Christopher Hitchens – The Portable Atheist (2007)

This, for what it may be worth, is my own view. We are unlikely to cease making gods or inventing ceremonies to please them for as long as we are afraid of death, or of the dark, and for as long as we persist in self-centeredness. That could be a lengthy stretch of time. However, it is just as certain that we shall continue to cast a skeptical and ironic and even witty eye on what we have ourselves invented. If religion is innate in us, then so is our doubt of it and our contempt for our own weakness.

E.B. White – The Elements of Style (1959)

If you write, you must believe–in the truth and worth of the scrawl, in the ability of the reader to receive and decode the message. No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing.

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

It was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.


J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (1937)

“You have nice manners for a thief and a liar,” said the dragon. “You seem familiar with my name, but I don’t seem to remember smelling you before. Who are you and where do you come from, may I ask?”

“You may indeed! I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my path led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen.”

“So I can well believe,” said Smaug, “but that is hardly your usual name.”

“I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number.”

“Lovely titles!” sneered the dragon. “But lucky numbers don’t always come off.”

“I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of the bag, but no bag went over me.”

“These don’t sound so creditable,” scoffed Smaug.

“I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider,” went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling.

“That’s better!” said Smaug. “But don’t let your imagination run away with you!”

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

I was in England at the time. I could tell I was in England because I was sitting in the rain under a wet blanket in a muddy field listening to some fucking orchestra in a kind of red tent playing hits from American movie soundtracks. Is there anywhere else in the world where people would do such a thing? …No. Even in Japan, where national pastimes include ripping out your own intestines with a knife, I think they would draw the line.