Mark's Quotations

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.

George Washington
address to Congress, January 8, 1790

Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?

Ronald Reagan
campaign speech, 1980

If you've got a blacklist, I want to be on it.

Billy Bragg
Worker's Playtime

We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but if someone tries to take them from us, we defend them with almost an illicit passion.

James Harvey Robinson

There is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unkown to the whole world.

Thomas Jefferson

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

It is not the function of government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson

Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.

Abraham Lincoln, December 18, 1840.

No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

John Donne
Meditation XVII

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Americans and Englishmen, when they become acquainted with the Balkans, feel an astonished contempt when they study the mutual enmities of Bulgarians and Serbs, of Hungarians and Rumanians. It is evident to them that these enmities are absurd and that the belief of each little nation in its own superiority has no objective basis. But most of them are quite unable to see that the national pride of a Great Power is essentially as unjustifiable as that of a little Balkan country.

Bertrand Russell
Unpopular Essays

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

General of the Armies and President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), British author. Tremendous Trifles, "The Riddle of the Ivy" (1909).

You know, our fundamentalist friends dislike the teaching of evolution in schools because of the effect they feel it has on our view of our own special importance, while liberals insist that scientific and spiritual matters can be kept in separate compartments. On this point, I tend to agree with the fundamentalists, though I come to opposite conclusions about teaching evolution because I am convinced it's true.

Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize winner in physics, 1979.

An inexplicable fact is infinitely preferable to an incomprehensible mystery.

Frederick Soddy - Nobel prize winner in chemistry in 1921

When religion is good, it will support itself. And when it does not, and God does not care to support it, and its professors call for the help of a civil power . . . tis a sign of its being a bad one.

Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety

Benjamin Franklin

Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe absurdities.


The practice of our democracy depends on a sense of, and knowledge of, history in the same way that playing in the World Series requires a bat and a ball.

Lewis Lapham, Editor of Harper's Magazine

The Seven Sins Are:
Wealth without works
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principle

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death. What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal. I have noticed that in spite of religion, the conviction as to one's own immortality is extraordinarily rare. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all profess belief in immortality, but the veneration paid to the first century of life is proof that they truly believe only in those hundred years, for they destine all the rest, throughout eternity, to rewarding or punishing what one did when alive.

Jorge Luis Borges, in his book, The Immortal
via Christopher Hitchens' book, Love, Poverty, and War
via my friend, Aaron

A witty saying proves nothing.


More quotations on the subject of religion.

Another collection of quotations from famous humanists.

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