    “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” – H.L. Mencken

    Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.
    — H L Mencken, Autobiographical Notes, 1925, quoted from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief

    What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world? Answer: he gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell.
    — H L Mencken, quoted from Not Church

    The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore.
    — H L Mencken, Minority Report: H L Mencken’s Notebooks, no. 309 (1956), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

    Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.
    — H L Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy, “Sententiæ: Arcana Coelestia

  11. DreadWeasel says

    “If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. Instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? Salvation is for the feeble, that’s what I think. I don’t want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb. If the gods would tax ecstasy, then I shall pay; however, I shall protest their taxes at each opportunity, and if Woden or Shiva or Buddha or that Christian fellow–what’s his name?–cannot respect that, then I’ll accept their wrath. At least I will have tasted the banquet that they have spread before me on this rich, round planet, rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more difficult for us to capture the grand prize: the safety of the void. To fashion of life such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.”
    ― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

  12. Psychopomp Gecko says

    “Throughout history every mystery ever solved has tur
    ned out to be… not magic!” -Tim Minchin, ‘Storm’

  13. Corvus illustris says

    More about Christianity than theism per se, and you might want to cut this down to its first sentence.

    But the story of Christ remains uncomfortably similar to the saga of the boss’s son who works very briefly in the shop, where he makes a great point of his home and is cruelly beaten by some of his fellow workers, before he joins his father as co-chairman of the board and wreaks horrible revenge. This “happy” end makes most of the Christian martyrs, too, untragic figures. These observations may strike believers as blasphemous, but they might do well to reflect on the manner in which they pass judgment on other religions, and there may be some point in considering how one’s own religion must strike those who don’t accept it.

    — Walter Kaufmann

    Walter Kaufmann professed philosophy at Princeton University in the middle of the 20th c. He was called an existentialist but regarded himself as a Nietzschean (or just a Kaufmannian).

  14. machintelligence says

    Here are a few from E. O. Wilson’s “Consilience”:

    Our species and its ways of thinking are a product of evolution, not the purpose of evolution.

    No shaman’s spell or fast upon a sacred mountain can summon the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science.

  15. machintelligence says

    From a bumper sticker:
    I have no problem with God — it’s His fan clubs that scare me.

  16. Don F says

    God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. –RP Feynman

  17. says

    When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
    ― Abraham Lincoln

    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 (1737-1809)

    And 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.
    ― Thomas Jefferson

    The church says 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.
    ―Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521)

    The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them, for then it must sink back into savagery… It may matter little to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies, but it matters much to Man that I have made my neighbors ready to deceive. The credulous man is father to the liar and the cheat.
    ― W.H. Clifford, The Ethics of Belief, 1879

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.
    ― Seneca the Younger (4? B.C. – 65 A.D.)

    The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.
    ― Abraham Lincoln

    I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
    ― Stephen Hawking, interview in The Guardian, May 15, 2011

    There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works.
    ― Stephen Hawking (from an interview)

    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    A believer is a bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing.
    ― Robert G. Ingersoll

    Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.
    ― Carl Sagan

    Faith is not wanting to know what is true.
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ

  18. agenoria says

    I just saw this on Twitter. Eric Idle has re-written the “Galaxy Song” for Brian Cox’s forthcoming (January in the UK) series The Wonder of Life:

    Life is quite strange
    Life is quite weird,
    Life is really quite odd
    Life from a star is far more bizarre,
    Than an old bearded man they call God

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    Peter N @ # 23 – I recently did some searching about the Magellan quote.

    The consensus seems to be that it’s fake; worser yet, that it was faked up by Robert Ingersoll (at least, no one seems to have found any instance of it earlier than RI’s writings).


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