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Quotations about Religion and Freethought

Daniel C. Dennett

  1. The kindly God who lovingly fashioned each and every one of us and sprinkled the sky with shining stars for our delight -- that God is, like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in. That God must either be turned into a symbol for something less concrete or abandoned altogether [Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, p. 18]


  2. If you want to reason about faith, and offer a reasoned (and reason- responsive) defense of faith as an extra category of belief worthy of special consideration, I'm eager to play. I certainly grant the existence of the phenomenon of faith; what I want to see is a reasoned ground for taking faith seriously as a way of getting to the truth, and not, say, just as a way people comfort themselves and each other (a worthy function that I do take seriously). But you must not expect me to go along with your defence of faith as a path to truth if at any point you appeal to the very dispensation you are supposedly trying to justify. Before you appeal to faith when reason has you backed into a corner, think about whether you really want to abandon reason when reason is on your side. [Daniel C. Dennett Darwin's Dangerous Idea]


  3. I think that there are no forces on this planet more dangerous to us all than the fanaticisms of fundamentalism, of all the species: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as countless smaller infections. Is there a conflict between science and religion here? There most certainly is. [Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea]


  4. In the beginning, there were no reasons; there were only causes. Nothing had a purpose, nothing has so much as a function; there was no teleology in the world at all. [Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained]


  5. The haven all memes depend on reaching is the human mind, but a human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes. The avenues for entry and departure are modified to suit local conditions, and strengthened by various artificial devices that enhance fidelity and prolixity of replication: native Chinese minds differ dramatically from native French minds, and literate minds differ from illiterate minds. What memes provide in return to the organisms in which they reside is an incalculable store of advantages --- with some Trojan horses thrown in for good measure... [Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained]


  6. ... there could be talking bunny rabbits, spiders who write English messages in their webs, and for that matter, melancholy choo-choo trains. There could be, I suppose, but there aren't--so my theory doesn't have to explain them.


  7. ...but I also can't prove that mushrooms could not be intergalactic spaceships spying on us.




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