|Atheists and Agnostics Compendium|
I live in hazard and infinity. The cosmos stretches around me, meadow on meadow of galaxies, reach on reach of dark space, steppes of stars, oceanic darkness and light. There is no god in it, no particular concern or particular mercy. Yet everywhere I see a living balance, a rippling tension, an enormous yet mysterious simplicity, an endless breathing of light. And I comprehend that being is understanding that I must exist in hazard but that the whole is not in hazard. Seeing and knowing this is being conscious: accepting it is being human.
We seem to find, not only in all religions, but also in practically all philosophies, some belief that man is not quite alone in the universe. This so-called belief is not really an intellectual judgment so much as a craving.
[In the desire for a divine] Friend behind phenomena, it seems to me that perhaps we are under the spell of a very old ineradicable instinct.
We are gregarious animals;
our ancestors have been such for countless ages. We cannot help looking
out on the world as gregarious animals do; we see it in terms of humanity
and of fellowship. Students of animals under domestication have shown
us how the habits of a gregarious creature, taken away from his kind,
are shaped in a thousand details by reference to the lost pack which is
no longer there.
As I grow older I grow calm. If I fear that we are running through the worlds resources at a pace that we cannot keep. I do not lose my hopes. I do not pin my dreams for the future to my country or even to my race. I think it probable that civilization somehow will last as long as I care to look ahead perhaps with smaller numbers, but perhaps bred to greatness and splendor by science. I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it never has seen but is to be that man may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand. And so beyond the vision of battling races and an impoverished earth I catch a dreaming glimpse of peace.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes 1943
.The Pale Blue Dot a picture of the Earth taken by Voyager 1 from a distance of more than 4 billion miles
That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
Our planet is a lonely speck
in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: Ones convictions should be proportional to ones evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isnt--indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable--is both an intellectual and a moral failing.
The hasty appeal to the supernatural is a couch upon which the intellect slothfully reclines.
Immanuel Kant Inaugural Dissertation 1770
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people are so full of doubts.
Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things that takes religion
We all ought to understand
we're on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn't do kids any harm for
a few years but it isn't smart for them to continue waiting all their
lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa
Claus and God are cousins.
Andy Rooney, TV commentator, born 1919
Some people dismiss evolution as being trial and error. But theyve got it exactly backwards: evolution is error and trial.
Genetic changes, or errors, occur naturally in all species, and the changed individual then competes for survival. Most changes are harmful, and those changed individuals do not survive the trials of living. But occasionally, changes improve an individuals ability to survive, and they are passed on to succeeding generations of the population. Thats evolution.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
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, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)
This quotation is from the book Aristos by John Fowles.
He is the author of The French Lieutenant's Woman and other novels.
Gilbert Murray (1866-1957) was a famous scholar of ancient Greek civilization. His well-known book "Five Stages of Greek Religion" (1925) remains a classic and has been reprinted many times. It is still in print today.
In Murray's book "Humanist Essays," a collection of his short pieces, at the end of an essay on stoic philosophy he concludes with this quotation.
It anticipates by a half century today's sociobiological description of human nature.