Quotations about religion

Direct quotations

Bloggers and commenters

  • Prayer absolutely, positively does not work. You can’t combine the thing that clearly doesn’t work on its own with the thing that does work all by itself and then claim they share the credit (unless you’re really desperate). That’s like mowing your grass while whistling to show how whistling can result in a well-trimmed lawn. —J.T. Eberhard, February 2012
  • Religion is one lie after another: the lie of original sin, the lie of eternal life, the lie of hell, the lie of answered prayer, the lie that life can have no meaning without religion, the lie that religion is the source of morality, the lie of creationism, the lie of a spy-in-the-sky who hears your every word and reads your every thought. And to this list we must add the lie that it views men and women as equal. —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • It is not my intention to offend anyone, but in the case of religion, it is virtually impossible not to.  One does not need to attack or insult a religious person to cause offense — one need only disagree with, question, or in any way criticize that person’s religion.  I have found religious people to be among the most thin-skinned on the planet.  They demand that everyone respect their religion by complimenting or praising it or saying nothing at all — and yet they seem incapable of showing respect as they routinely and casually criticize and condemn others who do not share their beliefs for living lives of which their religion does not approve.  They spout and spew their dogmatic nonsense freely and without pause.  But when others openly disagree or criticize, their response is, “Just shut up!” —Ray Garton, March 2011
  • All of Christianity is judgmental.  There are few things more annoying than being told by a Christian, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” because Christians spend most of their time passing judgment on other people.  It’s what they do. —Ray Garton, April 2011
  • The truth is that the Abrahamic religions fear women and therefore go to extraordinary and sometimes brutal lengths to control them, constrain them, and repress them in every way. Show me a non-religious society that feels so threatened by the thought of female sexuality that it will slice off the clitoris of a young girl to ensure she can never experience sexual pleasure. Show me a non-religious society that feels the need to cloak women from head to toe and force them to experience the outside world through a slit of a few square inches. —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • All three Abrahamic religions share the myth of Adam and Eve, the myth that it was through woman that evil was let loose in the world. They share the heritage of Leviticus, which declared a menstruating woman unclean, to be set aside, untouched, a revulsion that remains even today among some orthodox Jews, who will refuse to shake a woman’s hand for fear she may be menstruating. What kind of lunacy is this? It is the lunacy of a Bronze Age mindset fossilized by the reactionary forces of religion. —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • In the eyes of the Abrahamic religions, the archetypal woman is Eve: disobedient, unreliable, easily led astray, and a seductive temptress of man – man being more noble, yet easy prey to the wiles and seductions of his weaker mate. Woman is the source of danger, the one who corrupts him, the conduit for all that is evil in the world. She is dangerous … yet irresistible; and this very irresistibility makes her more dangerous still. But you will notice that the dangers of sexual temptation are not to be faced equally by men and women: no, religion demands that it is the woman who bears the burden. Solomon, we are told, had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and David had a more modest yet still energy-sapping five wives and 10 concubines, yet neither of these has become a by-word for male insatiability. Jezebel, on the other hand, has become synonymous with sexual excess, despite this not being among the vices attributed to her in the bible story. —Paula Kirby, April 2011 [In fact, her name in the bible is a corruption of “Virgin of Baal.”]
  • Fundamentalist Islam, far from requiring its male followers to control their lusts and take responsibility for them, conceals its women in hideous, sexless sacks, depriving them of their beauty and their individuality, literally even their ability to breathe freely – and still permits polygamy, though only for men, of course. And have you ever stopped to wonder what became of the male lover of the woman taken in adultery in the Gospel of John? Why wasn’t he threatened with execution by stoning and hauled before Jesus? —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • And perish the thought that these religions – in their alleged equal valuing of women – should permit them actually to control their own bodies! Women exist for the purposes of reproduction! So let them reproduce! Let them reproduce, whether they wish it or not. Woe unto the woman who dares to engage in sex without being willing to conceive as a result! Woe unto the woman who uses contraception to control her fertility and manage the size of her family! And a hundred times woe unto the woman who actually dares to terminate a pregnancy she does not want! —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • The question of abortion illustrates perfectly the role of women so far as the church is concerned. A woman’s reproductive organs are not her own, and she may not be permitted to decide what happens to them. The Catholic Church would forbid abortion, even when the mother’s life is at risk if she continues with the pregnancy. It would forbid it, even if she has been raped and is carrying the child of her violator. How much clearer could it be that the woman has value only as the carrier of a man’s child and has in herself no intrinsic worth whatsoever? —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • The New Testament is woefully short of significant female characters, and a brief look at those who do make it to the hall of fame will suffice to tell us exactly how they were perceived. On the one hand we have Mary Magdalene – the prostitute. And on the other we have Mary the mother of Jesus – the virgin. To paraphrase the late Dorothy Parker, the New Testament’s view of women runs the full gamut from A to B. Prostitute or virgin: take your pick, ladies. —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • The woman who engages in sex with multiple men is held up as the epitome of fallenness, brokenness, wickedness; as one so corrupt that Jesus’s willingness to forgive her is seen as bordering on the miraculous. And at the same time we are offered as our ideal, our aspiration, our role-model – the eternal virgin: sexless, locked forever in a childlike state; devoid of sexual passion or sensuality; obedient, self-sacrificing, selfless: a woman, in other words, from whom all that would make her fully human, let alone fully woman, has been stripped. Here, finally, is the woman that religion need not fear. This is the highest ideal to which a Christian woman may aspire: a cardboard cut-out of womanhood, a mere handmaid, silent, submissive, a vessel for the production of babies, passively and gratefully accepting her fate. —Paula Kirby, April 2011
  • Public prayer: the only sort of masturbation tolerated in public. —PTW, April 2011
  • So, let me get this straight—we’re meant to take the bible as evidence that Jesus existed and was resurrected?The bible, which was written by people with a vested interest in having people believe certain things, translated by people with a vested interest in having people believe certain things, edited by people with a vested interest in having people believe certain things, published by people with a vested interest in having people believe certain things, analysed by people with a vested interest in having people believe certain things, and then those analyses taught to the general public as undeniable facts?  —Wowbagger, March 2011
  • When you keep asking someone to prove that leprechauns exist and they continually and reflexively respond by quoting Lucky Charms commercials as if they were firmly established and universally accepted accounts of real-life happenings, it’s hopeless. —Friendly, March 2011
  • Here is what the The KJV has to say about what humans are: ‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’ So, if claiming man is an animal dehumanizes man, then just what the bloody hell does claiming he is a bag of dirt do? I’ll take being an animal any day of the week. —Tantalus Prime
  • [A]n atheist isn’t a science-loving rational skeptic secular evolutionary humanist by default. —wolle212, February 2011
  • Loan-sharking is just one of the traditional criminal activities Jehovah engages in. His primary activity is extortion – “That’s a nice soul you have there. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to it. This is a rough neighborhood, but I can protect you. I’ll stop by every Sunday for payment.” —truthspeaker, January 2011


  • The Church practises the Gypsy Curse scam on a grand scale: “Your family jewels have been cursed by Adam’s sin; respect, obey, let us make laws for you, and tithe and for your lifelong loyalty and cash donations, we’ll say the magic words that allow you to have sex and lift the curse of original sin.” [This is an outgrowth of the original scam, “I Has a God and I’m Not Afraid to Use It.”]
  • Should a psychic with a scam be given tax breaks and housing allowances and respect to better facilitate the fleecing of scam victims?
  • Religion is an evil tool for controlling and subjugating people. They extend their mind-control beyond death itself. It is often said that a free man can be killed, but not enslaved, and thus need not bow to tyranny. When people have had enough, even if enslaved in body, they will and can choose to die. But a person who believes that rebellion will lead to eternal torment after death is denied that final moment of self-respect. Religion really does poison everything.
  • If science and religion are to be given equal status, then all “critical thinking in education” acts should mandate the discussing of strengths and weaknesses of both scientific theories and religious hypotheses. (Translation: don’t  pray in my school and I won’t think in your church.)

In history

    The remaining part of the clause declares. that ‘no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust, under the United States.’ This clause is not introduced merely for the purpose of satisfying the scruples of many respectable persons, who feel an invincible repugnance to any religious tests, or affirmation. It had a higher object; to cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government. —Joseph Story,

Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Vol. III

    page 703, referring to the ban on religious tests found in Article VI, Section III of the U.S. Constitution

Stephen F. Roberts

This is often credited to Richard Dawkins, but see here for history.

  • Original: “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
  • Shorter: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.”
  • Roberts’ shorter:  “We are all atheists, some of us just believe in fewer gods than others.”

Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001)
This cogitation on a puddle isn’t theology, either, but it concisely explains the thinking of most theists:

  • Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.’

Dan Barker (1949 – ), Minister turned atheist

  • There is joy in rationality, happiness in clarity of mind. Freethought is thrilling and fulfilling–absolutely essential to mental health and happiness. [Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith]
  • Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits. [Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith]
  • The next time believers tell you that ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in our founding document, tell them to stop using the word ‘trinity.’ The word ‘trinity’ appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If they are still unfazed (or unphrased), by this, then add Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural, Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, Dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative (Liberal is in), Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible. [Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith]
  • Some theists, observing that all ‘effects’ need a cause, assert that God is a cause but not an effect. But no one has ever observed an uncaused cause and simply inventing one merely assumes what the argument wishes to prove. [From Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: FFRF, 1992), p. 109.]
  • More quotes from Dan Barker

Taner Edis

  • Physicists use ‘God’ as a metaphor more often than other scientists—- especially in popular writing, but in the technical literature as well. Of course, this is just a metaphor for order at the heart of confusion. A rational or aesthetic pattern underlying reality is far from a theistic God. [from Is Anybody Out There? ]
  • John McCarthy
    An atheist doesn’t have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can’t be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question.

Steve Allen

  • 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. —Steve Allen, on the Bible Religion & Morality

James Randi (1928 – )

  • Challenging blasphemy laws in several US states: “To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place — not to mention the “ethnic cleansing” presently being performed by Christians in our world — and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women.”‘

Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

  • What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
  • “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”
  • “Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
  • “I have met some highly intelligent believers, but history has no record to say that [s]he knew or understood the mind of god. Yet this is precisely the qualification which the godly must claim–so modestly and so humbly–to possess. It is time to withdraw our “respect” from such fantastic claims, all of them aimed at the exertion of power over other humans in the real and material world.” (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer)
  • Religion forces nice people to do unkind things, and also makes intelligent people say stupid things. Handed a small baby for the first time, is it your first reaction to think, beautiful, almost perfect, now please hand me the sharp stone for its genitalia that I may do the work of the Lord. No, it is — as the great physicist Stephen Weinberg has aptly put it, in the ordinary moral universe, the good will do the best they can, the worst will do the worst they can, but if you want to make good people do wicked things, you’ll need religion.
  • “The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
  • “[O]wners 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 shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer)
  • “[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
  • “Thus, though I dislike to differ with such a great man, Voltaire was simply ludicrous when he said that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. The human invention of god is the problem to begin with.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
  • “Nothing optional — from homosexuality to adultery — is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishment) have a repressed desire to participate.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
  • “Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of ‘the flock.” (Hitch-22: A Memoir)
  • “About once or twice every month I engage in public debates with those whose pressing need it is to woo and to win the approval of supernatural beings. Very often, when I give my view that there is no supernatural dimension, and certainly not one that is only or especially available to the faithful, and that the natural world is wonderful enough—and even miraculous enough if you insist—I attract pitying looks and anxious questions. How, in that case, I am asked, do I find meaning and purpose in life? How does a mere and gross materialist, with no expectation of a life to come, decide what, if anything, is worth caring about?Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don’t believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart’s content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others—while in the meantime it is precisely those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity—so the answer to the first question falls into two parts. A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called ‘meaningless’ except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one’s everyday life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be expended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities… but there, there. Enough.” (Hitch-22: A Memoir)
  • “Those of us who write and study history are accustomed to its approximations and ambiguities. This is why we do not take literally the tenth-hand reports of frightened and illiterate peasants who claim to have seen miracles or to have had encounters with messiahs and prophets and redeemers who were, like them, mere humans. And this is also why we will never submit to dictation from those who display a fanatical belief in certainty and revelation.”
  • More quotations on religion
  • And yet more

Richard Dawkins (1941 – )

  • Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not. [River out of Eden, 1995]
  • The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.
  • More quotations on religion.

Victor J. Stenger (b. 1935)

  • Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
  • People are entitled to their opinions, but when the opinion is in disagreement with the data — with the facts — when that opinion does not stand up under critical or rational scrutiny, I think we have a right to point that out. We shouldn’t be stepping on anybody’s toes when we do that. If they’re going to be spouting off nonsense, then we should say that — not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of scientific fact. When someone says science says something, and science doesn’t say something (“It doesn’t say that! That’s a misrepresentation of what science says.”), then I think we can state that. And if it ruffles some feathers, so what? I just don’t see the basis for arguing that creationism has equal standing with evolution.
  • If it looks like God does not exist, quacks like God does not exist, then there is a good chance he does not….Proof is not required to believe. But some sign, some evidence is needed. None exists….Find some inkling of evidence. There is none.
  • From this experience, I have learned what science asks of us when we claim the existence of an extraordinary new phenomenon. It requires much, including years of hard work, uncompromising honesty, and willingness to accept failure. I can quickly recognize fallacious logic or faulty experimental procedure when I read a paper that purports to observe something that goes beyond existing knowledge. I am dubious and suspicious whenever an important result has been obtained too easily or too quickly, and reported in the media before it has run the gamut of critical review by disinterested, knowledgeable parties.
  • …the universe and its laws could have arisen naturally from “nothing.” Current cosmology suggests that no laws of physics were violated in bringing the universe into existence. The laws of physics themselves are shown to correspond to what one would expect if the universe appeared from nothing. There is something rather than nothing because something is more stable.
  • More Victor Stenger quotes

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992)

  • I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
  • The Threat of Creationism. >With creationism in the saddle, American science will wither. We will raise a generation of ignoramuses ill-equipped to run the industry of tomorrow, much less to generate the new advances of the days after tomorrow. We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization, and those nations that retain opened scientific thought will take over the leadership of the world and the cutting edge of human advancement. I don’t suppose that the creationists really plan the decline of the United States, but their loudly expressed patriotism is as simpleminded as their “science.” If they succeed, they will, in their folly, achieve the opposite of what they say they wish.
  • ‘…If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think I would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.I would also want a god would not allow a Hell. Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don’t think infinite evil can exist even in the case of a Hitler. Besides, if most human governments are civilized enough to try to eliminate torture and outlaw cruel and unusual punishments, can we expect any less of an all-merciful God?I feel that if there were an afterlife, punishment for evil would be reasonable and of a fixed term. And I feel that the longest and worst punishment should be reserved for those who slandered God by inventing Hell. But all that is just playing. I am firm in my beliefs. I am an atheist, and in my opinion, death is followed by an eternal and dreamless sleep.”

Joseph Conrad

  • [E]very age is fed on illusions, lest men should renounce life early and the human race come to an end.

Adolf Hitler (1910 – 1945)

  • “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people.” —1933, during negotiations for the Concordat between the Nazi Party and the Vatican

Lemuel K. Washburn

  • “What a queer thing is Christian salvation! Believing in firemen will not save a burning house; believing in doctors will not make one well, but believing in a savior saves men. Fudge!”
  • “History shows that there is nothing so easy to enslave and nothing so hard to emancipate as ignorance, hence it becomes the double enemy of civilization. By its servility it is the prey of tyranny, and by its credulity it is the foe of enlightenment.”
  • “The old notion that man is responsible to God cannot be proved. There are no facts that corroborate that notion. Man is responsible to himself. It is this truth that is calculated to elevate and ennoble human life. Let human beings understand that there is that within themselves that is to be respected, and that they are responsible to themselves for all they do, and they will be more worthy of respect and live more worthy lives.”
  • “to develop an independent spirit in man it is necessary to increase his responsibility. Man must be taught to rely upon his own strength, upon his own body and mind. He must learn his relations to nature and abide by the laws of his being. He must know this: if he would have anything he must deserve it. Human destiny follows human conduct.”
  • “No God will help or hurt him. Be he ever so good no God will praise him; be he ever so bad no God will blame him. What he wants to escape is his own condemnation.”
  • “There is nothing that tends to perpetuate the weakness of humanity more than religion. Men have been taught for ages that they were dependent upon God for all they have. This kind of teaching must be corrected; it is false. Man is dependent upon man.”
  • “Have a good time, make life cheerful and bright, dance if you want to, sing if you can, play as long as you live and leave the world with a smile.”
  • When religion comes in at the door common sense goes out at the window.[From Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays]
  • There is no sadder grief than that which lies at the bottom of a life that has been wrecked through deception.

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

  • “I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals….” [taken from Alice Calaprice’s collection The Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 1996 p. 146]
  • “No idea is conceived in our mind independent of our five senses.” [From Quotable Einstein p. 154]
  • The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. —Albert Einstein, 1954
  • “…through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking, coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies.” (in Paul Schilpp, ed. Albert Einstein, Philosopher-Scientist, Open Court, 1949, p. 5)
  • To assume the existence of an unperceivable being … does not facilitate understanding the orderliness we find in the perceivable world. – Albert Einstein, responding to an Iowa student who asked, “What is God?” July 1953; Einstein Archive 59-085
  • …a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests…. The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. —address at the Princeton Theological Seminary, May 19, 1939, published in Out of My Later Years, New York: Philosophical Library, 1950
  • “I see with great dismay that God punishes so many of His children for their ample folly, for which obviously only He himself can be held responsible…only His nonexistence can excuse him.” [Albert Einstein to E. Mayer 2 January 1915 Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. VIII doc. 44]

Freidrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

  • At the deathbed of Christianity.— Really unreflective people are now inwardly without Christianity, and the more moderate and reflective people of the intellectual middle class now possess only an adapted, that is to say marvellously simplified Christianity. A god who in his love arranges everything in a manner that in the end will be best for us; a god who gives to us and takes from us our virtue and our happiness, so that as a whole all is meet and fit and there is no reason for us to take life sadly, let alone exclaim against it; in short, resignation and modest demands elevated to godhead – that is the best and most vital thing that still remains of Christianity. But one should notice that Christianity has thus crossed over into a gentle moralism: it is not so much ‘God, freedom and immortality’ that have remained, as benevolence and decency of disposition, and the belief that in the whole universe too benevolence and decency of disposition prevail: it is the euthanasia of Christianity. (Daybreak, s. 92)

Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 – 1899)

  • Robert Ingersoll c. 1870

    These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat. Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were woefully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.  “The Gods”, 1872

  • Calvin founded a little theocracy, modeled after the Old Testament, and succeeded in erecting the most detestable government that ever existed, except the one from which it was copied.
  • Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers.
  • Age after age, the strong have trampled upon the weak; the crafty and heartless have ensnared and enslaved the simple and innocent, and nowhere, in all the annals of mankind, has any god succored the oppressed.
  • More quotations from Robert Green Ingersoll

Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906)

  • “I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

  • The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences.

Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895)

  • The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors.—Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery, by David B. Chesebrough, P. 122
  • For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! Welcome atheism! Welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by these Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done!—Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery, by David B. Chesebrough, P. 122
  • I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.—Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery, by David B. Chesebrough, P. 123
  • I assert most unhesitatingly,that the religion of the South — as I have observed it and proved it — is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes; a justifier of the most appalling barbarity; a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds; and a dark shelter, under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal abominations fester and flourish. Were I again to be reduced to the condition of A slave, next to that calamity, I should regard the fact of being the slave of a religious slaveholder, the greatest that could befall me.—My Bondage and My Freedom, Ch. 18: New Relations and Duties

John Leland (1754 – 1841)

  • “Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principles that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing….”
  • “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” — A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia
  • Truth disdains the aid of law for its defense — it will stand upon its own merits.” — Right of Conscience Inalienable
  • Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free.” — Right of Conscience Inalienable
  • “Resolved, that slavery is a violent deprivation of rights of nature and inconsistent with a republican government, and therefore, recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land; and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy.” — Resolution for the General Committee of Virginia Baptists meeting in Richmond, Virginia in 1789
  • What leads legislators into this error, is confounding sins and crimes together — making no difference between moral evil and state rebellion: not considering that a man may be infected with moral evil, and yet be guilty of no crime, punishable by law. If a man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or no God — if he pays adoration one day in a week, seven days or no day — wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor (from The Yankee Spy, John Leland writing under the pen name of Jack Nipps, Boston, 1794).
  • More from John Leland

James Madison (1751 – 1836)

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

  • Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned­ yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
  • To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.
  • “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” – To Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
  • “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.  It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes.” – To Horatio G Spafford, March 17, 1814
  • “Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.” – To Dr. Benjamin Rush, April 23, 1803
  • The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786) Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

Thomas Paine (1737– 1809)

  • All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. (The Age of Reason)
  • Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
  • Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  • I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
  • Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
  • It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
  • My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
  • My mind is my own church.
  • Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
  • Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
  • That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.
  • The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
  • The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
  • The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
  • There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.

John Adams (1735 – 1826)

  • Treaty of Tripoli, 1797TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE BEY AND SUBJECTS OF TRIPOLI OF BARBARY8 Stat. 154, Treaty Series 358- Treaty signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796, and at Algiers January 3, 1797.- Senate advice and consent to ratification June 7, 1797.- Ratified by the President of the United States June 10, 1797.- Entered into force June 10, 1797.- Proclaimed by the President of the United States June 10, 1797.ARTICLE 11.  As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,— and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. —John Adams, 1797-05-27, Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the US and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary. Treaties and Other International Acts of America, ed. Hunter Miller

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

  • “Religion I found to be without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serves principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another.”

Blaise Pascal, 1623–1662

  • “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”.

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