Quotes: Fall Roundup 07

here is the collection of quotes i’ve found interesting during the fall of 2007. enjoy!

Thomas Jefferson:

Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

Richard Dawkins on blasphemy:

A politician may attack an opponent scathingly across the floor of the House and earn plaudits for his robust pugnacity. But let a soberly reasoning critic of religion employ what would, in other contexts, sound merely direct or forthright, and it will be described as a shrill rant. My nearest approach to stridency was my account of God as “the most unpleasant character in all fiction”. I don’t know how well I succeeded, but my intention was closer to humorous broadside than shrill polemic. Restaurant critics are notoriously scathing, but are seldom dismissed as shrill or intolerant. A restaurant might seem a trivial target compared to God. But restaurateurs and chefs have feelings to hurt and livelihoods to lose, whereas “blasphemy is a victimless crime”.

Opening quote I agree with Professor Dawkins, not to mention St Paul, in rejecting the argument that people should be allowed their religious comfort Closing quote

Dawkins on fundamentalism:

No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.

Dawkins, referring to christopher hitchens’ recent book tour through the US:

with characteristic effrontery, he took his tour through the bible belt states – the reptilian brain of southern and middle america, rather than the easier pickings of the country’s cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts.

Charles Darwin:

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.

Robert G. Ingersoll, from “The Gods”, 1872‘, on Miracles:

There is but one way to demonstrate the existence of a power independent of and superior to nature, and that is by breaking, if only for one moment, the continuity of cause and effect. Pluck from the endless chain of existence one little link; stop for one instant the grand procession and you have shown beyond all contradiction that nature has a master. Change the fact, just for one second, that matter attracts matter, and a god appears. The rudest savage has always known this fact, and for that reason always demanded the evidence of miracle. The founder of a religion must be able to turn water into wine — cure with a word the blind and lame, and raise with a simple touch the dead to life. It was necessary for him to demonstrate to the satisfaction of his barbarian disciple, that he was superior to nature. In times of ignorance this was easy to do. The credulity of the savage was almost boundless. To him the marvelous was the beautiful, the mysterious was the sublime. Consequently, every religion has for its foundation a miracle — that is to say, a violation of nature — that is to say, a falsehood. No one, in the world’s whole history, ever attempted to substantiate a truth by a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of miracle. Nothing but falsehood ever attested itself by signs and wonders. No miracle ever was performed, and no sane man ever thought he had performed one, and until one is performed, there can be no evidence of the existence of any power superior to, and independent of nature. The church wishes us to believe. Let the church, or one of its intellectual saints, perform a miracle, and we will believe. We are told that nature has a superior. Let this superior, for one single instant, control nature, and we will admit the truth of your assertions.

sam harris answers the question how do you think this time will be remembered forty years from now?:

with any luck, we’ll be embarrassed by the state of our discourse in the same way we’re embarrassed by the way our ancestors treated race during the first part of the twentieth century. we’ll be astonished by the smugness and certitude with which people not only held their religious convictions, but imposed them on others through public policy and the law. we’ll look back in wonder that the vatican was preaching against the use of condoms in the developing world, and that the united states impeded stem-cell research because some imagined that microscopic cells had human souls. forty years from now, we’ll realize that taking religion seriously was like taking astrology seriously.’

A. C. Clarke:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

i just heard this for the first time:

The early bird gets the worm…. but the second mouse gets the cheese.


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