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Religious Tolerance logo

Interesting quotes:

Topics from Death to Education
(No pun intended; it just turned out that way)

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Included are quotes on: death, death penalty, doubt and education.


  • Anon: "Everyone dies, but no one is dead." Ancient Tibetan saying.

  • Anon: "Progress happens, one funeral at a time." Allegedly stated by a politician in Toronto, ON.

  • Sir Winston Churchill: "Broadly speaking, human beings may be divided into three classes: those who are billed to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death."

  • Richard Dawkins: "After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked why I bother to get up in the mornings."

  • Bill Ferris: "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."

  • Dr. Jack Kevorkian: physician and euthanasia activist; USA Today on 1996-JUL-30: "Had Christ died in my van, with people around him who loved him, [his death] would have been far more dignified."

  • Albert Pike: "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."

  • Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1869): "Martyrdom is the only way a man can become famous without ability."

  • Joseph Stalin: "One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are merely a statistic."

Death penalty:

  • Anon: "If Christ was executed today, I bet Christians would wear little electric chairs around their necks." This has variously been credited to Dick Gregory, Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, and probably others.

  • John J. Curtin, Jr.: "A system that will take life must first give justice.

  • Justice Thurgood Marshall: "When ... the Supreme Court gave its seal of approval to capital punishment, this endorsement was premised on the promise that capital punishment would be administered with fairness and justice. Instead, the promise has become a cruel and empty mockery. If not remedied, the scandalous state of our present system of capital punishment will cast a pall of shame over our society for years to come. We cannot let it continue.

  • Theodore L. Sendak, Attorney General of Indiana: "We should weigh the death of the convicted murders against the loss of life of his victims and the possibility of potential victims to murder."

  • Potter Stewart: "We may nevertheless assume safely there are murders, such as those who act in passion, for whom the threat of death has little or no deterrent effect.  But for many others, the death penalty undoubtedly, is a significant deterrent." From his ruling as a U.S. Supreme Court justice in Gregg v. Georgia.

  • Mary Sue Terry: "Evidence of innocence is irrelevant!"  She was the Attorney General of Virginia at the time, and was responding to an appeal to introduce new evidence from a prisoner on death row.

Dialogue: (Sometimes spelled "Dialog" in the U.S.)

In a religious, civil rights, or similar matter:
  • Merriam-Webster: "A a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution. E.G. a constructive dialogue between loggers and environmentalists."

  • Anon: "To take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.

  • Dr. Mary C. Boys, SNJM: "Dialogue is the art of conversation across boundaries of difference."

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  • Maya Angelou: "It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength."

  • Jimmy Carter: "“We have  become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."

  • Ernest Istook: "America's strength is not our diversity; our strength is our ability to unite people of different backgrounds around common principles. A common language is necessary to reach that goal."

  • Ola Joseph: "Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness.

  • John F. Kennedy: The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men." [sic]

  • Joe Klein: "Diversity has been written into the DNA of American life; any institution that lacks a rainbow array has come to seem diminished, if not diseased."

  • Thomas Stephen Szasz: "The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man." [sic]

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  • Anon: "How many of the 15 Saudi Arabians, and four other radical, fundamentalist, extremist, violent Muslims who were the perpetrators in 9/11 would have attacked New York and the Pentagon if they posessed even a tiny bit of doubt about God's will?"
  • Gordon Allport: "The mature religious sentiment is ordinarily fashioned in the workshop of doubt."

  • About religious doubt in the military:
    • Anon: "There are no Atheists in foxholes."
    • Bill Cooke: "... enforced Christianity was the surest breeding ground for unbelief. Many men either became unbelievers or met unbelievers during their military service." 1

  • From the Dhammapada, often called the Buddha's Path of Wisdom. It is a collection of 423 early Buddhist verses: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

  • Editors of the Catholic Encyclopedia: "The faith demanded by the Christian Revelation stands on a different footing from the belief claimed by any other religion. Since it rests on divine authority, ... its refusal involves not merely intellectual error, but also some degree of moral perversity. It follows that doubt in regard to the Christian religion is equivalent to its total rejection." 2

  • Richard Feynman:  "There is no harm in doubt and skepticism, for it is through these that new discoveries are made."

  • Darrell J. Fasching: "I have found a fullness in the doubts and questions of my life that I once thought could only be found in the answers. Mercifully, doubts and questions have come to be so fulfilling that I find myself suspicious of answers, not because they are necessarily false or irrelevant, but because even when relevant and true they are, and can only be partial. It is doubt and questioning that always lure me on to broader horizons and deeper insights through an openness to the infinite that leave me contentedly discontent." 3

  • Timothy Keller: "A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic." From: "The Reason for God"

  • Paul Manata: "Believers should not be afraid to wrestle with their doubts. ... Struggling with your doubts will make your faith 'your own,' rather than something you inherit." From a book review. 4

  • Mark Taylor: "Religious conflict will be less a matter of struggles between belief and unbelief than of clashes between believers who make room for doubt and those who do not." 5

  • Paul Tillich: "Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith."

  • Michael White: "God isn't afraid of our doubts, but He doesn't want to leave them with us either."

  • Additional quotes on "religious doubt."

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  • Gary Bauer, former head of the Family Research Council -- a Fundamentalist Christian advocacy group: "We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There's a lot of talk in America about pluralism. 5 But the bottom line is somebody's values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe."

  • Baba Dioum, Senegal: "In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught."

  • Ronald Heifetz: "...conflict is the primary engine of creativity and innovation. People don't learn by staring into a mirror; people learn by encountering difference."
  • Arthur Lipkin: "[Children's] cognitive restraints imposed at home may be jostled loose by inquiry, discussion, and student disputation. The dissonance they experience can lead students to question their home, community, and church values. Liberals see that process as growth; the Right see it as heresy." 6

  • William Butler Yeats: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bill Cooke, "The Gathering of Infidels: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association," Prometheus Books (2004).
  2. "Doubt," Catholic Encyclopedia, at:
  3. Darrell J. Fasching, "Narrative Theology After Auschwitz: From Alienation To Ethics," Fortress Press, (1992), Page 4.
  4. Timothy Keller, "The Reason for God: Belief in an age of skepticism," Dutton Adult, (2008). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store. Paul Manata's review is at:
  5. The term "pluralism" is ambiguous. It is sometimes used to refer to religious diversity. Other times, it refers to the belief that all religions are true. It is not clear which meaning is being used here.

  6. book cover Excerpt from the preface of a book by Ian K. Macgillivray: "Gay-Straight Alliances: A Handbook for Students, Educators, and Parents." Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

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Last updated: 2018-DEC-17
Compiled by: B.A. Robinson

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