Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain.
-Mark Twain, Notebook, 1879
Almost no one is indifferent to Darwin, and no one should be. The Darwinian theory is a scientific theory, and a great one, but that is not all it is. The creationists who oppose it so bitterly are right about one thing: Darwin's dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves.
--Daniel Dennet, Darwin's Dangerous Idea
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (2006)
I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.
--Albert Einstein, The World as I See It
One who lacks a sense of justice lacks certain fundamental attitudes and capacities included under the notion of humanity. Now the moral feelings are admittedly unpleasant, in some extended sense of unpleasant; but there is no way for us to avoid a liability to them without disfiguring ourselves. This liability is the price of love and trust, of friendship and affection, and of devotion to institutions and traditions from which we have benefited and which serve the general interests of mankind.
--John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971)
In proportion to the want of happiness resulting from the want of rights, a reason exists for wishing that there were such things as rights. But reasons for wishing there were such things as rights, are not rights; a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right--want is not supply--hunger is not bread.... That which has no existence cannot be destroyed-- that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense--nonsense upon stilts.
--Jeremy Bentham, Anarchical Fallacies (1791)
It has often and confidently been asserted, that man's origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
--Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)
If you reject the theory of evolution, or think that there is such a thing as alternative (as opposed to evidence-based) medicine, or claim without evidence that aliens are visiting the planet, or think that the stars influence human destiny, and so on, you are anti-science and live in a dream world with no connection to reality. More damning, you are engaging in the ultimate act of arrogance: to declare something true or untrue not because you have reason or evidence, but only because it makes you feel better. May I suggest that you need a good dose of humility, and that one way to get it is to admit that the universe is not about you, and that some people out there really know more than you do, as unpleasant a thought as this may be?
--Massimo Pigliucci, "Intellectual Arrogance" (2008)
Our minds thus grow in spots; and like grease-spots, the spots spread. But we let them spread as little as possible: we keep unaltered as much of our old knowledge, as many of our old prejudices and beliefs, as we can. We patch and tinker more than we renew. The novelty soaks in; it stains the ancient mass; but it is also tinged by what absorbs it.
William James, Pragmatism (1907)