Steve Allen (comedian)
The object of love is to serve, not to win.Woodrow Wilson
- This is The Tonight Show. I can't tell you too much about it, other than the fact that this program is going to go on forever.
- First broadcast of The Tonight Show (1953)
- Get this to Grand Central Station as quick as you can!
- Instructions to a cab-driver after racing out of his studio dressed as a policeman, and throwing a large salami into the backseat of his taxi. The driver sped off without a word.
- Sports fans, I have the final score for you on the big game between Harvard and William & Mary. It is: Harvard 14, William 12, Mary 6.
- It is not hardness of heart or evil passions that drive certain individuals to atheism, but rather a scrupulous intellectual honesty.
- 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt" by James A. Haught
Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality (1990)
- One social evil for which the New Testament is clearly in part responsible is anti-Semitism.
- There is not the slightest question but that the God of the Old Testament is a jealous, vengeful God, inflicting not only on the sinful pagans but even on his Chosen People fire, lighting, hideous plagues and diseases, brimstone, and other curses.
- There are hundreds of millions who believe the Messiah has come. If he did, then it is unfortunately the case that his heroic sacrifice and death have had no effect whatsoever on the very problem his coming might have been expected to address, for history demonstrates, beyond question, that we Christians have been just as dangerous, singly and en masse, as non-Christians.
- The Bible has been interpreted to justify such evil practices as, for example, slavery, the slaughter of prisoners of war, the sadistic murders of women believed to be witches, capital punishment for hundreds of offenses, polygamy, and cruelty to animals. It has been used to encourage belief in the grossest superstition and to discourage the free teaching of scientific truths. We must never forget that both good and evil flow from the Bible. It is therefore not above criticism.
- To those who wish to punish others— or at least to see them punished, if the avengers are too cowardly to take matters in to their own hands— the belief in a fiery, hideous hell appears to be a great source of comfort.
More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality (1993)
- Ideas have consequences, and totally erroneous ideas are likely to have destructive consequences.
- No actual tyrant known to history has ever been guilty of one-hundredth of the crimes, massacres, and other atrocities attributed to the Deity in the Bible.
- God is by definition the holder of all possible knowledge, it would be impossible for him to have faith in anything. Faith, then, is built upon ignorance and hope.
- As I argued in Beloved Son, a book about my son Brian and the subject of religious communes and cults, one result of proper early instruction in the methods of rational thought will be to make sudden mindless conversions— to anything— less likely. Brian now realizes this and has, after eleven years, left the sect he was associated with. The problem is that once the untrained mind has made a formal commitment to a religious philosophy— and it does not matter whether that philosophy is generally reasonable and high-minded or utterly bizarre and irrational— the powers of reason are suprisingly ineffective in changing the believer's mind.
- Asthma doesn't seem to bother me any more unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar.
- Do not allow children to mix your martini. It is unseemly and they use too much vermouth.
- Humor is a social lubricant that helps us get over some of the bad spots.
- I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That's how I lost my mind.
- If the Old Testament were a reliable guide in the matter of capital punishment, half the people in the United States would have to be killed tomorrow
- If there is a God, the phrase that must disgust him is— holy war.
- If. . . we assume that there is no God, it follows that morality is even more important than if there is a Deity. If God exists, his unlimited power can certainly redress imbalances in the scale of human justice. But if there is no God, then it is up to man to be as moral as he can.
- If you pray for rain long enough, it eventually does fall. If you pray for floodwaters to abate, they eventually do. The same happens in the absence of prayers.
- Impartial observers from other planets would consider ours an utterly bizarre enclave if it were populated by birds, defined as flying animals, that nevertheless rarely or never actually flew. They would also be perplexed if they encountered in our seas, lakes, rivers, and ponds, creatures defined as swimmers that never did any swimming. But they would be even more surprised to encounter a species defined as a thinking animal if, in fact, the creature very rarely indulged in actual thinking.
- In a rational society we would want our presidents to be teachers. In our actual society we insist they be cheerleaders.
- Is it larger than a bread box?
- Famous query from "What's my line?
- Men will take almost any kind of criticism except the observation that they have no sense of humor.
- No philosophy, sadly, has all the answers. No matter how assured we may be about certain aspects of our belief, there are always painful inconsistencies, exceptions, and contradictions. This is true in religion as it is in politics, and is self-evident to all except fanatics and the naive. As for the fanatics, whose number is legion in our own time, we might be advised to leave them to heaven. They will not, unfortunately, do us the same courtesy. They attack us and each other, and whatever their protestations to peaceful intent, the bloody record of history makes clear that they are easily disposed to resort to the sword. My own belief in God, then, is just that— a matter of belief, not knowledge. My respect for Jesus Christ arises from the fact that He seems to have been the most virtuous inhabitant of Planet Earth. But even well-educated Christians are frustated in their thirst for certainty about the beloved figure of Jesus because of the undeniable ambiguity of the scriptural record. Such ambiguity is not apparent to children or fanatics, but every recognized Bible scholar is perfectly aware of it. Some Christians, alas, resort to formal lying to obscure such reality.
- Nothing is better than the unintended humor of reality
- One of the nice things about problems is that a good many of them do not exist except in our imaginations.
- Ours is a government of checks and balances. The Mafia and crooked businessmen make out checks, and the politicians and other compromised officials improve their bank balances.
- Radio is the theater of the mind; television is the theater of the mindless.
- Religious believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate the simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists, but you have no right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists of the world with contempt. You owe them a deep debt of gratitude, for not only have they shed much light on a naturally dark world but they have very probably helped civilize your own specific religion.
- The hair is real; it's the head that's fake.
- The purpose of having an open mind is the same as having an open mouth, the object being eventually to close it on something solid. But one should never close either mind or mouth until the general circumstances of the moment make it reasonable to do so.
- Totalitarianism is patriotism institutionalized.
- We are entitled to make almost any reasonable assumption, but should resist making conclusions until evidence requires that we do so.
- When the churches literally ruled society, the human drama encompassed: (a) slavery; (b) the cruel subjection of women; (c) the most savage forms of legal punishment; (d) the absurd belief that kings ruled by divine right; (e) the daily imposition of physical abuse; (f) cold heartlessness for the sufferings of the poor; as well as (g) assorted pogroms ("ethnic cleansing" wars) between rival religions, capital punishment for literally hundreds of offenses, and countless other daily imposed moral outrages … it was the free-thinking, challenging work by people of conscience, who almost invariably had to defy the religious and political status quo of their times, that brought us out of such darkness.
- Allen, Steve. Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality (1990). ISBN 0879756381.
- Allen, Steve. More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality (1993). ISBN 0879757361.