A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long. You need to make some time to think how to live it.
To believe something in the face of evidence and against reason – to believe something by faith – is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the opposite of respect.
Religious apologists complain bitterly that atheists and secularists are aggressive and hostile in their criticism of them. I always say: look, when you guys were in charge, you didn’t argue with us, you just burnt us at the stake. Now what we’re doing is, we’re presenting you with some arguments and some challenging questions, and you complain.
Socrates famously said that the unconsidered life is not worth living. He meant that a life lived without forethought or principle is a life so vulnerable to chance, and so dependent on the choices and actions of others, that it is of little real value to the person living it. He further meant that a life well lived is one which has goals, and integrity, which is chosen and directed by the one who lives it, to the fullest extent possible to a human agent caught in the webs of society and history.
To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.
People should be left to believe what they like, so long as they harm no one else. Apart from normal expectations of politeness, it is not however clear why people should require their personal beliefs to be treated with special sensitivity by others, to the point that if others fail to tip-toe respectfully around them they will start throwing bombs.
Religion and science have a common ancestor – ignorance.
If there is anything worth fearing in the world, it is living in such a way that gives one cause for regret in the end.
Humanism is the philosophy that you should be a good guest at the dinner table of life.
Religions survive mainly because they brainwash the young.
I do not believe that there are any such things as gods and goddesses, for exactly the same reasons as I do not believe there are fairies, goblins or sprites, and these reasons should be obvious to anyone over the age of ten.
And I say, the meaning of life is what you make it. There will be as many different meaningful lives as there are people to live them.
Everybody is entitled to believe. Churches have exactly the same right to exist as a football club, a trade union or a political party. But if you and I set up the Church of the Fairies of the Garden, then I don’t think we should automatically be meeting the queen, be entitled to seats in the House of Lords or get public money for our fairy schools.
Try lighting your house by prayer instead of electricity and see which one works.
Look at the blogosphere – the biggest lavatory wall in the universe, a palimpsest of graffiti and execration.
Middle age has been defined as what happens when a person’s broad mind and narrow waist change places.
I despise people who depend on these things [heroin and cocaine]. If you really want a mind-altering experience, look at a tree.
Nowadays, by contrast, Christianity specialises in soft-focus mood music; its threats of hell, its demand for poverty and chastity, its doctrine that only the few will be saved and the many damned, have been shed, replaced by strummed guitars and saccharine smiles. It has reinvented itself so often, and with such breathtaking hypocrisy, in the interests of retaining its hold on the gullible, that a medieval monk who woke today, like Woody Allen’s Sleeper, would not be able to recognise the faith that bears the same name as his own.
…mastery of the emotions is fundamental to a virtuous life.
Nothing is truly unnatural, because everything that exists, including human intelligence, is a product of nature. If human intelligence can devise ways for the genes from two men to result in a child, their doing so is an entirely natural event.
Science is the outcome of being prepared to live without certainty and therefore a mark of maturity. It embraces doubt and loose ends.
Eagleton has spent his life inside two mental boxes, Catholicism and Marxism, of both of which he is a severe internal critic—that is, he frequently kicks and scratches at the inside of the boxes, but does not leave them. Neither are ideologies that loosen their grip easily, and people who need the security of adherence to a big dominating ideology, however much they kick and scratch but without daring to leave go, hold on to it every bit as tightly as it holds onto them. The result is of course strangulation, but alas not mutual strangulation: the ideology always wins.
There is a beautiful and life-enhancing alternative outlook that offers insight, consolation, inspiration and meaning, which has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with the best, most generous, most sympathetic understanding of human reality.
It takes a certain ingenuous faith – but I have it – to believe that people who read and reflect more likely than not come to judge things with liberality and truth.
Inculcating the various competing – competing, note – falsehoods of the major faiths into small children is a form of child abuse, and a scandal.