"A lot of people because of my contempt for the false consolations of religion think of me as a symbolic public opponent of that in extremis. And sometimes that makes me feel a bit alarmed to be the repository of other peoples hope."
"A good day is one where I can not just read a book but write a review of it. Maybe today Ill be able to do that. I get for some reason somewhat stronger when the sun starts to go down. Dusk is a good time for me. Im crepuscular."
"And when I was young my family was perfectly nice. I write a lot about it as you noticed. But it was rather limited. I think I dont think anyone in my family would really feel Id done them an injustice by saying that. We didnt see many people. There were many books. It was as if I wanted to get away from home."
"The advice Ive been giving to people all my life - that you may not be interested in the dialectic but the dialectic is interested in you you cant give up politics it wont give you up - was the advice I should have been taking myself."
"When I meet people who say - which they do all of the time - I must just tell you my great aunt had cancer of the elbow and the doctors gave her 10 seconds to live but last I heard she was climbing Mount Everest and so forth I switch off quite early."
"I dont think Romney is wacky at all but religion makes intelligent people say and do wacky things believe and affirm crazy things. Left on his own Romney would never have said something like the Garden Of Eden was in Missouri and will be again."
"People until I was 60 would always say they thought I looked younger which I think without flattering myself I did but I think I certainly have as George Orwell says people do after a certain age the face they deserve."
"Religion is part of the human make-up. Its also part of our cultural and intellectual history. Religion was our first attempt at literature the texts our first attempt at cosmology making sense of where we are in the universe our first attempt at health care believing in faith healing our first attempt at philosophy."
"Well Im in my 60s now. I finally look it I think. People until I was 60 would always say they thought I looked younger which I think without flattering myself I did but I think I certainly have as George Orwell says people do after a certain age the face they deserve."
"The term the American Left is as near to being meaningless or nonsensical as any term could really be in politics. It isnt really a force in politics anymore. And it would do well to ask itself why that is."
"Its impossible I think however much Id become disillusioned politically or evolve into a post-political person I dont think Id ever change my view that socialism is the best political moment humans have ever come up with."
"Theres been some research in cognitive science Im told that discloses that there have always been perhaps 10 to 15 percent of people who are as Pascal puts it so made that they cannot believe. To us when people talk about faith its white noise."
"Even if I accepted that Jesus - like almost every other prophet on record - was born of a virgin I cannot think that this proves the divinity of his father or the truth of his teachings. The same would be true if I accepted that he had been resurrected."
"Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age was quite a favourite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instants thought shows that Afghanistan is being if anything bombed out of the Stone Age."
"Owners of dogs will have noticed that if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that if you provide them with food and water and affection they draw the conclusion that they are God."
"There are people who cannot forget as neither do I the lesson of the years of the Indochina War. Which was first that the state is capable of being a murderer. A mass murderer and a conspirator and a liar."
"One of the great questions of philosophy is do we innately have morality or do we get it from celestial dictation? A study of the Ten Commandments is a very good way of getting into and resolving that issue."
"My favorite time in the cycles of public life is the time when the Pope is dead and they havent elected a new one. Theres no one in the world who is infallible for those weeks. And you know I dont miss it."
"WASP is the only ethnic term that is in fact a term of class apart from redneck which is another word for the same group but who are in the lower social strata so its inexplicably tied up with social standing and culture and history in a way that the other hyphenations just are not."