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Speaking of atheism, I remember one time when Jack Patton and I went to a sermon in Vietnam delivered by the highest-ranking Chaplain in the Army. He was a General.
The sermon was based on what he claimed was a well-known fact, that there were no Atheists in foxholes.
I asked Jack what he thought of the sermon afterwards, and he said, “There’s a Chaplain who never visited the front.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
Hocus Pocus, ch. 24 (1990)
Added on 1-Nov-23 | Last updated 1-Nov-23
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Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
I, Asimov, ch. 73 “Letters” (1979)
Added on 19-Aug-21 | Last updated 19-Aug-21
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Nothing so outrages the feelings of the church as a moral unbeliever — nothing so horrible as a charitable Atheist.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Thomas Paine” (1870)
Added on 8-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
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O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!

(Other Authors and Sources)
Anonymous Soldier, Battle of Blenheim (31 Aug 1704)

Also given as "Oh, God, if there is one, save my soul, if I have one."

The original printed source for this quote appears to be in William King (1685-1763), Political and Literary Anecdotes of His Own Times (1761), who quotes William Wyndham (1688-1740) claiming it "the shortest prayer he had ever heard," given by a common soldier prior to the Battle of Blenheim.

Also attributed to:
  • Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), without citation, supposedly on his deathbed, sometimes with the final phrase "... from hell, if there be a hell!"
  • Ernest Renan (1823-1892) as "The Agnostic's Prayer" or "Prayer of a Skeptic [Prière d'un sceptique]" ("Ô Seigneur, s'il y a un Seigneur; sauvez mon âme, si j'ai une âme.")
  • Frederick the Great (1712-1786), in M. Goldsmith, Frederick the Great (1929), without citation.
  • Voltaire (1694-1778), without citation.
Added on 29-May-17 | Last updated 29-May-17
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There is no proselyter half so energetic as the hard-shelled atheist.

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
“A New Preface to an Old Story”, Broun’s Nutmeg (19 Aug 1939)
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! “Father, the atheists?” Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. “But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!” But do good: We will meet one another there.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Homily (22 May 2013)
Added on 5-Oct-15 | Last updated 5-Oct-15
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I doubt that anyone does not really believe in God. People may think they don’t have any belief, but you will usually find that there is a belief in something beyond himself. In any case, I would not judge a man’s character by his belief or unbelief. I would judge his character by his deeds; and no matter what he said about his beliefs, his behavior would soon show whether he was a man of good character or bad.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“The Wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt” (1963)
Added on 10-Jun-15 | Last updated 10-Jun-15
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Christianity has probably the most flexible morals of any religion, because Jesus left no code of law behind him like Moses or Muhammad, and his moral precepts are so different from those of ordinary life that no society has ever made any serious attempt to carry them out, such as was possible in the case of Israel and Islam. But every Christian church has tried to impose a code of morals of some kind for which it has claimed divine sanction. As these codes have always been opposed to those of the gospels a loophole has been left for moral progress such as hardly exists in other religions. This is no doubt an argument for Christianity as against other religions, but not as against none at all, or as against a religion which will frankly admit that its mythology and morals are provisional. That is the only sort of religion that would satisfy the scientific mind, and it is very doubtful whether it could properly be called a religion at all.

J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) English geneticist [John Burden Sanderson Haldane]
“Daedalus, or Science and the Future,” speech, Cambridge (24 Feb 1923)
Added on 12-Dec-14 | Last updated 12-Dec-14
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GEORGE: There is presumably a calendar date — a moment — when the onus of proof passed from the atheist to the believer, when, quite suddenly, secretly, the noes had it.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Jumpers, Act 1 (1972)
Added on 26-Sep-14 | Last updated 26-Sep-14
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“There are no atheists in foxholes” isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.

James Morrow (b. 1947) American author, humanist
Towing Jehovah, Part 2, “Famine” (1994)

Paraphrase of this passage:

"There are no atheists in foxholes, people say, and it's so true, it's so fucking true." Cassie swallowed, savoring the aftertaste of the Cheerios. "No ... no, I'm being too hard on myself. That maxim, it's not an argument against atheism -- it's an argument against foxholes."

Added on 9-Sep-14 | Last updated 1-Nov-23
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The thorough skeptic is a dogmatist. He enjoys the delusion of complete futility.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) English mathematician and philosopher
“Mathematics and the Good,” The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, ed. Paul A. Schilpp (1941)
Added on 1-Aug-14 | Last updated 1-Aug-14
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I contend we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

Stephen F Roberts
Stephen F. Roberts (b. c. 1969) American software developer
Usenet, alt.atheism, sig line (early 1995)

See Roberts' "Brief History of the Quote" for more on its origins.

As he is not a prominent public figure, the quote is frequently attributed to others, usually of the same name. Possibly most famously, Sam Harris misattributed it to Australian historian Stephen Henry Roberts in his article "10 Myths -- and 10 Truths -- about Atheism," Los Angeles Times (2006-12-24) (since corrected by Harris).

The quotation is often given with an extra word: "I contend that we are both atheists ...." Roberts himself uses the shorter version.
Added on 10-Mar-14 | Last updated 17-Oct-23
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The churches used to win their arguments against atheism, agnosticism, and other burning issues by burning the ism-ists, which is fine proof that there is a devil but hardly evidence that there is a God.

Ben Lindsey (1869-1943) American jurist and social reformer [Benjamin Barr Lindsey]
The Revolt of Modern Youth (1925)
Added on 24-Feb-14 | Last updated 24-Feb-14
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My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith [Margaret Bayard Smith] (6 Aug 1816)
Added on 9-May-11 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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What separates me from most atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos. The fanatical atheists are like the slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who — in their grudge against traditional religion as the “opium of the masses” — cannot hear the music of the spheres. I prefer the attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and our own being. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Spurious / Synthetic)

This quotation is actually a synthesis of several Einstein quotes. It is sometimes attributed as a whole to "Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium" (1941), but only a part is found there. Nor is it found at all  in the also sometimes cited "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine (9 Nov 1930)

The "utter humility" portion is attributed as a letter from Einstein to Joseph Lewis (18 Apr 1953).  It was quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein (2007). The “fanatical” through “spheres” portion is in a letter (7 Aug 1941) discussing responses to his essay “Science and Religion” (1941) per Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (1999)

The “weakness of our intellectual understanding” phrase is attributed to a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 Sep 1949), quoted in the Isaacson work as well as by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2.

The lame/blind phrase is attributed to a letter to Eric Gutkind (3 Jan 1954). It was earlier used by Einstein (1941) at the Symposium cited above.

This synthetic quotation is a good example of the difficulties in quoting Einstein, who is used as a polemical bludgeon by a variety of groups, and is often poorly or incorrectly cited online, compounded by his re-use the same turns of phrase multiple times in his correspondence and papers.
Added on 31-Jul-09 | Last updated 16-Mar-17
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Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Religion” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 22-Jan-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Gods” (1876)
Added on 14-Jan-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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