Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotes
B-Ben



Francis Bacon, 1st Baron Verulam and Viscount Saint Albans (1561-1626)
English philosopher and statesman, one of the pioneers of modern scientific thought

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
-- Advancement of Learning

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.



Robert Baird

The freedom allowed in the United States to all sorts of inquiry and discussion necessarily leads to a diversity of opinion, which is seen not only in their being different denominations, but different opinions also in the same denomination.
-- Religion in America 1856, p. 578, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom



Russell Wayne Baker (b. 1925)
American writer, long-time New York Times columnist

One of the many burdens of the person professing Christianity has always been the odium likely to be heaped upon him by fellow Christians quick to smell out, denounce and punish fraud, hypocrisy and general unworthiness among those who assert the faith. In ruder days, disputes about what constituted a fully qualified Christian often led to sordid quarrels in which the disputants tortured, burned and hanged each other in the conviction that torture, burning and hanging were Christian things to do....
-- The New York Times, December 1988, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876)
Russian anarchist and political theorist who opposed Karl Marx

If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.
-- God and the State (1882), in seeming response to Voltaire's "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.
-- God and the State

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the bootmaker.
-- God and the State, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consists precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.
-- God and the State, from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers.
-- God and the State, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

God, or rather the fiction of God, is thus the sanction and the intellectual and moral cause of all the slavery on earth, and the liberty of men will not be complete, unless it will have completely annihilated the inauspicious fiction of a heavenly master.
-- Oeuvres, vol. 1, p. 143, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.
-- God and the State

The idea of god implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind both in theory and practice.
-- from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy.
-- Circular Letter to My Friends in Italy, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Christianity is the complete negation of common sense and sound reason.
-- God and the State

Religion is a collective insanity.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Theology is the science of the divine lie
-- from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

We are materialists and atheists, and we glory in the fact.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987)
American writer and outspoken critic of racism

Christianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty -- necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels.
-- "Letter from a Region in My Mind," in New Yorker (17 Nov. 1962; repr. in The Fire Next Time, 1963).

Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
-- "Letter from a Region in My Mind," in New Yorker (17 Nov. 1962; repr. in The Fire Next Time, 1963).



Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
French writer and a founder of the realist school of fiction

Thanks to the toleration preached by the encyclopedists of the eighteenth century, the sorcerer is exempt from torture.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Imamu Amiri Baraka [LeRoi Jones] (b. 1934)
American writer whose poems and plays focus on racial conflict

God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning.
-- "What Does Non-Violence Mean?" Home, 1966, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891)
American showman

The orthodox faith painted God as a revengeful being, and yet people talk about loving such a being.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Thomas F. Bayard
U.S. Secretary of State (1885-1889)

Religious liberty is the chief cornerstone of the American system of government, and provisions for its security are imbedded in the written charter and interwoven in the moral fabric of its laws.
-- from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom



Bert B. Beach
Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty executive


There is little doubt that religious liberty is best exercised within the setting of the secular state. This does not mean the state should be hostile or indifferent to religious bodies, but rather that it must exhibit what has been called a "benevolent neutrality." ...

Freedom of religion also implies the right not to have or profess a religion. This is sometimes overlooked. It is a sad commentary on religion that religionists, probably quite well-meaning at times, have throughout history tried to force fellow human beings into a required religious mold. Apart from the very wrong theological assumptions involved, this is a flagrant violation of the dignity of the human person. Coerced religion is demeaning and of little value.
-- Bright Candle of Courage, 1989, pp. 14-15, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom




Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
French writer and political activist

I cannot be angry at God, in whom I do not believe.
-- from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Ferdinand August Bebel (1840-1913)
German socialist leader

Christianity is the enemy of liberty and of civilization. It has kept mankind in chains.
-- Reichstag speech (March 31, 1881), from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

When socialism comes into power, the Roman Church will advocate socialism with the same vigor [with which] it is now favoring feudalism and slavery.
-- address to the Social Democratic Party Congress, Jena, 1906, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief



Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Irish-born writer known for his absurdist plays

The bastard! He doesn't exist!
-- novelist. Hamm, in Endgame, after attempting to pray. Clov replies, "Not yet."

Just under the surface I shall be, all together at first, then separate and drift, through all the earth and perhaps in the end through a cliff into the sea, something of me. A ton of worms in an acre, that is a wonderful thought, a ton of worms, I believe it.
-- From an Abandoned Work (1958).

How can one better magnify the Almighty than by sniggering with him at his little jokes, particularly the poorer ones.
-- Winnie, in Happy Days, act 1 (1961).

Enough of acting the infant who has been told so often how he was found under a cabbage that in the end he remembers the exact spot in the garden and the kind of life he led there before joining the family circle.

What do I know of man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.
-- "Enough," in Six Residua (1978).



Lyman Beecher (1775-1863)
American cleric, father of Catharine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), a suffragist; Edward Beecher (1803-1895), a clergyman, educator, and abolitionist; Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a clergyman, newspaper editor, and abolitionist; Harriet Beecher Stowe.

[Disestablishment was] the best thing that ever happened to the state of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God.
-- The Autobiography of Lyman Beecher 1961, Vol. 1, p. 253, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom



John C. Bennett

The first reason for emphasizing the separation of church and state is that it is the only way of assuring the complete freedom of the church.... The second reason for believing in the separation of church and state is the preservation of the state from control by the church.... The third reason for emphasizing the separation of church and state is that it is best for the church to be on its own.
-- Christians and the State 1958, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

It is obvious that the churches in America should not use their members as political pressure groups to get special ecclesiastical privileges for themselves as against other religious bodies. They should not seek legislation, even if they can influence enough votes to get it, which interferes with the religious liberty of minorities and they should be thankful that the courts stand guard at this point.
-- Christians and the State 1958, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom



Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
British reformer and philosopher of law and legislation, who laid the foundations of utilitarianism

There is no pestilence in a state like a zeal for religion, independent of morality.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The spirit of dogmatic theology poisons anything it touches.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion.
-- Constitutional Code from George Seldes, The Great Quotations 1967, p. 813, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom