Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index A > Category: Atheist

Atheist Quotes (15 quotes)

A century ago, Darwin and his friends were thought to be dangerous atheists, but their heresy simply replaced a benevolent personal deity called God by a benevolent impersonal deity called Evolution. In their different ways Bishop Wilberforce and T.H. Huxley both believed in Fate.
From transcript of BBC radio Reith Lecture (12 Nov 1967), 'A Runaway World', on the bbc.co.uk website.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (578)  |  Benevolent (9)  |  Both (493)  |  Call (769)  |  Century (310)  |  Dangerous (105)  |  Darwin (14)  |  Deity (22)  |  Different (577)  |  Evolution (590)  |  Fate (72)  |  Friend (168)  |  God (757)  |  Heresy (9)  |  Thomas Henry Huxley (126)  |  Impersonal (5)  |  Personal (67)  |  Replace (31)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Simply (53)  |  Thought (953)  |  Way (1217)  |  Samuel Wilberforce (3)

Do these models give a pointer to God? The steady-state universe, the Hawking model... and the infinitely oscillating model decidedly do not. One might almost regard them as models manufactured for a Society of Atheists.
'From Entropy to God', in K. Martinas, L. Ropolyi and P. Szegedi (eds.) Thermodynamics: History and Philosophy: Facts, Trends, Debates (1991), 386.
Science quotes on:  |  Do (1908)  |  God (757)  |  Stephen W. Hawking (56)  |  Model (102)  |  Pointer (5)  |  Regard (305)  |  Society (326)  |  State (491)  |  Steady (44)  |  Steady-State (2)  |  Universe (857)

I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
'Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible'. In Sidney Hook, et. al. On the Barricades: Religion and Free Inquiry in Conflict (1989), 329.
Science quotes on:  |  Agnostic (9)  |  Better (486)  |  Biography (240)  |  Creature (233)  |  Emotion (100)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Exist (443)  |  Existence (456)  |  God (757)  |  Humanist (7)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Long (790)  |  Prove (250)  |  Reason (744)  |  Say (984)  |  Somehow (48)  |  Suspect (16)  |  Time (1877)  |  Want (497)  |  Waste (101)  |  Year (933)

I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
In Rosemarie Jarski, Words from the Wise (2007), 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Afterlife (3)  |  Boredom (11)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Hell (32)  |  Life (1795)  |  More (2559)  |  Spend (95)  |  Think (1086)  |  Torture (29)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Whole (738)

I ought to call myself an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely.
Letter (1958) to Mr Major. Collected in Dear Bertrand Russell: A Selection of his Correspondence with the General Public, 1950 - 1968 (1969), 41-42.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Agnostic (9)  |  All (4108)  |  Call (769)  |  China (23)  |  Christian (43)  |  Do (1908)  |  Earth (996)  |  Existence (456)  |  God (757)  |  Illustration (48)  |  Mar (2)  |  Mars (44)  |  More (2559)  |  Myself (212)  |  Nobody (104)  |  Orbit (81)  |  Practical (200)  |  Practice (204)  |  Probable (20)  |  Prove (250)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Teapot (3)  |  Think (1086)  |  Unlikely (13)

If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Basis (173)  |  Belief (578)  |  Choose (112)  |  God (757)  |  Honest (50)  |  Live (628)  |  Pattern (110)  |  People (1005)  |  Preacher (13)  |  Prefer (25)  |  Save (118)  |  Think (1086)  |  Totality (15)  |  TV (2)  |  Word (619)

If there is no God, we are just molecules in motion, and we have no sense and no mind; we are just random firings of chemical in the brain. If our minds are composed only of physical matter, then our thoughts are, as Doug Wilson wittily quipped in his debate with atheist Dan Barker, just “brain gas.”
God Does Exist (2005), 45.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (270)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Composition (84)  |  Debate (38)  |  Gas (83)  |  God (757)  |  Matter (798)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Molecule (174)  |  Motion (310)  |  Physical (508)  |  Quip (80)  |  Random (41)  |  Sense (770)  |  Thought (953)  |  Wit (59)

I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It doe s not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
…...
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Arrangement (91)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Being (1278)  |  Book (392)  |  Call (769)  |  Child (307)  |  Different (577)  |  Dimly (6)  |  Enter (141)  |  Fill (61)  |  God (757)  |  Huge (25)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Being (175)  |  Intelligent (100)  |  Know (1518)  |  Language (293)  |  Library (48)  |  Little (707)  |  Most (1731)  |  Must (1526)  |  Myself (212)  |  Mysterious (79)  |  Order (632)  |  Position (77)  |  Seem (145)  |  Someone (22)  |  Suspect (16)  |  Think (1086)  |  Toward (45)  |  Write (230)

Many scientists are atheists or agnostics who want to believe that the natural world they study is all there is, and being only human, they try to persuade themselves that science gives them grounds for that belief. It’s an honorable belief, but it isn’t a research finding.
In 'Oppressed by Evolution', Discover (Mar 1998), 83. Cited in Eugenie Carol Scott, Evolution vs. Creationism: an Introduction (2005), 67.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Agnostic (9)  |  All (4108)  |  Being (1278)  |  Belief (578)  |  Ground (217)  |  Honorable (14)  |  Human (1468)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural World (25)  |  Research (664)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Study (653)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Try (283)  |  Want (497)  |  World (1774)

Most scientists think of science as being a kind of purifying intellectual machinery that leads to honesty, to the withering away of ignorance and wrong ideas, including, provided they are of the atheistic persuasion, those of religion.
In Pamela Weintraub (ed.), 'E. O. Wilson', The Omni Interviews (1984), 231.
Science quotes on:  |  Being (1278)  |  Honesty (25)  |  Idea (843)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Kind (557)  |  Lead (384)  |  Machinery (56)  |  Most (1731)  |  Persuasion (8)  |  Purify (9)  |  Religion (361)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Think (1086)  |  Wither (8)  |  Wrong (234)

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.
In Fact and Faith (1934), vi.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (179)  |  Affair (29)  |  Angel (44)  |  Assumption (92)  |  Career (75)  |  Course (409)  |  Devil (31)  |  Dishonest (6)  |  Dishonesty (9)  |  Experiment (695)  |  God (757)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Interfere (17)  |  Interference (21)  |  Justification (48)  |  Practice (204)  |  Profession (99)  |  Professional (70)  |  Say (984)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Set (394)  |  Success (302)  |  Word (619)  |  World (1774)

The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear at an early stage of development, e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learned especially from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer, contains a much stronger element of this. The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.
…...
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Age (499)  |  Aim (165)  |  Akin (5)  |  All (4108)  |  Already (222)  |  Appear (118)  |  Base (117)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Beginnings (5)  |  Both (493)  |  Case (99)  |  Central (80)  |  Church (56)  |  Closely (12)  |  Conceive (98)  |  Contain (68)  |  Contemporary (30)  |  Cosmic (72)  |  David (6)  |  Democritus of Abdera (17)  |  Desire (204)  |  Development (422)  |  Distinguish (160)  |  Distinguished (83)  |  Dogma (48)  |  Early (185)  |  Element (310)  |  Especially (31)  |  Existence (456)  |  Experience (467)  |  Feel (367)  |  Feeling (250)  |  Fill (61)  |  Find (998)  |  Francis (2)  |  Futility (7)  |  Genius (284)  |  God (757)  |  Heretic (8)  |  High (362)  |  Human (1468)  |  Image (96)  |  Impress (64)  |  Individual (404)  |  Kind (557)  |  Know (1518)  |  Learn (629)  |  Learned (235)  |  Light (607)  |  Look (582)  |  Man (2251)  |  Marvelous (29)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Order (632)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Prison (13)  |  Prophet (21)  |  Psalm (3)  |  Regard (305)  |  Religious (126)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Saint (17)  |  Schopenhauer (6)  |  Significant (74)  |  Single (353)  |  Sometimes (45)  |  Sort (49)  |  Spinoza (11)  |  Stage (143)  |  Strong (174)  |  Stronger (36)  |  Sublimity (5)  |  Teaching (188)  |  Teachings (11)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thought (953)  |  Universe (857)  |  Want (497)  |  Whole (738)  |  Wonderful (149)  |  World (1774)  |  Writing (189)  |  Writings (6)

The man in the street will, therefore, twist the statement that the scientist has come to the end of meaning into the statement that the scientist has penetrated as far as he can with the tools at his command, and that there is something beyond the ken of the scientist. This imagined beyond, which the scientist has proved he cannot penetrate, will become the playground of the imagination of every mystic and dreamer. The existence of such a domain will be made the basis of an orgy of rationalizing. It will be made the substance of the soul; the spirits of the dead will populate it; God will lurk in its shadows; the principle of vital processes will have its seat here; and it will be the medium of telepathic communication. One group will find in the failure of the physical law of cause and effect the solution of the age-long problem of the freedom of the will; and on the other hand the atheist will find the justification of his contention that chance rules the universe.
Reflections of a Physicist (1950),102-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Basis (173)  |  Become (815)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Cause (541)  |  Cause And Effect (20)  |  Chance (239)  |  Command (58)  |  Communication (94)  |  Contention (14)  |  Domain (69)  |  Dreamer (13)  |  Effect (393)  |  End (590)  |  Existence (456)  |  Failure (161)  |  Find (998)  |  Freedom (129)  |  God (757)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Justification (48)  |  Law (894)  |  Long (790)  |  Man (2251)  |  Meaning (233)  |  Mystic (20)  |  Other (2236)  |  Penetrate (67)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Law (14)  |  Playground (6)  |  Principle (507)  |  Problem (676)  |  Rule (294)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Shadow (72)  |  Solution (267)  |  Something (719)  |  Soul (226)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Statement (142)  |  Substance (248)  |  Tool (117)  |  Twist (8)  |  Universe (857)  |  Unknown (182)  |  Vital (85)  |  Will (2355)

The tendency of the sciences has long been an increasing proclivity of separation and dismemberment … The mathematician turns away from the chemist; the chemist from the naturalist; the mathematician, left to himself divides himself into a pure mathematician and a mixed mathematician, who soon part company … And thus science, even mere physical science, loses all traces of unity. A curious illustration of this result may be observed in the want of any name by which we can designate the students of the knowledge of the material world collectively. We are informed that this difficulty was felt very oppressively by the members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at their meetings at York, Oxford and Cambridge, in the last three summers. There was no general term by which these gentlemen could describe themselves with reference to their pursuits … some ingenious gentleman [William Whewell] proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form Scientist, and added that there could be no scruple … when we have words such as sciolist, economist, and atheist—but this was not generally palatable.
In Review of Mrs Somerville, 'On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences', The Quarterly Review (1834), 51, 58-61.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (62)  |  All (4108)  |  Analogy (71)  |  Artist (90)  |  Association (46)  |  British (41)  |  Chemist (156)  |  Company (59)  |  Curious (91)  |  Describe (128)  |  Description (84)  |  Designation (13)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Dismemberment (3)  |  Divide (75)  |  Division (65)  |  Economist (17)  |  Form (959)  |  General (511)  |  Gentleman (26)  |  Himself (461)  |  Illustration (48)  |  Inform (47)  |  Ingenious (55)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Last (426)  |  Long (790)  |  Lose (159)  |  Material (353)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Name (333)  |  Naturalist (70)  |  Observed (149)  |  Oxford (16)  |  Palatable (3)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Science (101)  |  Proposal (17)  |  Pure (291)  |  Pursuit (121)  |  Result (677)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Sciolist (2)  |  Separation (57)  |  Soon (186)  |  Student (300)  |  Summer (54)  |  Tendency (99)  |  Term (349)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Trace (103)  |  Turn (447)  |  Unity (78)  |  Want (497)  |  William Whewell (70)  |  Word (619)  |  World (1774)

Where there are three students of nature, there are two atheists.
Epigraph in Ludwig Bόchner, Force and Matter: Or, Principles of the Natural Order of the Universe (1891), 1. It is given in parentheses, without attribution, but in the Preface Buchner states that if the name of a “poet” is not given, it is a contribution by the author.
Science quotes on:  |  Nature (1926)  |  Student (300)  |  Two (937)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.