Words of wisdom: pt.2

Carl Sagan Ph.D

(1934 – 1996),

was an American physicist, astronomer, cosmologist, astrobiologist, astrophysicist, author and TV presenter. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s some repertoire. He was critical of nuclear weapons, and extremely sceptical of religion, and became a public spokesperson in support of science and astronomy. During the ’70s and ’80s he became a household name, and was a science consultant in several NASA projects. He was also confident in extraterrestrial life, but he went to his grave without ever discovering if his theories were true.

Quotes:

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

“Nothing disturbs me more than the glorification of stupidity.”

“I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”

Woody Allen

Heywood Allen is an American actor, author, comedian, playwright and director. He was born in a Brooklyn surrounded by a Jewish culture. He’s stared in, and directed many movies throughout his sixty year career, but it’s his thinking and his opinions that I find fascinating.

Quotes:

“If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”

“Photons have mass? I didn’t even know they were Catholic.”

“I’d call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.”

George Carlin

(1937 – 2008),

was a standup comedian, actor, author and philosopher, and was one of the greatest minds of the comedy circuit, and of social criticism. He wasn’t afraid to rock the boat, and this gained him much admiration. He was critical of politics and religion, and other subjects considered taboo. He was raised as a Roman Catholic, and was an altar boy, so it’s understandable that he despised religion. Sadly he left us too soon, but he will be remembered for many generations.

Quotes:

“I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is fucked up.”

“Think of how it all started: America was founded by slave owners who informed us, “All men are created equal.” All “men,” except Indians, niggers, and women. Remember, the founders were a small group of unelected, white, male, land-holding slave owners who also, by the way, suggested their class be the only one allowed to vote. To my mind, that is what’s known as being stunningly–and embarrassingly–full of shit.”

“Swearing on the Bible, you understand that shit? They tell you to raise your right hand and put your left hand on the Bible. Does this stuff really matter, which hand? Does God really give a fuck about details like this? Suppose you put your right hand on the Bible and you raise your left hand. Would that count? Or would God say, ‘Sorry, wrong hand, try again’? And why does one hand have to be raised? […] But let’s get back to the Bible, America’s favorite national theatrical prop. Suppose the Bible they hand you to swear on is upside down, or backward, or both, and you swear to tell the truth on an upside-down backward Bible. Would that count? Suppose the Bible they hand you is an old Bible and half the pages are missing. Suppose all they have is a Chinese Bible. In an American court. Or a Braille Bible, and you’re not blind. Suppose they hand you an upside-down, backward, Chinese, Braille Bible with half the pages missing. At what point does all of this stuff just break down and become just a lot of stupid shit that somebody made up? They fuckin’ made it up, folks, it’s make-believe! It’s make-believe […] Bible or no Bible, God or no God, if it suits their purposes, people are going to lie in court.”

Christopher Hitchens

(1949 – 2011),

was an author, a social critic, philosopher, columnist, and journalist. He was an anti-theist who was confident that religion was toxic, authoritarian, and extremely harmful. There’s not much else to say about him that most atheists don’t know.

Quotes:

“To terrify children with the image of hell… to consider women an inferior creation. Is that good for the world?

“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.

“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”

Bill Hicks

(1961 – 1994),

was a stand up comedian, that like George Carlin, was extremely critical of religion and politics. He was raised as a southern Baptist, so like Carlin, this is probably where his contempt for religion came from. He often liked to discuss conspiracy theories, talk about drugs, and go on occasional rants. Sadly he died on pancreatic cancer at aged just 32

Quotes:

“Any organization created out of fear must create fear to survive.”

“I love the Pope, I love seeing him in his Pope-Mobile, his three feet of bullet proof plexi-glass. That’s faith in action folks! You know he’s got God on his side.

“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god’s infinite love.

2 thoughts on “Words of wisdom: pt.2

  1. Woody Allen is one of those people I feel conflicted about because of the allegations of sexual abuse that some of Mia Farrow’s children have given against him (not to mention the somewhat creepy act of having an affair with and marrying one of Mia Farrow’s daughters, even though that daughter was adopted by Mia and one of her ex-husbands…seemingly a soap opera trope come to life). I feel the same conflicting feelings about Bill Cosby, whose comedy routines and series about life and family entertained so many people, but he had this somewhat secret dark side that involved taking advantage of and raping multiple women over decades. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    I never cared much for Christopher Hitchens myself. I think it goes back to me watching him drop the N-word during an interview on live TV. I know he was English and perhaps that word doesn’t quite have the same exact sting that it does in the U.S., but when I first learned of that word’s existence (while studying a novel called “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” in middle school), we were told very sternly that the word was considered a slur and not to be said, and I’m glad to say it’s a word I have never used myself, neither verbally or in writing. So, it always hits a nerve in me when a white person uses it, even if it’s only to quote something or make an example, because those people usually know better and choose to use it anyway.

    I will say, though: Donald Trump seems to be the living embodiment of what we call “Hitchens’ Razor”: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (And Trump has made more than his share of claims without offering any evidence whatsoever; he seems to have been born wearing a tin foil hat.)

    George Carlin and Carl Sagan, though…they’re kind of kindred spirits in my mind. I don’t think Sagan actually identified as an atheist or non-religious in his lifetime, but was a skeptic and I think in some respects may have been a pantheist (the belief that the universe itself is a god), kind of like Spinoza, although his quote, “I don’t want to believe, I want to know” could suggest agnosticism as well. Carl Sagan, though, sparked the curiosity of so many people, even including a young Neil deGrasse Tyson, who actually studied under and was mentored by Sagan himself as a teenager. (Tyson talks about his experiences with Sagan in an episode of the first season of Cosmos hosted by Tyson.) George Carlin was such a great commentator on culture and especially on religion because he saw religion for what it really was: hot air and BS. He’d sometimes joke that instead of praying to God, he’d pray to Joe Pesci, because he felt Joe Pesci was a guy who could get things done. Much like Lenny Bruce before him, Carlin was a master of irreverence and loved to push the envelope. I mean, he published books called “Napalm and Silly Putty” and “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?”. And of course: shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits. (The “Seven Dirty Words”, although these days “piss” can be said on broadcast TV in the U.S., “shit” and “tits” can be said on basic cable at certain hours, and the other four are allowed on premium cable…so in a sense, the Seven Dirty Words can now be said on TV in some form.)

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