Best 238 quotes in «superstition quotes» category

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    A child conceived on Christmas Eve is considered unlucky and will later resent his parents for their unholy transgression, their lack of control and piety. The child may be deformed with a harelip or be cursed with the ears and head of a wolf. Or the infant may be born a werewolf.

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    A broken mirror is good luck if you want it to be.

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    Ingersoll could not understand the mind of those who, once having been told the truth, preferred to remain under the spell of superstition and in ignorance. He could not understand why people would not accept 'new truths with gladness.' He also knew, however, that once a person's mind had been poisoned with religious superstition, it was almost impossible to free it from the paralyzing fear which destroyed its ability to think.

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    Petronius was surely right in saying Fear made the gods. In primitive times fear of the unknown was normal; gratitude to an unknown was impossible.

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    A historic transition is occurring, barely noticed. Slowly, quietly, imperceptibly, religion is shriveling in America, as it has done in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other advanced societies. Supernatural faith increasingly belongs to the Third World. The First World is entering the long-predicted Secular Age, when science and knowledge dominate. The change promises to be another shift of civilization, like past departures of the era of kings, the time of slavery, the Agricultural Age, the epoch of colonialism, and the like. Such cultural transformations are partly invisible to contemporary people, but become obvious in retrospect.

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    All systems of the society should serve the mind, instead of the mind serving the systems.

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    All that Delaura noticed, though, was the uproarious crowing of the roosters. 'There are only six of them, but they make enough noise for a hundred,' said the Abbess. 'Furthermore, a pig spoke and a goat gave birth to triplets.' And she added with fervor: 'Everything has been like this since your Bishop did us the favor of sending us his poisoned gift.' She viewed with equal alarm the garden flowering with so much vigor that it seemed contra natura. As they walked across it she pointed out to Delaura that there were flowers of exceptional size and color, some with an unbearable scent. As far as she was concerned, everything ordinary has something supernatural about it.

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    All that is mere rationalism; the superstition (that is the unreasoning repugnance and terror) is in the person who admits there can be angels but denies there can be devils. The superstition is in the person who admits there can be devils but denies there can be diabolists.

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    All Religions have this in common, that they are an outrage to common sense for they are pieced together out of a variety of elements, some of which seem so unworthy, sordid and at odds with man’s reason, that any strong and vigorous intelligence laughs at them... The human intellect is only capable of tackling mediocre subjects: it disdains petty subjects, and is startled by large ones. There is no reason to be surprised if it finds any religion hard to accept at first, for all are deficient in the mediocre and the commonplace, nor that it should require skill to induce belief. For the strong intellect laughs at religion, while the weak and superstitious mind marvels at it but is easily scandalized by it.

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    All religions worthy of the name are now making great efforts to purify their doctrines and return to their original standpoint, — all except Christianity! You surely know that the nineteenth century Christianity is not the religion taught by Christ. Christ's religion has been changed and corrupted. But Christian clergymen are well aware that if they were to attempt to purify Christianity and bring it back to the religion of Christ, the result would be to reform it out of existence. Christianity stands to-day completely explained. Every step in its development is laid bare and shown to be due to purely natural causes, and it is easy to see how much Christianity adopted from other and older religions.

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    Altho' I rarely waste time in reading on theological subjects, as mangled by our Pseudo-Christians, yet I can readily suppose Basanistos may be amusing. Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like the scuttlefish, thro' the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will skulk. [Letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp on 30 July 1810 denouncing the Christian doctrine of the Trinity]

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    And a lil secret, If you want to understand a culture, look for it’s superstitions.

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    A man who is cowardly at heart and has not emancipated his mind will be afraid of non-existent ghosts and gods.

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    And a lil secret, if you want to understand a culture, look into it’s superstitions.

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    An interesting contrast between the geology of the present day and that of half a century ago, is presented by the complete emancipation of the modern geologist from the controlling and perverting influence of theology, all-powerful at the earlier date. As the geologist of my young days wrote, he had one eye upon fact, and the other on Genesis; at present, he wisely keeps both eyes on fact, and ignores the pentateuchal mythology altogether. The publication of the 'Principles of Geology' brought upon its illustrious author a period of social ostracism; the instruction given to our children is based upon those principles. Whewell had the courage to attack Lyell's fundamental assumption (which surely is a dictate of common sense) that we ought to exhaust known causes before seeking for the explanation of geological phenomena in causes of which we have no experience.

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    Appa enjoys our current prosperity with considerable hesitation, as if it were undeserved. He’s given to quoting a proverb that says wealth shouldn’t strike suddenly like a visitation, but instead grow gradually like a tree.

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    As Sandy and his wife warmed to the tale, one tripping up another in their eagerness to tell everything, it gradually developed as distinct a superstition as I ever heard, and not without poetry and pathos. How long it was since the voice had been heard first, nobody could tell with certainty. Jarvis's opinion was that his father, who had been coachman at Brentwood before him, had never heard anything about it, and that the whole thing had arisen within the last ten years, since the complete dismantling of the old house: which was a wonderfully modern date for a tale so well authenticated. According to these witnesses, and to several whom I questioned afterwards, and who were all in perfect agreement, it was only in the months of November and December that "the visitation" occurred. During these months, the darkest of the year, scarcely a night passed without the recurrence of these inexplicable cries. Nothing, it was said, had ever been seen - at least nothing that could be identified. Some people, bolder or more imaginative than the others, had seen the darkness moving, Mrs Jarvis said with unconscious poetry. ("The Open Door")

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    Astrology is superstition. A remnant of the ignorant dark ages, when people knew nothing about how the world works. They believed the earth is flat and the center of the universe. Astrology might have made sense a long time ago, when people didn't know any better. Back then people believed that the stars were gods, with names like Zeus or Mars, the God of war, who had nothing better to do than to watch us down here on earth, and fuck with us. And gods have superpowers. So it would make sense for gods to be able to influence our lives or our decisions. Back then it sounded like there was an internal logic to it all. But nowadays we know better. Now we know that the earth is not flat and not the center of the universe. And now we know that the stars are not gods with superpowers, but simply suns and planets, millions of miles away. Big balls of gas and rock, flying through space, minding their own business. Mars is not the God of War. Mars is just a big red rock. There is simply no mechanism by which a big rock, flying through space millions of miles away, is gonna affect whether you're gonna get a raise tomorrow or not. Think about how self-centered and narcissistic that idea actually is. Astrology is the idea that this endlessly big universe and all the trillions of planets in it, are only here to affect whether you are gonna have a good day tomorrow. Because all these big rocks flying through space millions of miles away have nothing better to do than worry about you. Because you're so special, and everything is about you. The idea behind astrology is so stupid, it's actually kinda funny.

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    A system of justice does not need to pursue retribution. If the purpose of drug sentencing is to prevent harm, all we need to do is decide what to do with people who pose a genuine risk to society or cause tangible harm. There are perfectly rational ways of doing this; in fact, most societies already pursue such policies with respect to alcohol: we leave people free to drink and get inebriated, but set limits on where and when. In general, we prosecute drunk drivers, not inebriated pedestrians. In this sense, the justice system is in many respects a battleground between moral ideas and evidence concerning how to most effectively promote both individual and societal interests, liberty, health, happiness and wellbeing. Severely compromising this system, insofar as it serves to further these ideals, is our vacillation or obsession with moral responsibility, which is, in the broadest sense, an attempt to isolate the subjective element of human choice, an exercise that all too readily deteriorates into blaming and scapegoating without providing effective solutions to the actual problem. The problem with the question of moral responsibility is that it is inherently subjective and involves conjecture about an individuals’ state of mind, awareness and ability to act that can rarely if ever be proved. Thus it involves precisely the same type of conjecture that characterizes superstitious notions of possession and the influence of the devil and provides no effective means of managing conduct: the individual convicted for an offence or crime considered morally wrong is convicted based on a series of hypotheses and probabilities and not necessarily because he or she is actually morally wrong. The fairness and effectiveness of a system of justice based on such hypotheses is highly questionable particularly as a basis for preventing or reducing drug use related harm. For example, with respect to drugs, the system quite obviously fails as a deterrent and the system is not organised to ‘reform’ the offender much less to ensure that he or she has ‘learned a lesson’; moreover, the offender does not get an opportunity to make amends or even have a conversation with the alleged victim. In the case of retributive justice, the justice system is effectively mopping up after the fact. In other words, as far as deterrence is concerned, the entire exercise of justice becomes an exercise based on faith, rather than one based on evidence.

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    Blind belief is a comfort; it is the frame that puts the rest of the world into context. It allows us to block out the things that don’t make sense, that which frightens us. It narrows our vision so that the world does not feel so large. Would it comfort you to have the frame of superstition? To believe that if you say the right words and sacrifice the right things, then your world will stay exactly as it is? Or do you wish to choose what you believe, what you trust and understand?

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    Atheism is the default position in any scientific inquiry, just as a-quarkism or a-neutrinoism was. That is, any entity has to earn its admission into a scientific account either via direct evidence for its existence or because it plays some fundamental explanatory role. Before the theoretical need for neutrinos was appreciated (to preserve the conservation of energy) and then later experimental detection was made, they were not part of the accepted physical account of the world. To say physicists in 1900 were 'agnostic' about neutrinos sounds wrong: they just did not believe there were such things. As yet, there is no direct experimental evidence of a deity, and in order for the postulation of a deity to play an explanatory role there would have to be a lot of detail about how it would act. If, as you have suggested, we are not “good judges of how the deity would behave,” then such an unknown and unpredictable deity cannot provide good explanatory grounds for any phenomenon. The problem with the 'minimal view' is that in trying to be as vague as possible about the nature and motivation of the deity, the hypothesis loses any explanatory force, and so cannot be admitted on scientific grounds. Of course, as the example of quarks and neutrinos shows, scientific accounts change in response to new data and new theory. The default position can be overcome.

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    Changing the spelling of one's name to ensure success, performing rituals for good luck, wearing colored gem stones for success in business – all these fall into the same category of psychological reinforcement. Hence, emerged the blood-sucking professions of astrology, palmistry, vastushastra, numerology etc. The very existence of these fraudulent professions is predicated on the fear and anxiety of vulnerable masses. Thus, a person’s superstitious beliefs become the tool of exploitation in the hands of ruthless fraudsters.

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    Christianity is such a silly religion.

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    Count Hermann Keyserling once said truly that the greatest American superstition was belief in facts.

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    Creationists have also changed their name ... to intelligent design theorists who study 'irreducible complexity' and the 'abrupt appearance' of life—yet more jargon for 'God did it.' ... Notice that they have no interest in replacing evolution with native American creation myths or including the Code of Hammurabi alongside the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

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    credulity and superstition are close friends

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    Culture makes lies plausible through exposure to time. It makes prejudice seem like physics intergenerationally. It is therefore the most dangerous opponent of philosophy, because it feels the most credible to the average person.

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    Dear Anarcho-Communist, If you and I ever find ourselves in a stateless society, have no fear. Just mention that you are a communist, and I promise I will never try to "oppress" and "exploit" you by offering to trade with you, or by offering to pay you to do work. Sincerely, Larken Rose

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    deluded or not, supporters of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.

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    Don't wear green in your dressing room,' suggested Miss Spink. 'Or mention the Scottish play," added Miss Forcible.

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    Do you sleep in a coffin?” Okay, I admit that one was a little out of line, not to mention corny. “Of course not,” he laughs loudly. “I sleep in a bed.” A pause. “Would you like to see it?

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    During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church [...] But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence, of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe.

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    Education enables the humans to achieve their fullest mental and physical potential in both personal and social life.

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    Education levels are highly and negatively correlated to religious belief. In other words, ignorance is bliss.

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    Education means nourishing the mind and make it develop in order to see beyond the limitations of current social perception - it means breaking the barriers of the rugged sociological system that impede in the progress of human civilization - it means trying out new things for the first time in human history and succeeding in a few while failing in some. And that is how a species grows to become more advanced.

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    Empathy is the sunlight to the vampire of culture.

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    England has her Stratford, Scotland has her Alloway, and America, too, has her Dresden. For there, on August 11, 1833, was born the greatest and noblest of the Western World; an immense personality, -- unique, lovable, sublime; the peerless orator of all time, and as true a poet as Nature ever held in tender clasp upon her loving breast, and, in words coined for the chosen few, told of the joys and sorrows, hopes, dreams, and fears of universal life; a patriot whose golden words and deathless deeds were worthy of the Great Republic; a philanthropist, real and genuine; a philosopher whose central theme was human love, -- who placed 'the holy hearth of home' higher than the altar of any god; an iconoclast, a builder -- a reformer, perfectly poised, absolutely honest, and as fearless as truth itself -- the most aggressive and formidable foe of superstition -- the most valiant champion of reason -- Robert G. Ingersoll.

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    Ever since Plato most philosophers have considered it part of their business to produce ‘proofs’ of immortality and the existence of God. They have found fault with the proofs of their predecessors — Saint Thomas rejected Saint Anselm's proofs, and Kant rejected Descartes' — but they have supplied new ones of their own. In order to make their proofs seem valid, they have had to falsify logic, to make mathematics mystical, and to pretend that deepseated prejudices were heaven-sent intuitions.

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    Every country has a cultural legacy and religious practices for reasons that I don’t believe fall under the category of superstition, something that a religious scholar should understand.

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    Forced indoctrination exacts blind and ignorant obedience.

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    For the most part, people strenuously resist any redefinition of morality, because it shakes them to the very core of their being to think that in pursuing virtue they may have been feeding vice, or in fighting vice they may have in fact been fighting virtue.

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    Four times during the first six days they were assembled and briefed and then sent back. Once, they took off and were flying in formation when the control tower summoned them down. The more it rained, the worse they suffered. The worse they suffered, the more they prayed that it would continue raining. All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars. All through the day, they looked at the bomb line on the big, wobbling easel map of Italy that blew over in the wind and was dragged in under the awning of the intelligence tent every time the rain began. The bomb line was a scarlet band of narrow satin ribbon that delineated the forward most position of the Allied ground forces in every sector of the Italian mainland. For hours they stared relentlessly at the scarlet ribbon on the map and hated it because it would not move up high enough to encompass the city. When night fell, they congregated in the darkness with flashlights, continuing their macabre vigil at the bomb line in brooding entreaty as though hoping to move the ribbon up by the collective weight of their sullen prayers. "I really can't believe it," Clevinger exclaimed to Yossarian in a voice rising and falling in protest and wonder. "It's a complete reversion to primitive superstition. They're confusing cause and effect. It makes as much sense as knocking on wood or crossing your fingers. They really believe that we wouldn't have to fly that mission tomorrow if someone would only tiptoe up to the map in the middle of the night and move the bomb line over Bologna. Can you imagine? You and I must be the only rational ones left." In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna.

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    God made them as stubble to our swords.

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    . . . have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? How could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible? What else than what we can find could be expected, in the case of people having little knowledge and no secure method of knowing; with primitive institutions, and with so little control of natural forces that they lived in a constant state of fear?

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    Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men. Therefore atheism did never perturb states; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further: and we see the times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Cæsar) were civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government. The master of superstition is the people; and in all superstition wise men follow fools; and arguments are fitted to practice, in a reversed order.

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    Being on the side of the majority is often a sign that you are wrong, or the most unlikely to be right.

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    British diplomats and Anglo-American types in Washington have a near-superstitious prohibition on uttering the words 'Special Relationship' to describe relations between Britain and America, lest the specialness itself vanish like a phantom at cock-crow.

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    But if God and immortality be repudiated, what is left? That is the question usually thrown at the atheist's head. The orthodox believer likes to think that nothing is left. That, however, is because he has only been accustomed to think in terms of his orthodoxy. In point of fact, a great deal is left. That is immediately obvious from the fact that many men and women have led active, or self-sacrificing, or noble, or devoted lives without any belief in God or immortality. Buddhism in its uncorrupted form has no such belief; nor did the great nineteenth-century agnostics; nor do the orthodox Russian Communists; nor did the Stoics. Of course, the unbelievers have often been guilty of selfish or wicked actions; but so have the believers. And in any case that is not the fundamental point. The point: is that without these beliefs men and women may yet possess the mainspring of full and purposive living, and just as strong a sense that existence can be worth while as is possible to the most devout believers.

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    But let me say this. I am a superstitious man, a ridiculous failing but I must confess it here. And so if some unlucky accident should befall my youngest son, if some police officer should accidentally shoot him, if he should hang himself while in his jail cell, if new witnesses appear to testify to his guilt, my superstition will make me feel that it was the result of the ill will still borne me by some people here. Let me go further. If my son is struck by a bolt of lightning I will blame some of the people here. If his plane show fall into the sea or his ship sink beneath the waves of the ocean, if he should catch a mortal fever, if his automobile should be struck by a train, such is my superstition that I would blame the ill will felt by people here. Gentlemen, that ill will, that bad luck, I could never forgive. But aside from that let me swear by the souls of my grandchildren that I will never break the peace we have made. After all, are we or are we not better men than those pezzonovanti who have killed countless millions of men in our lifetimes?

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    By the time she was six, even her own parents were dead. God must have seemed less likely than chance, goodness less likely than evil--so Gertie knocked on wood and crossed fingers, tossed coins into fountains and rice over shoulders. When she prayed, she bargained.