I have raised you to respect every human being as singular. And you must extend that same respect into the past. Slavery is not an indefinable mass of flesh. It is a particular, specific enslaved woman whose mind is as active as your own, whose range of feelings as vast as your own, who prefers the way the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddys in the nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks to loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dress making and knows inside herself that she is as intelligent and capable as anyone. Slavery is the same woman born in a world that loudly proclaims its love of freedom and describes this world in essential texts. A world in which these same professors hold this woman a slave. Hold her mother a slave, her father a slave, her daughter a slave.And when this woman peers back into the generations, all she sees is the enslaved. She can hope for more. She can imagine some future for her grandchildren, but when she dies, the world, which is really the only world she can really know, ends. For this woman enslavement is not a parable, it is damnation, it is the never ending night and the length of that night is most of our history. Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains, whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.
TaNehisi Coates
The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced. He has been the sport and prey of priest and king, the food of superstition and cruel might. Crowned force has governed ignorance through fear. Hypocrisy and tyranny—two vultures—have fed upon the liberties of man. From all these there has been and is, but one means of escape—intellectual development. Upon the back of industry has been the whip. Upon the brain have been the fetters of superstition. Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man. In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes.Every science has been an outcast.All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward march of the human race. The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul. Under this infamous regime the eagle of the human intellect was for ages a slimy serpent of hypocrisy.The human race was imprisoned. Through some of the prison bars came a few struggling rays of light. Against these bars Science pressed its pale and thoughtful face, wooed by the holy dawn of human advancement. Bar after bar was broken away. A few grand men escaped and devoted their lives to the liberation of their fellows.
Robert G. Ingersoll
[Asked by an audience member at a public Q&A session] Considering that atheism cannot possibly have any sense of 'absolute morality', would it not then be an irrational leap of faith – which atheists themselves so harshly condemn – for an atheist to decide between right and wrong?[Dawkins] Absolute morality...the absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include, what, stoning people for adultery? Death for apostasy? [...] These are all things which are religiously-based absolute moralities. I don't think I want an absolute morality; I think I want a morality that is thought out, reasoned, argued, discussed and based on – you could almost say intelligent design. [...]If you actually look at the moralities that are accepted among modern people – among 21st century people – we don't believe in slavery anymore; we believe in equality of women; we believe in being gentle; we believe in being kind to animals...these are all things which are entirely recent. They have very little basis in Biblical or Koranic scripture. They are things that have developed over historical time; through a consensus of reasoning, sober discussion, argument, legal theory, political and moral philosophy. These do not come from religion. To the extent that you can find the 'good bits' in religious scriptures, you have to cherry-pick. You search your way through the Bible or the Koran and you find the occasional verse that is an acceptable profession of morality – and you say, look at that! That's religion!...and you leave out all the horrible bits. And you say, 't believe that anymore, we've grown out of that.' Well, of course we've grown out of it. We've grown out of it because of secular moral philosophy and rational discussion.
Richard Dawkins