What Should Atheists Memorize?

Just about every Christian I’ve ever met could tell you what John 3:16 says in the Bible.

It brings up this question: Is there anything atheists should really have memorized?

Maybe it’s a quotation or a passage from a book. I’ve always loved this passage by Richard Dawkins but it’s a bit long for quick memorization…:

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”

If there’s something you think we all should know by heart, please let us know!

"Hell, even just 'recently' as it were, pretty much Catholics were alone about abortion being ..."

A History of God in Public ..."
"Since the dems had the white supremacist big money families behind them, it's pretty obvious ..."

Proposed NM Science Standards Omit References ..."
"friend, that is an excellent question. I live near Clearwater and often go to concerts ..."

Benny Hinn’s Nephew: I Wanted No ..."
"Your posts are non-constructive. Quote something and try to refute it. Otherwise you look like ..."

Proposed NM Science Standards Omit References ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Nerdette

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?” – Douglas Adams

  • Judith Bandsma

    Matthew 6, 5-6

  • Kabeste

    “In our tenure of this planet, we have accumulated dangerous, evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders, all of which puts our survival in some doubt. We have also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience, and a great, soaring passionate intelligence — the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Christopher Hitchens
    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
    — Christopher Hitchens

  • Kirk59

    I have 3 to contribute, Richard-

    Terry Pratchett-The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be
    preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.

    “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    Albert Einstein-Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity;
    and I’m not sure about the the universe.

  • foss4us

    I’m not fond of seeing “atheists” and “should” together in a sentence like that. Memorize whatever passage is meaningful to you personally, or none at all if you don’t feel like it.

    Since my childhood, a favorite quotation of mine has always been “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

  • Min

    “So you know, cats are interesting. They are kind of like girls. If they come and talk to you, it’s great. But if you try to talk to them it doesn’t always go so well.” – Shigeru Miyamoto

  • littlejohn

    Learn their own scripture and throw it back at them. They’re not impressed by Dawkins or Hitchens.
    Leaf through Leviticus at random and memorize a few verses about the virtues of killing your disobedient son, or your non-virginial daughter, or how to properly treat your slaves. Or christ’s claim that he would return before all his disciples were dead.
    Demand an explanation. It flusters them.

  • Tim

    I don’t agree with Dawkins’ quote. He’s saying that we’re lucky to be alive compared to others that will never be born, when Atheists believe (I believe) that a person being born is no more monumental than the growth of a tree, a blade of grass or an amoeba. The quote is also validating our consciousness to be more than just our inherent instinct for survival. Don’t get me wrong-my values and opinions parallel his 99% of the time.

  • Angel

    A few of my favourites:

    “Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome universe that utterly dwarfs — in time, in space, in potential — the tiny anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.” – Carl Sagan

    “Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.” – Serbian Proverb

  • Carol M

    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds – Albert Einstein

    I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. —
    Stephen Henry Roberts

  • Angel

    littlejohn, I think you may have missed the point of the post. I don’t believe the quotes are meant to be used “against” anyone. They are merely the little tidbits of written prose that are meaningful to us.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    I say:

    1. Ingersoll’s Vow

    2. Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom (If some Muslims can memorize the whole Koran, surely we can do this!)

    3. This little line from Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well: “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, /Which we ascribe to heaven.”

    At the end of the day though, memorizing things seems too much like religion to me. There are things we should keep in mind, certainly, quotes from which we should draw inspiration, but we needn’t all be walking around chanting the same things. The advantage of atheism is that you can come up with your own aphorisms and not be drummed out for heresy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1606980149 Robbie

    anything sagan ever said

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g

    “Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”
    ~Neil deGrasse Tyson~

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    “I have always strenuously supported the Right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right,makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other,and I trust I never shall.” – Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

  • reparker

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?” – Douglas Adams

    Yeah, I really like this one. I used it as my senior yearbook quote, or tried to. The people who made the yearbook left off “of it, too” and it lost something, I think.

    “Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome universe that utterly dwarfs — in time, in space, in potential — the tiny anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.” – Carl Sagan

    Can’t really go wrong with Sagan, can you?

    “So you know, cats are interesting. They are kind of like girls. If they come and talk to you, it’s great. But if you try to talk to them it doesn’t always go so well.” – Shigeru Miyamoto

    My sister found this and I had it engraved on my iPod: “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” (Freud?)

  • Icaarus

    To everyone above, those are some amazing quotes.

    My favourites all come from 1 source, Clarke:

    1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

    2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

    3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    Using these three laws the old god must exist because we don’t know how ___ works can be totally thrashed. There are other good uses for them too. Now back to spending the rest of my life on number 2.

  • G.K. Chesterton

    “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

  • Rick

    Mark Twain “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

    Stephen Roberts “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

  • CBC

    “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” – Clifford’s Principle

  • http://twitter.com/alansimpson Alan

    Many have put Carl Sagan already, and an I agree with Robbie, anything with Sagan would be great.

    My favorite quote from Carl:
    “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

    I <3 that hard.

  • tod

    George B Shaw.

    “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

  • Dan

    “Is there anything atheists should really have memorized?”

    No. Not BECAUSE we’re atheists. There are things atheists as people, that ALL people should have memorized. Vital stats like address and phone number, basic math, their native language, etc.

    But if you think we should have something specific of the written word memorized that deals with atheism, that we should memorize because we are atheists… then no. There is nothing.

  • CBC

    As human beings, we should all know:

    “Either you think or else others have to think for you and take power from you.”
    —Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • CarolAnn :)

    Robert Heinlein.

    When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.

    There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

  • http://ideaswithheld.blogspot.com/ Chaos

    “We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself” – Carl Sagan

    Of course, there is also Wizards First Rule, specifically the rule and not necessarily the whole book.

  • Rick M

    Great Idea for a post!!
    my initial thought:

    “When I was back there in seminary school,
    there was a person who put forth the proposition that you can petition the Lord with prayer.
    Pe-Tition the Lord with prayer,
    Pe-Tition the Lord with prayer.

    (shouting) YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER”

    Jim Morrison of The Doors, intro to The Soft Parade

    also,

    “a cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest,
    and a queer threw-up at the sight of that”

    David Bowie, from Five Years

    Looking forward to more quotes.

  • Ubi Dubium

    From the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

    “Fer the Flyin Pasgheddi Monster so wuvved the wurl that he drank a lotta beer and made nekkid ladies” (NefYoo 3:16)

    And of course, from the seventh “I’d Really Rather you Didn’t”

    I’d really rather you didn’t go around telling people I talk to you. You’re not that interesting. Get over yourself.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    I think we should have things like ideas and counter-arguments memorized, as opposed to quotes and text. This would serve us far better, both internally and externally.

  • Nick

    A quick response to “it’s called faith” or “that’s what faith is”

    And that’s what’s wrong with it.

    I believe it was Richard Dawkins I first heard say this.

  • CZ

    A bit long, but one day I’ll have it down ;-).

    “I will persist until I succeed.

    In the Orient young bulls are tested for the fight arena in a certain manner. Each is brought to the ring and allowed to attack a picador who pricks them with a lance. The bravery of each bull is then rated with care according to the number of times he demonstrates his willingness to charge in spite of the sting of the blade. Henceforth will I recognize that each day I am tested by life in like manner. If I persist, if I continue to try, if I continue to charge forward, I will succeed.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.

    Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    Henceforth, I will consider each day’s effort as but one blow of my blade against a mighty oak. The first blow may cause not a tremor in the wood, nor the second, nor the third. Each blow, of itself, may be trifling and seem of no consequence. Yet from childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it will be with my efforts of today.

    I will be liken to the rain drop which washes away the mountain; the ant who devours a tiger; the star which brightens the earth; the slave who builds a pyramid. I will build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    I will never consider defeat and I will remove from my vocabulary such words and phrases as quit, cannot, unable, impossible, out of the question, improbable, failure, unworkable, hopeless and retreat; for they are the words of fools. I will avoid despair but if this disease of the mind should infect me then I will work on in despair. I will toil and I will endure. I will ignore the obstacles at my feet and keep mine eyes on the goals above my head, for I know that where dry desert ends, green grass grows.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    I will remember the ancient law of averages and I will bend it to my good. I will persist with knowledge that each failure to sell will increase my chance for success at the next attempt. Each nay I hear will bring me closer to the sound of yea. Each frown I meet only prepares me for the smile to come. Each misfortune I encounter will carry in it the seed of tomorrow’s good luck. I must have the night to appreciate the day. I must fail often to succeed only once.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    I will try, and try, and try again. Each obstacle I will consider as a mere detour to my goal and a challenge to my profession. I will persist and develop my skills as the mariner develops his, by learning to ride out the wrath of each storm.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    Henceforth, I will learn and apply another secret of those who excel in my work. When each day is ended, not regarding whether it has been a success or failure, I will attempt to achieve one more sale. When my thoughts beckon my tired body homeward I will resist the temptation to depart. I will try again. I will make one more attempt to close with victory, and if that fails I will make another. Never will I allow any day to end in failure. Thus will I plant the seed of tomorrow’s success and gain an insurmountable advantage over those who cease their labor at a prescribed time. When others cease their struggle, then mine will begin, and my harvest will be full.

    I will persist until I succeed.

    Nor will I allow yesterday’s success to lull me into today’s complacency, for this is the great foundation of failure. I will forget the happenings of the day that is gone, whether they were good or bad, and greet the new sun with confidence that this will be the best day of my life.

    So long as there is breath in me, that long will I persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win.

    I will persist.

    I will win.”

  • Nerdette

    @ Andy
    I disagree. We are required to memorize a lot, particularly in school, and chanting things over and over again doesn’t necessarily make them permanently ingrained against new-idea permeability. By remaining a skeptic/rationalist, you acknowledge that the people you are quoting are human and as susceptible to faulty logic and mistakes as the rest of us, and you are memorizing them for their rationality as opposed to simple dogma. You can always replace it with something better once it is thought up!

    Having beautiful passages in one’s head acknowledges their importance to you. It doesn’t have to be popular or clear to any one else ~ just like a tattoo, it is its meaning to you that makes it special. Some survivors of long interms as POWs cite that they stayed sane by repeating all the poetry, songs, etc they had ever memorized. It also helps during lectures that never end. Same difference, really.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    This as always been one of my favorites, mainly because I am a huge Girl Genius fan.

  • littlejohn

    Angel wrote: littlejohn, I think you may have missed the point of the post. I don’t believe the quotes are meant to be used “against” anyone. They are merely the little tidbits of written prose that are meaningful to us.
    Angel, read the suggestions again. Almost all of them are insults clearly directed at Christians. We’re supposed to keep them to ourselves? Then what point do they serve?
    Rick, for example, suggested: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
    At whom is that aimed? Who is the “you”?

  • Helene

    My 10-year-old son reminds me of this often. “Mom, even though we’re going to die some day, we’re really lucky because imagine the millions and millions of people who could have been born but weren’t. At least we get to have a life!”

  • Kamaka

    Dawkins:

    Natural selection is a beguiling counterfeiter of deliberate purpose.

    Kamaka:

    It’s difficult for rational to get through to irrational, ’cause it just keeps on being irrational.

  • Richard Wade

    Don’t memorize anything.

    These are inspiring, insightful, incisive and illuminating quotations, and it would be great to collect them and have them handy. But I would not recommend that you memorize quotations, whether it’s an atheist’s quotation that is meaningful to you, or scripture to use as a foil in a debate with a theist.

    Instead, make sure you clearly understand the concepts in those quotations, and put them in your own words anew, each time you use them. Keep your speech fresh, original and personal.

    Spouting the memorized exact words of some famous person implies that his/her fame is what makes the idea important, more than the strength of the idea itself. You can acknowledge that the idea was first spoken by so-in-so just to be conscientious, but avoid dropping the name of a famous person just to lend credibility to your argument, or to impress someone. It also could make you resemble theists who parrot memorized bits of scripture that don’t really fit the context of the conversation.

  • matt

    “Is there anything atheists should really have memorized?”

    No. There isn’t.

    But I do like this one:
    “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

  • Angel

    littlejohn,

    An affirmation of belief (or the lack thereof) is not an attack of another, although it is often mistaken as such.

  • Hermes

    “Just about every Christian I’ve ever met could tell you what John 3:16 says in the Bible.

    It brings up this question: Is there anything atheists should really have memorized?”

    John 3:18-20. Strident and tribal, with a tone that is often associated with quotes from rabid Muslims.

    Reference: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%203:16-21&version=NIV

    On a more productive note, for the US Citizens out there, know what E Pluribus Unum means as well as the preamble to the Constitution.

  • OhThatStevie

    My personal favorite: “Two hands working do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” ~ Unknown

    “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

    Article 11 in the Treaty of Tripoli: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” (maybe, at least, as extra credit)

  • Kirk59

    One more.

    “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

    Denis Diderot

  • http://molotovcocktailparty.net Discount Deity

    Richard Wade said exactly what I wanted to, except far more eloquently and with far less snark than I had planned. Thanks, Richard.

  • CaptTu

    The end of Witch Hunt by Rush… Lyrics by Neil Peart…

    Quick to judge
    Quick to anger
    Slow to understand
    Ignorance and prejudice
    And fear walk hand in hand…

  • Trace

    “The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer”

    Albert Einstein (Goldman, p.vii)

  • Luther

    God did not create man, man created God.

    Not sure if there is a known original author. Not necessarily something to quote to others, but to keep in mind ourselves.

  • Hermes

    Discount Deity: “Richard Wade said exactly what I wanted to, except far more eloquently and with far less snark than I had planned. Thanks, Richard.”

    Seconded, though I like to play with words, snarky or not.

  • Eric Lawrence

    “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.” -Dan Barker

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    Hermes makes a great point about the Constitution: not only memorizing the preamble, which I’ll admit I don’t know by heart, but also knowing and understand the Constitution and what it truly means — not what others have perverted it to mean, to fit their religious goals.

  • Jason

    I think the first five words from your quote just about sum up everything.

    “We are going to die.”

    The meaning, to me, is that we should therefor live.

  • Richard P.

    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.
    [Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith]

  • Angel

    I often find that the beauty in quoted passages is their eloquence in delivery that can’t be matched.

    While I may ruminate about the nature of being and the inter-connectedness of the universe, nothing sums it up for me best as the Serbian proverb I listed above. It is the brevity that stands in stark contrast with the enormity of the subject matter that makes it so utterly beautiful.

    It is also the memory of the moment I first heard the words uttered by Carl Sagan – things clicked in my brain. The passage itself is gorgeous, but it is the delivery from the audiobook that is forever etched in my head. When I recite it to people, it evokes the same feelings within as it did the very first time I heard it.

    Sharing those moments with others, even when they take the form of favourite quotations, is from the heart. I suspect that for many others, their favourite quotes also hold very personal meaning for them, steeped in contemplation and understanding of both the content and context.

    Of course, I could be wrong 😉

  • Nicole

    I’m not fond of seeing “atheists” and “should” together in a sentence like that.

    ^ excellently well put

  • Jim H

    Tim wrote:

    Atheists believe (I believe) that a person being born is no more monumental than the growth of a tree, a blade of grass or an amoeba.

    That may be true for you but I am more important than any of those–in that I am me, none of those others is me. (Also, when I die, the world ends. ;-))

    As for something to memorize, no. Concepts, such as Douglas Adams’ puddle or Archimedes’ literal eureka-moment, those are things to understand. But I see no need to memorize anything except poetry.

  • http://blog.deadkarma.com Bryan

    For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

    ~ John F. Kennedy, Commencement Speech at Yale.

  • beckster

    The First Amendment of the US Constitution

  • http://pinkydead.blogspot.com David McNerney

    “On the ning nang nong where the cows go bong and the monkeys all say boo,
    There’s a nong nang ning where trees go ping and teapots jibber jabber joo.”
    – Spike Milligan.

    Only because it makes more sense and has more bearing on reality than John 3:16.

  • Ron in Houston

    Well he was turned into a religious figure, but this one is great:

    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
    — Buddha

  • http://www.godless.biz/ Andrew Skegg

    “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” – Jesus, Luke 19:27

  • Heckler

    Know God, No Peace; No God, Know Peace

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    Numbers 31: 17-18

  • http://twitter.com/achura Rooker

    DON’T PANIC – Douglas Adams

  • http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com Richard Hendricks

    Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

  • Citizen Z

    Is there anything atheists should really have memorized?

    Yes, scripture, and here’s why. The only thing really holding atheists together is our mistreatment by the religious, or the negative effects of religion’s influence. So if we’re talking about what we should have memorized “as atheists”, the scripture of whichever religion is dominant would be the most important to us “as atheists”.

    Is there anything aleprechaunists or non-stamp collectors should really have memorized?

  • TychaBrahe

    Wen fa ti. Ti fa tsien. Tsien fa Tao. Tao fa tzu-jen.

    Man was made by the Earth. The Earth was made by the Universe. The Universe was made by the forces of nature. The forces of nature just happened.

    (Tao is pronounced “dow” with a very short D.)

    I don’t know who said it, but it was in one of the Robert Anton Wilson books.

    ***

    I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
    I woke and found that life was duty.
    I acted, and behold! duty was joy.
    —Rabinrandrath Tagore

    ***

    “A tree may be bent by harsh winds, but it is no less beautiful than the tree that grows in a sheltered nook, and often it bears the richer fruit. In your desperate longing to fit in, to be like everyone else, you seek to destroy what may be a song one day.”
    —Amman Singh in The Tightrope Walker, by Dorothy Gilman

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Slightly off-topic, but when my father- in- law was a budding atheist at Bible college, a popular topic of conversation was, “What’s your favorite Bible verse?”

    He always answered with 1 Chronicles 26:18. “At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.”

    Resulted in a lot of head-scratching.

  • Icaarus

    Citizen Z, forgive my ignorance but is aleprechaunist a real word?? I could only find a definition in a comment on PZ’s blog, and it only seem to be used in other blog comments.

  • frank

    “Is conduct right because the gods demand it? Or do the gods demand it because it is right?” – Plato

  • Marty

    “There is grandeur in this view of life.” -Charles Darwin

  • Citizen Z

    “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” – Jesus, Luke 19:27

    In that chapter Jesus totally stole that horse.

  • Joe L.

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”- Thomas Jefferson

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”- Treaty of Tripoli, 1796

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”- US Constitution, Amendment I

    “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”- US Constitution, Article VI

  • http://twitter.com/alexandra_opny Lexy

    My grandpa always used to say “it’s nice to be nice.” I think this adage is enough for me :)

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m lately very fond of:

    We don’t have the right to not be offended.

    -Philip Pullman

    and

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

    – Dr. Seuss

  • JasonTO

    “Forget Jesus Christ. It’s the stars that died so you could be here.”

    Lawrence Krauss, in reference to the fact that we are all made of particles emitted by exploding suns.

    As much as cosmology quote as it is atheism, but it works either way.

  • http://infalliblefailure.blogspot.com Jeff Satterley

    “I was born not knowing, and have had only a little time to change that here and there.”

    -Richard Feynman

  • jose

    If we ever begin to suppress our search to understand nature in a misguided effort to present a united front where it does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost.
    (Stephen Jay Gould)

  • James

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha

    “Fear believes – courage doubts. Fear falls upon the earth and prays – courage stands erect and thinks.” — Robert Ingersoll

  • Margy

    I don’t have them memorized, but here are a three of my faves (along with anything by Carl Sagan):

    “Some Christians seem to me inclined to lose track of love, compassion and mercy. I don’t think I have any special brief to go around judging them, but when the stink of hypocrisy becomes so foul in the nostrils it makes you start to puke it becomes necessary to point out there is one more good reason to observe the separation of church and state: If God keeps hanging out with politicians, it’s gonna hurt his reputation.”–Molly Ivins

    “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”
    –Butch Hancock

    “For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise. … When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”–Ben Franklin

  • Nordog

    “The argument from authority is the weakest form or argument…according to Boethius.”
    -Thomas Aquinas

  • Flail

    A quote from the Bible that is actually good and useful:

    A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
    — Proverbs 15:1

    And a long one…

    “Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: “You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself – educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”
    – Doris Lessing

  • stephanie

    I’m all for tossing out quotes and enjoy them. But what *should* an atheist memorize? Nothing.
    Atheists shouldn’t memorize, they should look at the world around them and come to their own decisions, not spout anything that came before them. After all, isn’t that how most of us came to be atheists in the first place?

    But if you must memorize a quote, how about: “Now you listen here, he’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.”

  • http://scaryreasoner.wordpress.com SteveC

    “The price of ridiculous beliefs is ridicule.” (Hitchens, I think.)

    I’ve often thought I should memorize “The Plan of Salvation” by Mageth, but I haven’t done it: http://www.extian.org/home.htm

    Leviticus 25:44-47 (just memorize the chapter/verse, not the actual text) are fun to make proselytizers read to you from their own Bibles, then ask them, “why is that in there?”

    This one I made up myself: “Faith is deliberately attempting to be more certain of something than the available evidence warrants. If your aim is to try to figure out what’s really true, why would doing that ever be a good idea? How is it not both idiotic an dishonest?”

    In response to claims that the Bible mentions this or that historical place or event which actually existed or happened, and that this somehow justifies belief in the more incredible claims it also contains: “London is a real city. Does that mean Sherlock Holmes was a real person?”

    In response to “without god, life has no meaning or purpose” the answer should not be “it does too!”, it should be along the lines of, “You’re just complaining that you don’t like the idea of gods failing to exist, not providing any reason to think any do exist. (logical fallacy: appeal to consequences)”
    Relevant quote:
    “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”
    — George Bernard Shaw

    In response to “atheists use faith too!”
    Define faith (see above). If I use faith (and I don’t think I do) at *least* I see it as a failing, and strive to eliminate it from my thinking and do not try to cultivate it as some sort of virtue. And, the fact that you accuse me of faith indicates that you know something’s wrong with faith, as apparently you think I’m wrong, and hold my “wrong” opinion by means of faith. So clearly you think that faith is not a good way to find out what’s true. I’m glad we can agree on this fact.

    In response to “you have faith that that chair you’re sitting in will hold you up.”
    (despite being ridiculously specific, this seems to actually come up fairly frequently)
    “No, I don’t. And you don’t either. If you were to go to sit down on a chair, and it were to make ominous creaking noises, you wouldn’t say, ‘oh, I have faith the chair’, you’d probably stand up, take a look at it, wiggle it a bit, and then try gingerly sitting down on it, like anybody would. If you were to sit on a chair, and the chair were to fail, and drop you on your ass, you wouldn’t crouch above the splintered chair’s remains, insisting that the chair, despite all appearances, continued to hold you up just fine, insisting that your faith in the chair was justified. You have a lifetime of experience with chairs, and believe that the chair will hold you up to a degree of certainty that is warranted by the available evidence, and no more. That is the absence of faith.”

    As you can see, I haven’t exactly memorized quotes so much as just have a few pat responses to frequently encountered theist “moves.”

  • Meredith

    “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter.It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” – Kurt Vonnegut

    “Come forth into the light of thingsLet nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

    “We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • christopher

    the original Dawkins’ quote is what I want read as my eulogy, but I copied pretty much the whole thread of quotes
    thanks

  • http://zheshiwoying.blogspot.com/ AwesomeCloud’s Mom

    Great quotes! I redid my blog header to include two of them.

    (I’m not much for memorization, though.)

  • http://cafeeine.wordpress.com Cafeeine

    This quote by Carl Sagan, I don’t actually keep memorized, but the bold part comes to mind almost daily, and is as close to a dogma as I hold:

    Science… is forever whispering in our ears, ‘Remember, you’re very new at this. You might be mistaken. You’ve been wrong before.’ Despite all the talk of humility, show me something comparable in religion.

  • Skyler

    Glad to see someone posted the Vonnegut quote!

    Here’s one of my favorites: “It took a couple of hundred million years to develop a thinking ape and you want a smart one in a lousy few hundred thousand?” – Spider Robinson

    And not to belabor poor Jefferson, but I think this sums it up nicely: “We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    I think basically anyone ought to memorize… enough verbiage to acquire the skill, because it’s a useful one. As for -which- verbiage, pick someone whose speech sounds like the way you want yours to. Because once you’ve memorized them, you’ll be subconsciously quoting them for the rest of your life. :)

  • jose

    Ron in Houston,

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. – Buddha”

    Common sense is almost always a liar. If I hear a reputable expert saying something that goes against my own reason and common sense, it’s most likely that the expert is right and my own reason is wrong, particularly if I have no idea what the expert is talking about, which is the case most of the times.

    Examples, ok, common sense teach us that the sun revolves around the earth. According to common sense, there are more real numbers than natural numbers. And common sense is so pitiful with probability that I won’t even mention examples.

    All the greatest ideas always defy–and often beat- most people’s common sense and reason. That quote is a science stopper!

  • http://Religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Perhaps a council could form to determine which quotations to include for a an official (canon) for the cause. Perhaps have certain distinguished quotes in red. The quotes could be organized in books with paragraph and sentence numbers. At the end we can add something like no quotation can be added or taken away or every misfortune imaginable will befall you.

    No, wait… That has already been done.

  • evilspud

    That is will never come again, is what makes living so sweet. -Emily Dickinson

  • http://deviatehulk.blogspot.com Keith

    Meredith’s quote by Vonnegut has always been one of my favorites. I submit another for your approval:

    “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”
    Kurt Vonnegut

  • Revyloution

    Rote memorization is useless.

    All atheists should be able to easily and clearly define:
    Thermodynamics (and not just the second law)
    Evolution
    Logical fallacies
    The difference between consciousness and life
    DNA
    Genetics
    Radiometry, and how it relates to carbon 14 dating, or any other radiometric dating method.

    Im not talking about getting a PHD, im just saying that you should know what they are. When creationists blather about how such and such violates the 2nd law of whatever, you should be able to point out their misconceptions of that field of science.

    Almost apologetics for science, but not quite. Apologetics is about defending the undefensible. Science can defend itself from serious scrutiny. The trouble is taking creationist arguments seriously enough to defend against them.

  • http://russellsauve.com Russell

    “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.”

    Penn Jillette

  • Dan W

    I don’t think we should all memorize some set of quotes made by vocal atheists and/or secular humanists. After all, the main thing that we have in common is no belief in god(s). Some of us may like certain quotes enough to think they merit memorization, others may like entirely different quotes, and some may prefer not to memorize any quotes at all.

    However, I think there are some things all people, not just atheists, should have a better understanding of, in order to see through religious bullshit. Everyone would benefit from learning some logic, and from better knowledge of science, particularly about evolution, abiogenesis, the big bang, and much more important scientific knowledge.

    With regard to quotes, if you want to memorize some, pick the ones you like best. I’m not so good at memorizing quotes to be honest.

  • Dan W

    I also think it would be great if everyone had more knowledge of history.

  • MissAJ

    This would have to be my favorite:

    “My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.” – Elaine Maxwell

  • Chris

    Perhaps some poetry…

    “Think as I think,” said a man,
    “Or you are abominably wicked;
    You are a toad.”

    And after I had thought of it,
    I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”

    -Stephen Crane
    The Black Riders and Other Lines

  • Alt+3

    “You remember that guy who just kept his mouth shut and let other people tell him how to live his life?”
    “No.”
    “Neither does anybody else.”

    -My dad to me.

    Admittedly he wasn’t talking about religion and he might have gotten it from somewhere else but it’s the wisest thing I’ve ever heard him say.

  • http://deck16.net nichevo

    I have a slight knack for accidentally memorising lyrics. Here’s a religious-themed one that got caught up in net:

    And we pray to our Lord
    Who we know is American
    He reigns from on-high
    He speaks to us through middle-men
    And he shepards his flock
    We sing out and we praise his name
    He supports us in war
    He presides over football games
    And the right will prevail
    All our problems shall be resolved
    We hold faith above all
    Unless there’s money or sex involved

    – The Eagles Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

  • GaR

    “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings because Jesus got all the idle minds.”

    — Mark Driver

  • Camus Dude

    First, lemme say that while reading the passage from Dawkins that Hemant posted, in my head was the voice of Sagan. Very majestic passage from Dawkins; worthy of the deep calm passionateness of Sagan’s voice.

    Second, Richard, I respectfully disagree. I think knowing what we do about the human mind, we ought to repeat things to ourselves. Psychological research shows that the more we hear something, the more likely we are to think that it is true. So for things that we hold true, we should attempt to memorize them. Whatever words inspire us, that embody our values, I think it is simply good for us psychologically, socially, culturally, speaking to memorize them – whatever moves us the most, in the best direction, we should memorize them.

    Granted, that will be very different for all of us, but that doesn’t mean the principle that we should memorize things is bad.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

  • http://allusiveatheist.blogspot.com/ T Ray

    Among those who lack belief in gods there is a movement for secular politics and civility. There is a movement skepticism. There is a movement to mitigate the influence of ideologies that lack objective support. There is a movement to free people, as individuals and in general, from the lies of charlatans and mystics.

    But among those who lack belief in gods there is no dogma. There is no doctrine. Even among those who rally, fuel and advance the movement there are no central treatises or tenets. Atheism does not value ideology. Atheism may be subjective or objective, passive or active.

    Atheists do not require a verse or quote. Atheists need only know that the empty testimonies and scriptures offered do not merit belief. It is only by unqualified belief that such reveries may be accepted. It is only by a lack of discretion that phantoms may be thought tangible. It is only by faith that we may be fooled.

    If we adopt a quote, a secret handshake, a coat of arms… we become something more than skeptics. It may be out of necessity that we organize to push back against anti-secularists, liars and child abusers. But let us not forget we bind together because of the spiritualists wrestling for the reins.

  • Geek Gazette

    I have no idea who said these:

    1. “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

    2.”No one doubted the existence of God until theologians starting trying to prove his existence.”

    3. “Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”

  • JohnFrost

    Too long to memorize, but if someone hasn’t mentioned this quote I shall be very disappointed!

    “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

    — Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

  • Ned_Ludd

    A 19th century Frenchman, Loisel, wrote a book about the Catholic church. His famous quotation which got him ex-communicated was:

    “Christ announced the Kingdom, and it was the Church that arrived.”

  • Ned_Ludd

    Lawrence Krauss, cosmologist, said that since we are all stardust, “Forget about Jesus, the stars died for us.”

  • Ned_Ludd

    I made a mistake in my earlier post, it was Alfred Loisy who made the statement.

  • littlejohn

    The phone number of their bail bondsman and their lawyer. After all, cops always take our side in public demonstrations (NOT).

  • baz

    “Nothing is so easy as to deceive one’s self;
    for what we wish, we readily believe.” Demosthenes

  • Steven

    I think I can call to mind a few favourites worth memorizing:

    “God created man in his own image, so man, being a gentleman, returned the favour” – spoken by Richard Burton in P.H Farmer’s Riverworld novel.

    “An end is the beginning of something, always” – Spider Robinson

    “We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

  • JB Tait

    I recommend the poem, Desiderata, which includes

    You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
    You have a right to be here.

    The religious reference, ” . . . whatever you conceive Him to be,” does not exclude non-existent.

    I also enjoy being able to recite “Jabberwocky” and anything from Now We Are Six.

  • Richiban

    With regards to what jose said:

    Common sense is almost always a liar.

    This is so true, especially when it comes to subjects such as statistics and probability. It seems that without any formal training or education our instincts are spectacularly bad at estimating probabilities. This is why people still cling to pseudoscience such as homeopathy and astrology.

    Here’s an example (there’s a video on YouTube explaining it): if you get a pair of random strangers together in a room, the probability of them having the same birthday is pretty low. How many people would you have to get in the room before the chances are that any two of them share a birthday? I.e. what is the lowest number of people you could have and the probability of a shared birthday is still more than half.

    Many people’s guessed when I ask them this end up in the hundreds, but in actual fact the answer is 23 people (does matter if you count leap years). Much less than you’d think…

    So yeah, beware of trusting common sense over evidence.

  • bernerbits

    “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

    “Stuff’s complex, therefore God” is not an accepted line of reasoning no matter how fancy theologians try to make it sound.

  • Elzigzag

    “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in.
    Some of us just go one god further.”
    · Richard Dawkins

  • Becca

    This is one of my favorite quotes of all time:

    “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell

  • L. Foster

    I agree that there are no definite “shoulds” to memorize; however, I do have some favorites of my own:

    “You are entitled to your own opinion… but not your own facts.” –Daniel Patrick Moynahan

    “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” (original source unknown)

    “Morality is doing what’s right in spite of what you’re told; religion is doing what you’re told in spite of what’s right.” (original source unknown)

  • Unholy Holly

    I loved this when I saw it recently, but don’t know to whom it is attributed (can someone fill me in?)

    “Atheism is not a religion, it is a personal relationship with reality.”

    Also — JB Tait: perfect! I memorized Jabberwocky as a kid and scared my little peers one night during a lunar eclipse (woo!) by reciting it, and Now We are Six is also one of my favorite books of verse.

  • tomath

    Common sense can and must be trusted as a means to evaluate evidence. How else can we judge the validity of evidence or reason? It is like the need for axioms as a basis for building theorems and theories. It is our fundamental reasoning faculty. We can’t abandon that, and we needn’t try to. We make mistakes using our fundamental reasoning faculty (common sense) but learn to do better with more correct and more complete information. That the earth goes around the sun makes (common) sense to us once we are informed about why this is a better idea than the sun revolving around the earth. And learning about this requires us to use common sense anyway in order for us to ‘feel’ that the newer theory is truer than the old one.

    Also, one quote above (I forget which) plus quite a number of commenters I’ve read over the years have the idea that ‘Believing’ should be essentially equated with ‘having faith’. I don’t think that’s a good idea. We don’t ‘know’ any truth directly, so how are we to say that we accept something as true for whatever reason, substantial or not? ‘Think’ has a very short-term feel to it and really doesn’t suffice, IMO. I use ‘believe’ simply to mean ‘accept as true’ and don’t confound it with faith which has a whole further dimension to it that skeptics all reject. Even axioms, which can’t be proven true are not accepted on faith because many many real examples that confirm them may usually be found.

    One more thing: Can a statement possibly be true if it has only one truth value and that value is -false-? Can a god possibly exist if ‘he’ does not exist? If ‘he’ does exist, then could he possibly not exist?
    I think you know the answers. Possibilities and probabilities exist for statements (and objects existing, for example) that have both truth values under different conditions and not under exactly the same conditions, that is they are true under some conditions and false under others. For such things it is possible to specify a condition under which the statement is true and therefore the statement is ‘possibly true’.

  • http://namelesscynic.blogspot.com Nameless Cynic

    Biblical porn is always good.

    “There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.” (Ezekial 23:20)

  • tomath

    I should have said ‘real’ before ‘condition’ and ‘conditions’ above so as to be talking about reality, only, rather than both real and hypothetical situations.

  • Gilraen

    Steven said:

    ““God created man in his own image, so man, being a gentleman, returned the favour” – spoken by Richard Burton in P.H Farmer’s Riverworld novel.”

    That quote came from Inherit The Wind.
    That book is a must-read for all, freethinkers and those who are not.

  • Mike

    I agree with Richard. But there is no reason to not share favorites, n’est pas?

    It is not acceptable to have a religion where the alternative to faith is punishment — that’s how you train dogs, not develop people. — Deng Ming-Dao

    If you believe everything you read, better not read. –Japanese proverb

    If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. — Thomas Szasz

    In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination. — Mark Twain

    If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. — Anatole France

    And from Frightened Rabbit…

    When my blood stops,
    Someone else’s will not.
    When my head rolls off,
    Someone else’s will turn.
    And while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth.

  • Godless Lawyer

    “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency”

    – James Madison, Federalist No. 10

    Not so much exclusive to Atheists, but definitely something everyone should remember.

  • gstar

    I don’t know the exact quote so I will paraphrase.

    It’s not that I don’t believe in god. I believe that there is no god.

    Douglas Adams said it, and a lot of other really good stuff. Read The Salmon of Doubt, released posthumously.

  • Joffan

    We are all stardust.

    =====================

    I’m not that keen on the Dawkins quote, since the “odds” he’s talking about don’t really exist and confuse even further most people’s muddled understanding of probability – especially in the realm of evolutionary biology.

  • Erin

    I’m uncomfortable with the idea of one saying that encompasses my belief system.

    My atheism is personal and don’t feel I belong to a group/sect of atheists.

    Richard Dawkins seems to be a deity to some atheists, which makes me wonder – is that atheism if you unquestioningly believe anything the man says?

  • aerie

    This may have been mentioned already, but in terms of talking to believers or even getting them to think, I think Epicurus asked great questions & it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with them in some form that believers can understand and relative to:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil & end suffering but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is God both able & willing? Then why do evil & suffering still exist? Is he neither able nor willing? Then he is not god. Why call him so?”
    Of course, their answer will undoubtedly have something to do with the concept of “free will”. As if a truly quad-omni god couldn’t end suffering & evil w/o also sabotaging man’s ‘free will’.

  • butterbean

    “What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it.”

    —St. Augustine

  • tomath

    Assuming ‘God’ isn’t the sole cause of suffering and evil then it must be at least partly man’s doing. If suffering and evil are stopped by ‘God’ then he interferes with man’s intent and therefore with his ‘free will’ if there is such a thing to begin with.

  • Steven

    Thanks for the correction Gilrean, it seems that I can memorize quotes reasonably well but not always the sources!

    I agree that Inherit the Wind is an excellent read and I was part of the cast in my high school’s production of the play (over 20 years ago). Ironically, I played the minister – not the usual role for an atheist.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    I was always told it was good to memorize things to help with memory. But those same people told me god exists… hmmm…

    I think all people should know what they believe and why. No matter their views.

    I think all people should know their legal rights.

    But as far as specific things that Atheists should know or have memorized, I think we should have a good grasp on the hypocritical statements of religion and the religious. As they are the ones that seek to oppress us. We should know our country’s history and we should never back down.

    Some of my favorite quotes are:

    “When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” ~Emo Philips

    “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” ~Pat Robertson

    “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” ~ Dr. Seuss

    And I love the quote on being made of stars. My children love it when I sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ because they know the stars died for them to be here today. They also laugh when I refer to the stars as being akin to a diamond or a light bulb, as they know better.

  • CNR

    Wow, lots of good stuff here.

    Without getting redundant, here is one that is a bit trite since its from a movie, but I like it:

    Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?

    Neo: Because I choose to.

  • Neil

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    -Epicurus

  • Brian Macker

    More importantly, what should people who don’t believe in leprechauns memorize?

  • tomath

    I don’t like to throw cold (holy) water on Epicurus’s fine skeptical questions about ‘God’, but didn’t he ignor a possibility in the conclusion to the second question: ‘Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent”. What if he’s not willing because evil and suffering are part of his ‘plan’ in which the metal and character of humans is being tested under normally occuring occasional evil and suffering caused by humans and by accident? If this is what’s going on, then why call ‘him’ malevolent unless you believe no-one should be tested like this in order to determine some after-life status or fate? Under such a plan, there’s no reason to assume that this ‘God’ derives any pleasure from the suffering of humans–it’s called ‘necessary evil’. You might even imagine that ‘he’ feels real sorry for them, at least the good ones, but knows that this suffering, for those good ones, will last for only a blip of time within an eternity, something they will forget soon and for the rest of their eternal existence–not a bad fate for *them*! Epicurus totally ignored the most important malevolence of all, the one that makes the kind of god most people believe in the most odious thing imaginable–the malevolence of eternal punishment, an incalculably monstrous injustice. The issue of whether there is a god or not would be rendered almost insignificant if such a malevolence were not a part of the package, and instead a god of *real* justice was believed in by many. As an atheist, I could get along very well with these believers.

  • Dylan

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Jebus

    Gay marriage? NO MARRIAGE FOR YOU.

    Abortion? BABIES FOR YOU 24/7.

    Republican? LETS SILENCE YOUR RIGHTS.

    Ah, don’t you just love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning?