Quotes About Religion

Religion is a word which refers to approaches to human spirituality which usually encompass a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, which give meaning and guidance to the practitioner’s experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

♦    ♦    ♦Religion Faith Christianity Islam Hinduism

Since its appearance on the Earth, humanity has found true peace and happiness in religion. As it is impossible to talk of morality and virtue where people do not practice the true religion, it is also difficult to imagine real happiness, for morality and virtue originate in a good, clear conscience. Religion is what makes one’s conscience good and clear, for it is a connection between humanity and God. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Religion is the best school, a most blessed institution founded to inculcate in people good moral qualities. It is open to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. Only those who attend it attain peace, satisfaction, and freedom. By contrast, those without religion cannot save themselves from losing everything, including their true identity. – M. Fethullah Gulen

 

Religion is the collection of Divine principles that guide peo­ple to what is good, not by force but by appealing to their free will. All principles that secure our spiritual and material progress, and thereby our happiness in both worlds, are found in religion. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Religion means recognizing God in His absolute and transcendental Oneness; acquiring spiritual purity by acting in His way; arranging relationships in His name and according to His commandments, and feeling a profound interest in and love for all creation on His account. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Sooner or later, those who do not recognize religion will come to despise such noble values as chastity, patriotism, and love of humanity. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Immorality is a disease caused by the absence of religion, and anarchy is a product of the same lack. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Do atheists, who devote their lives to attacking religion, not have some obligation to demonstrate the benefits, if any, and the good consequences, if any, of atheism? – M. Fethullah Gulen

Religion and science are two faces of a single truth. Religion guides us to the true path leading to happiness. Science, when understood and used properly, is like a torch that provides us with a light to follow the same path. – M. Fethullah Gulen

All the beautiful “flowers” of laudable virtues are grown in the “gardens” of religion, as are the most illustrious “fruits” of the tree of creation, such as Prophets, saints, and schol­ars of high achievement. Although atheists deliberately ignore them, regardless of how hard they try, they will not be able to remove them from the hearts of people and the pages of books. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Nothing in true religion is contrary to sound thinking, common sense, and knowledge. Therefore true religion cannot be criticized from any rational point of view. Those who do not accept religion either are devoid of sound thinking and reasoning or have a wrong conception of knowledge and science. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Religion is an inexhaustible and blessed source that lays the foundation of true civilization. It is through religion that we are elevated so high in spirit and feelings that we make contact with metaphysical worlds, where we are “fed” to full satisfaction with all kinds of beauty, virtue, and goodness. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Virtues are to be sought in the practice of religion. It rarely happens that an atheist has laudable virtues, or that a religious person has none. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Men and women attain true humanity by means of religion, which distinguishes them from animals. For atheists, there is no difference between human beings and animals. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Religion is the way established by God, while atheism is the way of Satan. This is why the struggle between religion and atheism has existed since the time of Adam and will contin­ue until the Last Day. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Symbols of the three main Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominate religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse.William James

Religion is doing; a man does not merely think his religion or feel it, he lives his religion as much as he is able, otherwise it is not religion but fantasy or philosophy. G. I. Gurdjieff

Wars don’t bring lasting peace, only lasting death.Janet Morris

No, if you talk to God you’re religious. If God talks to you, you’re psychotic.Doris Egan

To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance. Eric Hoffer

The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide. Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible. Seán O’Casey

You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough. Aldous Huxley

The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality. Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. Barack Obama

After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands. Friedrich Nietzsche

I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious — except he purposely shut the eyes of his mind and keep them shut by force.Mark Twain

We are on the side of religion as opposed to religions, and we are among those who believe in the wretched inadequacy of sermons and the sublimity of prayer.Victor Hugo

The true meaning of religion is thus, not simply morality, but morality touched by emotion.Matthew Arnold

A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon. G. K. Chesterton

A wise architect observed that you could break the laws of architectural art provided you had mastered them first. That would apply to religion as well as to art. Ignorance of the past does not guarantee freedom from its imperfections. Reinhold Niebuhr

I don’t want to be any closer to the gods than death will bring me. Janet Morris

Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.Ambrose Bierce

I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but innocence. Christopher Marlowe

Toleration is the best religion. Victor Hugo

So well do I love you, I go to my god singing your praises. When I meet my father, I will tell him I fought beside you. Janet Morris

And lips say God be pitiful, who never said, God be praised. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Gods have bloody hands. – Janet Morris

For it is with the mysteries of our religion, as with wholesome pills for the sick, which swallowed whole, have the virtue to cure; but chewed, are for the most part cast up again without effect. Thomas Hobbes

It’s incongruous that the older we get, the more likely we are to turn in the direction of religion. Less vivid and intense ourselves, closer to the grave, we begin to conceive of ourselves as immortal. Edward Hoagland

There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it. George Bernard Shaw

Religions are the cradles of despotism. Marquis de Sade

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.Albert Einstein

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Douglas Adams

But is it not the fact that religion emanates from the nature, from the moral state of the individual? Is it not therefore true that unless the nature be completely exercised, the moral state harmonized, the religion cannot be healthy?Harriet Martineau

All gods are tricksters, and war gods worst of any. Janet Morris

Honorable battle sustains a Sacred Band. – Janet Morris

Bandara was not an easy place to return to: it could hide from the common worlds whose periphery it inhabited. But Bandara never had, in all its years, completely disappeared. Janet Morris

I’m reverent from a distance.Janet Morris

Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their minds. Susan Sontag

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition. Alan Turing

Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect. Sigmund Freud

Don’t try to tear down other people’s religion about their ears, Build up your own perfect structure of truth, and invite your listeners to enter in and enjoy it’s glories. Brigham Young

A man has no religion who has not slowly and painfully gathered one together, adding to it, shaping it; and one’s religion is never complete and final, it seems, but must always be undergoing modification. D. H. Lawrence

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the unlimitable superior who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. Albert Einstein

A church is disaffected when it is persecuted, quiet when it is tolerated, and actively loyal when it is favored and cherished.Thomas Babington Macaulay

Man is made to adore and to obey: but if you will not command him, if you give him nothing to worship, he will fashion his own divinities, and find a chieftain in his own passions. Benjamin Disraeli

Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference which is, at least, half infidelity. Edmund Burke

Die never for a god, Nikodemos who should know better — not your soldiers’ god, nor any other. Janet Morris

Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm, and yet will make Gods by dozens. Michel de Montaigne

Religion is the opium of the masses. Karl Marx

Of all possible sexual perversions, religion is the only one to have ever been scientifically systematized. Louis Aragon

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. Thomas Paine

Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.Joseph de Maistre

When a culture feels that its end has come, it sends for a priest. Karl Kraus

It is upon each soul to recognize its limit. Janet Morris

All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former — of the corruption of the will.Alexander Herzen

Give us a religion that will help us to live — we can die without assistance. Elbert Hubbard

To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy. William Ralph Inge

Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad. Thomas Paine

I do benefits for all religions — I’d hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality. Bob Hope

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Carl Sagan

A religion, that is, a true religion, must consist of ideas and facts both; not of ideas alone without facts, for then it would be mere Philosophy; — nor of facts alone without ideas, of which those facts are symbols, or out of which they arise, or upon which they are grounded: for then it would be mere History. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All the sweetness of religion is conveyed to the world by the hands of story-tellers and image-makers. Without their fictions the truths of religion would for the multitude be neither intelligible nor even apprehensible; and the prophets would prophesy and the teachers teach in vain. George Bernard Shaw

A maker of idols is never an idolater. – Unknown

Religion, oh, just another of those numerous failures resulting from an attempt to popularize art. Ezra Pound

Every man heals himself. Janet Morris

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Karl Marx

I think that the leaf of a tree, the meanest insect on which we trample, are in themselves arguments more conclusive than any which can be adduced that some vast intellect animates Infinity.Percy Bysshe Shelley

It is certain that if you would have the whole secret of a people, you must enter into the intimacy of their religion. Edgar Quinet

Religion I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give to them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one cent, they would be rich. If they have not that, and I had given them the world, they would be poor. Patrick Henry

Religion is like holding on to a rock in the middle of a raging river; faith is learning how to swim. – Unknown

Religion enables us to ignore nothingness and get on with the jobs of life. John Updike

Not every religion has to have St. Augustine’s attitude to sex. Why even in our culture marriages are celebrated in a church, everyone present knows what is going to happen that night, but that doesn’t prevent it being a religious ceremony. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Culture’s essential service to a religion is to destroy intellectual idolatry, the recurrent tendency in religion to replace the object of its worship with its present understanding and forms of approach to that object. Northrop Frye

A good test of a man’s religion is its vitality. – Unknown

Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions.Oscar Wilde

For a truly religious man nothing is tragic. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Nobody can deny but religion is a comfort to the distressed, a cordial to the sick, and sometimes a restraint on the wicked; therefore whoever would argue or laugh it out of the world without giving some equivalent for it ought to be treated as a common enemy. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic. Bertrand Russell

My religion? Well, my dear, I am a Millionaire. That is my religion.George Bernard Shaw

It is a good and gentle religion, but inconvenient. Mark Twain

Religion is a temper, not a pursuit. Harriet Martineau

Opium of the people. Karl Marx

Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. Blaise Pascal

Religion! what treasure untold resides in that heavenly word! William Cowper

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? – Buddha

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. – Mahatma Gandhi

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths. – Muhammad Ali

I don’t want my children to be what I want them to be. I want my children to become everything God created them to be

More and more people care about religious tolerance as fewer and fewer care about religion. – Alexander Chase

People who rely most on God rely least on themselves. – Lemuel K. Washburn

I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion. – Malcolm X

All religions must be tolerated… for every man must get to heaven in his own way. – Epictetus

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion. – Abraham Lincoln

Religion is a fashionable substitute for Belief. – Oscar Wilde

It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow. – Calvin Coolidge

True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness. – Albert Einstein

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. – Albert Einstein

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. – Joe Mullally

A religion without the element of mystery would not be a religion at all. – Edwin Lewis

It is doubtless true that religion has been the world’s psychiatrist throughout the centuries. – Karl Menninger

Religion is the metaphysics of the masses. – Arthur Schopenhauer

All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays. – Cathy Ladman

No religion is a true religion that does not make men tingle to their finger tips with a sense of infinite hazard. – William Ernest Hocking

All religions must be tolerated… for… every man must get to heaven his own way. – Frederick the Great

Say and do what you like, religion is always religion. The rich, perhaps, can get along without it, but it is necessary for people like us…. When one is unhappy… it is the only thing that will soothe you. Only that, and love. – Octave Mirbeau

Religion — an intellectual colouring book for adults. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

Most men’s anger about religion is as if two men should quarrel for a lady that neither of them care for. – George Savile

If I were personally to define religion, I would say that it is a bandage that man has invented to protect a soul made bloody by circumstances. – Theodore Dreiser

All men have need of the gods. – Homer

Looking at these points of unity, we might say there is but one religion under many forms, whose essential creed is the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man,—disguised by corruptions, symbolized by mythologies, ennobled by virtues, degraded by vices, but still the same. – Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. – Seneca the Younger

My religious position: I think that God could do a lot better, and I’m willing to give Him the chance. – Mignon McLaughlin

Religion often gets credit for curing rascals when old age is the real medicine. – Austin O’Malley

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists. – G.K. Chesterton

Religion is speculation pretending to be revelation. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

[R]eligion cannot be given or bought, but must grow as trees grow, needing frost and snow, rain and wind to strengthen it before it is deep-rooted in the soul. – Louisa May Alcott

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. – G.K. Chesterton

It is our happiness to live in a time when all religions are at last outgrowing their mythologies, and emancipated men are stretching out their hands to share together “the luxury of a religion that does not degrade.” … Unveil these darkened windows, but remove also these darkening walls; the temple itself is but a lingering shadow of that gloom. Instead of its coarse and stifling incense, give us God’s pure air… – Thomas Wentworth Higginson

A religion can no more afford to degrade its Devil than to degrade its God. – Havelock Ellis

Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism. – William James

Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soul-less conditions. It is the opium of the people. – Karl Marx

Not all religion is to be found in the church, any more than all knowledge is found in the classroom. – Author Unknown

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. – Author Unknown

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. – Richard Burton

Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous. – David Hume
In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

I didn’t know I had a quarrel with him. – Henry Thoreau

In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the practitioners. – Jonathon Miller

I love theists. It’s theism I can’t stand. – Rich Lane

Hell is – other people. – Nietzsche

Religion is being locked in and you can’t get out; atheism, the other side of the door. – Terri Guillemets

I refuse to be labeled immoral merely because I am godless. – Peter Walker

What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak. – George Santayana

Scriptures: the sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based. – Ambrose Bierce

A man without religion is like a horse without a bridle. – Latin Proverb

All religion is bunk; it may be helpful bunk, comforting bunk, or, in some cases, necessary bunk. It is still bunk, nonetheless. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles? – John Adams

Is it not strange that men are so glad to fight for religion and so reluctant to live according to its precepts? – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live for it. – C.C. Colton

To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely. – Jorge Luis Borges

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. – Francis Bacon

Impiety, n.: Your irreverence toward my deity. – Ambrose Bierce

A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes. – James Feibleman

Religion: A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. – Ambrose Bierce

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Inuit earnestly, “did you tell me?” – Annie Dillard

I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do. – D. Dale Gulledge

The faith that stands on authority is not faith. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry. – Edgar Allen Poe

Belief in God is but a whistling in the dark; harmless enough, perhaps — until it is wedded to the notion that all should carry the same tune. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning. – Imamu Amiri Baraka

Each religion, by the help of more or less myth which it takes more or less seriously, proposes some method of fortifying the human soul and enabling it to make its peace with its destiny. – George Santayana

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity. – Abraham Lincoln

Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains…. But it can put mountains where there are none. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Religion is just superstition wearing a better suit of clothes. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew that a bottle of Port would do that. If you want religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can’t give any advice on it. – C.S. Lewis

Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on. – Author unknown

To all things clergic
I am allergic. – Alexander Woollcott, attributed

What has been the effect of religious coercion? To make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. – Thomas Jefferson

‘Tis not to go to church to-day,
      To look devout, and seem to pray,
      And ere to-morrow’s sun go down,
      Be dealing scandal through the town.
Not every sanctimonious face,
      Denotes the certain reign of grace;
      A phiz, that seems to scowl at sin,
      Oft veils hypocrisy within.
‘Tis not to mark out duty’s walk,
      Or of our own good deeds to talk;
      And then to practice secret crime,
      And to misspend and waste our time.
‘Tis not for sects or creeds to fight,
      And call our zeal the rule of right;
      When all we wish is, at the best,
      To see our church excel the rest…
It grieves to hear an ill report,
      And scorns with human woes to sport;
      Of others’ deeds it speaks no ill,
      But tells of good or else is still… – Reginald Heber (1783–1826), “Religion! What Is It?”

It is a sad sight — a religion abandoned to its hypocrites. – Robert Brault

The act of bellringing is symbolic of all proselytizing religions. It implies the pointless interference with the quiet of other people. – Ezra Pound

Take no alarm, dear reader, at the sound of the word Religion, for I have not the least idea of conducting you into some dark, subterranean cathedral where the air is oppressive and unnatural, but would lead you right out under heaven’s sunny dome, where the joyous gospel of nature and inspiration are breathed into the soul….
This cosmical religion, broad as the world and reaching out to the infinite, as far transcends the man-made creeds that run counter to nature’s laws, as the sky transcends all cathedrals that lift up their puny spires beneath it. I have aimed to lead my dear struggling human brothers and sisters into the vestibule of the Temple of Life where are joys forevermore, and where the radiant soul of things begins to appear. – Edwin D. Babbitt

In general, the churches, visited by me often on weekdays… bore for me the same relation to God that billboards did to Coca-Cola; they promoted thirst without quenching it. – John Updike

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 he 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. – Isaac Asimov

Religion has not civilized man, man has civilized religion. – Robert Green Ingersoll

God — but a word invoked to explain the world. – Prat de Lamartine

Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them? – Jules Feiffer

How can the Church be received as a trustworthy guide in the invisible, which falls into so many errors in the visible? – John W. Draper

Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child. – Robert Heinlein

The Theologian is an owl, sitting on an old dead branch in the tree of human knowledge, and hooting the same old hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and thousands of years, but he has never given a hoot for progress. – Emmet F. Fields

When a man really believes that it is necessary to do a certain thing to be happy forever, or that a certain belief is necessary to ensure eternal joy, there is in that man no spirit of concession. He divides the whole world into saints and sinners, into believers and unbelievers, into God’s sheep and Devil’s goats, into people who will be glorified and people who are damned. – Robert Ingersoll

Religions are like farts. Yours is good, but everyone else’s stinks. – Picket Fences

Geology shows that fossils are of different ages. Paleontology shows a fossil sequence, the list of species represented changes through time. Taxonomy shows biological relationships among species. Evolution is the explanation that threads it all together. Creationism is the practice of squeezing one’s eyes shut and wailing “Does not!” – Author Unknown

We are not accountable for the sins of Adam. – Robert G. Ingersoll

The third major characteristic of God — “infinitude” — is the catchall, the universal modifier of Christian theology. God is not merely a being; he is infinite being. God is not merely good; he is infinite goodness. God is not merely wise; he is infinite wisdom. And so on down the list. God is exaggeration run amuck. – George H. Smith

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. – H.L. Mencken

Religion supports nobody. It has to be supported. It produces no wheat, no corn; it ploughs no land; it fells no forests. It is a perpetual mendicant. It lives on the labors of others, and then has the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver. – Robert G. Ingersoll

Christianity is not a religion; it’s an industry. – Author unknown

It is an old habit with theologians to beat the living with the bones of the dead. – Robert G. Ingersoll

Such religion is Churchianity; it is not Christianity. Christianity means the religion where Christ is all; Churchianity, the religion where the Church is all. – John Cumming, “Salvation,” sermon preached before the Queen, 1850 September 22nd

Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one. – Sigmund Freud

He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him. – George Orwell

God is dead: but considering the state Man is in, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which his shadow will be shown. – Friedrich Nietzsche

None of us can boast about the morality of our ancestors. The records do not show that Adam and Eve were married. – Ed Howe

In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. – Stephen J. Gould

Religion is faith in anything other than ourselves. – Terri Guillemets

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. – George Bernard Shaw

Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish. – Author Unknown

Where there are gaps in knowledge, religion tends to seep in. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths. – Muhammad Ali

To say that different races worship different Gods, is like saying that they are warmed by different suns. The names differ, but the sun is the same… – Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Religion: a cultural glue of mythic tradition… – Dr. Idel Dreimer

I like to browse in occult bookshops if for no other reason than to refresh my commitment to science. – Heinz Pagels

I believe in God, but I’m not too clear on the other details. – Bill Veeck

Religion seems to have a way of making people abandon logic. – Amanda Baxter, 1998

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence. – Bertrand Russell

You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough. – Aldous Huxley

Some cling to religion as the infallible source of morality; in fact, religions — which are created by societies — encapsulate the moral values already established and inherent in those societies. The appeal to religious values is simply an appeal to tradition dressed up as divinity. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

Suppose, however, that God did give this law to the Jews, and did tell them that whenever a man preached a heresy, or proposed to worship any other God that they should kill him; and suppose that afterward this same God took upon himself flesh, and came to this very chosen people and taught a different religion, and that thereupon the Jews crucified him; I ask you, did he not reap exactly what he had sown? What right would this god have to complain of a crucifixion suffered in accordance with his own command? – Robert G. Ingersoll

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. – Pascal

The imaginary flowers of religion adorn man’s chains. Man must throw off the flowers and also the chains. – Karl Marx

Most men would kill the truth if truth would kill their religion. – Lemuel K. Washburn

Most people’s religion is what they want to believe, not what they do believe. – Luther Burbank

It is the position of some theists that their right to freedom of religion is abridged when they are not allowed to violate the rationalists’ right to freedom from religion. – James T. Green

The last Christian died on the cross. – Friedrich Nietzsche

If the sole reason why you must not kill your neighbour is because God has forbidden it and will severely punish you for it in this or the next life — then, when you learn that there is no God and that you need not fear His punishment, you will certainly kill your neighbour without hesitation, and you can only be prevented from doing so by mundane force. Thus either these dangerous masses must be held down most severely and kept most carefully away from any chance of intellectual awakening, or else the relationship between civilization and religion must undergo a fundamental revision. – Sigmund Freud

Everyday people are straying away from the church and going back to God. – Lennie Bruce

Without cultural sanction, most or all our religious beliefs and rituals would fall into the domain of mental disturbance. – John F. Schumaker

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. – Jonathan Swift

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it. – G.K. Chesterton

Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence. – Pervez Musharraf

The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks. – Malcom X

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. – Buddha

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Soren Kierkegaard

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Khalil Gibran

There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion. – Malala Yousafzai

Parents and schools should place great emphasis on the idea that it is all right to be different. Racism and all the other ‘isms’ grow from primitive tribalism, the instinctive hostility against those of another tribe, race, religion, nationality, class or whatever. You are a lucky child if your parents taught you to accept diversity. – Roger Ebert

As we grow in our consciousness, there will be more compassion and more love, and then the barriers between people, between religions, between nations will begin to fall. Yes, we have to beat down the separateness. – Ram Dass

Even though you can’t expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make the attempt. That’s morality, that’s religion, that’s art, that’s life. – Phil Ochs

Religion doesn’t make people bigots. People are bigots and they use religion to justify their ideology. – Reza Azlan

Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God. – Pope Francis

Skip the religion and politics, head straight to the compassion. Everything else is a distraction. – Talib Kweli

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. – Dalai Lama

These things will destroy the human race: politics without principle, progress without compassion, wealth without work, learning without silence, religion without fearlessness and worship without awareness. – Anthony de Mello

Religion is meant to teach us true spiritual human character. It is meant for self-transformation. It is meant to transform anxiety into peace, arrogance into humility, envy into compassion, to awaken the pure soul in man and his love for the Source, which is God. – Radhanath Swami

One of the great strengths of the United States is… we have a very large Christian population — we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values. – Barack Obama

Teach a child what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what is wise and beautiful, that is religion! – Thomas Huxley

Religion is among the most beautiful and most natural of all things — that religion which ‘sees God in clouds and hears Him in the wind,’ which endows every object of sense with a living soul, which finds in the system of nature whatever is holy, mysterious and venerable, and inspires the bosom with sentiments of awe and veneration. – William Godwin

It doesn’t matter how you pray. Just pray. All religions are beautiful and they all have one common belief. There’s something bigger and greater than us that can give us and take from us life. It is better than the here and now. – Mattie Stepanek

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. – Seneca

Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life. – Aristotle

Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back. – Desmond Tutu

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. – Abraham Lincoln

Goodwill toward all beings is the true religion; cherish in your hearts boundless goodwill to all that lives. – Buddha

I believe that whether a person follows any religion or not is unimportant, he or she must have a good heart, a warm heart. – Dalai Lama

Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. – Albert Enistein

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. – Albert Enistein

When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion. – Voltaire

Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense. – Voltaire

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason. – Voltaire

Cultures, nations, religions, and people are not rocks. They are in constant transformation. – Hans Rosling

Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands. – Sean O’Casey

The proper task of religion is to regulate the heart of man, to humanize his conduct, and to infuse the spirit of temperance, order and obedience. – David Hume

Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is. – Mahatma Gandhi

The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Religions impose their dogmas, bend conscience under their laws, deny freedom of discussion and of judgment to their clients, and, in the name of God, proscribe all thought which they do not control, all liberty except the liberty to bow down and believe. – Louis Jacolliot

…it is my firm opinion that the whole batch of religions with their aims and claims are a barrier to world peace. Religion does not unite people. It divides them. Religion is not only a barrier to world peace but a thwarter and a stumbling block to world progress. – G. Vincent Runyon

I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will – and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain. – Gene Roddenberry

Religion and its practices have consistently been one of women’s fiercest enemies… The fact that many women do not realize this shows how thorough the brainwashing and intimidation have been. – Arnold Toynbee

To religious despotism, imposing speculative delusions, and class-legislation, may be attributed the decay of nations. – Louis Jacolliot

There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages. – Ruth H. Green

…since the power of the printing press has risen, the influence of the priesthood has diminished. – Dr. Thomas Inman

Static religions are the death of thought. – Alfred North Whitehead

The world is my country, to do good my religion. – Thomas Paine

The idea that Gods and religions represent — merely —human theories and suppositions about reality — satisfies the detached intellect, but does not feed, apparently, a deep emotional hunger. Is it too much to suggest that an early infantile illusion — a perception of parental perfection, power, and benevolence — is mirrored in the yearning for “God?” The need for that illusion persists: “God” provides a comforting, caressing circularity — a womb of benevolent certainty to replace that which has been lost. – Dr. Idel Dreimer

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position one hundred percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism. – Barry Goldwater

To crush out fanaticism and revere the infinite, such is the law. Let us not confine ourselves to falling prostrate beneath the tree of creation and contemplating its vast ramifications full of stars. We have a duty to perform, to cultivate the human soul, to defend mystery against miracle, to adore the incomprehensible and to reject the absurd; to admit nothing that is inexplicable excepting what is necessary, to purify faith and obliterate superstition from the face of religion, to remove the vermin from the garden of God. – Victor Hugo

No religion can rise to power quickly without vast promises, fierce threats, and the doctrine of imminent disaster. – Martin Larson

Honesty, like charity, must begin at home. Unless we can tell the truth in our churches we will never tell the truth in our shops. Unless our teachers, the ministers of God, are honest, our insurance companies and corporations will have to be watched. Permit sham in your religious life, and the disease will spread to every member of the social body. If you may keep religion in the dark, and cry “hush,” “hush,” when people ask that it be brought out into the light, why may not politics or business cultivate a similar partiality for darkness? If the king cries, “rebel,” when a citizen asks for justice, it is because he has heard the priest cry, “infidel,” when a member of his church asked for evidence. Religious hypocrisy is the mother of all hypocrisies. Cure a man of that, and the human world will recover its health. – M.M. Mangasarian

…In religion, they become “holier than thou” types filled with terrible hatreds which in turn cause guilt complexes that drive them deeper into their religious frame of reference. The outlet for their scrambled emotions is to try to foist their beliefs – and their fears – onto the rest of us. – John Keel

That which has remained in the heart of man after his unhappy fall is for him a religion. He attaches himself to those fragments, which are at least those of truth. He lovingly preserves these remnants of his ancient opulence. He seats himself weepingly on these ruins; he will not have them taken from him. Perhaps he knows that such ruins are the cornerstone of the colossal edifice which shall one day arch high above his consoled race its lofty and tutelary dome. Whosoever insults these ruins insults man’s wretchedness, despoils his indigence. Humanity cannot afford to hold cheap the feeble beliefs that remain to it; it pronounces an anathema on the hand that would fain outrage those fragments, and heap up fresh ruins amongst those that already exist. – Alexandre Vinet

[I]n all sincerity she began her search, and with pathetic patience waited for an answer. She read many books, some wise, some vague, some full of superstition, all unsatisfactory to one who wanted a living God. She went to many churches, studied many creeds, and watched their fruits as well as she could; but still remained unsatisfied…. There was too much machinery, too many walls, laws, and penalties between the Father and his children. Too much fear, too little love… too little faith in the instincts of the soul which turns to God as flowers to the sun. Too much idle strife about names and creeds; too little knowledge of the natural religion which has no name but godliness, whose creed is boundless and benignant as the sunshine, whose faith is as the tender trust of little children in their mother’s love. – Louisa May Alcott

The Judeo-Christian-Moslem-Hindu complex of religions is so troublesome because these religions are moralistic, absolutist, sex-negative, patriarchal, exclusionary, supremacist, hierarchical, legalistic, militant and imperial in nature. Historically, these religions have been used as tools for the construction, conquest, justification and maintenance of centralized political empires (or conversely, these empires have been used as tools to spread the religions.) Religion and Empire are part of the same historical/political complex and have co-evolved for millennia. They’re components of a more general pathological process in history and human organization. – Mark Thompson

Religion can never reform mankind, because religion is slavery. It is far better to be free, to leave the forts and barricades of fear, to stand erect and face the future with a smile. It is far better to give yourself sometimes to negligence, to drift with wave and tide, with the blind force of the world, to think and dream, to forget the chains and limitations of the breathing life, to forget purpose and object, to lounge in the picture-gallery of the brain, to feel once more the clasps and kisses of the past, to bring life’s morning back, to see again the forms and faces of the dead, to paint fair pictures for the coming years, to forget all Gods, their promises and threats, to feel within your veins life’s joyous stream and hear the martial music, the rhythmic beating of your fearless heart. And then to rouse yourself to do all useful things, to reach with thought and deed the ideal in your brain, to give your fancies wing, that they, like chemist bees, may find art’s nectar in the weeds of common things, to look with trained and steady eyes for facts, to find the subtle threads that join the distant with the now, to increase knowledge, to take burdens from the weak, to develop the brain, to defend the right, to make a palace for the soul. This is real religion. This is real worship. – Robert G. Ingersoll

The Creed of Science

To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits–to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world, to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words, to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then to be resigned–this is the religion of reason, the creed of science. This satisfies the brain and heart. – Robert Ingersoll

  • Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out,”This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!” But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion the world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean Hell.
    • John Adams, letter (original manuscript at the Library of Congress) to Thomas Jefferson, 19 April 1817. The italicized section within the statement has often been quoted out of context. Earlier in the letter Adams explained that Bryant was his “Parish Priest” and Cleverly his “Latin School Master”.
    • “Religion maybe linked to social inequality if the religion being practiced is not the dominant religion in a particular culture or society”
  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.”
    It’s an oral history. It was passed down, word-of-mouth, father to son, from Adam to Seth, from Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, for 40 generations, a growing, changing, story, it was handed down, word-of-mouth, father to son. Until Moses finally gets it down on lambskin. But lambskins wear out, and need to be recopied. Copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    From Hebrew it’s translated into Arabic, from Arabic to Latin, from Latin to Greek, from Greek to Russian, from Russian to German, from German to an old form of English that you could not read. Through 400 years of evolution of the English language to the book we have today, which is: a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    You can’t put a grocery list through that many translations, copies, and re-telling, and not expect to have some big changes in the dinner menu when the kids make it back from Kroger’s.
    And yet people are killing each other over this written word. Here’s a tip: If you’re killing someone in the name of God — you’re missing the message.

    • Nick Annis in the preface to God is Good
  • The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires.
    • Susan B. Anthony, in a defense of Elizabeth Cady Stanton against a motion to repudiate her Woman’s Bible at a meeting of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association 1896 Convention, HWS, IV (1902), p. 263
  • A man’s religion should be more in his life than on his lips.
    • Joseph Arch, The Story of his Life Told by Himself (1898), p. 48
  • Children of men! the unseen Power, whose eye
    Forever doth accompany mankind,
    Hath look’d on no religion scornfully
    That men did ever find.

    • Matthew Arnold, Progress, Stanza 10 (1867; revised from 1852 publication)
  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
    • Isaac Asimov “The “Threat” of Creationism” in New York Times Magazine (14 June 1981) reprinted Science and Creationism (1984) edited by M. F. Ashley Montagu
  • Religion is, by definition, interpretation; and by definition, all interpretations are valid. However, some interpretations are more reasonable than others.
    • Reza Aslan, in “From Islam, Pluralist Democracies Will Surely Grow” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (11 March 2005)
  • In human life, you will find players of religion until the knowledge and proficiency in religion will be cleansed from all superstitions, and will be purified and perfected by the enlightenment of real science.
    • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Speech (October 1927); quoted in Atatürk’ten Düşünceler by E. Z. Karal, p. 59
  • Religions have been basis of the tyranny of kings and sultans.
    • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as quoted in Medenî Bilgiler ve M. Kemal Atatürk’ün El Yazıları [Civics and M. Kemal Atatürk’s Manuscripts] (1998) by Afet İnan, p. 438
  • A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose.
    • Sri Aurobindo, The Uttarpara Address (1909)
  • How much hatred and stupidity men succeed in packing up decorously and labelling “Religion”?
    • Sri Aurobindo, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris) India’s rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo’s writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000), Chapter II
  • There was never law, or sect, or opinion did so much magnify goodness, as the Christian religion doth.
    • Francis Bacon, Essays. Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature (1625)
  • The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions.
    • Francis Bacon, Essays. Of Vicissitude of Things (1625)
  • All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers.
    • Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1871)
  • The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.
    • Joel Barlow, in the Treaty of Tripoli, arranged during the presidential term of George Washington, and signed by President John Adams (1796)
  • One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in.
    • J.M. Barrie The Twelve-Pound Look (1910)
  • The call to religion is not a call to be better than your fellows, but to be better than yourself.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts (1858), p. 18
  • Men use religion just as they use buoys and life-preservers; they do not intend to navigate the vessel with them, but they keep just enough of them on hand to float into a safe harbor when a storm comes up and the vessel is shipwrecked; and it is only then that they intend to use them. I tell you, you will find air-holes in all such life-preservers as that.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, Evening sermon (12 June 1859), published in 595 Pulpit Pungencies (1866)
  • By religion I do not mean outward things, but inward states, I mean perfected manhood. I mean the quickening of the soul by the beatific influence of the divine Spirit in truth, and love, and sympathy, and confidence, and trust.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, The sermons of Henry Ward Beecher: in Plymouth church, Brooklyn (1874)
  • A religion may be discerned in capitalism—that is to say, capitalism serves essentially to allay the same anxieties, torments, and disturbances to which the so-called religions offered answers.
    • Walter Benjamin, “Capitalism as Religion” (1921), translated by Rodney Livingstone in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1 (Harvard: 1996)
  • Capitalism is presumably the first case of a blaming, rather than a repenting cult. … An enormous feeling of guilt not itself knowing how to repent, grasps at the cult, not in order to repent for this guilt, but to make it universal, to hammer it into consciousness and finally and above all to include God himself in this guilt.
    • Walter Benjamin, “Capitalism as Religion” (1921), translated by Chad Kautzer in The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers (2005), p. 259
  • Today’s secularists too often have very little accurate knowledge about religion, and even less desire to learn. This is problematic insofar as their sense of self is constructed in opposition to religion. Above all, the secularist is not a Jew, is not a Christian, not a Muslim, and so on. But is it intellectually responsible to define one’s identity against something that one does not understand?
    • Jacques Berlinerblau, The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously (2005), p. 1
  • Religio peperit divitias et filia devoravit matrem.
    • Religion brought forth riches, and the daughter devoured the mother.
    • Saying of Bernard of Clairvaux. Religio censum peperit, sed filia matri caussa suæ leti perniti osa fuit. See Reusner’s Ænigmatographia, Ed. 2, (1602), Part I. Page 361; Heading of an epigram ascribed to Henricus Meibomius
  • The primary epiphenomenona of any religion’s foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion’s establishment are the intentions of its founder.
    • Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004)
  • Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
  • The British finally seem to have taken to heart words attributed to an anonymous British elder statesman in the 19th century: We must preserve the Church of England. It’s our only defense against real religion.
    • Rob Blackhurst, in “Britain’s Unholy War Over Christmas” in The International Herald Tribune (23 December 2006)
  • In short, in whatever light we view religion, it appears solemn and venerable. It is a temple full of Majesty, to which the worshiper may approach with comfort, in the hope of obtaining grace and finding mercy; but where they cannot enter without being inspired with awe. If we may be permitted to compare spiritual with natural things, religion resembles not those scenes of natural beauty where every object smiles. It cannot be likened to the gay landscape or the flowery field. It resembles more the august and sublime appearances of Nature; the lofty mountain, the expanded ocean, and the starry firmament; at the sight of which the mind is at once overawed and delighted; and, from the union of grandeur with beauty, derives a pleasing but a serious emotion.
    • Hugh Blair, The Works: Sermons (1820) Sermon XIV “On the Mixture of Joy and Fear in Religion”
  • The spirit of true religion breathes gentleness and affability; it gives a native, unaffected ease to the behavior. It is social, kind, cheerful; far removed from the cloudy and illiberal superstition which clouds the brow, sharpens the temper, and dejects the spirit.
    • Hugh Blair, The Works: Sermons (1820) Sermon X “On the Duties of the Young”
  • I went to the Garden of Love
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And The Gates of this Chapel were shut,
    And “Thou Shalt Not” writ over the door…

    And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars my joys & desires.

    • William Blake, The Garden of Love (1866)
  • Tant de fiel entre-t-il dans l’âme des dévots?
    • Can such bitterness enter into the heart of the devout?
    • Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Le Lutrin (1683), I, 12
  • No mere man since the Fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Shorter Catechism
  • At the center of religion is love. I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. Everything in our life should be based on love.
    • Ray Bradbury, as quoted in “Sci-fi legend “Ray Bradbury on God, ‘monsters and angels'” by John Blake, CNN : Living (2 August 2010), p. 1
  • What we have here is a war–the war of matter and spirit… The war of banks and religion. Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion.
    • Giannina Braschi on the war against terrorism as discussed in “United States of Banana” and in New York 1 TV [1]
  • You humans, most of you, subscribe to this policy of an eye for an eye, a life for a life, which is known throughout the universe for its… stupidity. Even your Buddha and your Christ had quite a different vision; but nobody’s paid much attention to them, not even the Buddhists or the Christians.
    • Gene Brewer and Charles Leavitt, lines for the character “prot” in K-PAX
  • Maia recognized a look of true religion in the other woman’s eyes. A version and interpretation that conveniently justified what had already been decided.
    • David Brin, Glory Season (1993), chapter 14
  • Vain are the thousand creeds
    That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
    Worthless as withered weeds,
    Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
    To waken doubt in one
    Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
    So surely anchored on
    The steadfast Rock of immortality.

    • Emily Brontë, No Coward Soul Is Mine (1848)
  • Curva trahit mites, pars pungit acuta rebelles.
    • The crooked end obedient spirits draws,
      The pointed, those rebels who spurn at Christian laws.
    • Thomas Broughton, Dictionary of all Religions. (1756). The croisier is pointed at one end and crooked at the other. “Curva trahit, quos virga regit, pars ultima pungit”; is the Motto on the Episcopal staff said to be preserved at Toulouse
  • Persecution is a bad and indirect way to plant religion.
    • Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici. XXV
  • Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
    From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low,
    Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
    Who art not missed by any that entreat.

    • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Comfort
  • It were endless to enumerate all the passages both in the sacred and profane writers, which establish the general sentiment of mankind, concerning the inseparable union of a sacred and reverential awe, with our ideas of the divinity. Hence the common maxim, primos in orbe deos fecit timor [fear brought the first gods into the world]. This maxim may be, as I believe it is, false with regard to the origin of religion. The maker of the maxim saw how inseparable these ideas were, without considering that the notion of some great power must be always precedent to our dread of it. But this dread must necessarily follow the idea of such a power, when it is once excited in the mind. It is on this principle that true religion has, and must have, so large a mixture of salutary fear; and that false religions have generally nothing else but fear to support them.
    • Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), Part II, Section V.
    • The Latin maxim quoted by Burke is from Statius, Thebaid, iii, 661
  • But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance, it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion.
    • Edmund Burke, Speech on Conciliation with America (1774)
  • The writers against religion, whilst they oppose every system, are wisely careful never to set up any of their own.
    • Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society (1756) Preface. Vol. I. p. 7
  • The body of all true religion consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His perfections.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  • People differ in their discourse and profession about these matters, but men of sense are really but of one religion. — “What religion?” — the Earl said, “Men of sense never tell it.”
    • Gilbert Burnet, History of his Own Times. Vol. I, Book I. Sec. 96. Footnote by Onslow, referring to Earl of Shaftesbury
  • An Atheist’s laugh’s a poor exchange
    For Deity offended!

    • Robert Burns, Epistle to a Young Friend
  • G__ knows I’m no the thing I should be,
    Nor am I even the thing I could be,
    But twenty times I rather would be
    An atheist clean,
    Than under gospel colours hid be,
    Just for a screen.

    • Robert Burns, Epistle to Rev. John M’Math, Stanza 8
  • All Faith is false, all Faith is true:
    Truth is the shattered mirror strewen
    In myriad bits; while each believes
    his little bit the whole to own.

    • Richard Francis Burton, The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî (1870), Section VI
  • One religion is as true as another.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Book III. Sec. IV. Memb. 2. Subsec. 1
  • It is only religion, the great bond of love and duty to God, that makes any existence valuable or even tolerable. Without this, to live were only to graze.… Without this, the beauties of the world are but splendid gewgaws, the stars of heaven glittering orbs of ice, and, what is yet far worse and colder, the trials of existence profitless and unadulterated miseries.
    • Horace Bushnell, Sermons for the New Life (1859) ch. XI, “Obligation a Privilege” pp. 221-222
  • What but the mighty mastership of religion has ever led a people up through civil wars and revolutions into a regenerated order and liberty? What has planted colonies for a great history but religion? The most august and beautiful structures of the world have been temples of religion; crystallizations, we may say, of worship. The noblest charities, the best fruits of learning, the richest discoveries, the best institutions of law and justice, every greatest thing the world has seen, represents more or less directly the fruitfulness and creativeness of religious talents.
    • Horace Bushnell, Sermons for the New Life (1859) ch. IX, “Extirpated by Disguise” p. 170
  • As if Religion were intended
    For nothing else but to be mended.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 205
  • Synods are mystical Bear-gardens,
    Where Elders, Deputies, Church-wardens,
    And other Members of the Court,
    Manage the Babylonish sport.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto III, line 1,095
  • So ‘ere the storm of war broke out,
    Religion spawn’d a various rout
    Of petulant capricious sects,
    The maggots of corrupted texts,
    That first run all religion down,
    And after every swarm its own.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part III (1678), Canto II, line 7
  • There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.
    • Lord Byron, Don Juan (1818-24), Canto II, Stanza 34
  • All religions make me wanna throw up.
    All religions make me sick.
    All religions make me wanna throw up.
    All religions suck.
    They all claim that they have the truth
    That’ll set you free.
    Just give ’em all your money and they’ll set you free.
    Free for a fee.
    They all claim that they have the Answer
    When they don’t even know the Question.
    They’re just a bunch of liars.
    They just want your money.
    They just want your consciousness.
    All religions suck.
    All religions make me wanna throw up.

    • Carlos Cadona, “Religious Vomit,” In God We Trust, Inc. (1981)
  • Religion is not a perpetual moping over good books. Religion is not even prayer, praise, holy ordinances — these are necessary to religion — no man can be religious without them. But religion, I repeat, is, mainly and chiefly the glorifying God amid the duties and trials of the world; the guiding of our course amid adverse winds and currents of temptation by the star-light of duty and the compass of divine truth, the bearing up manfully, wisely, courageously, for the honor of Christ, our great Leader, in the conflict of life.
    • John Caird, Religion in Common Life (1856) pp. 24-25
  • Carry religious principles into common life, and common life will lose its transitoriness. “The world passes away!” The things seen are temporal. Soon business, with all its cares and anxieties — the whole “unprofitable stir and fever of the world” — will be to us a thing of the past. But religion does something better than sigh and moan over the perishableness of earthly things; it finds in them the seeds of immortality.
    • John Caird, Religion in Common Life (1856) pp. 55-56
  • Religion is poetry misunderstood.
    • Joseph Campbell, “Mythology and the Individual,” Lecture 4
  • Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time… But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
    • George Carlin, You Are All Diseased (1999)
  • His religion at best is an anxious wish; like that of Rabelais, “a great Perhaps”.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Essays (1828) “Burns”
  • On the whole we must repeat the often repeated saying, that it is unworthy a religious man to view an irreligious one either with alarm or aversion; or with any other feeling than regret, and hope, and brotherly commiseration.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Essays. Voltaire
  • It seems to me a great truth … that human things can not stand on selfishness, mechanical utilities, economics, and law-courts; that if there be not a religious element in the relations of men, such relations are miserable, and doomed to ruin.
    • Thomas Carlyle, letter to Thomas Chalmers (11 October 1841)
  • The world is full, also, of great traditional books tracing the history of man (but focused narrowly on the local group) from the age of mythological beginnings, through periods of increasing plausibility, to a time almost within memory, when the chronicles begin to carry the record, with a show of rational factuality, to the present. Furthermore, just as all primitive mythologies serve to validate the customs, systems of sentiments, and political aims of their respective local groups, so do these great traditional books. On the surface they may appear to have been composed as conscientious history. In depth they reveal themselves to have been conceived as myths: poetic readings of the mysteries of life from a certain interested point of view. But to read a poem as a chronicle of fact is — to say the least — to miss the point. To say a little more, it is to prove oneself a dolt.
    • Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God (1964)
  • The church has been so harsh with heretics only because she deemed that there is no worse enemy than a child who has gone astray. But the record of Gnostic effronteries and the persistence of Manichean currents have contributed more to the construction of orthodox dogma than all the prayers.
    • Albert Camus, in “Absurd Creation” in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), as translated by Justin O’Brien, Vantage International, 1991, ISBN 0-679-73373-6, p. 113
  • When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time…But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
    • George Carlin, You Are All Diseased (1999)
  • Religion… is such a belief of the Bible as maintains a living influence on the heart.
    • Richard Cecil, The works of the Rev. Richard Cecil vol. 3 (1825) “On Scriptures”, p. 359
  • If you are seeking the comforts of religion rather than the glory of our Lord, you are on the wrong track. The Comforter meets us unsought in the path of duty. There is something in religion, when rightly comprehended, that is masculine and grand. It removes those little desires which are “the constant hectic of a fool.”
    • Richard Cecil, The works of the Rev. Richard Cecil vol. 3 (1825) p. 290
  • O Heavenly Father! convert my religion from a name to a principle. Bring all my thoughts and movements into an habitual reference to Thee.
    • Thomas Chalmers, diary entry, 14 March 1812
  • The sum and substance of the preparation needed for a coming eternity is that you believe what the Bible tells you, and do what the Bible bids you.
    • Thomas Chalmers, Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans vol. 1 (1837) pp. 29-30
  • Religion is faith in an Infinite Creator, who delights in and enjoins that Rectitude which conscience commands us to seek, This conviction gives a Divine Sanction to duty.
    • William Ellery Channing, The Perfect Life (1873) “The Perfecting Power of Religion”
  • The true office of religion is to bring out the whole nature of man in harmonious activity…
    • William Ellery Channing, The Perfect Life (1873) “The Perfecting Power of Religion”
  • It was religion which, by teaching men their near relation to God, awakened in them the consciousness of their importance as individuals. It was the struggle for religious rights which opened men’s eyes to all their rights. It was resistance to religious usurpation which led men to withstand political oppression. It was religious discussion which roused the minds of all classes to free and vigorous thought.
    • William Ellery Channing, Self-Culture (1838)
  • I realized that ritual will always mean throwing away something; Destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.
    • G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles. Secret of a Train
  • It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
    • G. K. Chesterton, “Spiritualism”, All Things Considered (1908)
  • The rigid saint, by whom no mercy’s shown
    To saints whose lives are better than his own,
    Shall spare thy crimes; and Wit, who never once
    Forgave a brother, shall forgive a dunce.

    • Charles Churchill, Epistle to Hogarth (July 1763) l. 25
  • Deos placatos pictas efficiet et sanctitas.
    • Piety and holiness of life will propitiate the gods.
    • Cicero, De Officiis. II. 3
  • Res sacros non modo manibus attingi, sed ne cogitatione quidem violari fas fuit.
    • Things sacred should not only be untouched with the hands, but unviolated in thought.
    • Cicero, Orationes in Verrem. II. 4. 45
  • Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.
    • Arthur C. Clarke, The Onion AV Club interview (18th February 2004)
  • I for one would never be a party, unless the law were clear, to saying to any man who put forward his views on those most sacred things, that he should be branded as apparently criminal because he differed from the majority of mankind in his religious views or convictions on the subject of religion. If that were so, we should get into ages and times which, thank God, we do not live in, when people were put to death for opinions and beliefs which now almost all of us believe to be true.
    • John Duke Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice, Regina v. Bradlaugh and others (1883), 15 Cox, C.C. 230
  • Forth from his dark and lonely hiding place,
    (Portentous sight!) the owlet atheism,
    Sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon,
    Drops his blue-fring’d lids, and holds them close,
    And hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven,
    Cries out, “Where is it?”

    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Fears in Solitude. ll. 81-86 (1798)
  • Too soon did the Doctors of the Church forget that the Heart, the Moral Nature, was the Beginning and the End; and that Truth, Knowledge, and insight were comprehended in its expansion.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection (1825)
  • Like all great theologies, Bill [O’Reilly]’s can be boiled down to one sentence: There must be a god, because I don’t know how things work.
    • Stephen Colbert, on “Bill O’Reilly Proves God’s Existence – Neil deGrasse Tyson”, The Colbert Report (Comedy Central), 6 January 2011
  • Life and the Universe show spontaneity;
    Down with ridiculous notions of Deity!
    Churches and creeds are lost in the mists;
    Truth must be sought with the Positivists.

    • Mortimer Collins, The Positivists
  • Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but — live for it.
    • Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon, Volume I (1820), #25
  • The best thing about religion is that it’s so transparently absurd it can’t possibly last forever. I’m convinced it will only take a small shift in human consciousness for it to be laughed off the planet, and I hope I’m still around when that happens.
    • Pat Condell, in Laughing religion off the planet – an interview with Pat Condell (27 February 2008)
  • For the majority of English people there are only two religions, Roman Catholic, which is wrong, and the rest, which don’t matter.
    • Duff Cooper, Old Men Forget (1953). London: Rupert Hart-Davis, p. 128
  • In America the taint of sectarianism lies broad upon the land. Not content with acknowledging the supremacy as the Deity, and with erecting temples in his honor, where all can bow down with reverence, the pride and vanity of human reason enter into and pollute our worship, and the houses that should be of God and for God, alone, where he is to be honored with submissive faith, are too often merely schools of metaphysical and useless distinctions. The nation is sectarian, rather than Christian.
    • James Fenimore Cooper, “On Religion” The American Democrat (1838)
  • Religion, if in heavenly truths attired,
    Needs only to be seen to be admired.

    • William Cowper, Expostulation, line 492
  • Religion does not censure or exclude
    Unnumbered pleasures, harmlessly pursued.

    • William Cowper, Retirement, line 782
  • Pity! Religion has so seldom found
    A skilful guide into poetic ground!
    The flowers would spring where’er she deign’d to stray
    And every muse attend her in her way.

    • William Cowper, Table Talk, line 688
  • The scriptures, if taken literally, very often make a kind of nonsense. But understood in their more esoteric meaning, as metaphor and symbol, the scriptures of all religions keep trust with humanity, keep that relationship between what we call God, the Logos of our planet, and His expression, humanity and the lower kingdoms. They keep us informed that there is a relationship, that there is a Plan of evolution, that this is not the end, that we will go on until we create perfection on the planet — perfection being the total working out of the Plan of the Logos, in all of its varied manifestations. Another problem with these ancient scriptures is that they have all, more or less, become distorted in their slow dissemination over the centuries.
    • Benjamin Creme The Ageless Wisdom, An Introduction to Humanity’s Spiritual Legacy, (1996), p. 23
  • Sacred religion! Mother of Form and Fear!
    • Samuel Daniel, Musophilus, Stanza 47
  • Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I’m not worried about my soul.
    • Clarence Darrow in a debate with religious leaders in Kansas City, as quoted in a eulogy for Darrow by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1938)
  • Usbek can be as brilliant and satirical on occasion as his younger companion, but his aim is to probe to the heart of things, and he knows that truth will only reveal itself to a reverent search. To him all religions are worthy of respect, and their ministers also, for “God has chosen for Himself, in every corner of the earth, souls purer than the rest, whom He has separated from the impious world that their mortification and their fervent prayers may suspend His wrath.” He thinks that the surest way to please God is to obey the laws of society, and to do our duty towards men. Every religion assumes that God loves men, since He establishes a religion for their happiness; and since He loves men we are certain of pleasing Him in loving them, too. Usbek’s prayer in Letter XLVI. Is not yet out of date. “Lord, I do not understand any of those discussions that are carried on without end regarding Thee: I would serve Thee according to Thy will; but each man whom I consult would have me serve Thee according to his.” He insists that religion is intended for man’s happiness; and that, in order to love it and fulfil its behests, it is not necessary to hate and persecute those who are opposed to our beliefs – not necessary even to attempt to convert them. Indeed, he holds that variety of belief is beneficial to the state. A new sect is always the surest means of correcting the abuses of an old faith; and those who profess tolerated creeds usually prove more useful to their country than those who profess the established religion, because, being excluded from all honours, their endeavour to distinguish themselves by becoming wealthy improves trade and commerce.
    • Persian Letters introduction by John Davidson
  • Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let’s now stop being so damned respectful!
    • Richard Dawkins Has the world changed?, The Guardian (October 11, 2001)
  • Evolution’s logical, unlike religion. Even the Church will agree with that. You have to take religion on faith and you can’t test it by common sense.
    • Lester del Rey, The Eleventh Commandment (1962), Chapter 8
  • In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.
    • Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) “From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy”, p. 266 ISBN 978-0-393-31755-8
  • Once he saw the officials of a temple leading away some one who had stolen a bowl belonging to the treasurers, and said, “The great thieves are leading away the little thief.”
    • Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 45
  • “As for that,” said Waldenshare, “sensible men are all of the same religion.” “Pray what is that?” inquired the Prince. “Sensible men never tell.”
    • Benjamin Disraeli, Endymion (1880), Chapter LXXXI. Borrowed from Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (Lord Shaftesbury)
  • Religion, in its most general view, is such a Sense of God in the soul, and such a conviction of our obligations to Him, and of our dependence upon Him, as shall engage us to make it our great care to conduct ourselves in a manner which we have reason to believe will be pleasing to Him.
    • Philip Doddridge, in The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul
  • Our love, when it is without counting the cost, leads the other toward God. Our love makes straight the paths of the Lord.
    • Catherine Doherty in “Living The Little Mandate” in Unfinished Pilgrimage: The Little Mandate and How It Came to Be
  • Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.
    • William O. Douglas, United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944)
  • You can and you can’t — You shall and you shan’t — You will and you won’t — And you will be damned if you do — And you will be damned if you don’t.
    • Lorenzo Dow “Crazy Dow”, defining Calvinism in Reflections on the Love of God
  • Gardez-vous bien de lui les jours qu’il communie.
    • Beware of him the days that he takes Communion.
    • Jacques Du Lorens, Satires, I
  • L’institut des Jesuites est une épée dont la poigée est à Rome et la pointe partout.
    • The Order of Jesuits is a sword whose handle is at Rome and whose point is everywhere.
    • André M. J. Dupin, Procès de tendance (1825). Quoted by him as found in a letter to Mlle. Voland from Abbé Raynal. Rousseau quotes it from D’Aubigné–Anti-Coton, who ascribes it to the saying of the Society of Jesus which is “a sword, the blade of which is in France, and the handle in Rome”.
  • We do not want a religion that deceives us for our own good.
    • Arthur Eddington, Science and the Unseen World (1929)
  • If our so-called facts are changing shadows, they are shadows cast by the light of constant truth. So too in religion we are repelled by that confident theological doctrine… but we need not turn aside from the measure of light that comes into our experience showing us a Way through the unseen world.
    • Arthur Eddington, Science and the Unseen World (1929)
  • Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.
    • Albert Einstein, in response to atheist, Alfred Kerr in the winter 1927, who after deriding ideas of God and religion at a dinner party in the home of the publisher Samuel Fischer, had queried him “I hear that you are supposed to be deeply religious” as quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler.
  • For any one who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible. Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in Has Science Discovered God? : A Symposium of Modern Scientific Opinion (1931) by Edward Howe Cotton, p. 101
  • All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
    The essential unity of ecclesiastical and secular institutions was lost during the 19th century, to the point of senseless hostility. Yet there was never any doubt as to the striving for culture. No one doubted the sacredness of the goal. It was the approach that was disputed.

    • Albert Einstein, “Moral Decay” (1937); Later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
  • While religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra. Everywhere, in economic as well as in political life, the guiding principle is one of ruthless striving for success at the expense of one’s fellow men. This competitive spirit prevails even in school and, destroying all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation, conceives of achievement not as derived from the love for productive and thoughtful work, but as springing from personal ambition and fear of rejection.
    There are pessimists who hold that such a state of affairs is necessarily inherent in human nature; it is those who propound such views that are the enemies of true religion, for they imply thereby that religious teachings are Utopian ideals and unsuited to afford guidance in human affairs. The study of the social patterns in certain so-called primitive cultures, however, seems to have made it sufficiently evident that such a defeatist view is wholly unwarranted.

    • Albert Einstein, in “Religion and Science: Irreconcilable?” in The Christian Register (June 1948); republished in Ideas and Opinions (1954)
  • I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
    • Albert Einstein, in a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)
  • A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of piece of mind.
    • Albert Einstein, in “a letter to a distraught father who had lost his young son and had asked Einstein for some comforting words” (12 February 1950), quoted in The New Quotable Einstein (2005) by Alice Calaprice, p. 206
  • I have found no better expression than “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.
    • Albert Einstein, in letter to Maurice Solovine, (1 January 1951) [Einstein Archive 21-174]; published in Letters to Solovine (1993).
  • I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
    • Albert Einstein, in a letter to an atheist (1954) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1979) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman.
  • I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86
  • I can understand your aversion to the use of the term “religion” to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza… I have not found a better expression than “religious” for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in Einstein : Science and Religion by Arnold V. Lesikar
  • These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all peoples–those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country. They conform to our firm faith that God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower in his The Chance for Peace speech shortly after taking office and following the death of Joseph Stalin.
  • I do not find that the age or country makes the least difference; no, nor the language the actors spoke, nor the religion which they professed whether Arab in the desert or Frenchman in the Academy, I see that sensible men and conscientious men all over the world were of one religion.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1883), The Preacher, p. 215
  • I like the church, I like a cowl,
    I love a prophet of the soul;
    And on my heart monastic aisles
    Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
    Yet not for all his faith can see,
    Would I that cowlèd churchman be.

    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Problem”, Poems (1847), Stanza 1
  • In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the difference between their own creed and yours; whilst the charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities in all the religions of humanity.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in Jennifer Leigh Selig, Thinking Outside The Church : 110 Ways to Connect with Your Spiritual Nature (2004), p. 53
  • Die Theologie ist die Anthropologie.
    • Theology is Anthropology.
    • Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity [“Wesen des Christenthums”], Preface to the 2nd Ed. (1843)
  • Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.
    • Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (1841)
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
    • Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1915 – 1917)
  • A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
    • Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)
  • The different religions have never overlooked the part played by the sense of guilt in civilization. What is more, they come forward with a claim…to save mankind from this sense of guilt, which they call sin.
    • Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (1931)
  • Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. … If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.
    • Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (1939)
  • There are at bottom but two possible religions — that which rises in the moral nature of man, and which takes shape in moral commandments, and that which grows out of the observation of the material energies which operate in the external universe.
    • James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects. Calvinism, p. 20
  • Sacrifice is the first element of religion, and resolves itself in theological language into the love of God.
    • James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects. Sea Studies
  • I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
    • Stephen Fry, in his “Trefusis Blasphemes” radio broadcast, as published in Paperweight (1993)
  • But our captain counts the image of God — nevertheless his image — cut in ebony as if done in ivory, and in the blackest Moors he sees the representation of the King of Heaven.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), The Good Sea-Captain. Maxim 5
  • Indeed, a little skill in antiquity inclines a man to Popery; but depth in that study brings him about again to our religion.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), The True Church Antiquary, Maxim 1
  • Religion is the best armour in the world, but the worst cloak.
    • Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732), line 4011
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
    • Galileo Galilei, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615)
  • religion is (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
    • Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (1966), p. 4
  • And when we take our last remove, I fear that we shall find that a great deal which we call religion, and which we were at the trouble of lugging about with us through our whole pilgrimage, is perfectly worthless, fit only to be burned…
    • William Goodell, Forty Years in the Turkish Empire. Or, Memoirs of Rev. William Goodell (1876)
  • Die Irreligiösen sind religiöser als sie selbst wissen, und die Religiösen sind’s weniger, als sie meinen.
    • Translation: The irreligious are more religious than they themselves know, and the religious are less so than they think.
    • Franz Grillparzer, aphorism (1857), in Studien zur Philosophie und Religion. Historische und politische Studien. Hamburg: Tredition, 2011, p. 32. ISBN 978-3-8424-1558-4
  • We do ourselves wrong, and too meanly estimate the holiness above us, when we deem that any act or enjoyment good in itself, is not good to do religiously.
    • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Marble Faun, Book, II, Ch. VII
  • The undoubted historical connection between religion and the values that have shaped and furthered our civilisation, such as the family and several property, does not of course mean that there is any intrinsic connection between religion as such and such values. Among the founders of religions over the last two thousand years, many opposed property and the family. But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Ch. 8: The Extended Order and Population Growth
  • From Greenland’s icy mountains,
    From India’s coral strand,
    Where Afric’s sunny fountains
    Roll down their golden sand;
    From many an ancient river,
    From many a palmy plain,
    They call us to deliver
    Their land from error’s chain.

    • Reginald Heber, Missionary Hymn (1819), stanza 1
  • For the men that history enshrines on her immortal pages, the men whose memories are embalmed in the hearts of their fellows for all ages, were men who placed unfaltering trust in the loftiest convictions of the soul, and consecrated life and death to their realization.
    • Isaac Hecker, Aspirations of Nature (1857) ch. 2, p. 19
  • Religion, therefore, is the answer to that cry of Reason which nothing can silence, that aspiration of the soul which no created thing can meet, that want of the heart which all creation cannot supply.
    • Isaac Hecker, Aspirations of Nature (1857) ch. 3, p. 24
  • There is no use disguising the fact, our religious needs are the deepest. There is no peace until they are satisfied and contented. The attempt to stifle them is in vain. If their cry be drowned by the noise of the world, they do not cease to exist. In some unexpected moment they will break through with redoubled energy. They must be answered.
    • Isaac Hecker, Aspirations of Nature (1857) ch. 6, p. 38
  • It is the very nature and essence of religion to raise men, peoples, and nations, above the common level of life, to break through its ordinary bounds, and express itself in a thousand ways, in poetry, painting, music, sculpture, and in every other form of ideal expression. The splendid monuments of the genius and greatness of by-gone ages are the monuments inspired by their religion.
    • Isaac Hecker, Aspirations of Nature (1857) ch. 8, p. 46
  • Science embraces facts and debates opinion; religion embraces opinion and debates the facts.
    • Tom Heehler, The Well-Spoken Thesaurus
  • The objects of philosophy, it is true, are upon the whole the same as those of religion. In both the object is Truth, in that supreme sense in which God and God only is the Truth.
    • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Logic, Chapter 1
  • All religions look equally silly from the outside.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1949). “Chapter Six”. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet.
  • It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1953). “Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript”. Revolt in 2100. Chicago: Shasta.
  • The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1953). “Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript”. Revolt in 2100. Chicago: Shasta.
  • Religion is a solace to many and it is conceivable that some religion, somewhere, is Ultimate Truth. But being religious is often a form of conceit. The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was ‘saved,’ they were ‘damned’—we were in a state of grace and the rest were ‘heathens.’ By ‘heathen’ they meant such as our brother Mahmoud. Ignorant iouts who seldom bathed and planted corn by the Moon claimed to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled them to look down on outsiders. Our hymns were loaded with arrogance—self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, and what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1961). Stranger in a Strange Land. New York: Avon. p. 229.
  • History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion — i.e., none to speak of.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1973). Time Enough for Love. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 13. ISBN 9780399111518.
  • One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1974). Time Enough for Love (Twelfth Printing ed.). New York: Berkeley Medallion. p. 243. ISBN 9780425024935.
  • Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1974). Time Enough for Love (Twelfth Printing ed.). New York: Berkeley Medallion. p. 244. ISBN 9780425024935.
  • Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1973). Time Enough for Love. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 256. ISBN 9780399111518.
  • History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1973). Time Enough for Love. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 258. ISBN 9780399111518.
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
    • Robert A. Heinlein (1973). Time Enough for Love. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 264. ISBN 9780399111518.
  • The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
    The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.

    • Robert A. Heinlein (1973). Time Enough for Love. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 266. ISBN 9780399111518.
  • The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
    But it’s lovely work if you can stomach it.

    • Robert A. Heinlein (1974). Time Enough for Love (Twelfth Printing ed.). New York: Berkeley Medallion. p. 349. ISBN 9780425024935.
  • Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything — just give him time to rationalize it. Forgive me for being blunt.
    • Robert Heinlein, Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)
  • Nothing exposes religion more to the reproach of its enemies than the worldliness and half-heartedness of the professors of it.
    • Matthew Henry, An Exposition of All the Books of the Old and New Testaments, vol. 2 (1804) p. 482
  • Religion stands on tiptoe in our land,
    Ready to pass to the American strand.

    • George Herbert, The Temple (1633), The Church Militant, line 235
  • Dresse and undresse thy soul: mark the decay
    And growth of it: if, with thy watch, that too
    Be down, then winde up both: since we shall be
    Most surely judged, make thy accounts agree.

    • George Herbert, The Temple (1633), Church Porch, Stanza 76
  • Authentic religion, like authentic liberty, is a continuous inquiry, indeed continuous doubt, of a living soul. Certainty exists only among disciplined ranks, the servile and delusive certainty of dead souls.
    • Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Dziennik pisany nocą 1971–1972 (Journal Written at Night 1971–1972) (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1973); journal entry dated 3 September 1972
  • My Fathers and Brethren, this is never to be forgotten that New England is originally a plantation of religion, not a plantation of trade.
    • John Higginson, Election Sermon. The Cause of God and His People in New England. May 27, 1663
  • Religious ideas, supposedly private matters between man and god, are in practice always political ideas.
    • Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish (1990), Chatto Counterblasts
  • One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on.
    • Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great, (2007) Chapter 5
  • It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher god.
    • Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1926), Ralph Mannheim translation (1943), p. 436
  • We must seize the evil in Germany by the root and tear it out, to make way for true socialism, for the new faith, for the new religion.
    • Adolf Hitler, according to Otto Wagener in “Hitler Memoirs of a Confidant”, editor, Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., Yale University Press (1985) p. 59
  • And indeed, no man has found his religion until he has found that for which he must sell his goods and his life.
    • William Ernest Hocking (1912). The Meaning of God in Human Experience. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 237.
  • Is religion one of the fine arts, that it should consist in going to meeting in good clothes every Sunday, saying grace at table, and praying night and morning? Is there every thing to receive, and nothing to give? Are we so literally a flock that we have nothing to do but to be fed all the year, yielding only the annual fleece which forms our pastor’s salary?
    • Josiah Gilbert Holland, Gold-foil, Hammered from Popular Proverbs (1860) p. 295
  • Religion may enter a pothouse as a minister of good, but it may not lay aside its dignity to argue its rights and claims there. The moment that it does this it is shorn of its power.
    • Josiah Gilbert Holland, Gold-foil, Hammered from Popular Proverbs (1860) p. 242
  • There are men who stalk about the world gloomy and stiff and severe — self-righteous embodiments of the mischievous heresy that the religion of peace and good-will to all mankind — the religion of love and hope and joy, the religion that bathes the universal human soul in the light of paternal love, and opens to mankind the gates of immortality — is a religion of terror — men guilty of misrepresenting Christ to the world, and doing incalculable damage to His cause, yet who find it in them to rebuke the careless laughter that bubbles up from a maiden’s heart that God has filled with life and gladness.
    • Josiah Gilbert Holland, Gold-foil, Hammered from Popular Proverbs (1860) pp. 184-185
  • No solemn, sanctimonious face I pull,
    Nor think I’m pious when I’m only bilious —
    Nor study in my sanctum supercilious
    To frame a Sabbath Bill or forge a Bull.

    • Thomas Hood, Ode to Rae Wilson
  • The greatest, the chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power… is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the Churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity, and that almost overwhelms mankind.
    • The Master K.H. quoted in The Mahatma Letters, A.P. Sinnett (1923)
  • Remove from the history of the past all those actions which have either sprung directly from the religious nature of man, or been modified by it, and you have the history of another world and of another race.
    • Mark Hopkins, Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity (1846) Lecture II, p. 49
  • Who ever heard of a devout deist? Who ever heard of one who was willing to spend his life in missionary labor for the good of others? It is not according to the constitution of the mind that such a system should awaken the affections. And what is true of this system is true of every false system. All such systems leave the heart cold, and, accordingly, exert very little genuine transforming power over the life.
    • Mark Hopkins, Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity (1846) Lecture V, p. 156
  • Cultural elites in countries that dominate peoples have adapted subject people’s religion for their own purposes.
    • Richard A. Horsley, Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003), p. 12
  • Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.
    • Dr. House in House season 4 episode 2, “The Right Stuff” (2007-10-02)
    • Sometimes paraphrased as “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”
  • A religion that never suffices to govern a man, will never suffice to save him; that that which does not distinguish him from a sinful world, will never distinguish him from a perishing world.
    • John Howe, The works of the Rev. John Howe vol. 2 (1835) p. 798
  • The canon of the [sharia] and the Church, closely linked with the laws of the bourgeosie, treated women as a commodity, a thing to be bought and sold by the male… Just as the bourgeosie had made the worker into its proletarian, so had the savage ancient canons of the [shariah], the Church, feudalism and the bourgeosie, reduced woman to the proletariat of the man.
    • Enver Hoxha (1986) The Artful Albanian, (Chatto & Windus, London), ISBN 0701129700
  • Should all the banks of Europe crash,
    The bank of England smash,
    Bring all your notes to Zion’s bank,
    You’re sure to get your cash.

    • Henry Hoyt, Zion’s Bank, or Bible Promises Secured to all Believers, Pub. in Boston (1857); probably a reprint of English origin.
  • Il y a maintenant en France dans chaque village un flambeau allumé, le maître d’école, et une bouche qui souffle dessus, le curé.
    • Victor Hugo, Histoire d’un crime. Déposition d’un témoin (1877), Deuxième Journée. La lutte, ch. III: La barricade Saint-Antoine
    • Translation: There is now, in France, in each village, a lighted torch—the schoolmaster—and a mouth which blows upon it—the curé.
      • T. H. Joyce and Arthur Locker (tr.), The History of a Crime: The Testimony of an Eye-Witness (1877), The Second Day, Chapter III, p. 120
    • Translation: In every French village there is now a lighted torch, the schoolmaster; and a mouth trying to blow it out, the priest.
      • Huntington Smith (tr.), History of a Crime (1888), The Second Day, Chapter III, p. 187
    • Variants: There is in every village a torch: The schoolteacher/teacher. And an extinguisher: The priest/clergyman.
  • Maintaining, in this matter, the attitude of a strict operationalist, the Buddha would speak only of the spiritual experience, not of the metaphysical entity presumed by the theologians of other religions, as also of later Buddhism, to be the object … of that experience.
    • Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1944), p.45
  • To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.
    • William Ralph Inge, The Idea of Progress, Romanes Lecture (1920)
  • I am a believer in liberty. That is my religion — to give to every other human being every right that I claim for myself, and I grant to every other human being, not the right — because it is his right — but instead of granting I declare that it is his right, to attack every doctrine that I maintain, to answer every argument that I may urge — in other words, he must have absolute freedom of speech.
    • Robert G. Ingersoll, in an appeal to the jury in the trial of C.B. Reynolds for blasphemy (May 1887)
  • Who is a worshiper? What is prayer? What is real religion? Let me answer these questions.
    Good, honest, faithful work, is worship.

    • Robert G. Ingersoll, at the trial of C.B. Reynolds for blasphemy (May 1887)
  • I belong to the Great Church which holds the world within its starlit aisles; that claims the great and good of every race and clime; that finds with joy the grain of gold in every creed, and floods with light and love the germs of good in every soul.
    • Robert G. Ingersoll, in discussion with Rev. Henry M. Field on Faith and Agnosticism, quoted in Vol. VI of Farrell’s edition of his works; also in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922) edited by Kate Louise Roberts, p. 663
  • My creed is this:
    Happiness is the only good.
    The place to be happy is here.
    The time to be happy is now.
    The way to be happy is to help make others so.

    • Robert G. Ingersoll, on the title page of Vol. XII of Farrell’s edition of his works
  • θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.
    • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
    • James 1:27 NIV
  • I envy them, those monks of old
    Their books they read, and their beads they told.

    • G. P. R. James, The Monks of Old
  • There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and eccentric. I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to study this second-hand religious life. We must make search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct.
    • William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture 1
  • I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged.
    • Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Mrs. H. Harrison Smith (1816)
  • 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 error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
    • Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford (1814)
  • Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
    State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion.
    Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

    • Thomas Jefferson, in a speech to the Virginia Baptists (1808)
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper (10 February 1814)
  • Sir, I think all Christians, whether Papists or Protestants, agree in the essential articles, and that their religious differences are trivial, and rather political than religious.
    • Samuel Johnson, Boswell’s Life, Ch. V, (1763)
  • To be of no Church is dangerous.
    • Samuel Johnson, Life of Milton
  • A little is fine, but the minute you start believing that you’ve picked the only right one out of the 4,200 or so on offer, you need to get a grip on yourself. Once you start thinking that it’s okay to hate someone that chose one of the 4,199 others… snap out of it.
    • Arthur M. Jolly, in “The Questionnaire” (2010)
  • We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want that. We may quarrel with men about things on earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.
    • Chief Joseph, quoted in The Wisdom of the Native Americans (1999) by Kent Nerburn
  • [Jesus] claims that not the observance of outer civil or statutory churchly duties but the pure moral disposition of the heart alone can make man well-pleasing to God (Matthew V, 20-48); … that injury done one’s neighbor can be repaired only through satisfaction rendered to the neighbor himself, not through acts of divine worship (V, 24). Thus, he says, does he intend to do full justice to the Jewish law (V, 17); whence it is obvious that not scriptural scholarship but the pure religion of reason must be the law’s interpreter, for taken according to the letter, it allowed the very opposite of all this. Furthermore, he does not leave unnoticed, in his designations of the strait gate and the narrow way, the misconstruction of the law which men allow themselves in order to evade their true moral duty, holding themselves immune through having fulfilled their churchly duty (VII, 13). He further requires of these pure dispositions that they manifest themselves also in works (VII, 16) and, on the other hand, denies the insidious hope of those who imagine that, through invocation and praise of the Supreme Lawgiver in the person of His envoy, they will make up for their lack of good works and ingratiate themselves into favor (VII, 21). Regarding these works he declares that they ought to be performed publicly, as an example for imitation (V, 16), and in a cheerful mood, not as actions extorted from slaves (VI, 16); and that thus, from a small beginning in the sharing and spreading of such dispositions, religion, like a grain of seed in good soil, or a ferment of goodness, would gradually, through its inner power, grow into a kingdom of God (XIII, 31-33).
    • Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Book IV, Part 1, Section 1, “The Christian religion as a natural religion,” as translated by Theodore M. Greene
  • What makes the decisive difference is not whether religion is persecuted or not, but whether religion is a pious name for conformity or a fighting name for non-conformity.
    • Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (1963), cited from the trade paperback edition published by Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-16548-6, (p. 253)
  • The most obvious failure of organized religions is surely that almost all of them have made a mockery of what their founders taught.
    • Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (1963), cited from the trade paperback edition published by Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-16548-6, (p. 267)
  • Organized religion flourishes. And so do thoughtlessness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.
    • Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (1963), cited from the trade paperback edition published by Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-16548-6, (p. 277)
  • People have fought in vain about the names and lives of their saviors, and have named their religions after the name of their savior, instead of uniting with each other in the truth that is taught.
    • Inayat Khan, in The Spiritual Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan Vol. I, The Way of Illumination Section I – The Way of Illumination, Part III : The Sufi
  • A religiously developed person makes a practice of referring everything to God, of permeating and saturating every finite relation with the thought of God, and thereby consecrating and ennobling it.
    • Søren Kierkegaard Either/Or II, Hong p. 43 1843
  • It requires moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, Journal entry, 19 July 1840
  • Softmindedness often invades religion. … Softminded persons have revised the Beautitudes to read “Blessed are the pure in ignorance: for they shall see God.” This has led to a widespread belief that there is a conflict between science and religion. But this is not true. There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. … Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., in Strength to Love (1963), Ch. 1 : A tough mind and a tender heart
  • So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a taillight behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
  • Religion is hate, religion is fear, religion is war, religion is rape, religion’s obscene, religion’s a whore.
    • Kerry King of Slayer, in “Cult” on Christ Illusion (2006)
  • Business leaders, of course, had long been working to “merchandise” themselves through the appropriation of religion. In organizations such as Spiritual Mobilization, the prayer breakfast groups, and the Freedoms Foundation, they had linked capitalism and Christianity and, at the same time, likened the welfare state to godless paganism. After decades of work, these businessmen believed their efforts had finally paid off with the election of Dwight Eisenhower.
    • Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015) p. 86
  • We have too long supposed that the Unknown mysterium tremendum et fascinosum of religion was outside us, when in fact that Unknown, although ego-alien or unconscious, was all the while within us: the alleged “supernatural” is the human “subconscious.”
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 261
  • A religion is a kind of group dream.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 264
  • Like the paranoid schizophrenic, the vatic personality pretends to be talking about the grandiose outside cosmic world, but he is really talking grandiosely in symbolic ways only about his narcissistic self and his inner world. The mystic pretends to discard his sensory self in order to meld with the cosmic Self; but in discarding his senses he abjures his only connection with the cosmos and re-encounters only himself. The realities he expounds are inside him.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 265
  • “God” is often clinically paranoiac because the shaman’s “supernatural helper” is the projection of the shaman himself. The personality of Yahweh, so to speak, exactly fits the irascible personality of the sheikh-shaman Moses; the voices of Yahweh and Moses are indistinguishable. Of course, shamans do not always have an easy time of it. If the dereistic dreamer arouses too much anxiety, people call him crazy, just as people must put themselves at a psychological distance from the frightening and uncanny schizophrenic. But if the dreamer largely allays anxiety in the society, then he is the shaman-savior. Thus it is that outsiders to the society cannot tell the difference between a psychotic and a vatic personality. Only the society itself can distinguish between its psychotics and its shaman-saviors.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 266
  • All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.
    • Cathy Ladman, quoted in The God Delusion (2006) by Richard Dawkins, “The Roots of Religion”, p. 167
  • Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye.
    • Timothy Leary, “The Seven Tongues of God,” The Politics of Ecstasy (1968)
  • It takes a long time to learn to live without God, and some people never do. They would rather have a false God than none at all.
    • Ursula K. Le Guin, The Birthday of the World, in David G. Hartwell (ed.) Year’s Best SF 6, p. 246 (Originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, June 2000)
  • Imagine there’s no countries,
    It isn’t hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for,
    No religion too,
    Imagine all the people
    living life in peace…

    You may say I’m a dreamer,
    but I’m not the only one,
    I hope some day you’ll join us,
    And the world will be as one.

    • John Lennon, in “Imagine”
  • The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practises to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one’s attention fixed on God and on one’s neighbor in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn’t the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from the outside.
    • C. S. Lewis in “Lilies that Fester” in The Twentieth Century (April 1955)
  • In my opinion the religion that makes men rebel and fight against their government is not the genuine article, nor is the religion the right sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their bread in the sweat of other men’s faces. It is not the kind to get to heaven on.
    • Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 (1895), by Ward Hill Lamon, p. 90
  • I am much indebted to the good christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.
    • Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Eliza Gurney (4 September 1864); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 535
  • What fascinated us about Carrie was that her religious mother could believe that Christ performed miracles, yet when her daughter demonstrates miraculous abilities, she deems that satanic.
    • Damon Lindelof, Stephen King meets creators of Lost
  • Mr. Doctor, pray remember that text, He that seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, his religion is vain.
    • John Lisle, Hewet’s Case (1658), 5. How. St. Tr. 894
  • Other hope had she none, nor wish in life, but to follow
    Meekly, with reverent steps, the sacred feet of her Saviour.

    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline (1847), Part II. V, line 35
  • Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.
    • H.P. Lovecraft, letter to Robert E. Howard [2]
  • Puritanism, believing itself quick with the seed of religious liberty, laid, without knowing it, the egg of democracy.
    • James Russell Lowell, Among My Books. New England Two Centuries Ago
  • God is not dumb, that he should speak no more;
    If thou hast wanderings in the wilderness
    And find’st not Sinai, ’tis thy soul is poor.

    • James Russell Lowell, Bibliolatres
  • But he turned up his nose at their murmuring and shamming,
    And cared (shall I say?) not a d—n for their damning;
    So they first read him out of their church and next minute
    Turned round and declared he had never been in it.

    • James Russell Lowell, A Fable for Critics (1848), line 876
  • Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum!
    • Translated: How many evils has religion caused!
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura. I. 102
  • Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the way of the Sacramentarians, nor sat in the seat of the Zwinglians, nor followed the Council of the Zurichers.
    • Martin Luther, Parody of First Psalm
  • Religion is not ‘doctrinal knowledge,’ but wisdom born of personal experience.
    • Martin Luther, Holborn, Hajo; A HISTORY OF MODERN GERMANYThe Reformation; 1959/1982 Princeton university Press
  • The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, History of England (1849-1861), Vol. I. Ch. II
  • To judge religion we must have it—not stare at it from the bottom of a seeming interminable ladder
    • George Macdonald, Warlock o’ Glenwarlock ch 18
  • Religion is no dry morality; no slavish, punctilious conforming of actions to a hard law. Religion is not right thinking alone, nor right emotion alone, nor right action alone. Religion is still less the semblance of these in formal profession, or simulated feeling, or apparent rectitude. Religion is not nominal connection with the Christian community, nor participation in its ordinances and its worship. But to be godly is to be godlike.
    • Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture “Galatians”
  • Religion to be permanently influential must be intelligent.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, Proverbs for the People (1849) ch. 1, p. 16
  • Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
    • Bill Maher, Religulous (closing words)
  • There is no civilized religion without it saints and devils, without its illuminations and tokens, without the spirit of God descending upon the community of the faithful. There is no new-fangled creed, no new religion, whether it be a form of Spiritism, Theosophy, or Christian Science, which cannot prove its legitimacy by the solid fact of supernatural manifestation. The savage also has his thaumatology, and in the Trobriands, where magic dominates all supernaturalism, it is a thaumatology of magic. Round each form of magic there is a continuous trickle of small miracles, at times swelling into bigger, more conspicuously supernatural proofs, then again, running in a smaller stream, but never absent.
    • Bronislaw Malinowski, Sex and Repression in Savage Society
  • I never really hated a one true God, but the God of the people I hated.
    • Marilyn Manson, Disposable Teens (2000)
  • If I could pray with my cock I’d be a lot more religious.
    • George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings Tyrion (III)–Tyrion
  • To rely on intellectual methods for the direct advance of devout thought is to mistake philosophy for religion… Who does not know, out of his own heart, that he never was reasoned into holy wonder, love, or reverence? and who can fail to observe that there is no fixed proportion between force of understanding and clearness or depth of religion?
    • James Martineau, Hours of Thoughts on Sacred Things Vol. 2 (1879) “The Way of Rememberance” p. 96
  • Law, morality, religion, are … so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests
    • Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
    • Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Introduction…, p. 1 (1843)
  • In any discussion of religion and personality integration the question is not whether religion itself makes for health or neurosis, but what kind of religion and how is it used? Freud was in error when he held that religion is per se a compulsion neurosis. Some religion is and some is not.
    • Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself (1953), p. 166
  • We define religion as the assumption that life has meaning. Religion, or lack of it, is shown not in some intellectual or verbal formulations but in one’s total orientation to life. Religion is whatever the individual takes to be his ultimate concern. One’s religious attitude is to be found at that point where he has a conviction that there are values in human existence worth living and dying for.
    • Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself (1953), p. 180
  • Religious history also offers another striking parallel between Rome and China. The Buddhist faith began to penetrate the Han empire in the first century A.D., and soon won converts in high places. Its period of official dominance in court circles extended from the third to the ninth centuries A.D. This obviously parallels the successes that came to Christianity in the Roman empire during the same period.
    • William Hardy McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (1976)
  • Like Christianity, Buddhism explained suffering. In forms that established themselves in China, Buddhism offered the same sort of comfort to bereaved survivors and victims of violence or of disease as Christian faith did in the Roman world. Buddhism of course originated in India, where disease incidence was probably always very high as compared with civilizations based in cooler climates; Christianity, too, took shape in the urban environments of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria where the incidence of infectious disease was certainly very high as compared to conditions in cooler and less crowded places. From their inception, therefore, both faiths had to deal with sudden death by disease as one of the conspicuous facts of human life. Consequently, it is not altogether surprising that both religions taught that death was a release from pain, and a blessed avenue of entry upon a delightful afterlife where loved ones would be reunited, and earthly injustices and pains amply compensated for.
    • William Hardy McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (1976)
  • While religion, contrary to the common notion, implies, in certain cases, a spirit of slow reserve as to assent, infidelity, which claims to despise credulity, is sometimes swift to it.
    • Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man (1857)
  • Certainly religion must be granted to be one of the greatest inventions ever made on earth. It not only probably antedated all the rest… it was also more valuable to the Dawn Man than any or all of them. For it had the peculiar virtue of making his existence more endurable.
    • H. L. Mencken, in Treatise on the Gods
  • The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him a ride.
    • H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1917)
  • Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian.
    • H. L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun (4 April 1927)
  • Socrates reminds us that it is not the same thing, but almost the opposite, to understand religion and to accept it.
    • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy (Chicago: 1963), p. 45
  • Compassion in the highest degree is the divinest form of religion.
    • Alice Meynell, “Introductory Note” to The Poetry of Pathos & Delight: From the Works of Coventry Patmore; Passages Selected by Alice Meynell (London: William Heinemann, 1906), p. xi
  • Our religion is made to eradicate vices, instead it encourages them, covers them, and nurtures them.
    • Montaigne, Essays, Book II, Chapter 12, “Apology for Raymond Sebond”
  • I acknowledge that history is full of religious wars: but we must distinguish; it is not the multiplicity of religions which has produced wars; it is the intolerant spirit animating that which believed itself in the ascendant.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, Letter No. 86 of the Persian Letters (Lettres persanes, 1721, translation and introduction by John Davidson, 1899)
  • We look at gorgeous churches and synagogues, but now they are only 10% to 15% filled. Those who are there are old; pretty soon they will go to the grave. Then there will be no one. This is true for all religions.
    • Sun Myung Moon The Reappearance of the Second Coming and the Completed Testament Era (10 January 1993) Belvedere International Training Center.
  • Religion is a species of mental disease.
    • Benito Mussolini, as qtd. in 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, James A. Haught, Amherst: NY, Prometheus Books (1996) p. 256
  • Science is now in the process of destroying religious dogma. The dogma of the divine creation is recognized as absurd.
    • Benito Mussolini, as qtd. in 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James A. Haught (1966) p. 256. Originally came from Mussolini’s essay l’Homme et la Divinité, 1904.
  • Quant à moi, je ne vois pas dans la religion le mystère de l’incarnation, mais le mystère de l’ordre social; elle rattache au ciel une idée d’égalité qui empêche que le riche ne soit massacré par le pauvre.
    • I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation, but the mystery of the social order; religion attaches to heaven an idea of equality that stops the rich from being massacred by the poor.
      • Napoléon Bonaparte, March 4, 1806, as reported in Opinions de Napoléon sur divers sujets de politique et d’administration, recueillies par un membre de son conseil d’état (1833), p. 223
  • A circle can have only one centre but it can have numerous radii. The centre can be compared to God and the radii to religions. So, no one sect, no one religion or book can make an absolute claim of It. He who works for It gets It.
    • Swami Narayanananda, Selected Articles 1933-86 (2002), p. 301
  • The religion of some people is constrained; they are like people who use the cold bath — not for pleasure, but necessity, and for their health, they go in with reluctance, and is glad when they get out; but religion to a true believer is like water to a fish; it is his element, he lives in it, and could not live out of it.
    • John Newton, letter, 24 January 1800, The Aged Pilgrim’s Triumph Over Sin and the Grave (1825), p. 158
  • One of the fundamental points about religious humility is you say you don’t know about the ultimate judgment. It’s beyond your judgment. And if you equate God’s judgment with your judgment, you have a wrong religion.
    • Reinhold Niebuhr, in The Mike Wallace Interview ABC TV (27 April 1958)
  • I will make an attempt to attain freedom, the youthful soul says to itself; and is it to be hindered in this by the fact that two nations happen to hate and fight one another, or that two continents are separated by an ocean, or that all around it a religion is taught which did not yet exist a couple of thousand years ago. All that is not you, it says to itself. No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, “Schopenhauer as educator,” § 3.1, R. Hollingdale, trans. (1983), pp. 128-129
  • Even that Dionysus is a philosopher, and that gods, too, thus philosophy, seems to me a novelty that is far from innocuous and might arouse suspicion precisely among philosophers.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
  • Ancient [Graeco-Roman] religion was tolerant and non-sectarian. In this it was unlike ancient philosophy. The adherents of Epicurean and Stoic philosophy fought long and acrimonious feuds, as one can see by reading Lucretius. The reason for this difference between religion and philosophy is that philosophers maintained various factual propositions about the world—that it was made of ‘breath’ or atoms, that it was finite or infinite, and so on—whereas ancient religions only presupposed the existence of forces capable of being persuaded by prayer and sacrifice. Since Roman religion offered no dogmas about the universe, there was nothing for people to contradict or to argue about. Philosophers, on the other hand, had elaborate systems which they defended to the last detail with grotesque ingenuity.
    • R. M. Ogilvie, The Romans and Their Gods (1969), p. 3
  • Reverend Lovejoy: This so-called new religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants, designed to take away the money of fools. Now let’s say the Lord’s Prayer 40 times, but first, let’s pass the collection plate.
    • The Simpsons/Season 9 The Joy of Sect, written by Steve O’Donnell
  • The so-called mahatmas and saints are all cowards. I have never come across a single mahatma—Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist—who can be said to be really a rebellious spirit. Unless one is rebellious, one is not religious. Rebellion is the very foundation of religion.
    • Osho, Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (2000), p. 19
  • Expedit esse deos et, ut expedit, esse putemus.
    • The existence of the gods is expedient and, as it is expedient, let us assume it.
    • Ovid, The Art of Love (c. AD 2) I, 645
  • Do they profess to have delighted us by telling us that they hold our soul to be only a little wind and smoke, especially by telling us this in a haughty and self-satisfied tone of voice? Is this a thing to say gaily? Is it not, on the contrary, a thing to say sadly, as the saddest thing in the world?
    • Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1669), 194
  • I cannot really endorse Planck’s philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
    Einstein’s conception is closer to mine. His God is somehow involved in the immutable laws of nature. Einstein has a feeling for the central order of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws. We may take it that he felt this simplicity very strongly and directly during his discovery of the theory of relativity. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the contents of religion. I don’t believe Einstein is tied to any religious tradition, and I rather think the idea of a personal God is entirely foreign to him. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.

    • Wolfgang Pauli, in statements after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) by Werner Heisenberg
  • È religione anche non credere in niente.
    • Not believing in anything is also religion.
    • Cesare Pavese, The house on the hill (La casa in collina, 1949), Chapter 15
  • No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
    • William Penn, No Cross, No Crown (1682)
  • Psychiatry: it’s the latest religion. We decide what’s right and wrong. We decide who’s crazy or not. I’m in trouble here. I’m losing my faith.
    • 12 Monkeys screenplay by David Peoples and Janet Peoples
  • It was a friar of orders grey
    Walked forth to tell his beads.

    • Thomas Percy, The Friar of Orders Grey (based on an older ballad)
  • The psychology of the religious experience has been well-researched and taped. There are many paths up the mountain—sensory deprivation or sensory overload—emotional response to stimuli or the lack thereof is common. Drugs, of course, from psychoactives to the more mundane depressants. Electropophy can bring it about, as can organic brain damage, lack or excess of oxygen, even sex can trigger it. And what it is, according to the science of man and mue, is a subjective mental state, somewhere to the left of hypnosis. A trick the mind plays on itself. A delusion, void of reality.
    • Steve Perry, The Man Who Never Missed (1985), ISBN 0-441-51916-4, pp. 56-57
  • Religion, which true policy befriends,
    Design’d by God to serve man’s noblest ends,
    Is by that old deceiver’s subtle play
    Made the chief party in its own decay,
    And meets the eagle’s destiny, whose breast
    Felt the same shaft which his own feathers drest.

    • Katherine Philips, On Controversies in Religion
  • The Puritan did not stop to think; he recognized God in his soul, and acted.
    • Wendell Phillips, speech (18 December, 1859)
  • All religious expression is symbolism; since we can describe only what we see, and the true objects of religion are the seen. The earliest instruments of education were symbols; and they and all other religious forms differed and still differ according to external circumstances and imagery, and according to differences of knowledge and mental cultivation. All language is symbolic, so far as it is applied to mental and spiritual phenomena and action. All words have, primarily, a material sense, howsoever they may afterward get, for the ignorant, a spiritual non-sense. To “retract,” for example, is to draw back, and when applied to a statement, is symbolic, as much so as a picture of an arm drawn back, to express the same thing, would he. The very word “spirit” means ” breath,” from the Latin verb spirobreathe.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. III : The Master, p. 62
  • It is not in the books of the Philosophers, but in the religious symbolism of the Ancients, that we must look for the footprints of Science, and re-discover the Mysteries of Knowledge.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXXII : Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
  • We have a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy.
    • William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, speech in the House of Lords (19 May 1772) The exact text was unrecorded, Edmund Burke reported this version in a speech (2 March, 1790) see Prior’s Life of Burke. Ch. X. (1824)
  • So upright Quakers please both man and God.
    • Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1728; 1735; 1743), Book IV, line 208
  • To happy convents, bosom’d deep in vines,
    Where slumber abbots purple as their wines.

    • Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1728; 1735; 1743), Book IV, line 301
  • Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,
    And unawares Morality expires.

    • Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1728; 1735; 1743), Book IV, line 649
  • For virtue’s self may too much zeal be had;
    The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.

    • Alexander Pope, To Murray, Epistle VI. of Horace, line 26
  • I think while zealots fast and frown,
    And fight for two or seven,
    That there are fifty roads to town,
    And rather more to Heaven.

    • Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Chant of Brazen Head, Stanza 8
  • Suddenly he was angry.
    “And that’s what you think religion is, is it?” he said, trying to keep his temper.
    “I gen’rally don’t think about it at all,” said the voice behind him.

    • Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum (1998)
  • The Auditors had tried to understand religion, because so much that made no sense whatsoever was done in its name. But it could also excuse practically any kind of eccentricity. Genocide, for example.
    • Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time (2001), ISBN 0-06-103132-1, pp. 221-222
  • “Now if I’d seen him, really there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. If I thought there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched ‘em like a father and cared for ‘em like a mother…well, you wouldn’t catch me sayin’ things like ‘there are two sides to every question’ and ‘we must respect other people’s beliefs.’ You wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, ‘cos that’s what it’d be. You say that you people don’t burn folk and sacrifice people anymore, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see? Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it. That’s religion. Anything else is just…is just bein’ nice. And a way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbors.”
    • Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum (1998)
  • The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
    • Psalms 14:1
  • Let a man be firmly principled in his religion, he may travel from the tropics to the poles, it will never catch cold on the journey.
    • William Morley Punshon, Lectures and Sermons (1877) “Daniel in Babylon” p. 8
  • He that hath no cross deserves no crown.
    • Frances Quarles, Hadassa (1621)
  • Western psychologists accuse religion of repressing the vital energy of man and rendering his life quite miserable as a result of the sense of guilt which especially obsesses the religious people and makes them imagine that all their actions are sinful and can only be expiated through abstention from enjoying the pleasures of life. Those psychologists add that Europe lived in the darkness of ignorance as long as it adhered to its religion but once it freed itself from the fetters of religion, its emotions were liberated and accordingly it achieved wonders in the field of production.
    • Muhammad Qutb Chapter 4, Islam and Sexual Repression
  • Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practise even a grain of it. The wise man speaks little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.
    • Ramakrishna, Sayings of Ramakrishna
  • As the saints and prophets were often forced to practise long vigils and fastings and prayers before their ecstasies would fall upon them and their visions would appear, so Virtue in its purest and most exalted form can only be acquired by means of severe and long continued culture of the mind. Persons with feeble and untrained intellects may live according to their conscience; but the conscience itself will be defective. … To cultivate the intellect is therefore a religious duty; and when this truth is fairly recognized by men, the religion which teaches that the intellect should be distrusted and that it should be subservient to faith, will inevitably fall.
    • William Winwood Reade, The Martyrdom of Man (1872), p. 540
  • I’m not a practitioner of any religion, and I like it that way.
    • Mike Resnick, The Godstone of Venus, in George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois (eds.) Old Venus (2015), p. 542
  • If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron.
    • Spider Robinson, in “God Is An Iron” (1977)
  • I listened to the sermon, and I remember complete astonishment because what they were talking about were things that were just crazy. It was communion time, where you eat this wafer and are supposed to be eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood. My first impression was, “This is a bunch of cannibals they’ve put me down among!” For some time, I puzzled over this and puzzled over why they were saying these things, because the connection between what they were saying and reality was very tenuous. How the hell did Jesus become something to be eaten?
I guess from that time it was clear to me that religion was largely nonsense–largely magical, superstitious things. In my own teen life, I just couldn’t see any point in adopting something based on magic, which was obviously phony and superstitious.

  • Gene Roddenberry, The Humanist, Mar/Apr 1991
  • I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will — and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.
    • Gene Roddenberry, as quoted in In His Name (2010) by E. Christopher Reyes, p. 39
  • Let us also bear in mind that all the ancient religions, without exception, were divided into esoteric and exoteric. Indeed, much has become complicated in our Christian religion due to the fact that the clergy lost, or rather rejected, the key to the understanding of Christ’s Teaching. This Teaching is full of esotericism, as is continuously confirmed by the words of Christ Himself.
    • Helena Roerich Letters of Helena Roerich I, (1 February 1935)
  • One may be quite sure that the conventional religious instruction, without the knowledge of the One Source, without the comparative history of the religions of all nations, gives only a false concept of the spiritual evolution of humanity and develops a sense of religious intolerance. Intolerance is a terrible scourge of the human race, and it contradicts all the Covenants of the Founders of the existing religions.
    • Helena Roerich Letters of Helena Roerich I, (22 March 1935)
  • Wrong are the assertions found in books that all religions and teachings discuss the low level of woman. Such discussions as do appear are the distortions and additions made in later times by those holding power through avarice and ignorance. Verily, the Great Founders of religions and teachings are not to be blamed for this crying ignorance. Let us consider how many dishonest and avaricious hands have handled these teachings during thousands of years!
    • Helena Roerich Letters of Helena Roerich I, (31 May 1935)
  • In the presence of infinite might and infinite wisdom, the strength of the strongest man is but weakness, and the keenest of mortal eyes see but dimly.
    • Theodore Roosevelt’s Christian Citizenship Address before the Young Men’s Christian Association, Carnegie Hall, New York, 30 December 1900
  • The demand for a statement of a candidate’s religious belief can have no meaning except that there may be discrimination for or against him because of that belief. Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practice would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissension which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization.
    • Theodore Roosevelt’s Letter to Mr. J.C. Martin concerning religion and politics (November 6, 1908)
  • Locke would have us begin with the study of spirits and go on to that of bodies. This is the method of superstition, prejudice, and error; it is not the method of nature, nor even that of well-ordered reason; it is to learn to see by shutting our eyes. We must have studied bodies long enough before we can form any true idea of spirits, or even suspect that there are such beings. The contrary practice merely puts materialism on a firmer footing. I am aware that many of my readers will be surprised to find me tracing the course of my scholar through his early years without speaking to him of religion. At fifteen he will not even know that he has a soul, at eighteen even he may not be ready to learn about it. For if he learns about it too soon, there is the risk of his never really knowing anything about it.
    • Jean Jacques Rousseau Emile Book IV
  • Ils ont les textes pour eux; disait-il, j’en suis faché pour les textes.
    • Translated: They have the texts in their favor; said he, so much the worse for the texts.
    • Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, Dictionnaire de Sciences Philosophiques (Paris 1851, vol. V) “Life of M. Royer Collard” p. 442
  • Humanity and Immortality consist neither in reason, nor in love; not in the body, nor in the animation of the heart of it, nor in the thoughts and stirrings of the brain of it;]], but in the dedication of them all to Him who will raise them up at the last day.
    • John Ruskin, Stones of Venice. Vol. I. Ch. II
  • I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion is anything to do with argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds. One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.
    • Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian (1927)
  • My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others.
    • Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (1930)
  • In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
    • Carl Sagan (1987) Keynote address at CSICOP conference, as quoted in Do Science and the Bible Conflict? (2003) by Judson Poling, p. 30
  • I’m naturally suspicious of people who wear religion heavily on their sleeves.
  • The whole point in having a religion and faith is that you campaign for what you believe, not just for what you think is achievable.
    • Alex Salmond, in an interview with The Tablet. Bridge Builder, Page 6. (25 July 2009)
  • I won’t take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.
    I ask you to come through and show me where you’re pouring out the blood of your life.

    • Carl Sandburg, in “To a Contemporary Bunkshooter” in Chicago Poems (1916), p. 63
  • Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.
    • George Santayana,The Life of Reason (1905-1906) Vol. III, Ch. VI
  • Faith: The opposite of dogmatism.
    • John Ralston Saul, The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense (1994): “Faith”
  • There are as many gods as there are ideals. And further, the relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest.
    • Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 406
  • Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism (1890)
  • If, while hurrying ostensibly to the temple of truth, we hand the reins over to our personal interests which look aside at very different guiding stars, for instance at the tastes and foibles of our contemporaries, at the established religion, but in particular at the hints and suggestions of those at the head of affairs, then how shall we ever reach the high, precipitous, bare rock whereon stands the temple of truth?
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, “Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real,” Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), as translated by E. Payne (1974), Vol. 1, p. 3
  • Religion is like the fashion, one man wears his doublet slashed, another laced, another plain; but every man has a doublet; so every man has a religion. We differ about the trimming.
    • John Selden, Table Talk. P. 157. (Ed. 1696)
  • [Lord Shaftesbury said] “All wise men are of the same religion.” Whereupon a lady in the room … demanded what that religion was. To whom Lord Shaftesbury straight replied, “Madam, wise men never tell.”
    • Lord Shaftesbury, John Toland, Clidophorus. Ch. XIII.
      • Attributed to Samuel Rogers by Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects. Plea for the Free Discussion of Theological Difficulties; attributed also to Franklin.
  • I always thought
    It was both impious and unnatural
    That such immanity and bloody strife
    Should reign among professors of one faith.

    • William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part I, Act V, scene 1, line 11
  • In religion,
    What damned error, but some sober brow
    Will bless it and approve it with a text.

    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, scene 2, line 77
  • The ground of all religion, that which makes it possible, is the relation in which the human soul stands to God.
    • John Campbell Shairp, Culture and Religion (1870) p. 14
  • They who seek religion for culture’s sake are aesthetic, not religious, and will never gain that grace which religion adds to culture, because they never can have the religion.
    • John Campbell Shairp, Culture and Religion (1870) pp. 62-63
  • But now I think the belief in a Divine education, open to each man and to all men, takes up into itself all that is true in the end proposed by culture, supplements, and perfects it.
    • John Campbell Shairp, Culture and Religion (1870) p. 131
  • There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.
    • George Bernard Shaw, Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, Vol. II, preface (1898)
  • I can’t talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.
    • George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara Act II (1905)
  • Religion is a great force — the only real motive force in the world; but what you fellows don’t understand is that you must get at a man through his own religion and not through yours. Instead of facing that fact, you persist in trying to convert all men to your own little sect, so that you can use it against them afterwards. You are all missionaries and proselytizers trying to uproot the native religion from your neighbor’s flowerbeds and plant your own in its place. You would rather let a child perish in ignorance than have it taught by a rival sectary. You can talk to me of the quintessential equality of coal merchants and British officers; and yet you can’t see the quintessential equality of all the religions.
    • George Bernard Shaw in Getting Married (1908)
  • The moon of Mahomet
    Arose, and it shall set:
    While, blazoned as on heaven’s immortal noon,
    The cross leads generations on.

    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, Hellas (1821), line 237
  • Human pride / Is skilful to invent most serious names / To hide its ignorance.
    The name of God / Has fenced about all crime with holiness.

    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab, Part VII
  • Indeed, I am a free rider, but only in the freedom from one set of cultural traditions usually gathered under the umbrella of religion. But, like everyone else, I face judges that are in their own ways transcendent and powerful: family and friends, colleagues and peers, mentors and teachers, and society at large. My judges may be lowercased and occasionally deceivable, but they are transcendent of me as an individual, even if they are not transcendent of nature; as such, together, we all stand in a long pilgrim community struggling down the evolutionary and historical ages trying to live and love and learn to temper our temptations and do the right thing. I may be free from God, but the god of nature holds me to her temple of judgment no less than her other creations. I stand before my maker and judge not in some distant and future ethereal world, but in the reality of this world, a world inhabited not by spiritual and supernatural ephemera, but by real people whose lives are directly affected by my actions, and whose actions directly affect my life.
    • Michael Shermer in The Science of Good and Evil (2004).
  • Sol found their tracts the usual combination of double talk and navel lint-gathering common to most religions.
    • Dan Simmons, Hyperion (1989), Chapter 4
  • Government oppressed the body of the wage-slave, but Religion oppressed his mind, and poisoned the stream of progress at its source.
    • Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906), Ch. 31
  • In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: “All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Jesus, as we know, answered and said “Get thee behind me, Satan!” And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with “temporal power;” he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian gospel. The early Christians had “all things in common, except women;” they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.
    But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again, to get Jesus’ church. He came when, through the power of the new revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed the guise of no less a person than the Emperor himself, suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world’s greatest religion.

    • Upton Sinclair, The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918), Book Seven : The Church of the Social Revolution, “Christ and Caesar”
  • Logic or so called intellectual reasoning have no real meaning in religious debates.
    • Judge Jussi Sippola, Helsinki district court, in the Halla-Aho trial on charges of incitement of an ethnic group and disturbing religious worship, 2009. [3]
  • With many people, religion is merely a matter of words. So far as words go we do what we think right. But the words rarely lead to action, thought, and conduct, or to purity, goodness, and honesty. There is too much playing at religion, and too little of enthusiastic, hard work.
    • Samuel Smiles, Duty, With Illustrations of Courage, Patience & Endurance (1880)
  • [E]xtreme happiness invites religion almost as much as extreme misery.
    • Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948), Ch. 13
  • A Gay and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity — thou must commune with God.
    • Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137
  • Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either.
    • Joseph Smith Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 160
  • The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.
    • Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:425
  • But meddle not with any man for his religion: all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God’s kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood.
    • Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:304
  • Nothing remains, under God, but those passions which have often proved the best ministers of His vengeance, and the surest protectors of the world.
    • Lecture XXVIL: On Habit – Part II, in “Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy”, delivered at The Royal Institution in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806 by the late Rev. Sydney Smith, M.A. (Spottiswoodes and Shaw (London: 1849)), p. 424.
      • Another Variant: When the usual hopes and the common aids of man are all gone, nothing remains under God but those passions which have often proved the best ministers of His purpose and the surest protectors of the world.
      • Quoted by Theodore Roosevelt in his “Brotherhood and the Heroic Virtues” Address at the Veterans’ Reunion, Burlington, Vermont, September 5, 1901 and published in Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses” by Dover Publications (April 23, 2009) in its Dover Thrift Editions (ISBN: 978-0486472294), p. 127
  • No man’s religion ever survives his morals.
    • Robert South, a sermon preached at Christ-Church, Oxon. (17 October 1675)
  • The human mind has an adequate knowledge of the eternal and infinite essence of God.
    • Baruch Spinoza, Ethics (1677) Part II: On the Nature and Origin of the Mind
  • In despotic statecraft, the supreme and essential mystery is to hoodwink the subjects, and to mask the fear, which keeps them down, with the specious garb of religion, so that men may fight as bravely for slavery as for safety, and count it not shame but highest honor to risk their blood and lives for the vainglory of a tyrant.
    • Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise, Preface, in Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza, R. Hurley, trans. (San Francisco: 1988), p. 25
  • A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn.
    • Madame de Staël, Corinne (1807), Book X, Ch. V
  • Religion has nothing more to fear than not being sufficiently understood.
    • Stanisław Leszczyński (King of Poland), Maxims. No. 36
  • There is, I believe, something, which may be named by the misleading and debased word ‘religion’, and is the most distinctively human or awakened activity of man. But clearly there is something else, which is also called ‘religion’, and is his greatest folly and shame.
    • Olaf Stapledon, Waking World, Chapter 11: Religion
  • One must build to the praise of a Being above, to build the noblest memorial of himself. Then, Angelo may verily ” hang the Pantheon in the air.” Then the unknown builder, whose personality disappears in his work, may stand an almost inspired mediator between the upward-looking thought and the spheres overhead. Each line then leaps with a swift aspiration, as the vast structure rises, in nave and transept into pointed arch and vanishing spire. The groined roof grows dusky with majestic glooms; while, beneath, the windows flame, as with apocalyptic light of jewels. Angelic presences, sculptured upon the portal, invite the wayfarer, and wave before him their wings of promise. Within is a worship which incense only clouds, which spoken sermons only mar. The building itself becomes a worship, a Gloria in Excelsis, articulate in stone; the noblest tribute offered on earth, by any art, to Him from whom its impulse came, and with the ineffable majesty of whose spirit all skies are filled!
    • Richard Salter Storrs, The Recognition of the Supernatural in Letters and in life (1881)
  • Never trust a man who thinks his religion gives him all the answers.
    • Charles Stross, Halting State ISBN 978-0-441-01607-5 (2007), p. 275
  • What religion is he of?
    Why, he is an Anythingarian.

    • Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation (c. 1738), Dialogue I
  • He made it a part of his religion, never to say grace to his meat.
    • Jonathan Swift, Tale of a Tub, Section XI
  • We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
    • Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects. Collected by Pope and Swift; found in Spectator No. 459
  • If you can’t spontaneously detect (without analyzing) the difference between the sacred and profane, you’ll never know what religion means. You will also never figure out what we commonly call art. You will never understand anything.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) The Sacred and the Profane, p.19.
  • The way to judge of religion is by doing our duty; and theology is rather a Divine life than a Divine knowledge. In heaven, indeed, we must first see, and then love; but here, on earth, we must first love, and love will open our eyes as well as our hearts; and we shall then, see and perceive, and understand.
    • Jeremy Taylor, “A sermon preached to the University of Dublin”, The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor. Vol 6, (1839) Sermon VI, p. 379
  • It is a mistake to suppose that God is only, or even chiefly, concerned with religion.
    • William Temple, quoted in R. V. C. Bodley, In Search of Serenity (1955), ch. 12
  • Nec religionis est cogere religionem.
    • It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion.
      • Tertullian, Ad Scapulam, 2.2
  • Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. I cut myself in the finger, and it pains me: this finger is a part of me. I see a friend hurt, and it hurts me, too: my friend and I are one. And now I see stricken down an enemy, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole?
    For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.

    • Nikola Tesla, in “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy with Special References to the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy” in Century Illustrated Magazine (June 1900)
  • The lives and writings of the mystics of all great religions bear witness to religious experiences of great intensity, in which considerable changes are effected in the quality of consciousness. Profound absorption in prayer or meditation can bring about a deepening and widening, a brightening and intensifying, of consciousness, accompanied by a transporting feeling of rapture and bliss. The contrast between these states and normal conscious awareness is so great that the mystic believes his experiences to be manifestations of the divine; and given the contrast, this assumption is quite understandable. Mystical experiences are also characterized by a marked reduction or temporary exclusion of the multiplicity of sense-perceptions and restless thoughts. This relative unification of mind is then interpreted as a union or communion with the One God. …

    The psychological facts underlying those religious experiences are accepted by the Buddhist and are well-known to him; but he carefully distinguishes the experiences themselves from the theological interpretations imposed upon them. After rising from deep meditative absorption (jhāna), the Buddhist meditator is advised to view the physical and mental factors constituting his experience in the light of the three characteristics of all conditioned existence: impermanence, liability to suffering, and absence of an abiding ego or eternal substance. This is done primarily in order to utilize the meditative purity and strength of consciousness for the highest purpose: liberating insight. But this procedure also has a very important side effect which concerns us here: the meditator will not be overwhelmed by any uncontrolled emotions and thoughts evoked by his singular experience, and will thus be able to avoid interpretations of that experience not warranted by the facts.
    Hence a Buddhist meditator, while benefiting from the refinement of consciousness he has achieved, will be able to see these meditative experiences for what they are; and he will further know that they are without any abiding substance that could be attributed to a deity manifesting itself to his mind. Therefore, the Buddhist’s conclusion must be that the highest mystical states do not provide evidence for the existence of a personal God or an impersonal godhead.

    • Nyanaponika Thera, “Buddhism and the God-Idea” (1962)
  • If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.
    • Kerry Wendell Thornley, in the Introduction to the 5th Edition of Principia Discordia
  • For the majority of mankind, religion is a habit, or, more precisely, tradition is their religion. Though it seems strange, I think that the first step to moral perfection is your liberation from the religion in which you were raised. Not a single person has come to perfection except by following this way.
    • Leo Tolstoy paraphrasing Thoreau, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997)
  • Kitty made the acquaintance of Madame Stahl too, and this acquaintance, together with her friendship with Varenka, did not merely exercise a great influence on her, it also comforted her in her mental distress. She found this comfort through a completely new world being opened to her by means of this acquaintance, a world having nothing in common with her past, an exalted, noble world, from the height of which she could contemplate her past calmly. It was revealed to her that besides the instinctive life to which Kitty had given herself up hitherto there was a spiritual life. This life was disclosed in religion, but a religion having nothing in common with that one which Kitty had known from childhood, and which found expression in litanies and all-night services at the Widow’s Home, where one might meet one’s friends, and in learning by heart Slavonic texts with the priest. This was a lofty, mysterious religion connected with a whole series of noble thoughts and feelings, which one could do more than merely believe because one was told to, which one could love.
    • Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, C. Garnett, trans. (New York: 2003), Part 2, Chapter 33, p. 207
  • Honour your parents; worship the gods; hurt not animals.
    • Triptolemus, according to Porphyry (On Abstinence IV.22) From his traditional laws or precepts.
  • In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.
    • Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897), Ch. XLIII
  • None are so likely to believe too little as those who have begun by believing too much.
    • Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life (1913)
  • Reverend Lovejoy: Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They’re all pretty much the same.
    • The Simpsons/Season 7 Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily written by Jon Vitti
  • To devote your life to the good of all and to the happiness of all is religion. Whatever you do for your own sake is not religion.
    • Swami Vivekananda, Pearls of Wisdom (2008) edited by the Ramakrishna Mission
  • Once I journeyd far from home
    To the gate of holy Rome;
    There the Pope, for my offence,
    Bade me straight, in penance, thence
    Wandering onward, to attain
    The wondrous land that height Cokaigne.

    • Robert Wace, The Land of Cokaigne
  • Reinhold Niebuhr is a man of God, but a man of the world as well. Dr. Niebuhr would seem to be saying that if a nation would survive and remain free, its citizens must use religion as a source of self-criticism, not as a source of self-righteousness.
    • Mike Wallace, in The Mike Wallace Interview ABC TV (27 April 1958)
  • There’s a religious fervour spreading like clap in a cathouse. It’s screwing the world’s brains.
    • Ian Watson, The Coming of Vertumnus, in Gardner Dozois (ed.) The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Tenth Annual Collection, pp. 143-144 (Originally published at Interzone #56 February 1992)
  • When I can read my title clear
    To mansions in the skies,
    I’ll bid farewell to every fear,
    And wipe my weeping eyes.

    • Isaac Watts, Songs and Hymns, Book II. No. 65
  • It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for this very reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relationships that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed but all the more strongly felt, of ethical religions.
    • Max Weber, Sociology of Religion (1922), p. 216
  • The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more apt are the religion’s virtuosi to reject the world, especially its economic activities.
    • Max Weber, Sociology of Religion (1922), p. 217
  • Legitimation by a recognized religion has always been decisive for an alliance between politically and socially dominant classes and the priesthood. Integration into the Hindu community provided such religious legitimation for the ruling stratum. It not only endowed the ruling stratum of the barbarians with recognized rank in the cultural world of Hinduism, but, through their transformation into castes, secured their superiority over the subject classes with an efficiency unsurpassed by any other religion.
    • Max Weber, Religion of India (1916), p. 16
  • Religion is the tie that connects man with his Creator, and holds him to His throne.
    • Daniel Webster, speech at the Supreme Court of Massachusetts on the death of Jeremiah Mason (14 November 1848)
  • Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong. … With those who have received a Christian education, the lower parts of the soul become attached to these mysteries when they have no right at all to do so. That is why such people need a purification of which St. John of the Cross describes the stages. Atheism and incredulity constitute an equivalent of such a purification.
    • Simone Weil, “Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the Divine” in The Simone Weil Reader (1957) edited by G. Panichas, pp. 417-418
  • Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    • Steven Weinberg, address at the Conference on Cosmic Design, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., April 1999, quoted in “Freethought of the Day: May 3rd”, Freedom from Religion Foundation
  • Take care what you are about, for unless you base all this on religion, you are only making so many clever devils.
    • Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Philip Henry, Fifth Earl Stanhope, Notes of Conversation with the Duke of Wellington, 1831-1851 (1886). Talking about non-denominational education, often paraphrased as “Educate men without religion, and you make them but clever devils”.
  • The religion of the heathen mythology not only was not true, but was not even supported as true; it not only deserved no belief, but it demanded none. The very pretension to truth—the very demand of faith—were characteristic distinctions of Christianity.
    • Richard Whately, Bacon’s Essays with Annotations by Richard Whately (1857)
  • A legal religion is insufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God.
    • Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (1896), p. 53
  • The world has a thousand creeds, and never a one have I;
    Nor church of my own, though a million spires are pointing the way on high.
    But I float on the bosom of faith, that bears me along like a river;
    And the lamp of my soul is alight with love, for life, and the world, and the Giver.

    • Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Heresy
  • So many gods, so many creeds—
    So many paths that wind and wind
    While just the art of being kind
    Is all the sad world needs.

    • Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The World’s Need
  • All your Western theologies, the whole mythologies of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent…
    • Tennessee Williams, The Night of the Iguana Act II
  • Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. Far from being rivals or enemies religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistance. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.
    • James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 106 & 103-105.
  • The Discordian Society, we repeat again, is not a complicated joke disguised as a new religion but really a new religion disguised as a complicated joke.
    • Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati (1977), p. 103; paraphrases of this are sometimes attributed to Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger), one of the authors of Principia Discordia
  • And then there’s religion—God, angels, sin—but none of that has ever appealed to me. Fiction masquerading as cosmology is what it feels like to me, and all too self-important, too self-serious.
    • Tim Wirkus, The Infinite Future (2018), Part 1, Chapter 14
  • Who God doth late and early pray
    More of his Grace than Gifts to lend;
    And entertains the harmless day
    With a Religious Book or Friend.

    • Sir Henry Wotton, The Character of a Happy Life (1614), Stanza 5
  • The gods of all pagan faiths have been allied with the rich rulers. The priests of most religions are the employees of the landowners. But the God of Israel has always claimed to be with the poor—whether in the legislation of Deuteronomy, the words of the prophets, or the experiences of the New Testament. Our God is on the side of the poor.
    • John Howard Yoder, Radical Christian Discipleship, p. 41
  • Religion’s all. Descending from the skies
    To wretched man, the goddess in her left
    Holds out this world, and, in her right, the next.

    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-45), Night IV, line 550
  • But if man loses all, when life is lost,
    He lives a coward, or a fool expires.
    A daring infidel (and such there are,
    From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
    Or pure heroical defect of thought),
    Of all earth’s madmen, most deserves a chain.

    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-45), Night VII, line 199
  • Instead of holding on to the Biblical view that we are made in the image of God, we come to realize that we are made in the image of the monkey…
    • Lin Yutang The Importance of Living (1937) p. 36
  • Such religion as there can be in modern life, every individual will have to salvage from the churches for himself.
    • Lin Yutang The Importance of Living (1937) p. 397
  • I feel, like all modern Americans, no consciousness of sin and simply do not believe in it. All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell. That is a final fact of my inner consciousness, and for no religion could I deny its truth.
    • Lin Yutang The Importance of Living (1937) p. 407
  • Religion is poison.
    • Mao Zedong, as quoted by John N. Gray (2008) in “The atheist delusion,” The Guardian, (15 March 2008)
  • Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
    Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
    But as sure as God made black and white
    What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light.

    • Anonymous, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, traditional folk song
  • Go tell that long tongue liar
    Go and tell that midnight rider
    Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
    Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

    • Anonymous “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, traditional folk song
  • Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
    • Anonymous; quoted in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006) by Daniel C. Dennett, p. 17,ISBN 0-670-03472-X
  • Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.
    • Anonymous, The Baptist Observer No. 7 – (1966).
  • You have no security for a man who has no religious principle.
    • Richard Cobden, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 503
  • Too much is said in these days about the aesthetics of religion and its sensibilities. Religion’s home is in the conscience. Its watchword is the word “ought.” Its highest joy is in doing God’s will.
    • Theodore L. Cuyler, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 503
  • Religion, in its purity, is not so much a pursuit as a temper; or rather it is a temper, leading to the pursuit of all that is high and holy. Its foundation is faith; its action, works; its temper, holiness; its aim, obedience to God in improvement of self, and benevolence to men.
    • Jonathan Edwards, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 494
  • True religion is not what men see and admire; it is what God sees and loves; the faith which clings to Jesus in the darkest hour; the sanctity which shrinks from the approach of evil; the humility which lies low at the feet of the Redeemer, and washes them with tears; the love which welcomes every sacrifice; the cheerful consecration of all the powers of the soul; the worship which, rising above all outward forms, ascends to God in the sweetest, dearest communion — a worship often too deep for utterance, and than which the highest heaven knows nothing more sublime.
    • Richard Fuller, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496
  • I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.
    • Attributed to Patrick Henry, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496. The earliest attribution does not appear until 1823, nearly a quarter century after Henry’s death in 1799, suggesting that this quote was falsely credited to Henry.
  • Religion is the only metaphysics that the multitude can understand and adopt.
    • Joseph Joubert, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 504
  • How admirable is that religion which, while it seems to have in view only the felicity of another world, is at the same time the highest happiness of this.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 498
  • Religion gives to virtue the sweetest hopes, to unrepenting vice just alarms, to true repentance the most powerful consolations; but she endeavors above all things to inspire in men love, meekness, and piety.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 502
  • All noblest things are religious,— not temples and martyrdoms only, but the best books, pictures, poetry, statues, and music.
    • William Mountford, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 500
  • You have respect for religion! How vastly condescending! How deeply humble! The creature has a respect for the service of the Creator! A grasshopper deigns to acknowledge that it has a respect for the King of kings and Lord of lords! Verily a subject of congratulation for the universe! A worm crawling in the dust confesses to its fellow worm that it has some respect for the government of the high and mighty One that inhabiteth eternity.
    • William Augustus Muhlenberg, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 505
  • Human things must be known to be loved; but Divine things must be loved to be known.
    • Blaise Pascal, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496
  • Religious faith and purpose are the only certain safeguards against the growing perils of life. So far as there has been among educated men a decline of loyalty to Christ and His gospel, there has been a decline in those qualities which claim confidence and honor, which insure unblemished reputation, which minister to social well-being, and to the integrity and purity of public life.
    • A. P. Peabody, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 498
  • Other religions have risen and decayed; Christ’s comes down the ages in the strength of youth, through the seas of popular commotion, like the Spirit of God on the face of the waters, through the storms of philosophy, like an apocalyptic angel, and through all the wilderness of human thought and action, like the pillar of fire before the camp of the Israelites.
    • Edward Thompson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 500
  • There is a great deal too much in the world, of the “heavenly-mindedness” which expends itself in the contemplation of the joys of paradise, which performs no duty which it can shirk, and whose constant prayer is to be lifted in some overwhelming flood of Divine grace, and be carried, amidst the admiration of men and the jubilance of angels, to the very throne of God.
    • Henry Clay Trumbull, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 502
  • It is the office of Judges to advance laws made for religion, according to their end, though the words be short and imperfect.
    • Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, C.J., Colt v. Glover (1614), Ld. Hob. Rep. 157
  • He that seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, his religion is vain.
    • Quoted by Lisle (Lord President), in Hewet’s Case (1658), 5 How. St. Tr. 894
  • All persecution and oppression of weak consciences on the score of religious persuasions, are highly unjustifiable upon every principle of natural reason, civil liberty, or sound religion.
    • William Blackstone (1765), Commentaries Bk. IV., Ch. 4., p. 40
  • No laws can be of avail except in so far as they are founded on religion.
    • Park, J., Williams v. Paul (1830), 6 Bing. 653

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