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Religions have contrived to make it impossible to disagree with them critically without being rude. Daniel C Dennett, The Four Horsemen, with Dawkins & Harris & Hitchens
You don’t get to advertise all the good that your religion does without first scrupulously subtracting all the harm it does and considering seriously the question of whether some other religion, or no religion at all, does better. Daniel C Dennett
Religions are brilliantly designed products and they have an evolutionary history. Daniel C Dennett, lecture Venice September 2006, ‘The Domestication of the Wild Memes of Religion’
These are adaptations for the religion. ibid.
In organised religions God gets credit for all the good things and never takes the blame for the bad things. ibid.
Religions transform themselves into creedless moral themes. Daniel C Dennett, lecture , Edinburgh University 2006, ‘Religion as a Natural Phenomenon’
The evolution of religion began with wild forms of religion. ibid.
They have been brilliantly designed ... to have a hold over us. ibid.
We’re the ones who can live for an idea, die for an idea. ibid.
It’s a ubiquitous feature but it doesn’t follow it has to be good for something. ibid.
Reverse engineering religion: how does it work? Induce pathology/ break it; look for experiments of nature. Daniel C Dennett, The Evolution of Confusion AAI 2009
Why are there atheist clergy at all? ibid.
It is a vertiginous nauseating scary prospect ... very hard to say to the rest of the world, ‘Oh my, I have wasted the last forty years of my life.’ ibid.
Robert Wright: The Evolution of God cf. The Evolution of the Concept of God. ibid.
I listen to all these complaints about rudeness and intemperateness, and the opinion that I come to is that there is no polite way of asking somebody: have you considered the possibility that your entire life has been devoted to a delusion? But that’s a good question to ask. Of course we should ask that question and of course it’s going to offend people. Tough. Daniel C Dennett
They’re all equally rotten, false, dishonest, corrupt, humourless and dangerous. Christopher Hitchens, The Four Horsemen: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens
I don’t believe that’s it’s true that religion is moral or ethical. Christopher Hitchens
This stuff is not true and it’s not beautiful and it’s not symmetrical. It is superstition. It is the way that the mind searches for form, and will find it if it’s looking for it. And looks for symbols, and looks for miracles, and revelations where they are not really there. And is terribly easily satisfied by tiny bits of magic. Christopher Hitchens, Collision: debate Christopher Hitchens v Douglas Wilson
Beware of solipsism ... Don’t ever think you are the centre of the world. Be very careful of assuming that you are the object of a divine design. That there’s something special just about being you. ibid.
There still remain four irreducible objects to religion faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking. Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great p4
And here is the point, about myself and my co-thinkers. Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake. ibid. p5
We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true – that religion has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow. ibid. p6
How much effort it takes to affirm the incredible! ... How much vanity must be concealed ... how much self-respect must be sacrificed ... How many needless assumptions must be made, and how much contortion is required ... How many saints and miracles and councils and conclaves are required in order first to be able to establish a dogma ...? ibid. p7
Past and present religious atrocities have occurred not because we are evil but because it is a fact of Nature that the human species is biologically only partly rational. ibid. p8
People of faith are in their different ways planning your and my destruction, and the destruction of all the hard-won human attainments that I have touched upon. Religion poisons everything. ibid. p13
Religion is not unlike racism. One version of it inspires the other. ibid. p35
All religions have a tendency to feature some dietary injunction or prohibition. ibid. p37
Throughout all religious texts, there is a primal fear that half the human race is simultaneously defiled and unclean, and yet is also a temptation to sin that is impossible to resist. Perhaps this explains the hysterical cult of virginity and of a Virgin, and the dread of the female form and of female reproductive functions. ibid. pp54-55
We have no way to quantify the damage done by telling tens of millions of children that masturbation will make them blind, or that impure thoughts will lead to an eternity of torment, or that members of other faiths including members of their own families will burn, or that venereal disease will result from kisses. ibid. pp55-56
Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience. ibid. p56
The element of the wish for obliteration can be seen without disguise in the millennial sects of our own day, who betray their selfishness as well as their nihilism by announcing how many will be ‘saved’ from the ultimate catastrophe. ibid. p60
Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody – not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made of atoms – had the smallest idea what was going on. ibid. p66
Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in the marketplace. ibid. p67
There is a central paradox at the core of religion. The three great monotheisms teach people to think abjectly of themselves, as miserable and guilty sinners prostrate before an angry and jealous god ... The message is one of continual submission, gratitude and fear. Life itself is a poor thing: an interval in which to prepare for the hereafter or the coming – or second coming – of the Messiah. ibid. pp73-74