Quotations about   scripture

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I have run into this difficulty with Scripture in the past. It tells you enough to get interested, but never enough to be of any immediate use. It is as though the author gets his kicks by tantalizing.

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
The Courts of Chaos, ch. 5 [Corwin] (1978)
Added on 23-Feb-22 | Last updated 23-Feb-22
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There are thousands of things in the Scriptures that everybody believes. Everybody believes the Scriptures are right when they say, “Thou shalt not steal” — everybody. And when they say “Give good measure, heaped up and running over,” everybody says, “Good!” So when they say “Love your neighbor,” everybody applauds that.

Suppose a man believes that, and practices it, does it make any difference whether he believes in the flood or not? Is that of any importance? Whether a man built an ark or not — does that make the slightest difference? A man might deny it and yet be a very good man. Another might believe it and be a very mean man. Could it now, by any possibility, make a man a good father, a good husband, a good citizen? Does it make any difference whether you believe it or not?

Does it make any difference whether or not you believe that a man was going through town and his hair was a little short, like mine, and some little children laughed at him, and thereupon two bears from the woods came down and tore to pieces about forty of these children? Is it necessary to believe that? Suppose a man should say, “I guess that is a mistake. They did not copy that right. I guess the man that reported that was a little dull of hearing and did not get the story exactly right.” Any harm in saying that? Is a man to be sent to the penitentiary for that? Can you imagine an infinitely good God sending a man to hell because he did not believe the bear story?

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
Added on 29-Sep-21 | Last updated 29-Sep-21
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It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]

This is not found in any of Twain's printed works, and the first version of it appeared in 1915, after Twain's death. The folksy use of "ain't" doesn't show up until the mid-1970s. For more discussion, see here.
Added on 1-Sep-20 | Last updated 1-Sep-20
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If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Quoted in Janet Jeppson Asimov, Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing (2006)
Added on 28-Aug-20 | Last updated 28-Aug-20
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It ain’t necessarily so,
It ain’t necessarily so —
De t’ings dat you li’ble
To read in de Bible —
It ain’t necessarily so.

Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) American lyricist [b. Israel Gershowitz]
“It Ain’t Necessarily So,” Porgy and Bess, Act 2, sc. 2 (1935)
Added on 31-Mar-20 | Last updated 31-Mar-20
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In practice, people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the others. At one time, the most influential text in the Bible was: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Nowadays, people pass over this text, in silence if possible; if not, with an apology. And so, even when we have a sacred book, we still choose truth whatever suits our own prejudices.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Unpopular Essays (1950)

Quoting Exodus 22:18.
Added on 13-Nov-18 | Last updated 13-Nov-18
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So you end up with divergent sects reading from subtly different versions of the same book — which in turn is a third-generation translation of something which might have been the original codification of an oral tradition — and all convinced that their interpretation overrides such minor obstacles as observable reality. Which still wouldn’t be a problem except that some of the readers think the books are an instruction manual rather than a set of educational parables, a blueprint instead of a metaphor.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 2-May-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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The Bible is a sealed book to him who has not first heard its laws from his soul.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Trust Yourself,” Sermon 90 (1830)

Sermon on Matthew 16:26.
Added on 3-Feb-16 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Cosmogony and cosmology have always aroused great interest among peoples and religions. The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The Sacred Book likewise wishes to tell men that the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven.

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) Polish-born Catholic Pontiff (1978-2005) [b. Karol Józef Wojtyła]
“Cosmology and Fundamental Physics,” Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Science (3 Oct 1981)
Added on 14-Feb-13 | Last updated 14-Mar-18
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The Bible may be the truth, but it is not the whole truth, nor is it nothing but the truth.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 (1934)
Added on 13-Mar-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
The Kalama Sutta
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Feb-15
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Cave ab homine unius libri.

[Beware of anyone who has just one book.]

(Other Authors and Sources)
Latin proverb

Sometimes attributed to Thomas Aquinas. See also George Herbert.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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“But the Great Plan can only be a tiny part of the overall ineffability,” said Crowley. “You can’t be certain that what’s happening right now isn’t exactly right, from an ineffable point of view.”

“It izz written!” bellowed Beelzebub.

“But it might be written differently somewhere else,” said Crowley. “Where you can’t read it.”

“In bigger letters,” said Aziraphale.

“Underlined,” Crowley added.

“Twice,” suggested Aziraphale.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Jun-21
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Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Merchant of Venice, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 106ff [Antonio] (1597)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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