If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Category: On Religion

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

If it turns out that I’ve been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.

Lucretius – De rerum natura (ca. 50 B.C.E.)

Our gratefulness,
O what emoluments could it confer
Upon Immortals and upon the Blessed
That they should take a step to manage aught
For sake of us?

Lucretius – De rerum natura (ca. 50 B.C.E.)

Who hath the power (I ask), who hath the power
To rule the sum of the immeasurable,
To hold with steady hand the giant reins
Of the unfathomed deep? Who hath the power
At once to roll a multitude of skies,
At once to heat with fires ethereal all
The fruitful lands of multitudes of worlds,
To be at all times in all places near,
To stablish darkness by his clouds,
The serene spaces of the sky with sound,
And hurl his lightnings—ha, and whelm how oft
In ruins his own temples, and to rave,
Retiring to the wildernesses, there
At practice with that thunderbolt of his,
Which yet how often shoots the guilty by,
And slays the honourable blameless ones!

A. C. Grayling – “Can an Atheist Be a Fundamentalist?” (2007)

As it happens, no atheist should call himself or herself one. The term already sells a pass to theists, because it invites debate on their ground. A more appropriate term is “naturalist,” denoting one who takes it that the universe is a natural realm, governed by nature’s laws. This properly implies that there is nothing supernatural in the universe–no fairies or goblins, angels, demons, gods or goddesses. Such might as well call themselves “a-fairyists” or “a-goblinists” as “atheists”; it would be every bit as meaningful or meaningless to do so. (Most people, though, forget that belief in fairies was widespread until the beginning of the twentieth century; the Church fought a long hard battle against this competitor superstition, and won, largely because–you guessed it–of the infant and primary church schools founded in the second half of the nineteenth century.)

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

A. C. Grayling – “Can an Atheist Be a Fundamentalist?” (2007)

Inculcating the various competing–competing, note–falsehoods of the major faiths into small children is a form of child abuse, and a scandal. Let us challenge religion to leave children alone until they are adults, whereupon they can be presented with the essentials of religion for mature consideration.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Ibn Warraq – Why I Am Not a Muslim (1995)

To answer “all is possible for God” is simply to admit the essential irrationality of the doctrine of reconstitution.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Ibn Warraq – Why I Am Not a Muslim (1995)

…Now we can see how useful and convenient the doctrine of abrogation is in bailing scholars out of difficulties. Of course, it does pose problems for apologists of Islam, since all the passages preaching tolerance are found in Meccan, i.e., early suras, and all the passages recommending killing, decapitating, and maiming are Medinan, i.e., later: “tolerance” has been abrogated by “intolerance.” For example, the famous verse at sura 9.5, “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them,” is said to have canceled 124 verses that dictate toleration and patience.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Steven Weinberg – Dreams of a Final Theory (1993)

Electrons are an essential part of our everyday world; the particles called muons and tauons hardly matter at all to our lives; yet, in the way that they appear in our theories, electrons do not seem in any way more fundamental than muons and tauons. More generally, no one has ever discovered any correlation between the importance of anything to us and its importance in the laws of nature.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Steven Weinberg – Dreams of a Final Theory (1993)

If you want to say that “God is energy,” then you can find God in a lump of coal. But if words are to have any value to us, we ought to respect the way that they have been used historically, and we ought especially to preserve distinctions that prevent the meanings of words from merging with the meanings of other words.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Penn Jillette – “There Is No God” (2005)

Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)