“The key to understanding who and what we are is that our futures, as individuals, societies or cultures, are not fixed or pre-ordained by some hidden hand of god; that what will become of us depends in part on what we choose to become.”
“As a set of cognitive beliefs, religious doctrines constitute a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.”
“ . . . 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.”
“Atheism is the vice of a few intelligent people.
There are no sects in geometry.
The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.
Sect and error are synonymous.
Common sense is not so common.”
“It is pure illusion to think that an opinion which passes down from century to century to century, from generation to generation, may not be entirely false.”
"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."
“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.”
“Christianity persecuted, tortured, and burned. Like a hound it tracked the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars, and nursed furious hatreds and ambitions. It sanctified, quite like Mohammedanism, extermination and tyranny . . . ”
" . . . have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? How could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible? What else than what we can find could be expected, in the case of people having little knowledge and no secure method of knowing; with primitive institutions, and with so little control of natural forces that they lived in a constant state of fear?"
“It’s irrational to fear what death will feel like if you know it won’t feel like anything, but it doesn’t follow that it is irrational to fear death. It’s not irrational to look forward to the pleasures of living, and if we know that death will take these away, the fear of losing those pleasures doesn’t seem irrational either.”
"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."
“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.”
“The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair.”
“On the available evidence we have about how the world works, we have to say that we’re alone, there is no God.”
“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.'"
"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."
“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.”
“A large proportion of the noblest and most valuable teaching has been the work, not only of men who did not know, but of men who knew and rejected the Christian faith.”
“Religion has been compelled by science to give up one after another of its dogmas, of those assumed cognitions which it could not substantiate..”
“. . . The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.”
“Now I have to say I'm a complete atheist. I have no religious views myself and no spiritual views, except very watered down humanistic spiritual views. And consciousness is just a fact of life. It's a natural fact of life.”
“[W]ith an absolute God, his word revealed and his will eternal, how could relativity in ethics get anywhere with them?”
“It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.”
“Seeing there are no signs nor fruit of religion but in man only, there is no cause to doubt but that the seed of religion is also only in man. . .”
“Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind or imagined from tales publicly allowed, RELIGION; not allowed, SUPERSTITION.”
“They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.”
"[A]ccording to the unanimous testimony of traders, philosophers, navigators and missionaries, there exists a by no means small number of peoples, who have either no trace of religious belief, or who have it in so strange and imperfect a form that it scarcely deserves the name of religion. If there are, therefore, many philosophers and naturalists who look to 'religiosity,' and more particularly to the idea of God as the distinctive feature of humanity, the contention referred to must either be false, or we must make up our minds to deny human character to by no means a small number of actual and undoubted specimens of mankind."
“ . . . I've come to realize it's time to sound the alarm.
Whether we brights are a minority or, as I am inclined to believe, a silent majority, our deepest convictions are increasingly dismissed, belittled and condemned by those in power -- by politicians who go out of their way to invoke God and to stand, self-righteously preening, on what they call 'the side of the angels.'
. . . Politicians don't think they even have to pay us lip service, and leaders who wouldn't be caught dead making religious or ethnic slurs don't hesitate to disparage the 'godless' among us.
From the White House down, bright-bashing is seen as a low-risk vote-getter. And, of course, the assault isn't only rhetorical: the Bush administration has advocated changes in government rules and policies to increase the role of religious organizations in daily life, a serious subversion of the Constitution. It is time to halt this erosion and to take a stand: the United States is not a religious state, it is a secular state that tolerates all religions and--yes--all manner of nonreligious ethical beliefs as well.”
“If faith cannot be reconciled with rational thinking, it has to be eliminated as an anachronistic remnant of earlier stages of culture and replaced by science dealing with facts and theories which are intelligible and can be validated.”
“. . . sweep away the whole fiction of an intelligent former world and a future state; . . . call men off from those incoherent and contradictory dreams, that so often occupy their thoughts, and vainly agitate their fears; and . . . lead them to apply their whole energy to practical objects and genuine realities.”
“Now when I perceived that they [modern divines] resolved the causes of eternal salvation or damnation only to the good pleasure of God, and the death of Christ; I found that their opinion was grounded not on reason, but some peremptory decrees, which no body did pretend to know, and I could not think that they were so privy to the secret counsels of God, as to be able to establish any thing for certain; wherefore I left them, as entertaining mean, base, and unworthy thoughts of the most good and great God, and mankind in general."
“No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion.
. . . in no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.”
“My object in presenting the case against Christianity is theoretical, not practical. I am not so naïve as to suppose that the arguments set forth here will induce many people to give up their Christian beliefs. My claim is simply that in light of my discussion rational people should give up these beliefs.”
"Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value."
“Since experiences of God are good grounds for the existence of God, are not experiences of the absence of God good grounds for the nonexistence of God?”
"All religions promise a reward for excellences of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding."
“All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but which is based on observed facts.”
“I persist in preferring philosophers to rabbis, priests, imams, ayatollahs, and mullahs. Rather than trust their theological hocus-pocus, I prefer to draw on alternatives to the dominant philosophical historiography: the laughers, materialists, radicals, cynics, hedonists, atheists, sensualists, voluptuaries. They know that there is only one world, and that promotion of an afterlife deprives us of the enjoyment and benefit of the only one there is. A genuinely deadly sin.”