Emory Valley lies on the eastern edge of the city, and the Clinch River runs through it. It's a beautiful spot for a chapel - and here one is. It's the Emory Valley branch of
The Universal Church Triumphant.
The Apathetic Agnostic
Quotes can be many things. Sometimes, they're an argument from authority, and only as good as you deem that authority. And sometimes they're a neat, or beautiful, or powerful, summary of something you believe (or know) to be true, words you wish you'd said yourself - but which honesty compels you to acknowledge to be someone else's. Here you'll find both types of quotes. Enjoy!
[Head on over to Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotes for some more - I particularly recommend the page on George Washington, Jefferson's old fox...]
Thomas Jefferson: [A]n amendment was proposed by inserting ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that [the preamble] should read ‘A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion’; the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. What has been the effect of religious coercion? To make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in ours one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies. To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise. And the ultimate Jeffersonian view:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and state.
George Washington: The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy. The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine. John Adams: Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’ Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it. The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and... foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity. Abraham Lincoln: 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. It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity. U.S. Treaty with Tripoli: The government of the United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian religion. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation. Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson: The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion - except for the sect that can win political power. Justice Felix Frankfurter: Certainly the affirmative pursuit of one's convictions about the ultimate mystery of the universe and man's relation to it is placed beyond the reach of law. Government may not interfere with organized or individual expressions of belief or disbelief. Propagation of belief - or even of disbelief - in the supernatural is protected, whether in church or chapel, mosque or synagogue, tabernacle or meeting-house. Albert Einstein: I do not beleive in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness. Richard Dawkins: I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. Religion is unusual among divisive labels in being spectacularly unnecessary. If religious beliefs had any evidence going for them, we might have to respect them in spite of their concomitant unpleasantness. But there is no such evidence. To label people as death-deserving enemies because of disagreements about real world politics is bad enough. To do the same for disagreements about a delusional world inhabited by archangels, demons and imaginary friends is ludicrously tragic. Charles Darwin: I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars. The Buddha (Kalama Sutra): Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. Tatsuya Ishida: I believe most Americans voted for John Kerry. I believe the exit polls that indicated a massive Kerry landslide. I believe Americans saw through the Republican propaganda machine and rejected it. I believe the heart and core of America is guided by a deeper and better wisdom than what the cynics tell us. All interpretations of this so-called Bush victory brand us as cowards, bigots, or idiots. I don't believe their analysis. I don't believe their results. I don't believe that gender panic and "moral values" caused Americans to vote for more war, more torture, more corporate power. I don't believe Americans turned their backs on the world. I don't believe Americans care only about American casualties. I don't believe we have closed our hearts to the suffering of others. I believe Americans have a capacity for compassion and generosity, for heroism and self-sacrifice that puts to shame all the warmongering and fearmongering of the current regime. I believe the great legacy of 9/11 was the immediate sense of community and connectedness and willingness to understand the rage against America. I believe that glimpse of universal brotherhood, not the march to war, was the true face of humanity. This is my article of faith. This is my faith-based opinion. This is my gut instinct. Heinrich Heine: In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides. Ferdinand Magellan: The Church says that 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 the Shadow than in the Church. Bertrand Russell: We may define "faith" as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith." We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups substitute different emotions. I am constantly asked: "What can you, with your cold rationalism, offer to the seeker after salvation that is comparable to the cozy, home-like comfort of a fenced dogmatic creed?" To this the answer is many-sided. In the first place, I do not say that I can offer as much happiness as is to be obtained by the abdication of reason. I do not say that I can offer as much happiness as is to be obtained from drink or drugs or amassing great wealth by swindling widows and orphans. It is not the happiness of the individual convert that concerns me; it is the happiness of mankind. Truth is a shining goddess, always veiled, always distant, never wholly approachable, but worthy of all the devotion of which the human spirit is capable. It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion. Hippocrates: Where prayer, amulets and incantations work, it is only a manifestation of the patient's belief. 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. Thomas Cooper: Only fraud and falsehood dread examination. Truth invites it. Dan Barker: I have something to say to the religionist who feels atheists never say anything positive:
You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil -- you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself.
Isaac Asimov: Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. The chief characteristic of the religion of science is that it works Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. Arthur C. Clarke: A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets. Napoleon Bonaparte: Everything is more or less organized matter. To think so is against religion, but I think so just the same. Wilson Heydt: As soon as you are willing to discard observational data because it conflicts with religion, you are giving up any hope of ever really understanding the universe Robert Ingersoll: It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon that book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have nothing to do. David Dudley Field: The greatest achievement ever made in the cause of human progress is the total and final separation of church and state. If we have nothing else to boast of, we could lay claim with justice that the first among the nations we of this country made it an article of organic law that the relations between man and his maker were a private concern, into which other men have no right to intrude. To measure the stride thus made for the Emancipation of the race, we have only to look back over the centuries that have gone before us, and recall the dreadful persecutions in the name of religion that have filled the world. Voltaire: Theological religion is the source of all imaginable follies and disturbances; it is the parent of fanacticism and civil discord; it is the enemy of mankind. Thomas MacCamish: We seem to have ended up with secularism because there was no other fair way of managing equal citizenship in a plural society; no other reasonable way to share a globe overrun with jealous gods. But what a thing to have achieved! A public ethos that embraces all of us in its insistence on fairness and mutual respect here and now on the beautiful, benighted Earth we share, not in the afterlife that we don't.
Got a quote? Suggest it! Email me at kmdavis @ erols.com.
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