A guide to atheism
From a variety of sources, edited by Jim Watson
An atheist is someone who is "without theism." Atheists see Gods as legends or fairy tales, and often equate God with Santa Claus, Thor, and Zeus.
What is the point of being an Atheist - can't one just be nothing? The answer: emancipation.
Webster's dictionary says the meaning of emancipation is:
• To be free from restraint, control, or the power of another; esp. to free from bondage
• To be released from paternal care and responsibility and made in his or her own right
• To be freed from any controlling influence (as traditional mores or beliefs); syn. see 'free'
So, you know you are an Atheist when you have freed yourself from the restraints, control and power of religion and when you have emancipated yourself from the bondage of deities, churches, priests and codes that have bound you to archaic rules and credos. And you know you are an Atheist when you have freed yourself from 'paternal' oversight by Gods, as well as from the angels, saints and other mythical creatures that religion tries to convince you have some personal interest in you and - despite their many responsibilities, such as moving the sun around the earth - actually know, and care, if you and some 400 billion of your brethren, are behaving well.
In short, Atheists are people who have emancipated themselves through rational analysis, scientific evidence, freethinking and skepticism, and have concluded that there is no supernatural world, no all-powerful being in the sky who controls their destiny and no heaven or hell. Atheists benefit in many ways: they have gained the freedom to think, to investigate, to explore, to form their own opinions, to form their own sense of what is ethical and what is moral. All that is their choice, and their responsibility, not dependent on the ethics imposed on them by priests, ministers, and rabbis whose morals are inherited from scribes of the Bronze Age.
They have moved past emotion, familiarity, and comfort to think and reason for themselves:
• The Bible is not real.
• Religion is not real.
• Hell is not real.
Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports liberty and opportunity consistent with social and planetary responsibility. Free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.
What are atheists like?
One of the best components of atheism is the freedom of thought and mind. Prejudice against people of other sexes, races, or sexual preferences is rare, because most of such prejudice is religion-based and completely illogical. We argue with each other, thrive on debate, and feel like we're better people after we've been proven wrong. We do good because it's the right thing to do, not out of a selfish fear of eternal damnation or a need to 'win points' with a deity. Other than that, we are a very diverse group of people. We are writers and poets, philosophers and scientists, teachers and businesspeople, brain surgeons and truck drivers, architects and construction workers. We are men and women, black and white, Republican and Democrat, gay and straight, shy and outspoken. Since we are bound only by our disbelief, there are atheists with differing views on every political, economic, and social issue. I view this as a benefit which should serve as a model from which the rest of the world could learn. Atheists are united in diversity. We are moral and are ethical (studies show atheists are more moral and ethical than religious people).
Understand that the people who actually believe in God and their preachers' teachings are victims - of the lies and falsehoods told by religious organizations, the only difference being they actually may believe those lies. They may express their emotions as anger, but a little education and steadfastness mixed with understanding may allow them to get over that hump quickly. However, be prepared for all the standard questions from "you're going to Hell" to "does this mean you pray to Satan" to "How could you do this to me?"
Science is beginning to explore religion as a phenomenon of the brain, not the supernatural phenomenon of gods, spirits, and demons that many people still believe it to be. Atheism is a positive and uplifting worldview - liberation from darkness, superstition, and irrationality of religion brings great happiness, along with a serious commitment to do what is right for our fellow humans and for our natural world - the only world there is. John Wathey, Letters, US News & World Report
How can an atheist deny God?
For the same reason others deny the existence of Thor, the God of Thunder; Neptune, the God of the Sea; or Osiris, God of the dead. We can't deny something we don't believe exists.
We humans have worshipped thousands of gods over the years. As we become more enlightened, we believe in fewer gods. You've narrowed it down to just one, or three. I've simply taken it one step further.
The world makes more sense to me as a non-believer. When I was a devout Christian, I didn't understand why my all-loving God would create and inflict drought, tornadoes, and earthquakes upon his children. Or why he allowed those planes to hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Or why he allows babies to be born with defects. As an atheist, I can more easily accept that the evolving Earth will shift and create unusual destructive weather patterns and that humans will do bad things.
As a devout Christian, the fairy tales didn't satisfy my desire to understand. To be a believer required me to ignore my intelligence and rational thinking.
My beliefs are based on logic, rational thinking, and intelligence. Religious beliefs are based on superstition, fairy tales, and a suspension of thought.
The world and its people make more sense to a non-believer.
Some common misconceptions about atheism
Atheists have no morals, since they don't believe in God.
A great contribution of atheism is the provision of a firm basis for ethical conduct. Atheists do good, not out of fear of reprisal, but because it's the right thing to do. We value family, society, culture, and, of course, freedom. Atheism explains that morality is a social obligation but not a passport to heaven and salvation. The theistic belief in divine retribution sidetracked moral behavior. Believers were more prone to please the god of their imagination by prayer and ritual than to conform to rules of moral conduct. Consequently immorality and anti-social activities spread wild wherever people were absorbed in the worship of god and in the propitiation of fate. Atheism brings about radical changes in the outlook of people in this context. Truth, tolerance, love and equality are the basic needs of social harmony.
Religion's morality is all black or white, right or wrong, pass/fail judgments. Atheist morality, on the other hand, is based upon principles that are much more comprehensive, and we have the right and freedom to continually update and expand them to reflect the ever-changing human conditions. There is no need in moral principles for a 'deity supervisor.'
Religion is trapped in its own liturgy: “My way or the highway," it says, unbending to the issues of a new age. But Atheist/freethinker/skeptics explore and use the wisdom and ideas of a wide spectrum of philosophies and cultures unhampered by the restrictions and rules of an oppressive religion, and empowers them to be more compassionate, humane and tolerant than is possible in the rigid, one-note, outdated manifestos prescribed by religions.
Slavery was not only acceptable 200 years ago, it was considered a good deed by many, and defended using the bible. The bible was also used to justify the Holocaust, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. This shows that the bible can be used to defend even the most immoral and unethical ideals, and is therefore not an adequate yardstick to measure moral or ethical behavior.
Hitler was a Catholic, and Jeffrey Dahmer said grace before he ate his victims. Osama and Mata praised God before committing terrorist acts. One need only open a newspaper to find yet another story about allegations against priests for sexual misconduct, often with children. Jim Bakker swindled millions from his flock and Jimmy Swaggart asked for forgiveness only after being caught with prostitutes.
Atheists make up about 10-15% of the population, but only make up 1% of the population in prison.
Atheists believe in evolution, but that doesn't answer as many questions as creationism.
Atheism is not a scientific theory, rather a lack of religion. We do believe in science, and that questions may eventually be answered with science if they are not answered today, but we readily admit that not all answers are known to us right now. That is no reason, however, for inventing a fictional God to whom to give credit, especially when all it does is create more questions. Science has done well so far, giving theories regarding evolution, geological movement, and the Big Bang, all supported by evidence, but not necessarily endorsed by all atheists.
Atheists cannot know there is no God, since you cannot prove he doesn't exist.
Again, this is a two sided coin, but the theists are loathe to admit the other side. Atheists don't need to prove the nonexistence of God, any more we need to prove the nonexistence of Zeus or Santa Claus. Can theists prove God over any alternatives? Of course not. Nobody can prove God exists, yet they will stand on their heads saying they are absolutely sure.
Atheists seek to remove religion from society, and to force all people to be atheists.
Not true, we seek only the freedom for people to make their choice on their own, free of intervention from the government or public school system. We seek the freedom not to support religion through taxes, forced participation, or special privileges of any kind. That being said, your thoughts are your rights, and none of our business. Wear your jewelry, celebrate your holidays, and pray in your house, church, or in public if you like. Just don't force your religion on other people. That's what we truly care about.
Atheists are so closed-minded, they can't see that miracles happen every day!
Some people look for miracles where none exist. Allow me to put things in perspective: Someone's cancer going into remission is no miracle, but we can talk when disease suddenly disappears from the face of the earth overnight without help from medical science. Food getting through to a hungry village: human perseverance. Starvation vanishing from earth without a reason overnight: Miracle. One more time: A child is born - science; The spontaneous end of birth defects - Miracle. Note: only good things are miracles, so volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes don't count.
Quotes from Christopher Hitchens
• What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
The quintessential Hitchens quote, this idea is often referred to as Hitchens' Razor. It's perhaps the simplest explanation of the skeptic's burden of proof, because it places epistemological responsibility where it belongs. In other words, if you insist that there's a bearded sky-man who created the entire universe but still wants you to save yourself for marriage, that's fine. But it's up to you to prove it.
• Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing in the 10 commandments about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide?
Hitchens argued not only against the improbability of the supernatural but also against the real world effect of organized religion. (In fact, Hitchens thought “antitheist" a better description of himself than atheist.) He approached the Bible's deplorable morality with characteristic ruthlessness, noting that the single most important instance of divine law (the Ten Commandments) omits some serious crimes. This kind of analysis helps reveal the insanity of religious literalism, and the tendency of the faithful to pick and choose which laws they follow. Do you hate gays because the Bible says so? Then why are you wearing polyester? And eating shellfish?
• There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: We stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more."
Hitchens was a typical skeptic in that he sought to emphasize the wonder and amazement of the secular existence. One of many common misconceptions about atheists is that they are immune to any sense of wonder because they doubt the supernatural. Oprah recently espoused this view, which is sadly just one more way atheists are cast as something less-than-human. Though it may not come as a surprise, atheists definitely do find a sense of wonder and awe in their world. The beauty of chemistry, the truth of art, the power of music - all are perfect examples of things that stir great passions in thinking men and women. As Douglas Adams said, “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?" Atheists discover just as much beauty in and awe in life as everyone else. To skeptics, logical explanation robs nothing of its inherent awesomeness. Hitch knew life to be positively incredible even without someone or something pulling the strings.
Take some time and put the Bible on your reading list. Try and stick with it cover to cover. Not because it teaches history - we've shown you it doesn't. Read it because you'll see for yourself what the Bible is all about. It sure isn't great literature. If it were published as fiction, no reviewer would give it a passing grade. There are some vivid scenes and some quotable phrases, but there's no plot. no structure; there's a tremendous amount of filler, and the characters are painfully one-dimensional. Whatever you do, don't read the Bible for a moral code: it advocates prejudice, cruelty, superstition, and murder. Read it because we need more atheists, and nothing will get you there faster than reading the damn Bible. From Penn Jillette
Why militant atheism?
When women are no longer oppressed, disfigured, or killed in the name of religion,
When gay people are no longer legislated to second class citizens in the name of religion,
When doctors can no longer deny crucial health care in the name of religion,
When children are no longer indoctrinated with bigotry, fear, and hate in the name of religion,
When it is no longer claimed that faith is greater than knowledge,
Then, and only then, will we lay down our banner of Anti-Theism.
Agnostics and atheists, Jews, and Mormons scored highest on a quiz about religion
Number of questions answered correctly as surveyed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said he hopes the findings will help people realize that atheists understand the religious beliefs that they reject. "It certainly underscores the fact that atheists are not atheists due to ignorance," he said. 80% of the atheists and agnostics polled in the survey were raised in a faith, including 75% who were reared as Christians. Even religious school graduates didn't fare any better in their ability to answer questions about the Bible, world religions, or the role of religion in public life. The poll results were based on telephone interviews with 3,412 adults nationwide.
The bottom line
There is no demonstration of the existence of a god that holds up to logical scrutiny.
The sheer number and variety of religions in the world, making largely incompatible claims, make it appear that they are all authored by humans.
Most religions undermine the dignity of human beings (such as making their worth contingent upon the permission or gift of a deity, or attributing good deeds of human beings to divine forces rather than their own individual choice).
Most religions discourage or are an impediment to free inquiry and the quest for knowledge. Dogma is fossilized philosophy, and says, here is your answer, so you need not and/or may no longer seek further explanations.
There's so much observed, testable, falsifiable evidence that flatly contradicts various claims of religion, such as the effectiveness of prayer or the occurrence of miracles.
Most religions have and/or still do consider women and/or other groups of human beings inherently inferior by divine decree and do or have supported other oppressions, such as slavery and anti-Semitism.
Almost everyone is convinced of their particular religious persuasion because their parents were - this is as arbitrary as one's nationality, or one's hair color, or one's language, and follows the same pattern geographically.
A truth-seeking thinking person cannot accept as true any idea on the basis that it backs up its assertions with threats of eternal torture and death: all others, such as philosophy, science, mathematics, seek to persuade with evidence, logic, and demonstrations of usefulness.
It's not necessarily about promoting atheism over theism. It's about promoting positives such as empathy, compassion, equality, and critical thinking over negatives such as bigotry, oppression, sexism, blind faith, and intolerance.
Why I'm glad I'm no longer a Christian
Simple - I read and studied the Bible. I disagree with too much of it:
• I don't hate my mother and father.
• I don't think women should be silent.
• A woman who is raped should not have to marry her rapist.
• I sometimes like to work on Sunday (or Saturday depending on how the word Sabbath is interpreted).
• I like to eat shellfish.
• I don't want to sell all of my possessions. Sorry, I'm keeping my underwear, deodorant, and iPhone.
• I don't want to worship a God who just watches as his tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes cause such massive suffering and loss of life.
• A Christian has to believe that the creator of the universe created tornadoes as part of his glorious plan for the world. The tornado that devastated Moore OK is not a result of free will, but is a part of God's glorious plan for our lives. A Christian has to worship a God that ignored the prayers of the trapped students and teachers and watched as 7 children suffered and died in their school building.
• A Christian has to believe that God is all-powerful but consciously chose to just watch as innocent schoolchildren got their faces blown off in an elementary school in Connecticut.
• A Christian has to also believe that God allowed the planes to hit the World Trade Center resulting in thousands of deaths and a long, deadly war. He knew all this because he's all-knowing and all-powerful. But he chose to just watch the planes and he chose to watch the people on board pray to him and he saw the anguish on their faces.
• If Christians choose not to believe these things, then they are Christian by name only, not by faith.
A true belief system of love
• When I was a Christian, I was required - required, no choice, I had to - believe that all Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Atheists would spend eternity suffering in Hell. Billions of people on the planet right now, I had to believe, would suffer once they died. Friends, family, children - all destined to suffer horribly.
• A Muslim is required to believe that Christians, Jews, and Bahais will spend eternity in Hell. Billions of people. Suffering.
• As an Atheist, I can (and do) believe that nobody has to suffer in Hell. Not a single person. No one.
Now, which belief system is one of love?
It is the belief of some that this life, the life you are living now, is just a test life. They believe that this life is designed specifically for preparation to pass to another life. However, there is no evidence of any life after death. WYDYD reminds us to:
• Live this life to its fullest, and harmoniously with the rest of the humans on the planet.
• Improve the recognition of the non-religious community. People committed to the possibility of a world community based on healthy, rational, and socially interactive support.
• Create a network of social centers that can be used for weddings, community organizing, debates, day care, art exhibits, funerals, sewing circles, voting, games, music instruction, dance instruction, yoga, etc. Unlike many other social centers, WYDYD centers are wholly inclusionary - not places that discriminate based on race, age, or sexual orientation; WYDYD centers have philosophical intention - when people come to these centers, they're coming to act in community with others, always acting with humanist ideals.
Pity the poor atheist who is grateful and has no one to thank!
Atheists simply thank those responsible rather than a fairy tale character from a book. Unlike the coach who thanks God for a victory, rather than the players for their hard work; or the family of the healed child who thanks God rather than the doctors, the equipment, facilities, and nurses; or those who thanked God rather than the pilot, Sully, who skillfully landed the plane in the Hudson River. Isn't it more Christ-like to not pity our neighbors but to express appreciation to the people in our lives who are responsible for the kindness shown?
I am often quite grateful. For example, for my health. But I know exactly who to thank: my parents for providing nutrition, doctors for assessment and advice, teachers for information and motivation, friends for support, and myself for dedication and effort.
Advantages of not believing in God
By Penn Jillette, the taller, louder half of the illusionists Penn and Teller, November 2005
Not believing in God is easy - you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. Anyone with a love for truth has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God - some objective evidence of a supernatural power. Atheism is easy. But, this belief thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that is enough - it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day. Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
Without God, I can read ideas from different people from different cultures. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up." But its insulting to say, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future. Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
Words of wisdom
From the Founding Fathers of the USA
Many politicians and Christians claim that the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation." These claims, however, are not based on factual information. While many of the Founding Fathers were Christians, others were not. Some believed in God, but held no religious preference and others had no belief in anything supernatural. Because of the McCarthyism Red Scare in the 1950s, one of the ways the government wanted to show that they were above communism was their love for God. "In God we trust" was added to all paper currency in 1957 as well as adding "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Here are quotes from the Founding Fathers and other great Americans that show that the United States was not founded as a "Christian Nation."
Thomas Jefferson (Deist), US Secretary of State, Vice-president, President; author, scientist, architect, educator, and diplomat
• History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. - to Baron von Humboldt, 1813
• The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.
• Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. - Notes on Virginia, 1782
• The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors. - Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
• I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.
• I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
• The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious - one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes; fools and hypocrites.
• Christianity is the most perverted system that even shone on man - perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind - a mere contrivance for the clergy to filch wealth and power to themselves.
• The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.
• It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one.
Ben Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor
• I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.
• Lighthouses are more helpful then churches.
• The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.
• If Christian preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his apostles did, without salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure religion itself, as the emoluments of it. When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself, and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
• I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them.
• In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it.
• This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.
Thomas Paine, English-born American author and revolutionary leader, author of Common Sense
• The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
• Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind. - The Age of Reason
• 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.
• Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
• The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.
• Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
• I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
• Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies.
• It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.
George Washington, US President (1792 letter to Sir Edward Newhenham)
• Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.
James Madison, US President and political theorist
• During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
• In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.
• Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.
• What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.
• During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
• Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?
• The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.
• This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.
• It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion (?) on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded against. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against. trespasses on its legal rights by others.
Abraham Lincoln, US President
• The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.
From a variety of sources
Alan Watts, philosopher, popularized Eastern philosophy for a Western audience
• Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of one-upmanship because they depend upon separating the "saved" from the "damned," the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. All belief is fervent hope, and thus a cover-up for doubt and uncertainty.
• Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, open-ness – an act of trust in the unknown. No considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and unadaptable as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. For the use of words, and thus of a book, is to point beyond themselves to a world of life and experience that is not mere words or even ideas. Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.
• Genuine love comes from knowledge, not from a sense of duty or guilt. Our whole knowledge of the world is, in one sense, self-knowledge. For knowing is a translation of external events into bodily processes, and especially into states of the nervous system and the brain: we know the world in terms of the body, and in accordance with its structure.
Albert Einstein, German-born American physicist
• 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 religion than it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
• I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.
• I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.
• If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
• The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
• A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
• It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. 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.
• 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, intelligent enough.
Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist
• I don't believe in God. My god is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life.
• I give money for church organs in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation's attention from the rest of the service.
• I decline to accept 'salvation' from such a fiend.
Anne Nicol Gaylor, founder, Freedom From Religion Foundation
• There were many groups working for women's rights, but none of them dealt with the root cause of women's oppression - religion.
Arthur C. Clarke, author
• It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.
• Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?
• Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.
Azam Kamguian (Iranian women's rights activist)
• To say that we must respect people's culture and religion, however despicable, is absurd - if a culture allows women to be mutilated and killed to save their family's ‘honor', it can not be excused.
Barbara G. Walker, 1993 Humanist Heroine
• The Bible sounded cruel. A God who would not forgive the world until his son had been tortured to death - that did not strike me as the kind of father I would want to relate to. The very fears and guilts imposed by religious training are responsible for some of history's most brutal wars, crusades, and persecutions, including five centuries of almost unimaginable terrorism under Europe's Inquisition, and the unthinkably sadistic legal murder of nearly nine million women. History doesn't say much very good about God.
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, educator, mathematician, and social critic
• Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it wll fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
• Religion is based mainly on fear - fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. 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.
• Fear is the parent of cruelty, therefore it is no wonder if religion and cruelty have gone hand-in-hand.
• I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is none the less true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.
• There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dares not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.
• I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian God may exist; so may the Gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them. The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.
• If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think man would be much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.
• Where there is evidence, no one speaks of ‘faith.' We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round.
• Every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery - has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
• The objections to religion are of two sorts - intellectual and moral. The intellectual objection is that there is no reason to suppose any religion true; the moral objection is that religious precepts date from a time when men were more cruel than they are (today) and therefore tend to perpetuate inhumanities which the moral conscience of the age would otherwise outgrow.
Bill Maher, comedian, tv show host
• 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.
Billy Joel, musician
• I wasn't raised Catholic, but I used to go to Mass with my friends, and I viewed the whole business as a lot of very enthralling hocus-pocus. There's a guy hanging upon the wall in the church, nailed to a cross and dripping blood, and everybody's blaming themselves for that man's torment, but I said to myself, 'Forget it. I had no hand in that evil. I have no original sin. There's no blood of any sacred martyr on my hands. I pass on all of this.
• I believe that all important matters have to be settled here, not in the clouds somewhere after we kick off.
• Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Butterfly McQueen, actress who played Prissy in Gone with the Wind
• As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion. If we had put the energy on earth and on people that we put on mythology and on Jesus Christ, we wouldn't have any hunger or homelessness.
Carl Sagan, astronomer and author
• Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.
• My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic.
• The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
• It often happens that scientists say, 'you know, that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never heard that old view from them again. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
• How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?' Instead, they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'
Carl van Doren
• The unbelievers have, as I read history, done less harm to the world than believers. They have not filled it with savage wars, with crusades or persecutions, with complacency or ignorance. They have, instead, done what they could to fill it with knowledge and beauty, with temperance and justice, with manners and laughter.
• Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.
Charles Darwin, English naturalist
• For myself, I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.
• The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.
• It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science.
• There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
• More wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. The sad truth continues in our present day.
Charles Schultz, cartoonist
• The term that best describes me now is 'secular humanist. I despise those shallow religious comics. Dennis the Menace, for instance, is the most shallow. When they show him praying - I just can't stand that sort of thing, talking to God about some cutesy thing that he'd done during the day. I don't think Hank Ketcham [Dennis' creator] has any deep knowledge of things like that.
• (Schultz cringed at the mention of Family Circus, the strip by Bill Keane that is strewn with cutesy references to Jesus - who wants to protect children on school buses, but can't because of laws about separation of church and state! - and those sickly-sweet images of invisible deceased grandparents looming protectively over the kids) Oh, I can't stand that. You could get diabetes reading them, couldn't you?
Charlie Chaplin, actor and comedian
• By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none.
Christopher Hitchens, author
• We must destroy religion before it destroys us.
• What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
• Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life - except religion. Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.
• The Shia fundamentalists in Iran lowered the age of "consent" to nine, perhaps in admiring emulation of the age of the youngest "wife" of the "Prophet" Muhammed. Hindu child brides in India are flogged, and sometimes burned alive, if the pathetic dowry they bring is judged to be too small. The Vatican, and its vast network of dioceses, has in the past decade alone been forced to admit complicity in a huge racket of child rape and child torture, mainly but by no means exclusively homosexual, in which known pederasts and sadists were shielded from the law and reassigned to parishes where the pickings of the innocent and defenseless were often richer.
• If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.
Clarence Darrow, lawyer
• I don't believe in God, because I don't believe in Mother Goose.
• I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment, to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure.
• I believe that religion is the belief in future life and in God. I don't believe in either. I don't believe in God as I don't believe in Mother Goose.
• Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey.
• The very concept of sin comes from the Bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making. Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?
• Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday singing, Yes gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up up, must come down. Amen! If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.
• You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that WE are the ones that need help?
Dave Matthews, South African rock musician
• I'm glad some people have that faith. I don't have that faith. If there is a God, a caring God, then we have to figure he's done an extraordinary job of making a very cruel world.
• I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people. Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists.
• Being an atheist is a lot like being the only sober person in a car full of drunk people and they refuse to pull over and let you drive.
Elizabeth Cady-Stanton, suffragist
• The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.
• The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation - among the clergy we find our most violent enemies, those most opposed to any change in woman's position.
• The bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition of bondage, maternity a period of suffering and anguish, and in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man's bounty for all her material wants, and for all the information she might desire...Here is the Bible position of woman briefly summed up.
• I found nothing grand in the history of the Jews nor in the morals inculcated in the Pentateuch. Surely the writers had a very low idea of the nature of their god. They made him not only anthropomorphic, but of the very lowest type, jealous and revengeful, loving violence rather than mercy. I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of women.
Emmanuel Kofi Mensah
• Religion is the brainchild of fear, and fear is the parent of cruelty. The greatest evils inflicted on humankind are perpetrated not by pleasure-seekers, self-seeking opportunists, or those who are merely amoral, but by fervent devotees of religion.
• If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished; for they are forever praying for evil against one another.
• The whole scheme of Christian Salvation is diabolical as revealed by the creeds. An angry God, imagine such a creator of the universe. Angry at what he knew was coming and was himself responsible for. Then he sets himself about to beget a son, in order that the child should beg him to forgive the Sinner. This however he cannot or will not do. He must punish somebody - so the son offers himself up and our creator punishes the innocent youth, never heard of before - for the guilty and became reconciled to us. If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.
• Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Ernest Hemingway, author
• All thinking men are atheists.
• Organized religion is a menace to human happiness.
• The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.
Frank Zappa, musician
• The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own.
• The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? Okay, it was the Tree of Knowledge. You eat this apple, you're going to be as smart as God. We can't have that.
• If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine- but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good- and CARES about any of it- to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.
Frederick Douglass (former slave)
• I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
Freidrich Nietzsche, German philologist and philosopher
• Faith means not wanting to know what is true.
• So long as the priest, that professional negator, slanderer and poisoner of life, is regarded as a superior type of human being, there cannot be any answer to the question: What is truth?
• The Christian faith from the beginning, is sacrifice: the sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of spirit; it is at the same time subjection, a self-derision, and self-mutilation.
• All religions bear traces of the fact that they arose during the intellectual immaturity of the human race - before it had learned the obligations to speak the truth. Not one of them makes it the duty of its God to be truthful and understandable in his communications.
• The most serious parody I have ever heard was this: In the beginning was nonsense, and the nonsense was with God, and the nonsense was God.
• There is no devil and no hell. Thy soul will be dead even sooner than thy body: fear therefore nothing any more.
• The only excuse for God is that he doesn't exist.
• A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer
• They know that it is human nature to take up causes whereby a man may oppress his neighbor, no matter how unjustly. Hence they have had no trouble in finding men who would preach the damnability and heresy of the new doctrine from the very pulpit.
• 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.
• When a society worships a god that kills babies, as the god of the bible does, then religious terrorism should come as no surprise.
Gene Garman, Essays in Addition to America's Real Religion
• When Christian fundamentalists want to appear open-minded they refer to America as a Judeo-Christian nation or a nation built on Judeo-Christian principles. However, there is not one Christian fundamentalist who believes that Jews are going to Heaven or that Judaism is worthy of spiritual respect in this world - because Judaism rejects the divinity of Jesus. Christian fundamentalists use the Jewish name only to abuse it.
Gene Roddenberry, visionary science fiction writer and creator of Star Trek
• 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.
• We must question the logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.
• (On growing up Protestant in El Paso) 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 you are supposedly eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood. My first impression was 'Jesus Christ, this is a bunch of cannibals they've put me down among.' I guess from that time it was clear to me that religion was largely nonsense.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish-born English playwright
• 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.
• At present there is not a single credible established religion in the world.
• No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says. He is always convinced that it says what he means.
George Carlin, comedian
• Religion is just mind control.
• I credit that eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, 'This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.
• Religion: If this [word] offends you, welcome to the world of sane and realistic critical thought. Much harm has been done to the collective human psyche by religion.
• What about Goblins, huh? Doesn't anybody believe in Goblins? You never hear about this. Except on Halloween and then it's all negative shit. And what about Zombies? You never hear from Zombies! That's the trouble with Zombies, they're unreliable! I say if you're going to go for the Angel bullshit you might as well go for the Zombie package as well.
• In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman. 'Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. 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. 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 until the end of time! But He loves you.
If this is the best god can do, I am not impressed.
Gloria Steinam, women's rights activist
• In the future, we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God.
• It's an incredible con job when you think of it, to believe something now in exchange for life after death. Even corporations with all their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous.
• The idea of a good society is something you do not need a religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death.
• From a barbaric bronze age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. The sky god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth - although the notion of one god may give comfort to those in need of a daddy, it reminds the rest of us that the totalitarian society is grounded upon the concept of God the father.
Chapman Cohen (1868-1954)
• Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.
Gypsy Rose Lee
• Praying is like a rocking chair - it'll give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere.
Helen Keller, lecturer
• There is so much in the bible against which every instinct of my being rebels, so much so that I regret the necessity which has compelled me to read it through from beginning to end. I do not think that the knowledge I have gained of its history and sources compensates me for the unpleasant details it has forced upon my attention.
• No man has ever sat down calmly unbiased to reason out his religion, and not ended by rejecting it.
H.L. Mencken, editor and critic
• We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the same sense and to the same extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
Religion is so absurd that it comes close to imbecility. - Treatise on the Gods
• Since the early days, [the church] has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was an apologist for the divine right of kings.
• Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill.
• God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters. [from the alt.quotations archive: http://www.starlingtech.com/quotes/search.html]
• Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration-courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.
• I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind.
• Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
• Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the person, the surer they are that they know precisely what is right and wrong.
• There's no such thing as a soul. Its just something they made up to scare kids, like the boogeyman.
• What if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make God madder and madder.
Ibn Al-Rawandi (abandoned Islam in 1988; borrowed his pseudonym (to avoid being assassinated) from a famous ninth-century Muslim skeptic/heretic)
• The myth of Islamic tolerance was largely invented by Jews and Western freethinkers as a stick with which to beat the Catholic church. Islam was never a religion of tolerance - Islam was spread by the sword - as the Arab empire - it is a religion largely invented to hold that empire together and subdue native populations. An unmitigated cultural disaster parading as God's will. Religious minorities were always second class citizens in the empire - for polytheists and unbelievers there was no tolerance at all, it was conversion or death - there repulsive characteristics are written into the Quaran, the hadith and the sharia - .there is no way that Islam can reform itself and remain Islam, no way it can be made compatible with pluralism, free speech, critical thought and democracy.
Ibn Warraq (life-preserving pseudonym of an outspoken apostate of Islam)
• And when the ignorant among us read those hate-laden verses, they act on them, and the result is September 11, human bombs in Israel, massacres in East Timor and Bangladesh, kidnappings and killings in the Philippines, slavery in Sudan, honor killings in Pakistan and Jordan, torture in Iran, stoning and maiming in Afghanistan and Iran, misery and death in every Islamic country. It is not the extremists who have misunderstood Islam. They do literally what the Qur'an asks them to do. It is we who misunderstand Islam.
Isaac Asimov, Russian-born American scientist and author
• Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
• Creationists make it sound like a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
• I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
• Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.
• As editor of the largest newspaper in West Virginia, I scan hundreds of reports daily; and I am amazed by the frequency with which religion causes people to kill each other. It is a nearly universal pattern, undercutting the common assumption that religion makes people kind and tolerant.
James Joyce, Irish author
• For me there is only one alternative to scholasticism - skepticism.
• No amount of belief makes something a fact.
• The notion of a god is a superstition and there is no evidence for the existence of any gods. Further, devils, demons, angels and saints are myths; there is no life after death, no heaven or hell; the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place-not to mention the ‘ethnic cleansing' presently being performed by Christians in our world-and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women.
James Watson, biologist, discoverer of DNA, Nobel Laureate
• The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don't have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand - I think the morality comes from human nature. I think we were born to care for one another. It gives people pleasure to help each other.
• Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely. Only with the discovery of the double helix and the ensuing genetic revolution have we had grounds for thinking that the powers held traditionally to be the exclusive property of the gods might one day be ours. (As a young man) I came to the conclusion that the church was just a bunch of fascists that supported Franco. I stopped going on Sunday mornings and watched the birds with my father instead.
• I don't think we're here for anything, we're just products of evolution. You can say 'Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don't think there's a purpose' but I'm anticipating a good lunch.
Jason Torpy, West Point grad, Iraq War veteran, President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
• Reason is doing what is right no matter what you are told, while religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian statesman
• (Of India) No country or people who are slaves to dogma and dogmatic mentality can progress.
• Even as a devout Christian, the Biblical stories didn't satisfy my desire to understand.
• My beliefs are based on logic, rational thinking, and intelligence. Religious beliefs are based on superstition, fairy tales, and a suspension of thought. To be a believer required me to ignore my intelligence and rational thinking.
• The world and its people make more sense to a non-believer.
• The mere fact that the Bible of the Judeo-Christian religion starts with "In the beginning" (read "Once upon a time") and ends with us living in heaven eternally (read "happily ever after") should strongly suggest to us that it is a fairy tale.
Jodie Foster, actress and director
• I cannot believe in God when there is no scientific evidence for the existence of a supreme being and creator.
• Of course, if you actually followed the morality explicitly commanded by the Bible, Torah and Koran, you would kill adulterers, gay people, apostates, and disobedient children and be sent to prison. Thankfully, the vast majority of religious believers long since decided to disregard much of "God's word", because it is manifestly appalling, and read it metaphorically. But you have to strip away an awful lot of the texts as metaphor before you get to a few bland lessons about being nice to each other. Can't we get the lessons about niceness from somewhere else, without the bogus metaphysics and endless injunctions to kill our friends?
• A belief in an afterlife has the unavoidable effect of making this life less unique and precious. Good luck finding an atheist willing to strap a bomb to his or her back, or fly a plane into a building.
John Cleese, English actor, comedian, writer, film producer, and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe
• What I think most organized religion is - simply crowd control.
John Stuart Mill, English philosopher and economist, freethinker, if not strictly atheist
• The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known.
John Walton Buckingham England
• You just cannot make any logic or sense out of religious ideas; I was once told that to believe, you had to have faith, and to have faith, you had to believe. Religion should be consigned to the dustbins of medieval superstitions where it belongs.
• We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough religion to make us love one another.
• It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into.
• If I had the power that the New Testament narrative says that Jesus had, I would not cure one person of blindness, I would make blindness impossible; I would not cure one person of leprosy, I would abolish leprosy.
Karl Marx, German political philosopher and economist
• The wretchedness of religion is at once an expression and a protest against real wretchedness. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people.
• Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature.
• The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, humility, in a word all the qualities of the canaille (the masses, the common people).
Katherine Hepburn, actress
• I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.
Kurt Vonnegut, author
• Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.
Lance Armstrong, cyclist, in reply to a question about what beliefs had helped him as a cancer patient
• Everyone should believe in something, and I believed in surgery, chemotherapy and my doctors.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, atheist activist
• (Do you support religious freedom?) Oh, absolutely! I feel that everyone has a right to be insane. If they want religious schools, build them! My only problem with that is, do not ask for the land to be tax-free. Do not ask for a government grant to build them. Do not ask for money for teacher's salaries, or more books, or anything else. Just go ahead and do your thing, and do it yourself.
• We are born, we live, we die. During our life we have moments of great pleasure, happiness and wonder. We have moments of pain, sadness and loss. None of it has a supernatural cause. Make the most your existence, it's the only one you get.
• The Vatican is instructing its priests all over the world, including those in AIDS ravaged countries in Africa and Asia, to condemn condom use. From Nicaragua to Kenya and the Philippines, where AIDS is raging like wildfire, the lie is the same: the church says condoms can kill. This is nothing new. The Vatican just really, really loathes condoms. And sex. And homosexuals. And women. And anything that might inhibit procreation, or that in a any way empowers people to take control over their reproductive options, or that might somehow loosen the church's viselike grip.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), author and humorist
• Faith is believing something you know ain't so.
• A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.
• I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious - unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.
• It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
• Man is a marvelous curiosity - he thinks he is the Creator's pet - he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea. - Letters from the Earth
• One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed in it. They have also believed the world was flat. - Notebook
General Marquis De Lafayette, 1789
• If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.
• It is simply astounding that a species that has conquered space, split the atom, figured out the essentials of where it came from evolutionarily, and has invented democracy, is currently in the hands of a bunch of [people] who still believe in the literal reading of a book written by [people] several thousand years ago! How can we vote into office, support, and take seriously a political class that on the one hand uses computers and airplanes, but on the other firmly believes in the actual existence of heaven and hell, concepts obviously invented by primitive human beings who slaughtered each other with swords and arrows? How much longer are we going to leave the future of the world in the hands of deluded minds who are so sure of their own viewpoint that they constantly affirm God is on their side (on all of their sides, of course)?
Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor
• Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
• Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
• All religions have been made by men.
• As for myself, I do not believe that such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed; but as the people are inclined to superstition, it is proper not to oppose them.
• How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of surfeit, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares 'God wills it thus.'
Neil deGrasse Tyson
• What comedian designer configured the region between our legs - an entertainment complex built around a sewage system?
Olof Palme, Swedish prime minister
• Human beings will find a balanced situation when they do good things not because God says it, but because they feel like doing them.
Oscar Wilde, author
• When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.
• Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
• Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet, thrown out of Oxford University in 1810 for writing the essay, The Necessity of Atheism
• If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced.
• It is easier to suppose that the universe has existed for all eternity than to conceive a being beyond its limits capable of creating it.
Peter William Atkins, renowned British chemist and commentator
• Religion closes off the central questions of existence by attempting to dissuade us from further inquiry by asserting that we cannot ever hope to comprehend. Through fear of being shown to be vacuous, religion denies the awesome power of human comprehension. It seeks to thwart, by encouraging awe in things unseen, the disclosure of the emptiness of faith. Religion, in contrast to science, deploys the view that the world is too big for our understanding. Science, in contrast to religion, opens up the great questions of being to rational discussion, to discussion with the prospect of resolution and elucidation. Science respects the power of the human intellect. Science is the apotheosis of the intellect and the consummation of the Renaissance. Science respects more deeply the potential of humanity than religion ever can.
• Primitive Middle Eastern religions are much the same - Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
• Religion is not nice, it kills: it is toxic in the places where the people really believe it - it is there in the born-again Christian fundamentalism demanded of every US politician - it drives on the murderous Islamic jihadists. It makes mad the biblical land-grabbing Israeli settlers. It threatens nuclear nemesis between the Hindus and Muslims along the India-Pakistan border. It still hurls pipe bombs on the Ulster streets. The Falun Gong are killed for it, extremist Sikhs die for it too. The Pope kills millions through his reckless spreading of AIDS. When absolute God given righteousness beckons, blood flows and women are in chains.
Pope Benedict XVI Spoken in 2006 at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp
• In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?
• Everyone foolishly assumes that his clock alone tells correct time. The entire world is being driven insane by this single phrase: My religion alone is true.
R.B. Stewart, On the Origin of Gods
• Since the beginning of consciousness, Man's fear of the unknown has given rise to the invention of mythical, omnipotent deities to shield him from all real or imagined pestilence and suffering. Man refers to these omnipresent and all encompassing guardians as gods.
Rebecca Ann Parker
• God requires his son to suffer in order to save the world. That is an image of God as a child abuser, and Jesus is imagined as the perfect victim. He accepts the abuse and does it silently. He is praised in his religious community for accepting abuse as the highest form of love. If this is the virtue of God's son, how is the victim of the priest's abuse going to find justification for raising a protest? How is the church going to see the perpetrators of abuse clearly if it can't see its own conceptualization of God clearly?
Richard Burton, Welsh actor
• The more I read about man and his maniacal ruthlessness and his murderous envious scatological soul, the more I realize that he will never change. Our stupidity is immortal, nothing will change it. The same mistakes, the same prejudices, the same injustice, the same lusts wheel endlessly around the parade ground of the centuries. Immutable and ineluctable. I wish I could believe in a god of some kind but I simply cannot.
• The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, and capriciously malevolent bully – but he loves you.
• Are you telling me that the only reason you don't steal and rape and murder is that you're frightened of God?
• Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
• The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
• Modern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the golden calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
• Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one.
• I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
Richard A. Weatherwax
• You do not need the bible to justify love, but no better tool has been invented to justify hate.
Robert Anton Wilson
• The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.
Robert Frost, poet
• I turned to speak to God,
About the world's despair;
But to make bad matters worse,
I found God wasn't there.
Robert Green Ingersoll, politician and lecturer
• The inspiration of the Bible depends on the ignorance of the person who reads it.
• Fear believes - courage doubts. Fear falls up the earth and prays - courage stands erect and thinks. Fear is barbarism - courage is civilization. Fear believes in witchcraft, devils and ghosts. Fear is religion, courage is science.
• Hands that help are far better then lips that pray.
• For the most part we inherit our opinions. We are the heirs of habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the fashion of our garments, depend on where we were born. We are molded and fashioned by our surroundings.If we had been born in Constantinople, then most of us would have said: 'There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.' If our parents had lived on the banks of the Ganges, we would have been worshipers of Siva, longing for the heaven of Nirvana. As a rule, children love their parents, believe what they teach, and take great pride in saying that the religion of mother is good enough for them.
• God did not reward men for being honest, generous and brave, but for the act of faith. Without faith, all the so-called virtues were sins. And the men who practiced these virtues, without faith, deserved to suffer eternal pain. All of these comforting and reasonable things were taught by the ministers in their pulpits - by teachers in Sunday schools and by parents at home. The children were victims. They were assaulted in the cradle - in their mother's arms. Then, the schoolmaster carried on the war against their natural sense, and all the books they read were filled with the same impossible truths. The poor children were helpless. The atmosphere they breathed was filled with lies - lies that mingled with their blood.
• Religion supports nobody. It has to be supported. It lives on the labor of others, and then as the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver.
• Human love is generous and noble. The love of God is selfish, because man does not love God for God's sake, but for his own.
Robert Heinlen, science-fiction author
• History does not record anywhere or 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.
• Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Robert Owen, in Cardiff's What Great Men Think of Religion
• Finding that no religion is based on facts and cannot therefore be true, I began to reflect what must be the condition of mankind trained from infancy to believe in errors.
• When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.
Ruth Hurmence Green
• It is possible to pull out justification for imposing your will on others, simply by calling your will God's will.
• If the concept of a father who plots to have his own son put to death is presented to children as beautiful and worthy of society's admiration, what types of human behavior can be presented to them as reprehensible?
Sam Harris, author, The End of Faith
• Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give such evidence. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.
• Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education. That so many of us are still dying on account of ancient myths is as bewildering as it is horrible, and our own attachment to these myths, whether moderate or extreme, has kept us silent in the face of developments that could ultimately destroy us. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past.
• It is time we acknowledged that no real foundation exists within the canons of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any of our other faiths for religious tolerance and religious diversity.
• By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally. I've read the books. God is not a moderate.
• No one is ever faulted in our culture for not ‘respecting' another person's beliefs about mathematics or history - when people make outlandish claims, without evidence, we stop listening to them-except on matters of faith.
• Pretending to know things that you do not know is a profound liability in science. You get punished for this rather quickly. But, pretending to know things that you do not know is the lifeblood of faith based religion.
• Anyone who things western or Israeli imperialism solves the riddle of Muslim violence must explain why we don't see Tibetan suicide bombers killing Chinese children. The Tibetans have suffered every bit as much as the Palestinians. Where are the throngs of Tibetans seething with hatred, calling for the deaths of the Chinese? What is the difference that makes the difference? Religion.
Scott Mertreb, after researching world religions
• They each provide a manual on how to be a good person. But, they're just man-made tools devised to control people.
Seneca, Roman philosopher
• Religion is regarded by the common as true, by the wise as false, and by the powerful as useful.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst
• Neither in my private life nor in my writings, have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever.
• Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.
• The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life.
• The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.
• We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
• The universe is governed by scientific laws. These laws must hold without exceptions, or they wouldn't be laws. That doesn't leave room for Miracles or God. I regard the afterlife to be a fairy story for people that are afraid of the dark.
• There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority; science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.
• I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
• The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything - nothing is left to chance - logic can be happily tossed out the window.
• What I no longer understand, looking back on my life as a Christian, is the capacity to believe in something so outlandish as the existence of an Almighty God - much less one who created us all one by one, cherishes our immortal souls, intervenes on behalf of those who call upon his name, and holds a place for his faithful in an everlasting paradise. None of us has ever seen this being; none of us has ever heard him, except in the silence of our own heads; none of us can produce a piece of evidence as large as a mustard seed that what we think of as God is anything more than a thought. Our scientists can see stars that have been dead for a billion years; they can document microscopic bacteria that concluded their brief lives on earth eons ago. But of God we have no trace, except for the testimony of scribes writing of events neither they nor those around them ever witnessed - and the faith of millions of people who have managed to convince themselves that he lives and reigns somewhere in the sky.
Steven Weinberg, American physicist & Nobel Laureate
• With or without religion, 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.
• Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that it is inevitable that they will find God wherever they look for him. One hears it said that 'God is the ultimate' or 'God is our better nature' or 'God is the universe'. Of course, like any other word, the word 'God' can be given any meaning we like. If you want to say 'God is energy', then you can find God in a lump of coal.
Susan B. Anthony, suffragist
• I was born a heretic. I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows.
• I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
• Come on, if your religion is so vulnerable that a little bit of disrespect is going to bring it down, it's not worth believing in frankly.
Thomas Edison, inventor
• Religion is all bunk.
• I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul. No, all this talk of an existence for us, as individuals, beyond the grave is wrong. It is born of our tenacity of life - our desire to go on living - our dread of coming to an end.
Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist, coined the term 'agnostic.'
• Henceforward, I might hope to hear no more of the assertion that we [Agnostics] are necessarily Materialists, Idealists, Atheists, Theists, or any other ists, if experience had led me to think that the proved falsity of a statement was any guarantee against its reputation. Those who appreciate the nature of our position will see, at once, that when Ecclesiasticism declares that we ought to believe this, that, and the other, and are very wicked if we don't, it is impossible for us to give any answer but this: We have not the slightest objection to believe anything you like, if you will give us good grounds for belief; but, if you cannot, we must respectfully refuse, even if that refusal should wreck morality and insure our own damnation several times over. We are quite content to leave that decision to the future. The course of the past has impressed us with the firm conviction that no good ever comes out of falsehood, and we feel warranted in refusing even to experiment in that direction. - Agnosticism and Christianity
• Religion is not merely the opium of the masses, it's the cyanide.
Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch painter
• I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am - the power to create.
Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) French author and playwright, crusader against religious cruelty and injustice. In Voltaire's time it was forbidden to be an Atheist. Admitting to be one, brought the death sentence. Hence he was a Deist for most of his life.
• Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.
• Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.
• Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.
• Superstition, born of paganism and adopted by Judaism, invested the Christian Church from earliest times. All the fathers of the Church, without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always condemned magic, but she always believed in it: she did not excommunicate sorcerers as madmen who were mistaken, but as men who were really in communication with the devil.
• Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
• As long as people continue to believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.
• What can we say to a man who tells you that he would rather obey God than men, and that therefore he is sure to go to heaven for butchering you? Even the law is impotent against these attacks of rage; it is like reading a court decree to a raving maniac.
• Prayers never bring anything - they may bring solace to the sap, the bigot, the ignorant, the aboriginal, and the lazy - but to the enlightened it is the same as asking Santa Claus to bring you something for Christmas.
• How do you choose between believing in Jesus, Bigfoot, leprechauns, witchcraft, Islam, alien abductions, the Tooth Fairy, gold at the end of the rainbow, or the myriad other assertions that people have made over the course of human history?
• Faith is like rolling the dice and hoping you have placed your faith in a true proposition. However, if you are still inclined to place faith in an un-provable assertion, then I am God, send me money.
William Gascoyne, after 9/11
• I'm not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I've seen what it can do to skyscrapers.
William Howard Taft, US President
• I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.
• Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
• The world we live in is so fascinating that we don't need to make up fairy tales about it - except to entertain us as works of fiction.
• Religion is certainly an 'easier' way to live, as thought is not required, and is in fact, actively discouraged.
• Jews bow their heads, Christians get down on their knees, Muslims get down on their knees with their asses in the air. Atheists hold their heads up proudly and kneel to no one and no thing.
• If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing.
• Even if God does exist - I won't worship him. Any god that allows a child to be raped and murdered, then to hell with him.
• I refuse to believe there is this great head coach in the sky calling the shots. If that were the case, he should be fired and we should look for a new coach.
• This gracious benevolent God will send me to hell for not believing in him? That's one almighty ego.
• I was once very religious and had so much confusion and prejudice in my mind. Once I abandoned religion, I became much more accepting of people.
• If God had meant us to have faith, he'd have given us lobotomies.
• Faith is comfort but doubt is education.
• It's belief that creates God(s), not the other way around. You only have to stop believing to verify this fact.
• Think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
• If you could reason with religious people: there would be no religious people.
• I live to live. Its not about what happens to my body after death, but rather, what I contributed to of consumed from the earth. That gives me the inspiration and hope to fulfill my humane nature that no fairy tale story ever has.
• Religions are simply man-made mechanisms of psychological control.
Famous Agnostics, Atheists, Deists, Freethinkers, & Humanists
Compiled from several sources. If you have suggestions for additions and deletions, please email me. Thanks.
Walt Disney: He was not a member of any religion and did not attend services. Also, he had an entirely secular funeral. It was very private and off-limits to the press, perhaps to conceal that it was not religious. There is no "In God we Trust" on Disney Dollars.
Katharine Hepburn: "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people."
Thomas Paine: A deist who was extremely critical of organized religion. Theodore Roosevelt called him a 'filthy little atheist.' He is probably the most illustrious American Revolutionary uncommemorated by a monument in Washington DC. The Age of Reason also attacks Christianity as a system of superstition that "produces fanatics" and "serves the purposes of despotism."
Frank Lloyd Wright "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."
Links to other religious essays
Jim's spiritual journey