Religion

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Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
Guillaume Apollinaire
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See also Religious and Irreligious for additional quotations on religion.

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A through L

  • A legal religion is insufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God. ~ Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (1896), p. 53
  • A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; 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. ~ Albert Einstein
  • A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. ~ Joseph Smith Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137
  • If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. ~ Voltaire
  • All Faith is false, all Faith is true:
    Truth is the shattered mirror strewen
    In myriad bits; while each believes
    his little bit the whole to own. ~ Richard Francis Burton
  • All religions are cruel, all founded on blood; for all rest principally on the idea of sacrifice-that is, on the perpetual immolation of humanity to the insatiable vengeance of divinity. ~ Mikhail Bakunin
  • All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. ~ Albert Einstein
  • All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers. ~ Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (1871)
  • America has freedom of religion, although I'm not sure which religion is free. ~ Anonymous
  • Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything--just give him time to rationalize it. Forgive me for being blunt. ~ Robert Heinlein (in Job: A Comedy of Justice)
  • A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it. ~ Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)
  • Born again? No, I am not. Excuse me for getting it right the first time. ~ Dennis Miller
  • But meddle not with any man for his religion: all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God's kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood. ~Joseph Smith History of the Church 6:304
  • Each religion, so dear to those whose life it sanctifies, and fulfilling so necessary a function in the society that has adopted it, necessarily contradicts every other religion, and probably contradicts itself. ~ George Santayana
  • Faith: The opposite of dogmatism. ~ John Ralston Saul
    • Source: The Doubter's Companion — "Faith"
  • For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. ~ Carl Sagan
  • Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature! ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • Government oppressed the body of the wage-slave, but Religion oppressed his mind, and poisoned the stream of progress at its source. ~ Upton Sinclair
    • Source: The Jungle - "Chapter 31"
  • How absurd to try and make two men think alike on matters of religion, when I cannot make two timepieces agree! ~ Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
  • I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue. ~ Bertrand Russell
  • I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • I believe that traditional religious belief and scientific knowledge depict the universe in radically different ways. At the bedrock they are incompatible and mutually exclusive. ~ E.O. Wilson
  • I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. ~ Susan B. Anthony
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. ~ Galileo Galilei
  • I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion is anything to do with argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds. One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it. ~ Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian
  • I feel, like all modern Americans, no consciousness of sin and simply do not believe in it. All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell. That is a final fact of my inner consciousness, and for no religion could I deny its truth. ~ Lin Yutang
  • I have no problem with religion. Except when people follow them religiously. ~ Jonah Fox
  • I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged. ~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Mrs. H. Harrison Smith (1816)
  • I never really hated a one true God, but the God of the people I hated. ~ Marilyn Manson, Disposable Teens
  • I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending. ~ Isaac Asimov
  • If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron. ~ Spider Robinson
  • If religion was a thing that money could buy/ The rich would be saved and the poor would die. ~ Spiritual
  • Incurably religious, that is the best way to describe the mental condition of so many people. ~ Thomas Edison
  • If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. ~ Robert H. Jackson
  • If the believers of the present-day religions would earnestly try to think and act in the spirit of the founders of these religions then no hostility on the basis of religion would exist among the followers of the different faiths. Even the conflicts and the realm of religion would be expoesed as insignificant. ~ Albert Einstein p.96, Albert Einstein-The human side, Princeton university press 1979
  • "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."
    It's an oral history. It was passed down, word-of-mouth, father to son, from Adam to Seth, from Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, for 40 generations, a growing, changing, story, it was handed down, word-of-mouth, father to son. Until Moses finally gets it down on lambskin. But lambskins wear out, and need to be recopied. Copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    From Hebrew it's translated into Arabic, from Arabic to Latin, from Latin to Greek, from Greek to Russian, from Russian to German, from German to an old form of English that you could not read. Through 400 years of evolution of the English language to the book we have today, which is: a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    You can't put a grocery list through that many translations, copies, and re-telling, and not expect to have some big changes in the dinner menu when the kids make it back from Kroger's.
    And yet people are killing each other over this written word. Here's a tip: If you're killing someone in the name of God — you're missing the message. ~ Nick Annis in the preface to God is Good.
  • In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.
  • In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable. ~ Sigmund Freud
  • In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the difference between their own creed and yours; whilst the charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities in all the religions of humanity. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Indeed, I am a free rider, but only in the freedom from one set of cultural traditions usually gathered under the umbrella of religion. But, like everyone else, I face judges that are in their own ways transcendent and powerful: family and friends, colleagues and peers, mentors and teachers, and society at large. My judges may be lowercased and occasionally deceivable, but they are transcendent of me as an individual, even if they are not transcendent of nature; as such, together, we all stand in a long pilgrim community struggling down the evoloutionary and historical ages trying to live and love and learn to temper our temptations and do the right thing. I may be free from God, but the god of nature holds me to her temple of judgment no less than her other creations. I stand before my maker and judge not in some distant and future ethereal world, but in the reality of this world, a world inhabited not by spiritual and supernatural ephemera, but by real people whose lives are directly affected by my actions, and whose actions directly affect my life. ~ Michael Shermer in respone to a review by Michael Novak, discussed in Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil
  • Instead of holding on to the Biblical view that we are made in the image of God, we come to realize that we are made in the image of the monkey... ~ Lin Yutang
  • It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher god. ~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Ralph Mannheim translation, p. 436.
  • It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • It takes a great deal of Christianity to wipe out our uncivilized Eastern instincts, such as falling in love at first sight. ~ Rudyard Kipling
  • It were better to be of no Church, than to be bitter for any. ~ William Penn
  • It is a severe Rebuke upon us, that God makes us so many Allowances, and we make so few to our Neighbor: As if Charity had nothing to do with Religion; Or Love with Faith, that ought to work by it. ~ William Penn
  • Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. ~ Pierre Trudeau
  • "…the primary epiphenomenona of any religion’s foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion’s establishment are the intentions of its founder." ~ Louis de Bernières (in Birds Without Wings)
  • I went to the Garden of Love

And saw what I never had seen: A Chapel was built in the midst, Where I used to play on the green.

And The Gates of this Chapel were shut, And 'Thou Shalt Not' writ over the door...

And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds, And binding with briars my joys & desires. William Blake, ‘The Garden of Love‘

  • Religion is an attempt to explain a subject by men who do not understand it. The intent is not to tell the truth but to satisfy the questioner. Elbert Hubbard (1857-1915)
  • "So, if this is the case, what about all this suffering we see in the world that is known as 'natural evil', people born with painful defects, natural disasters that kill hundreds of thousands of people and can leave children parentless, or visa-versa. What about all the people in the world dying of starvation, or of thirst; what about diseases like Alzheimers? Why would any rational, benevolent being make it so that so many animals have to die miserably at the hands of other animals in order for them to eat? Things that I could once explain away as natural occurrences now sound like cruelty at the hands of the divine." -Aaron Leonardi

M through Z

  • Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope. ~ P.J. O'Rourke
  • Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -— several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven. ~ Mark Twain
  • Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion. ~ George Santayana
  • Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either. ~ Joseph Smith Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 160
  • Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. ~ H. G. Wells
  • Morality is simply the attitude we adopt to people we personally dislike. ~ Oscar Wilde
  • My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others. ~ Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (1930)
  • My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed. ~ Christopher Morley, US author & journalist, 1890-1957
  • On the surface, [holy scriptures] may appear to have been composed as conscientious history. In depth they reveal themselves to have been conceived as myths: poetic readings of the mysteries of life from a certain interested point of view. But to read a poem as a chronicle of fact is -- to say the least -- to miss the point. To say a little more, it is to prove oneself a dolt. ~ Joseph Campbell
    • Source: Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God
  • One's religion is whatever he is most interested in. ~ J.M. Barrie The Twelve-Pound Look (1910)
  • Our love, when it is without counting the cost, leads the other toward God. Our love makes straight the paths of the Lord. ~ Catherine Doherty Unfinished Pilgrimage
  • O ye people of the world! The religion of God is for the sake of love and union; make it not the cause of enmity and conflict. ~ Bahá'u'lláh
  • People use the word 'natural'... What is natural to me is these botanical species which interact directly with the nervous system. What I consider artificial is 4 years at Harvard, and the Bible, and Saint Patrick's cathedral, and the sunday school teachings. ~ Timothy Leary, Methods of Control
  • Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
    • Anonymous; quoted in Dennett, Daniel C. (2006). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, 1st ed., p. 17, Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-03472-X.
  • Pound notes are the best religion in the world. ~ Brendan Behan
  • Religion is not "doctrinal knowledge," but wisdom born of personal experience. - Martin Luther
  • Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of. ~ Mark Twain
  • Religion deserves no more respect than a pile of garbage. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • Religion easily—has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it. Religion has 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 list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money. ~ George Carlin
  • Religion either makes men wise and virtuous, or it makes them set up false pretenses to both. ~ William Hazlitt
  • Religious teachings are like a course of treatment having for its purpose the cure and healing of mankind.lf the only outcome of a course of treatment should be mere diagnosis and fruitless discussion of symptoms, it would be better to abandon and abolish. ~ `Abdu'l-Bahá
  • Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others. ~ William O. Douglas: opinion, United States v. Ballard, 1944
  • Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. [...] If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity. ~ Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (1939)
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires. ~ Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion. ~ Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in physics
  • Religion is, by definition, interpretation; and by definition, all interpretations are valid. However, some interpretations are more reasonable than others. ~ Reza Aslan [1]
  • Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism
  • Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. ~ Arthur C. Clarke, The Onion AV Club interview (18th February 2004)
  • Religion, like poetry, is simply a concerted effort to deny the most obvious realities. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. ~ Karl Marx
  • Religion... comprises a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality, such as we find in an isolated form nowhere else but in amentia, in a state of blissful hallucinatory confusion. ~ Sigmund Freud
  • Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis. ~ Sigmund Freud
  • Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines. ~ Bertrand Russell
  • Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool. ~ Voltaire
  • Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity. ~ Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (1841)
  • Religion should be a pilgrimage, not a crusade. ~ Leonid S. Sukhorukov
  • Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. ~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
  • Religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few. ~ Stendhal
  • Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor — but they have few followers now. ~ Arthur C. Clarke
  • Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. ~ Albert Einstein
  • So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk. ~ Thomas Edison
  • So many gods, so many creeds;
    So many paths that wind and wind,
    While just the art of being kind
    Is all the sad world needs. ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  • Some people just can't understand that they can't understand what they can't understand. ~ Brandon Miller
  • Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. ~ Clarence Darrow
  • Some curse God for putting thorns among roses, others praise him for putting roses among thorns.
  • Such religion as there can be in modern life, every individual will have to salvage from the churches for himself. ~ Lin Yutang
  • The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance... logic can be happily tossed out the window. ~ Stephen King
  • The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him a ride. ~ H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1917)
  • The different religions have never overlooked the part played by the sense of guilt in civilization. What is more, they come forward with a claim...to save mankind from this sense of guilt, which they call sin. ~ Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents(1931)
  • The fact that the believer is happier than the skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk man is happier than a sober one. ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. ~ Psalm 14:1
  • The God to whom depth in philosophy bring back men’s minds is far from being the same from whom a little philosophy estranges them. ~ George Santayana
  • The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. ~ Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams (1796)
  • The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music. ~ George Carlin
  • The progress of religion is steadily to its identity with morals. Strength enters just as much as the moral element prevails. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practises to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbor in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from the outside. ~ C.S. Lewis in "Lilies that Fester" in The Twentieth Century (April 1955).
  • Theology: an effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into the terms of the not worth knowing. ~ H.L. Mencken
  • To enter Paradise, avoid it in life. ~ Leonid S. Sukhorukov
  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. ~ Isaac Asimov
  • Vain are the thousand creeds
    That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
    Worthless as withered weeds,
    Or idlest froth amid the boundless main... ~ Emily Brontë
  • We are not engaged in a complicated joke disguised as a religion. We are engaged in a religion disguised as a complicated joke. ~ Principia Discordia
  • We do not destroy religion by destroying superstition. ~ Cicero
  • We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want that. We may quarrel with men about things on earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit. ~ Chief Joseph
  • We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. ~ Jonathan Swift
  • We must preserve the Church of England. It's our only defense against real religion. Unknown[1]
  • We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • What gods are there, what gods have there ever been, that were not from man's imagination? ~ Joseph Campbell
  • When a woman gets too old to be attractive to Man, she turns to God. ~ Honore de Balzac
  • When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing—they believe in anything. ~ G. K. Chesterton
  • Whoever saith, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire ~ Jesus, Matthew 5:22

See also

Notes and references

External links

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