All unsere Wissenschaft ist, gemessen an der Wirklichkeit, primitiv und kindlich – und doch ist sie unser kostbarstes Gut.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other and I trust I never shall.
(Die eindrucksvollste Waffe gegen Irrtümer aller Art, ist die Vernunft. Ich habe niemals eine andere geführt und werde dies auch zukünftig niemals tun.)
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.
(Was ohne Beweis behauptet werden kann, kann auch ohne Beweis abgelehnt werden.)
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary (strong) evidence.
(Außergewöhnliche Behauptungen erfordern außergewöhnliche (starke) Beweise.)
Eine Lüge ist eine Lüge, auch wenn alle daran glauben. Die Wahrheit ist die Wahrheit, auch wenn niemand daran glaubt.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
(Mit einem Menschen zu diskutieren, der darauf verzichtet seine Vernunft zu gebrauchen, ist wie die Verabreichnung von Medizin an einen Toten.)
Es ist nicht sinnvoll, eine Behauptung zu glauben, wenn es keinen Grund zu der Annahme gibt, dass sie wahr ist.
Zwei Dinge sind unendlich, das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit, aber bei dem Universum bin ich mir noch nicht ganz sicher.
„Fundamentalismus jeder Art könnte wohl wegen seiner grundlegenden Bedingung, der Abwesenheit jedes intelligenten Gedanken, die schlimmste aller Massenvernichtungswaffen sein.“
David J. Constable
Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefasste Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom.
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
(Ich fürchte mich nicht vor dem Tod. Ich war für Milliarden und Abermilliarden Jahre Tod, bevor ich geboren wurde und ich musste nicht die leiseste Unbequemlichkeit erleiden.)
In jedem Dorf gibt es eine Fackel – den Lehrer;
und jemanden, der dieses Licht löscht – den Pfarrer.
Der menschliche Verstand ist kein trockenes Licht, sondern empfängt Einflüsse vom Willen und von den Gemütsbewegungen; von daher rühren Wissenschaften, die man »Wissenschaften, wie man sie gern hätte« nennen könnte. Denn was nach dem Willen eines Menschen wahr wäre, wird von ihm umso bereitwilliger geglaubt. Daher lehnt er schwierige Dinge ab, aus Ungeduld, sie zu erforschen; vernünftige Dinge, weil sie die Hoffnung beschränken; die tieferen Dinge der Natur aus Aberglauben; das Licht der Erfahrung aus Überheblichkeit und Stolz; Dinge, die man gemeinhin nicht glaubt, weil er sich der Meinung der Masse beugt. Kurzum: Auf zahllose Art und Weise und zuweilen unmerklich färben und beeinflussen die Gemütsbewegungen den Verstand.
Francis Bacon, Novum Organon (1620)
Entschiedenheit wurzelt häufiger in Unwissenheit als in Wissen. Es sind immer nur diejenigen, die wenig wissen, und nicht diejenigen, die viel wissen, welche nachdrücklich behaupten, daß dieses oder jenes Problem von der Wissenschaft niemals gelöst werden könne.
Charles Darwin, aus der Einleitung zu Die Abstammung des Menschen (1871)
Ungeprüfte und unbestätigte Erkenntnisse sind eine unzureichende Garantie für die Wahrheit.
Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (1929)
Die Tatsache, dass ein gläubiger Mensch glücklicher ist als ein Skeptiker ist vergleichbar mit der Tatsache, dass ein betrunkener Mann glücklicher ist, als ein Nüchterner. Das Glück der Leichtgläubigkeit ist ein billiges und gefährliches Gut.
George Bernard Shaw
Glaube bedeutet, die Wahrheit nicht wissen zu wollen.
Mit oder ohne Religion würden gute Menschen Gutes und schlechte Menschen Schlechtes tun. Aber damit gute Menschen Schlechtes tun, dafür braucht es die Religion.
Das Unsichtbare und das Nicht-existente sehen sich ziemlich ähnlich.
Delos B. McKown
Es sind nicht die Teile der Bibel, die ich nicht verstehe, die mich stören, es sind die Teile der Bibel, die ich verstehe.
Ich sehe, dass die Welt deutliche weniger von Ignoranz als von vorgespieltem Wissen leidet. Es sind nicht Skeptiker oder Entdecker sondern Fanatiker und Ideologen, die Anstand und Fortschritt bedrohen. Kein Agnostiker hat jemals jemanden auf dem Scheiterhaufen verbrannt oder hat einen Heiden, Ketzer oder Ungläubigen gefoltert.
Der Glaube gibt dir keine Antworten, er sorgt nur dafür, dass du keine Fragen mehr stellst.
Der Glaube daran, dass es keinen Gott gibt, gibt mir mehr Raum für meinen Glauben an Familie, Menschen, Liebe, Wahrheit, Schönheit, Wackelpudding und all die anderen Dinge, die ich beweisen kann und die mein Leben zum besten Leben machen, dass ich je haben werde.
Ich bin ein Gegner der Religion. Sie lehrt uns, damit zufrieden zu sein, dass wir die Welt nicht verstehen.
Ich habe niemals auch nur den geringsten wissenschaftlichen Beweis für die religiösen Prinzipien von Himmel und Hölle, von zukünftigen Leben für Einzelne, oder von einem persönlichen Gott gesehen. Was die heutige Religion betrifft, ist sie eine verdammte Fälschung. Religion ist nur Mist.
Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, “Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!” If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.
Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.
The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?
You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?
I am an atheist because there is no evidence for the existence of God. That should be all that needs to be said about it: no evidence, no belief.
Freethinkers reject faith as a valid tool of knowledge. Faith is the opposite of reason because reason imposes very strict limits on what can be true, and faith has no limits at all. A Great Escape into faith is no retreat to safety. It is nothing less than surrender.
The difference between faith and insanity is that faith is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence whereas insanity is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence.
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect that core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit with the core belief.
Faith is belief without evidence and reason; coincidentally that’s also the definition of delusion.
Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left with only art, music, literature, theatre, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love, and the wonder of birth. That’ll do for me.
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.
Robert M. Pirsig
Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, “Well, that’s not how I choose to think about water”? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?
Our story is the story of the universe. Every piece of everyone, of everything you love and everything you hate, of the thing you hold most precious, was assembled by the forces of nature in the first few minutes of the life of the universe, transformed in the hearts of the stars or created in their fiery deaths. And when you die, those pieces will be returned to the universe in the endless cycle of death and rebirth. What a wonderful thing it is to be part of that universe. What a story, what a majestic story.
I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.
Religion does three things quite effectively: divides people, controls people, deludes people.
Religion just amounts to bad science, in the end. It’s our most primitive effort to describe our origins and the reasons for why things happen. When you don’t understand the weather, when you don’t understand why crops fail, when you don’t understand the origins of disease, you make up explanations. And this is religion. When you develop a methodology by which these things can be understood, you rely on honest observation and clear reasoning, and this is science.
All religions make the same mistake. They all take the only real faculty we have that distinguishes us from other primates, and from other animals—the faculty of reason, and the willingness to take any risk that reason demands of us—and they replace that with the idea that faith is a virtue. If I could change just one thing, it would be to dissociate the idea of faith from virtue—now and for good—and to expose it for what it is: a servile weakness, a refuge in cowardice, and a willingness to follow, with credulity, people who are in the highest degree unscrupulous.
Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. We should get rid of it as quick as we can.
Author Arthur C. Clarke
I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.
Had Christianity not interrupted the intellectual advance of mankind and put the progress of science on hold for a thousand years, the Scientific Revolution might have occurred a thousand years ago, and our science and technology today would be a thousand years more advanced.
The basic ethics of an open and free society are to be prepared to defend what you believe with reasoned argument from public evidence, be prepared to change your mind, and be tolerant of diverse views on questions the evidence does not suffice to decide. Religious faith that promises great gifts in a mythical hereafter as the reward for adherence to unverifiable claims contradicts these ethics. In fact it is science that practices the generosity and inclusiveness that religions teach, and for that reason will triumph, because ultimately human beings prefer to be reasoned with rather than coerced and manipulated.
If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.
To use the term “blind faith”, is to use an adjective needlessly.
Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.
Science is the greatest of all adventure stories, one that’s been unfolding for thousands of years as we have sought to understand ourselves and our surroundings. Science needs to be taught to the young and communicated to the mature in a manner that captures this drama. We must embark on a cultural shift that places science in its rightful place alongside music, art and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.
The one experience that I hope every student has at some point in their lives is to have some belief you profoundly, deeply hold, proved to be wrong because that is the most eye-opening experience you can have, and as a scientist, to me, is the most exciting experience I can ever have.
Religion is like farting: we like our own but hate everyone elses.
The laws of evolution can also determine the initial state. The universe can spontaneously create itself out of nothing… we think we have solved the mystery of creation.
Science tells us what we can know, but what we can know is little, and if we forget how much we cannot know we become insensitive to many things of great importance. Theology, on the other hand, induces a dogmatic belief that we have knowledge where in fact we have ignorance, and by so doing generates a kind of impertinent insolence towards the universe. Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales. It is not good either to forget the questions that philosophy asks, or to persuade ourselves that we have found indubitable answers to them. To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying religion doesn’t have its uses. Personally I turn to it whenever I want my intelligence insulted. And the holy scriptures come in very handy when I need to justify behaviour I’m ashamed of.
I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.
We [scientists] don’t reject the supernatural merely because we have an overweening philosophical commitment to materialism; we reject it because entertaining the supernatural has never helped us understand the natural world. Alchemy, faith healing, astrology, creationism—none of these perspectives has advanced our understanding of nature by one iota.
I have a friend who’s an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don’t agree with. He’ll hold up a flower and say, ‘Look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree. But then he’ll say, ‘I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.’ I think he’s kind of nutty. [...] There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.
Richard P. Feynman
Never yet has a God been defined in terms which were not palpably self-contradictory and absurd; never yet has a God been described so that a concept of Him was made possible to human thought.
Science requires truthfulness in order for its very existence. Religion, on the other hand, does not. Religion only requires that people believe it’s true. Lying to people to get them to believe is perfectly ok.
While most Americans believe that getting rid of religion is an impossible goal, much of the developed world has already accomplished it. Any account of a ”god gene“ that causes the majority of Americans to helplessly organize their lives around ancient works of religious fiction must explain why so many inhabitants of other First World societies apparently lack such a gene. The level of atheism throughout the rest of the developed world refutes any argument that religion is somehow a moral necessity. Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious.
George Bush says he speaks to God every day. And Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to God through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.