“As the years went on I gradually transmogrified from being an evolutionary biologist to an evolutionary biologist atheist and now I'm more of an atheist than an evolutionary biologist. I realized that creationism, the opposition to evolution, is the least of our worries that religion promulgates, compared to someone throwing acid in the face of a schoolgirl in Afghanistan.”
“I don’t care if religious people consider me amoral because I lack their beliefs in God. I do, however, care deeply about efforts to turn religious beliefs into law, and those efforts benefit greatly from the conviction that individually and collectively, we cannot be good without God.”
“I can relate [to Spanish King Charles II’s belief that the corpse of St. Francis of Assissi would cure his various illnesses]. . . . I crave my relics for the same reason Señor Bewitched bunked with the late saint. We’re religious. I used to share the king’s faith. And while I gave up God a long time ago, I never shook the habit of wanting to believe in something bigger and better than myself. So I replaced my creed of everlasting life with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ‘I believe in America,’ chants the first verse of one of my sacred texts, The Godfather.'”
"When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?'"
“When a mere girl, my mother offered me a dollar if I would read the Bible through; . . . . despairing of reconciling many of its absurd statements with even my childish philosophy, . . . I became a sceptic, doubter, and unbeliever, long ere the 'Good Book' was ended.”
“ . . . In all parts of our globe, fanatics have cut each other's throats, publicly burnt each other, committed without a scruple and even as a duty, the greatest crimes, and shed torrents of blood . . .
Savage and furious nations, perpetually at war, adore, under divers names, some God, conformable to their ideas, that is to say, cruel, carnivorous, selfish, blood-thirsty. We find, in all the religions, 'a God of armies,' a 'jealous God,' an 'avenging God,' a 'destroying God,' a 'God,' who is pleased with carnage, and whom his worshippers consider it a duty to serve. Lambs, bulls, children, men, and women, are sacrificed to him. Zealous servants of this barbarous God think themselves obliged even to offer up themselves as a sacrifice to him. Madmen may everywhere be seen, who, after meditating upon their terrible God, imagine that to please him they must inflict on themselves, the most exquisite torments. The gloomy ideas formed of the deity, far from consoling them, have every where disquieted their minds, and prejudiced follies destructive to happiness.
How could the human mind progress, while tormented with frightful phantoms, and guided by men, interested in perpetuating its ignorance and fears? Man has been forced to vegetate in his primitive stupidity: he has been taught stories about invisible powers upon whom his happiness was supposed to depend. Occupied solely by his fears, and by unintelligible reveries, he has always been at the mercy of priests, who have reserved to themselves the right of thinking for him, and of directing his actions.”
“Prayers are to men as dolls are to children. They are not without use and comfort, but it is not easy to take them very seriously.”
There are Atheists in foxholes
Atheists in hurricanes
There are Atheists in all the roles
Denied by your refrains
Atheists are your fellow citizens
People who love and laugh and cry
Atheists are your relatives and friends
Don't insult them with a lie
Atheists in many foxholes served
And some have had to die
Give Atheists the thanks deserved
Don't dismiss them with a lie
Atheists are all around you
They work, they help, they care
And no matter what you think is true
Atheists are everywhere
And no matter what you think is true
They do not want your prayer
“Almost all the great poets have conversations in their poetry about doubting God, and even go all the way to dismissing. It’s such a strong tradition that it’s almost amazing that we’ve missed it.”
“I’m a total atheist, and for me it’s just about trying to find something that rises above the banal day-to-day bullshit of living.”
“I do want to add a final word about the hereafter. I do not believe in it. I think that the religions which promise various after-life scenarios basically invented them to meet the longing for an answer to life’s mysteries.”
“I had left God behind years ago. I was an atheist. . . . From now on I could step firmly on the ground that was under my feet and navigate based on my own reason and self-respect. My moral compass was within myself, not in the pages of a sacred book. . . .
All life is problem solving . . . There are no absolutes; progress comes through critical thought. . . . Reason, not obedience, should guide our lives. Though it took centuries to crumble, the entire ossified cage of European social hierarchy--from kings to serfs, and between men and women, all of it shored up by the Catholic Church--was destroyed by this thought.”
“I took a sheet of paper, divided it into debt and credit columns on the arguments for and against God and immortality. On Christmas Eve I wrote 'bankrupt' at the foot. And it was on Christmas morning 1895, after I had celebrated three Masses, while the bells of the parish church were ringing out the Christmas message of peace, that, with great pain, I found myself far out from the familiar land--homeless, aimlessly drifting. But the bells were right after all; from that hour on I have been wholly free from the nightmare of doubt that had lain on me for ten years.”
“If some good evidence for life after death were announced, I'd be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data, not mere anecdote. As with the face on Mars and alien abductions, better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy. And in the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.”
“Does history support a belief in God? If by God we mean not the creative vitality of nature but a supreme being intelligent and benevolent, the answer must be a reluctant negative.”
"In the spring and with the coming of Easter, an old man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of gods. I am now 83 pushing 84 and the closer I come to shuffling off this mortal coil, the more mystified I am by Christian belief in the deity they call by the not very original name of God (as if there had never been others).
All gods from time immemorial are fantasies, created by humans for the welfare of humans and to attempt to explain the seemingly inexplicable. But do we, in the third year of the 21st century of the Common Era and on the springboard of colonising the universe, need such palliatives?
Wherever one looks there is conflict: Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland; Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine; Muslims and Hindus in the Indian subcontinent; Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Is not the case for atheism made?"
"To the absurd myths of God and an immortal soul, the modern world in its radical impotence has only succeeded in opposing the ridiculous myths of science and progress."
"I do not believe in God. It seems to me that theists of all kinds have very largely failed to make their concept of a deity intelligible; and to the extent that they have made it intelligible, they have given us no reason to think that anything answers to it."
“Were there atheists in foxholes during World War II? Of course, as can be verified by my dogtags . . . A veteran of Omaha Beach in 1944, I insisted upon including ‘None’ instead of P, C, or J as my religious affiliation.”
“Religion itself is without genius. There is no religious genius, and no one would be permitted to distinguish between the talented and the untalented in religion.”
“I grew up an atheist. I make no secret of it. It was acceptable. In fact, when I think back, none of my friends were believers. None of them were religious; maybe a few were believers. But very few were religious in temperament.”
“I am committed to science and believe it to be the best way to understand the world . . . I know of no good evidence for the existence of God.”
"I don’t profess any religion; I don’t think it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality.' "
“‘God's plan' is often a front for men's plans and a cover for inadequacy, ignorance, and evil.”
"As a historian, I confess to a certain amusement when I hear the Judeo-Christian tradition praised as the source of our concern for human rights. In fact, the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense. They were notorious not only for acquiescence in poverty, inequality, exploitation and oppression but for enthusiastic justifications of slavery, persecution, abandonment of small children, torture, genocide."
“The Bible illustrated by Dore occupied many of my hours--and I think probably gave me many nightmares.”
“My father was a Catholic deacon, my mother was a lay minister and I thought about becoming a priest. I was in church every Sunday for the first 15 years of my life. Now I spend my Sundays on my bike, on my snowboard or on my husband. I haven’t spent my post-Catholic decades in a sulk, wishing the church would come around on the issue of homosexuality so that I could start attending Mass again. I didn’t abandon my faith. I saw through it. The conflict between my faith and my sexuality set that process in motion, but the conclusions I reached at the end of that process—there are no gods, religion is man-made, faith can be a force for good or evil—improved my life. I’m grateful that my sexuality prompted me to think critically about faith. Pushed out? No. I walked out.”
“Let there be no doubt that as they are currently practiced, there is no common ground between science and religion.”
“Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.' This stranger is a theologian.”
“I prefer to be an agnostic and think that the body itself produces its own miracle.”
“For a man to be a true believer and to be strong and independent is impossible; religion and self-sufficiency are contradictory terms.”
"The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.”
"Indeed Christianity passes. Passes—it has gone! It has littered the beaches of life with churches, cathedrals, shrines and crucifixes, prejudices and intolerances, like the sea urchin and starfish and empty shells and lumps of stinging jelly upon the sands here after a tide. A tidal wave out of Egypt. And it has left a multitude of little wriggling theologians and confessors and apologists hopping and burrowing in the warm nutritious sand. But in the hearts of living men, what remains of it now? Doubtful scraps of Arianism. Phrases. Sentiments. Habits."
“You would consider me an atheist or agnostic. I find religion and spirituality fascinating. I would like to believe this isn’t the end and there’s something more, but I can’t convince the rational part of me that that makes any sense whatsoever.”
“For tens of thousands of years, humans have stared up into the heavens and wondered about the origin of the universe. Up until now every culture, society, and religion has had nothing else to turn to except its creation myths, fables, or religious scriptures. Today, by contrast, we have the extraordinary privilege of being the first generation of our species to have access to a scientific theory of the universe that explains its origin and evolution.”
“Skepticism is my nature, freethought is my methodology, agnosticism is my conclusion after 25 years of being in the ministry, and atheism is my opinion.”
“I had nearly forgotten how death plays out over time — not the biological episode that collapses it all into a nanosecond of being and nonbeing, but the slower arc of our leaving — sorting through the mail, paying the bills, stumbling upon notes. . . Have I no more than these solicitations, the invitations, these letters delivered late? I do. I have memories. I have places where I feel both his closeness and his distance. And I have the all-too-brief visitations allowed in dreams. For the nonbeliever I’ve become, it is what passes for an afterlife.”
“Malcolm is an agnostic and didn't want to be married in church."
“Religious mysticism is intellectual garbage. It’s a vestige of the old superstitious Dark Ages when nobody knew anything and the whole world was sinking deeper and deeper into filth and disease and poverty and ignorance. It is one of those delusions that isn’t called insane only because there are so many people involved.”
“I have no religion in the formal sense of the word . . . I have no race except that which is forced upon me. I have no country except that to which I'm obliged to belong. I have no traditions. I'm free. I have only the future.”
“The court’s right wing seems determined to chip away at the wall of separation by limiting the right of citizens to challenge governmental actions that favor Christianity over other religions and over the views of citizens who do not subscribe to any religion.”
“Men who had not progressed as far as we have tried to interpret [evolution] some two thousand years ago. It is not strange that they made mistakes. They were ignorant and superstitious.”
"Human society is born in the shadow of religious fear, and in that stage the suppression of heresy is a sacred social duty. Then comes the rise of a priesthood, and the independent thinker is met with punishment in this world and the threat of eternal damnation hereafter. Even today it is from the religious side that the greatest danger to freedom of thought comes. Religion is the last thing man will civilize."
Cover thy spacious heavens, Zeus,
With clouds of mist,
And, like the boy who lops
The thistles' heads,
Disport with oaks and mountain-peaks,
Yet thou must leave
My earth still standing;
My cottage too, which was not raised by thee;
Leave me my hearth,
Whose kindly glow
By thee is envied.
I know nought poorer
Under the sun, than ye gods!
Ye nourish painfully,
And votive prayers,
Ye would e'en starve,
If children and beggars
Were not trusting fools.
While yet a child
And ignorant of life,
I turned my wandering gaze
Up tow'rd the sun, as if with him
There were an ear to hear my wailings,
A heart, like mine,
To feel compassion for distress.
Who help'd me
Against the Titans' insolence?
Who rescued me from certain death,
Didst thou not do all this thyself,
My sacred glowing heart?
And glowedst, young and good,
Deceived with grateful thanks
To yonder slumbering one?
I honour thee! and why?
Hast thou e'er lighten'd the sorrows
Of the heavy laden?
Hast thou e'er dried up the tears
Of the anguish-stricken?
Was I not fashion'd to be a man
By omnipotent Time,
And by eternal Fate,
Masters of me and thee?
Didst thou e'er fancy
That life I should learn to hate,
And fly to deserts,
Because not all
My blossoming dreams grew ripe?
Here sit I, forming mortals
After my image;
A race resembling me,
To suffer, to weep,
To enjoy, to be glad,
And thee to scorn,
“ . . . [A]re not all the television Christians in reality armchair atheists? In value and in reality they live without the God they profess; despite ten million Bibles sold each year, they are religiously illiterate.”
“According to your belief [Christian clergy], my kind of man — secular, prideful, agnostic and all the rest of it — is among the damned. I'm on my own. You've got your God.”
'S-h-h!' said Delia. 'God did.'
'I don't believe it,' I announced flatly.
'Well,' said Delia, 'anyway, he makes us sleep.'
This I also challenged. 'Then why am I sleepier when I go to church evenings than when I play Hide-and-go-seek in the Brice's barn evenings?' I submitted.
"If I was promised that we could sit with Marx in some great Deli Haus in the hereafter, I might believe in it! Sure, I find inspiration in Jewish stories of hope, also in the Christian pacifism of the Berrigans, also in Taoism and Buddhism. I identify as a Jew, but not on religious grounds. Yes, I believe, as Pascal said, 'The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.' There are limits to reason. There is mystery, there is passion, there is something spiritual in the arts—but it is not connected to Judaism or any other religion."
“Every denial of education, every refusal of advantages to women, may be traced to this dogma [of original sin], which first began to spread its baleful influence with the rise of the power of the priesthood and the corruption of the early Church.”
“I do not borrow ideas. I have a factory of my own.”
“I do not believe in putting out the sun to keep weeds from growing.”
“With soap, baptism is a good thing.”
“[Of William Jennings Bryan] He talks, but he does not think.”
“[Tom Brazaitis] was a fallen-away Catholic who in the last years of his life proudly embraced atheism. And he did not flinch those last few months [of his life].”
“Superstition is the tyranny of tyrannies, and its priests the tyrants of tyrants.”
“[The Catholic church] remains rooted in the past, an autocratic structure through which the pope and bishops make all decisions, and their constituents follow them without question.”
“. . . [the profession of the Christian faith is] a system of the grossest hypocrisy, a fashionable villainy, a licensed swindle, cheat, and trick. . .
. . . go to church and chapel, you fools, -- listen to the parson, and shut your eyes, and open your mouths, and see what God will send you.
Never was the day, never, in all the tide of time, in which such mighty efforts were made to keep mankind in ignorance; never were any clergy on earth, Pagan or Papistical, so opposed to the diffusion of knowledge, so desperately afraid of it, and so bitterly hostile to it, as the Protestant clergy, both of the established church, and the dissenters of the present day, in this metropolis.”
“If the concept of God has any validity or use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of him.”
“On the available evidence we have about how the world works, we have to say that we’re alone, there is no God.”
“I’m so fed up with being told that I’m a bad person because I don’t subscribe to the same exact narrow views [Christians] have.”
"Why burn? The answer is simple. Read the Bible — the Koran — the theologians and philosophers of the world."
“If your Bible is an argument for the degradation of woman, and the abuse by whipping of little children, I advise you to put it away, and use your common sense instead.”
“If we must play the theological game, let us never forget that it is a game. Religion, it seems to me, can survive only as a consciously accepted system of make-believe . . .
You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion . . . Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.”
“The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ . . . To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason.
. . .
Thus the effectiveness of a doctrine should not be judged by its profundity, sublimity or the validity of the truths it embodies, but by how thoroughly it insulates the individual from his self and the world as it is. What Pascal said of an effective religion is true of any effective doctrine: It must be 'contrary to nature, to common sense and to pleasure.'"
“[Vern Bullough] will be sorely missed as one of the leading secular humanists in North America and the world.”
"The atmosphere of piety in American public life has become stifling. Where is it written that if you don't like religion you are somehow disqualified from being a legitimate American? I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as god."
“The last superstition of the human mind is the superstition that religion in itself is a good thing, though it might be free from dogma. I believe, however, that the religious feeling, as feeling, is wrong, and the civilized man will have nothing to do with it . . . [When the] shadow of religion disappeared forever . . . I felt that I was free from a disease.”
“The Use of the Understanding, in endeavouring to find out the Meaning of any Proposition whatsoever, in considering the nature and Evidence for or against it, and in judging of it according to the seeming Force or Weakness of the Evidence.”
But all this was shattered with the impact of the war, and then with the rapid postwar social changes in our corner of London. I myself, traumatized at Braefield, had lost touch with, lost interest in, the religion of my childhood. I regret that I was to lose it as early and as abruptly as I did, and this feeling of sadness or nostalgia was strangely admixed with a raging atheism, a sort of fury with God for not existing, not taking care, not preventing the war, but allowing it, and all its horrors, to occur.
As I write, in New York in mid-December, the city is full of Christmas trees and menorahs. I would be inclined to say, as an old Jewish atheist, that these things mean nothing to me, but Hannukah songs are evoked in my mind whenever an image of a menorah impinges on my retina, even when I am not consciously aware of it.
Aware of light and yet condemned to grope
Through dark regression's cave, told she must find
Life's purpose in that blackness, without hope,
Denied the luminescence of her mind
Until, at last, she finds the darkness kind,
Religion's child--a babe once bright and fair,
Curls up, tucks in her tail, and says her prayer.
“Religion and politics are supposed to be separate.”
“We have our hands, we have our brains, we have the challenge all around us, and we have within (from whatever source) the will to strive. That is enough; there is no need to assert 'belief' in that which we do not, as yet, know.”
"I don't believe in the existence of God, so it makes no sense to me to say that a human being is a creature of God. It's as simple as that."
"There is no argument worthy of the name that will justify the union of the Christian religion with the State. Every consideration of justice and equality forbids it. Every argument in favor of free Republican institutions is equally an argument in favor of a complete divorce of the State from the Church. History in warning tones tells us there can be no liberty without it. Justice demands it. Public safety requires it. He who opposes it is, whether he realizes it or not, an enemy of freedom. ”
Once we thought the earth was flat--
What of that?
It was just as globos then
Under believing men
As our later folks have found it,
By success in running round it;
What we think may guide our acts,
But it does not alter facts.
“. . . the very fears and guilts imposed by religious training are responsible for some of history's most brutal wars, crusades, pogroms, 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.”
“ . . . the mysteries, on belief in which theology would hang the destinies of mankind, are cunningly devised fables whose origin and growth are traceable to the age of Ignorance, the mother of credulity.”
“Whoever dares to say: 'Outside the Church is no salvation,' ought to be driven from the State.
But I am mistaken in speaking of a Christian republic; the terms are mutually exclusive. Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a regime. True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not much mind: this short life counts for too little in their eyes.”
“I do not believe in God, because I believe in man. Whatever his mistakes, man has for thousands of years been working to undo the botched job your god has made. There are . . . some potentates I would kill by any and all means at my disposal. They are Ignorance, Superstition, and Bigotry--the most sinister and tyrannical rulers on earth.”