"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
"The whole purpose of that essay, written in 2006, was to express my concern that the political correctness of the Left has made it taboo to even notice the menace of political Islam, leaving only right-wing fanatics to do the job. Such fanatics are, as I thought I made clear, the wrong people to do this, being nearly as bad as jihadists themselves. I was not praising fascists: I was arguing that liberal confusion and cowardice was empowering them."
"The scientific creation story has majesty, power and beauty. and is infused with a powerful message capable of lifting our spirits in a way that its multitudinous supernatural counterparts are incapable of matching. It teaches us that we are the products of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution and the mechanism by which meaning entered the universe, if only for a fleeting moment in time. Because the universe means something to me, and the fact that we are all agglomerations of quarks and electrons in a complex and fragile pattern that can perceive the beauty of the universe with visceral wonder, is, I think, a thought worth raising a glass to this Christmas."
"When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible."
"For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them."
"The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts."
"I want to live my life taking the risk - all the time - that I don't know anything like-enough yet, that I haven't understood enough, that I can't know enough, that I'm always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom.
And I urge you to look at people who tell you at your age that you're dead till you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. That you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don't think of that as a gift. Think of is as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside, however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you."
"We have to challenge our beliefs every single day. That's what science is all about. There are no scientific ideologies. The reason science has progressed and theology hasn't, the reason we have video cameras and lights and medicine and we can feed more people and live longer healthier lives, is because science changes. The great thing about science is that there are no unshakable truths. We force the way we view reality to depend upon the evidence of reality. So if you don't challenge your beliefs, you're never learning. You're never questioning yourself."