First Day Quotations


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

“Asking ‘if there is no God, what is the purpose of life?’ Is like asking ‘If there is no master, whose slave will I be?’”

“Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.”

“God is a sound people make when they’re too tired to think anymore.”

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”

“Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”

“The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.”

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

“If the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same infinite god, whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?”

“If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.”

“Secularisms is categorically not saying that the religious may not speak out publily or have a say in public life. It is about saying that religion alone should not confer a privileged say in public life, or greater influence on it. It really is as simple as that.”

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this like – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.”

“One cannot correctly understand the black religious experience without an affirmation of deep faith informed by profound doubt. Suffering naturally gives rise to doubt. How can one believe in God in the face of such horrendous suffering as slavery, segregation, and the lynching tree? Under these circumstances, doubt is not a denial but an integral part of faith.”

“Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”

“I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.”

“Isn’t an agnostic just an atheist without balls?”

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

“In every historical example, missionaries pave the way for other colonizers and capitalists, and often, are themselves the colonizers and capitalists, with intention to dispossess and accumulate whatever they can, including but not limited to souls, land, labor: there are no missionaries with good intentions.”

“The New Atheists believe that science replaces the claims about the world that religion makes — and therefore makes religion redundant. Some of them think that a whole new moral system should be based on science. That’s sounding more and more like religion itself to me. But the other unsettling way in which Humanism imitates religion — and perhaps the most notable one in the case of the New Atheists — is its claim that people who do not share its beliefs are not only mistaken but also deluded and perhaps even evil. The line I quoted above about opposition to evolution being a sign of insanity and possibly wickedness comes, of course, from Richard Dawkins.”

“In short, he claims that atheism and theism exist in a kind of symbiosis, one enabling the existence of the other. Atheism is a not-thing; a negation. It exists as a counterpoint to theism and can only continue to be a distinct idea if the notion of theism is still a credible set of ideas. Escaping from this vortex is essential if we are to move to the important issues facing humanity and the planet. We do this, Lindsay argues, by calling the question on theism, pronouncing it dead, and then moving on to a post-theistic conversation about life itself—the actual psychological and social issues that are the very real issues keeping the idea of “God” alive.”

Queer Theory 

“This body is not only a thing in the world, subject to physical gravity, but a thing that carries its own historical gravity, and this collect weight bears down on the ‘sexednesss’ of the body and the possibilities of experience.”

“On the one hand, man is a body, in the same way that this may be said of every other animal organism. On the other hand, man has a body. That is, man experiences himself as an entity that is not identical with his body, but that, on the contrary, has that body at its disposal.”

“Gender is all about maintaining the idea that men and women are different.”

“She brushes her teeth, brushes her hair, and starts downstairs. She pauses several treads from the bottom, listening, waiting; she is again possessed (it seems to be getting worse) by a dreamlike feeling, as if she is standing in the wings, about to go onstage and perform in a play for which is not appropriately dressed, and for which she has not adequately rehearsed. What, she wonders, is wrong with her.

But this is History. Distance yourselves. Our perspective on the past alters. Looking back, immediately in front of us is dead ground. We don’t see it, and because we don’t see it this means that there is no period so remote as the recent past. And one of the historian’s jobs is to anticipate what our perspective of that period will be.”

“History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers me, if it remembers anything at all, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth. For what ever else I am, a husband, a lawyer, a President, I shall always think of myself as a man who struggled against the darkness.”

“By positionality we mean…that gender, race, class and other aspects of our identities are markers of relational positions rather than essential qualities. Knowledge is valid when it includes an acknowledgment of the knower’s specific position in any context, because changing contextual and relational factors are crucial for defining identities and our knowledge in any given situation.”