I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.
Every night of our lives, we dream, and our brain concocts visions which are, at least until we wake up, highly convincing. Most of us have had experiences which are verging on hallucination. It shows the power of the brain to knock up illusions.
I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.
It does not seem ever to have been satisfactorily answered why the two first operational atomic bombs were used—against the strongly voiced wishes of the leading physicists responsible for developing them—to destroy two cities instead of being deployed in the equivalent of spectacularly shooting out candles.
Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
As a child, my wife hated her school and wished she could leave. Years later, when she was in her twenties, she disclosed this unhappy fact to her parents, and her mother was aghast: ‘But darling, why didn't you come to us and tell us?' Lalla's reply is my text for today: ‘But I didn't know I could.
Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.
Real life seeks the gentle slopes at the back of Mount Improbable, while creationists are blind to all but the daunting precipice at the front.
I speculate that we shall come to accept the more radical idea that each one of our genes is a symbiotic unit. We are gigantic colonies of symbiotic genes.
Why did humans lose their body hair? Why did they start walking on their hind legs? Why did they develop big brains? I think that the answer to all three questions is sexual selection.
There are quite a lot of YouTube clips of me that have gone viral. One that I think of is of a young woman at a lecture I was giving - she came from Liberty University, which is a ludicrous religious institution. She said, 'What if you are wrong?' and I answered that rather briefly, and that's gone viral.
In very different ways, the possibility that the universe is teeming with life, and the opposite possibility that we are totally alone, are equally exciting. Either way, the urge to know more about the universe seems to me irresistible, and I cannot imagine that anybody of truly poetic sensibility could disagree.
I accept that there may be things far grander and more incomprehensible than we can possibly imagine.
Nothing is wrong with peace and love. It is all the more regrettable that so many of Christ's followers seem to disagree.
Next to the true beauty and magic of the real world, supernatural spells and stage tricks seem cheap and tawdry by comparison. The magic of reality is neither supernatural nor a trick, but – quite simply – wonderful. Wonderful, and real. Wonderful because real.
I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.
Creative intelligences, being evolved arrived late in the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.
He has no theistic beliefs, but shares the poetic naturalism that the cosmos provokes in.
I suppose if you look back to your early childhood you accept everything people tell you, and that includes a heavy dose of irrationality - you're told about tooth fairies and Father Christmas and things.
Alister McGrath has now written two books with my name in the title. The poet W. B. Yeats, when asked to say something about bad poets who made a living by parasitizing him, wrote the splendid line, 'was there ever dog that praised his fleas?
We will not go quietly away. If in the future that requires violence.
The most terrible wars of history, the two major wars of the century, have nothing to do with religions.
Do you advocate the Ten Commandments as a guide to the good life? Then I can only presume that you don't know the Ten Commandments.
Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.
Religion is not the root of all evil, for no one thing is the root of all anything.
To put it bluntly, American political opportunities are heavily loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest.
There is an anaesthetic of familiarity, a sedative of ordinariness, which dulls the senses and hides the wonder of existence.
The very idea of supernatural magic - including miracles - is incoherent, devoid of sensible meaning.
Evolution by natural selection is the explanation for why we exist. It is not something to guide our lives in our own society. If we were to be guided by the evolution principle, then we would be living in a kind of ultra-Thatcherite, Reaganite society.
When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.
Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. Physics is the study of simple things that do not tempt us to invoke design.
Whenever a controversy arises over sexual or reproductive morals, you can bet that religious leaders from several different faith groups will be prominently represented on influential committees, or on panel discussions on radio or television.
To try to make a man, you would have to work at your biochemical cocktail-shaker for a period so long that the entire age of the universe would seem like an eye-blink, and even then you would not succeed.
The fact that a question can be phrased in a grammatically correct English sentence doesn't make it meaningful, or entitle it to our serious attention.
I want very much to communicate science to as wide an audience as possible, but not at a cost of dumbing down, and not at a cost in getting things right.
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that.
Coming out as an atheist can cost an academic his or her job in some parts of America, and many choose to keep quiet about their atheism.
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence.
Show me a cultural relativist at 30,000 feet and I'll show you a hypocrite ... If you are flying to an international congress of anthropologists or literary critics, the reason you will probably get there - the reason you don't plummet into a ploughed field - is that a lot of Western scientifically trained engineers have got their sum right.
In Britain, Christianity is dying. Islam, unfortunately, isn't.
Religious organisations have an automatic tax-free charitable status.
I get the feeling more and more that religion is being left behind.
Far from being demeaning to human spiritual values, scientific rationalism is the crowning glory of the human spirit.
Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
Genetically speaking, individuals and groups are like clouds in the sky or dust- storms in the desert. They are temporary aggregations or federations. They are not stable through evolutionary time. Populations may last a long while, but they are constantly blending with other populations and so losing their identity.
An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles—except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don't yet understand.