80 Short Quotes About Atheism

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 15, 2009 in General Atheism,Quotes,Video

I don’t agree with all of these, but ya gotta love the music!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

mikespeir June 15, 2009 at 7:44 am

Yeah.  I liked a lot of the quotes, but I loved the music!

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 7:46 am

“Absence of evidence is evidence of absence” is a bastardization of a Carl Sagan quote: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

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Alex G June 15, 2009 at 9:57 am

Uh…Could I ask you a question? To what extent do you disagree with the new atheists? I know you have expressed annoyance towards some of them, especially Dawkins and Harris, but you also just linked an article defending them on your twitter. What is your main point of contention?

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William June 15, 2009 at 10:24 am

Oh, love the music, but come on….these guys are not in your camp.

“Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.”
– Blaise Pascal. This man was anything but an atheist. Have you read Pensees? It is the beginnings of his defense of the Christian Faith.

“I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.”
– Thomas Paine, from his work The Age of Reason, Part 1, Chapter 1, aptly entitled The Author’s Profession of Faith.

“I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, — and I also believe that without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our Projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a Reproach and Bye word down to future Ages.”
– Benjamin Franklin, in a speech to the Constitutional Convention given in June of 1787.

And this is certain the most blatant and intentional miss-quoted statement in the list.
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”
– John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson and can be found in the library of congress.

I certainly wouldn’t argue about Sagan, Dawkins, and Hitchens, but Pascal, Paine, Franklin and Adams were NOT atheists. The rest I am not even going to consider because the author of this little clip has proven less than honest. I will simply minimize this window, ignore the quotes, and enjoy the music.

Peace!

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 11:12 am

William: “Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.” – John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson and can be found in the library of congress.

Wow. Thanks for letting me know the context of this quote. I hate quote mining, and I’ve never once seen this quote in it’s context. Thanks.

William: I certainly wouldn’t argue about Sagan, Dawkins, and Hitchens, but Pascal, Paine, Franklin and Adams were NOT atheists.

I agree with you there. They certainly weren’t theists, either, though (with  the exception of Pascal, who I’m not sure about). They were deists, which (in my opinion, anyway) is closer to atheism than to [Christian] theism. Based on their writings, they would probably be agnostics or atheists if they lived today.

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 11:14 am

Oh damn… I hate it when people misuse “it’s”, and I’ve just done it…

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Alex G June 15, 2009 at 11:38 am

 btw, I actually hate this video. Okay fine, the music’s cool, but it puts us on par with morons like Ray Comfort and other creationists who shamelessly quote people out of context.

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Haukur June 15, 2009 at 12:40 pm

“Surely you do not believe in the gods. What’s your argument? Where’s your proof?” – Aristophanes
That’s awfully out of context as well. It ignores that after the first sentence another character speaks before the first character continues the utterance. And Aristophanes was a comedian – these lines are there because he’s setting up a joke; the answer to the question turns out to be that the gods persecute and hate the other character; that’s the argument and the proof.

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lukeprog June 15, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Alex G,

I actually agree with most of Dawkins’ book – the others, not quite so much. In general, they make many unsound arguments and are too broad in their criticism of religion.

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 6:20 pm

lukeprog: I actually agree with most of Dawkins’ book – the others, not quite so much. In general, they make many unsound arguments and are too broad in their criticism of religion.

Really? I haven’t read Harris or Hitchens or anything, but I did read Dawkins, and I was unimpressed. I think he raises some good points, but I don’t think that he succeeds in demonstrating that God “almost certainly does not exist”. Perhaps I’m just cynical (or perhaps I expected TGD to be as good as his works on evolutionary biology, which I consider to be superb), but I’m not there with you on this one.   :-|

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Perhaps I would really hate the others, if you liked Dawkins but thought the others had unsound arguments. I did like Breaking the Spell, but it doesn’t really try to argue that God doesn’t exist. It mostly argues that we should study religion as a natural phenomenon (and teach in schools as such), whether or not God exists.

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lukeprog June 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Lorkas,

Relatively little of Dawkins’ book was spent on showing that theism is almost certainly false, and that was indeed the weakest part of the book. I do not recommend TGD at all.

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Lorkas June 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm

lukeprog: Relatively little of Dawkins’ book was spent on showing that theism is almost certainly false, …

True. Have you read any of his other stuff? He definitely has some useful thoughts on understanding evolution.

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Nick Barrowman June 16, 2009 at 3:29 am

Lorkas,
I learned recently that the quote “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” was not coined by Carl Sagan, but rather cosmologist Martin Rees. Perhaps more to the point, it’s not true.

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Lorkas June 16, 2009 at 6:48 am

Nick Barrowman: Lorkas, I learned recently that the quote “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” was not coined by Carl Sagan, but rather cosmologist Martin Rees. Perhaps more to the point, it’s not true.

I disagree. There are a lot of different reasons why there might be an absence of evidence, so the quote oversimplifies things.
For example, there is no real evidence for string theory. Does that mean it isn’t true? Well, when you consider that the reason that there is no evidence for it is because we haven’t yet turned on instruments powerful enough to test it, you realize that’s not really true.
Absence of evidence is only evidence of absence if we would expect to find evidence, and we don’t. For example, if we turn on the LHC, perform an experiment that we would expect to show evidence for string theory, and the evidence doesn’t appear. That absence of evidence would be evidence of absence, but our current absence is not.
I would say that the absence of evidence for the Christian God is evidence of absence, because the Bible makes specific predictions about how God interacts with the world, and we see that those predictions don’t come true. On the other hand, the absence of evidence for the deist, clockmaker God is not evidence for absence, because that theory doesn’t make any specific predictions that have gone unconfirmed. However, it is a useless theory, for precisely the same reason.

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Nick Barrowman June 20, 2009 at 5:06 am

Sounds like we’re actually in agreement. My claim is that the assertion that “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” is incorrect. As you’ve pointed out, sometimes absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

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Lorkas June 20, 2009 at 5:44 am

Eh… yeah, but way to ignore the point I made that sometimes it is not evidence of absence. My point is that neither one of the quotes is correct, until you look at the individual circumstances of what you’re talking about. If you don’t agree with that, then you don’t agree with what I said.
 
If I said something like “Numbers between 1 and 10 are odd”, you would say that statement is false. Why? Because the fact that a number is between 1 and 10 tells us nothing about whether the number is odd or not. You have to look at the specific number before you can make that assessment. That’s exactly my point here–”Absence of evidence is evidence of absence” and “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” are both incorrect, for the reason I state above.

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Nick Barrowman June 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Agreed. But note that I never claimed that “Absence of evidence is evidence of absence”. I simply asserted the incorrectness of the claim that “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. For a categorical statement to be correct, it must always hold.
 
 

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danielg July 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm
lukeprog July 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

Nice list, danielg.

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