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My collection of (mostly) quotations and links (mostly) about skepticism, science, philosophical naturalism, freethought and humanism. Mostly. (Formerly “Un bon mot ne prouve rien”.)
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SMBC | Existence: A Guide

Pascal didn’t think about the bottom right!

Jesus and Mo : “Faith!”
h/t WEIT

Jesus and Mo : “Faith!”

h/t WEIT

“A Universe Not Made For Us” — Carl Sagan on religion, geocentrism

Carl Sagan Tribute Series

h/t Renaldo @ WEIT

If we are honest — and scientists have to be — we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards — in heaven if not on earth — all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.

Paul Dirac, remarks made during the Fifth Solvay International Conference (October 1927), as quoted in Physics and Beyond : Encounters and Conversations (1971) by Werner Heisenberg, pp. 85-86

Paul Dirac

h/t Jiten @ WEIT

God has left no footprints on the snows of time.
Maybe the creator was a student god, and only got a B- on this project.

Louise Antony, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, “Arguments Against God”, interview with Gary Gutting, New York Times Opinionator

Louise Antony

h/t WEIT

Jesus and Mo » prize2

Jesus and Mo » prize2

I give theists a hard time for not accepting the implications of modern science, but I am also happy to give naturalists a hard time when they don’t appreciate the enormous task we face in answering all of the questions that we used to think were answered by God. We don’t have final answers to the deep questions of meaning and fulfillment and what it means to lead a good life. Religion doesn’t have the final answers, either; but maybe it has learned something interesting over the course of thousands of years of thinking about these issues. Maybe there is some wisdom to be mined from religious traditions, even for naturalists (which everyone should be).

Sean Carroll, “Post-Debate Reflections

Sean Carroll

But please, Sean, don’t let it be Alain de Botton that’s in charge of the mining!

It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvellous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil—which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.

Richard Feynman, interview for Viewpoint, conducted by Bill Stout for KNXT Television, c. 1959; collected in Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track (2005)

Richard Feynman

h/t Rikki_Tikki_Taalik @ WEIT (but misattributed to Bernard Russell!)

Too often I find that faith is mysterious only selectively. Believers constantly attribute all sorts of qualities to their gods and have a list of doctrines as long as your arm. It is only when the questions get tough that, suddenly, their God disappears in a puff of mystery. Ineffability becomes a kind of invisibility cloak, only worn when there is a need to get out of a bit of philosophical bother.

Julian Baggini, “‘You just don’t understand my religion‘ is not good enough”, The Guardian, 7 November 2011

Julian Baggini

h/t Scote @ WEIT