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Pat Condell

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I think religion is utter nonsense, and I claim the right to criticise, ridicule and insult it as much as I like, but not the right to stamp out harmless aspects of it; which is why I'm a secularist, and not a totalitarian. I have a copy of the Bible in my house because it's part of my cultural heritage, not because I think the Bible is true any more than I think Shakespeare's plays are true, but I wouldn't be without them either. I like churches, especially the sound of church bells, and I don't want to see them bulldozed, but I do want to see the power of the Church not only bulldozed, but ground into a fine dust and buried in the deepest part of the deepest ocean on the furthest planet it's possible to find. Religion needs to be kept in check when it tries to step on people or when it tries to elbow its way into their lives uninvited. The Nativity doesn't do this. It doesn't even come close. It's part and parcel of the Christmas furniture. It's part and parcel of the culture that I and most people in the western world were born and raised in, and it only excludes people who want to be excluded.
The intolerance of diversity (December 22, 2011; from YouTube)

Pat Condell

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You ask me what I would “substitute for the Bible as a moral guide.” I know that many people regard the Bible as the only moral guide and believe that in that book only can be found the true and perfect standard of morality. There are many good precepts, many wise sayings and many good regulations and laws in the Bible, and these are mingled with bad precepts, with foolish sayings, with absurd rules and cruel laws.
But we must remember that the Bible is a collection of many books written centuries apart, and that it in part represents the growth and tells in part the history of a people. We must also remember that the writers treat of many subjects. Many of these writers have nothing to say about right or wrong, about vice or virtue.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Piers Morgan: And I have to say that your views you espoused on this issue are bordering on bigotry, aren't they?
Rick Santorum: No. I think just because we disagree on public policy, which is what the debate has been about, which is marriage, doesn't mean that it's bigotry. Just because you follow a moral code that teaches something wrong doesn't mean that — are you suggesting that the Bible and that the Catholic Church is bigoted? Well, if that's what you believe, fine, I don't, I think that 2,000 — well, I shouldn't say, not fine, I don't think it's fine at all. I think that is — that's contrary to both what we've seen in 2,000 years of human history and Western civilization and trying to redefine something that has been — that is seen as wrong from the standpoint of the church and saying a church is bigoted because it holds that opinion that is biblically based I think is in itself an act of bigotry.

Rick Santorum

The truth is that religion, as we speak of it - Islam, Christianity, Judaism - is based on the claim that God dictates certain books. He doesn’t code software, he doesn’t produce films, he doesn’t score symphonies, he is an author. And this claim has achieved credibility because these books are deemed so profound they could not have possibly been written by human authors. Please consider for a moment how differently we treat scientific claims and texts and discoveries. Isaac Newton went into isolation for 18 months starting in the year 1665. When he came out of his solitude he had invented the calculus; he had discovered the laws of motion and universal gravitation; he had single-handedly created the field of optics. No one thinks this was anything but a man’s labor. And it took 200 hundred years of continuous ingenuity on the part of some of the smartest people who ever lived to substantially improve upon Newton’s work. How difficult would it be to improve the Bible? Anyone in this room could improve this supposedly inerrant text scientifically, historically, ethically, spiritually - in moments. If God loves us and wanted to guide us with a book of morality, it’s very strange to have given us a book that supports slavery, that demands that we murder people for imaginary crimes like witchcraft. The true basis for hope in our world is open-ended conversation; And religion has shattered our world into competing moral communities. What we have to convince ourselves of is - that love and curiosity is enough for us - and intellectual honesty is the guardian of that.

Sam Harris

I feel myself the inheritor of a great background of people. Just who, precisely, they were, I have never known. I might be part Negro, might be part Jew, part Muslim, part Irish. So I can't afford to be supercilious about any group of people because I may be that people.

James A. Michener

It's often claimed that many people in the West are converting to Islam, and it's true that some are, but it's also true that many Muslims in the West are leaving Islam, but you don't hear so much about them for obvious reasons. Some of them have been brave enough to make themselves known, and reach out to help other Muslims who want to escape the tyranny of their religion, and, like them, it's the religion I have a problem with, not the people. So no, I don't hate Muslims - thanks for asking - I wish them well. Even the fanatics who stand at the roadside with their dopey little banners and bulging eyeballs, calling for death to the West - I even wish those boneheads well, in that I wish them good mental health, if that isn't too wildly optimistic. And of course I know that there are lots of moderate, peaceful Muslims. Indeed, many of them are so moderate and peaceful, they're invisible and silent, and that is part of the problem. And just because there are lots of peaceful Muslims, it doesn't mean the religion itself is not an aggressive, fascist ideology that threatens all our freedoms, nor does it mean that western governments aren't falling over themselves to make excuses for it, pretending that Islam has nothing to do with the violence inspired and sanctioned by its scripture, and repeatedly carried out in its name.

Pat Condell
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