Religious Quotes

Here are some quotes from modern writers about religion, specifically questioning its properties.


“Freethinkers reject faith as a valid tool of knowledge. Faith is the opposite of reason because reason imposes very strict limits on what can be true, and faith has no limits at all. A Great Escape into faith is no retreat to safety. It is nothing less than surrender.” Dan Barker


“The next time believers tell you that ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in our founding document, tell them to stop using the word ‘trinity.’ The word ‘trinity’ appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If they are still unfazed (or unphrased), by this, then add Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural, Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, Dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative (Liberal is in), Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible.” Dan Barker


“If the answers to prayer are merely what God wills all along, then why pray?” Dan Barker


“Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.” Dan Barker


“To think that the ruler of the universe will run to my assistance and bend the laws of nature for me is the height of arrogance. That implies that everyone else (such as the opposing football team, driver, student, parent) is de-selected, unfavored by God, and that I am special, above it all.” Dan Barker


“What happens when the same number of people pray for something as pray against it? How does God decide whose prayer to answer? Does the total number of people praying for or against something matter? How about the righteousness of the supplicants? Are positive prayers answered more frequently than negative ones? Does God take the positive ones and Satan the negative? Does the intensity of the praying have any effect on the outcome? Does the length of time one devotes to praying have any effect on the frequency with which one’s prayers are answered? Do the words and phrases used in the prayer — either positive or negative — have any bearing on the success rate? Does the nature of the thing or things prayed for have any bearing on the prayer’s success rate — either positive or negative prayers? Why or why not??” Dan Barker


“It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.” Arthur C. Clarke


“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick


“If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?” Robert W. Funk


“There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.” Ruth Hermence Green


“Why is it that almost every human culture yet discovered has found it necessary to believe in an afterlife of some sort, but not a ‘before-life?’ Why are there so many versions of Heaven, Paradise and The Great Beyond, but almost none about The Great Before …” Judith Hayes


“A Roman Catholic worships a god who speaks through the Pope, while a Baptist worships a god who does not. They cannot be worshipping the same god.” Judith Hayes


“Why is every utterance of the Pope considered to be worthy of worldwide attention and respect? It’s like the fawning reverence that was accorded every banal platitude ever uttered by the late Mother Teresa. But the Pope is not exactly on the cutting edge of world events — or anything else, for that matter. It was only a little over a year ago, in October 1996, that John Paul II announced that the scientific theory of evolution could be said to be valid. That message was received with enthusiastic approval in many circles throughout the world. Warm congratulations were offered to John Paul, just as they had been in 1979. In that year he declared that the Roman Catholic Church had been mistaken when it sentenced a 70-year-old Galileo to house arrest (with threats of the tortures of The Inquisition) for insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun, not vice versa. Mistaken?! No, not mistaken. A mistake is when you slip the wrong key into your front door. The Church’s treatment of Galileo, one of the world’s few geniuses, was viciously cruel and betrays the unenlightened, progress-impeding attitude that has dominated the Church since its inception. And they were as wrong as it is possible to be.” Judith Hayes


“The believer’s response to the mystery of existence is to invoke a mysterious word–God. Such a move does little to help us understand ourselves and the universe better. Mysterious words, like mysterious answers, don’t solve mysteries. They merely obscure them by putting a verbal barrier between us and the unknown.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“Which is more bizarre–the idea that your psychology is somehow preserved by physical atoms, which are known to exist, or that your psychology is somehow preserved by a nonphysical, spiritual [soul], which is not known to exist and which cannot even in principle be observed?” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“The diverse religious stories do agree on one thing: survival [after death]. They differ merely on the details. So aren’t they good evidence for survival? No. Agreement in this case merely shows that a common theme can be found in almost all the world’s religions. Psychology can easily explain this common theme… People fear death. They fear it not just here and there, or once in a while, but everywhere and always. Fearing death, people have a strong motive to deny it… [T]he explanation in terms of human psychology is not only simpler, it is testable. The explanation in terms of survival, on the other hand, is speculative at best, more complex, and impossible to test either directly or indirectly. Thus believing in survival on the basis of religious stories isn’t belief based on good evidence. It is belief based on faith. And it is based not just on faith, but on faith that goes contrary to the best available evidence.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“If everything must come from somewhere, where does God come from? Perhaps we don’t need to explain where God comes from because God, unlike the universe, exists without any external cause. In that case, however, we’ve blatantly contradicted the very assumption that made us suppose that the universe must have been caused by God–namely, the assumption that everything must come from somewhere. Without that assumption, the existence of the universe is no longer evidence for God.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“Most people who are religious believe in the religion of their parents. But beliefs that depend on accidents of birth prove nothing.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“It is important to distinguish between the moral witness of religious people who speak out strongly about an issue that offends their moral conscience, and the use of religion as a strategic means to advance the fortunes of a particular party or candidate.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Why God would choose to reveal the truth only to some religious and political middlemen instead of to everybody is perhaps one of those mysterious, wondrous ways God works. But even if God does hand down to a few choice authorities truths about how you should live, how do you know which authorities are the genuine ones? God doesn’t extend a hand from the sky and point them out to you. It is conveniently left to the authorities themselves to enlighten you about who the proper authorities are.” Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin


“So succesful were the drafters of the Constitution in defining government in secular terms that one of the most powerful criticisms of the Constitution when ratified and for succeeding decades was that it was indifferent to Christianity and God. It was denounced by many as a godless document, which is precisely what it is.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Ralph Reed likes to quote Alexis de Tocqueville on religion’s central place in American democratic society. The quotations are not always accurate, but he is right about one important thing. Tocqueville, like Benjamin Franklin, believed that religion is essential to the health of republican liberty. However, Reed apparently closed the pages of Democracy in America too soon. Had he read further, he would not have missed Tocqueville’s point that it is dangerous for religion to tie itself to political institutions and to topical political controversy.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“If anything is unconstitutional, it is government encouragement to pray in the public schools. Moreover, the proposed constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer is offensive on two counts. First, it violates explicitly the intended secular base of the Constitution. And far worse, it encourages the political use of religion in a way that allows elected officials to evade their real responsibilities and to claim for themselves a moral high ground that they too often have done nothing to earn.” Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore


“Even if there were undesirable consequences if atheism were true, this would not make atheism false. To think otherwise is to simply engage in wishful thinking. ‘If death if final, that would be a bad thing. I dont want to believe anything which results in bad things. Therefore, death is not final.’ Compare that with the following, which is no doubt on the minds of millions every week: ‘If this is not the winning lottery ticket, then I will be terribly disappointed. I do not want to believe anything which results in my being terribly disappointed. Therefore, this is the winning lottery ticket.’ By similar reasoning, no one’s house would burn down, no one would go bankrupt, no one would be killed in automobile accidents. All that would be required to avert such disasters is to realize that terrible consequences would follow if those things happened and then realize that one does not want to believe it. Then it wouldn’t happen. But clearly that is absurd.” Doug Krueger


“The god of the Bible measures up to the level of a petty and vicious tyrant. The god of the bible punishes babies for the sins of their parents (Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; 2 Samuel 12:13-19); punishes people by causing them to become cannibals and eat their children (2 Kings 6:24-33, Lamentations 4:10-11); gives people bad laws, even requiring the sacrifice of their firstborn babies, so that they can be filled with horror and know that god is their lord (Ezekiel 20:25-26); causes people to believe lies so that he can send them to hell (2 Thessalonians 2:11), and many other atrocities, far too many to list here. It would not be hard to measure up to, and exceed, that level of moral purity. Atheists surpass it every day.” Doug Krueger


“In an age in which economists take for granted that people equate well-being with consumption, increasing numbers of people seem willing to trade certain freedoms and material comforts for a sense of immutable order and the rapture of faith.” Eugene Linden, “The Future in Plain Sight”


“Religious experiences are like those induced by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and sleep deprivation: They tell no uniform or coherent story, and there is no plausible theory to account for discrepancies among them.” Michael Martin


“Although the ICR often emphasizes that it is the scientific nature of creationist theory which brings scientists to a belief in a supreme being, it is curious that they include a requirement for membership (the inerrancy of the Christian Bible) which effectively excludes Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the majority of Christian sects (who do not accept a literal reading of all parts of the Bible) from membership. It is clear that the ICR, which is the most respected of creationist groups in its attempts to appear scientifically legitimate, is essentially an organization composed solely of Christian Fundamentalists.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“The American creationist movement has entirely bypassed the scientific forum and has concentrated instead on political lobbying and on taking its case to a fair-minded electorate… The reason for this strategy is overwhelmingly apparent: no scientific case can be made for the theories they advance.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“The fact of the matter is that the fossil record not only documents evolution, but that it was the fossil record itself which forced natural scientists to abandon their idea of the fixity of species and look instead for a plausible mechanism of change, a mechanism of evolution. The fossil record not only demonstrates evolution in extravagant detail, but it dashes all claims of the scientific creationists concerning the origin of living organisms.” Kenneth R. Miller, 1984


“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.” Reinhold Niebuhr


“Some of the state’s witnesses suggested that the scientific community was ‘closed-minded’ on the subject of creationism and that explained the lack of acceptance of the creation-science arguments. Yet no witness produced an article for which publication had been refused.” Judge William R. Overton


“Scientific hypotheses are always tentative; they are designed to be held only so long as they conform to the evidence. Proponents of the theistic hypothesis, on the other hand, are already sure that their hypothesis is correct; the only seek evidence to buttress a foregone conclusion.” Keith Parsons


“It is true, of course, that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the Constitution. But it was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so clearly and widely held by the American people…. [T]he right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term “fair trial” is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer home, who would deny that “religious liberty” is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance which all these terms, including “separation of church and state,” have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles.” Leo Pfeffer


“The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts still might be true.” Robert M. Price


“To rest one’s case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one’s enemies- that one has no rational arguments to offer.” Ayn Rand


“…if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking…. the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.” Ayn Rand


“To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.” Ayn Rand


“The pragmatic suggestion, that we had better teach the Christian religion whether it is true or not, because people will be much less criminal if they believe it, is disgusting and degrading; but it is being made to us all the time, and it is a natural consequence of the fundamental religious attitude that comfort and security must always prevail over rational inquiry.” Richard Robinson


“Whatever good you would do out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward hereafter, the Atheist would do simply because it is good; and being so, he would receive the far surer and more certain reward, springing from well-doing, which would constitute his pleasure, and promote his happiness.” Ernestine L. Rose


“What about complex parasites? Did this designer design complex parasites or is that evolution? I mean, you get all the good things and evolutionists get all the bad things.” Michael Ruse


“It is difficult to imagine evolutionists signing a comparable statement, that they will never deviate from the literal text of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The non-scientific nature of creation-science is evident for all to see, as is also its religious nature.” Michael Ruse


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


“This brings us to our familiar resting place. The ‘goodness’ of God is different in kind from goodness as we comprehend it. To say that God’s ‘goodness’ is compatible with the worst disasters imaginable, is to empty this concept of its meaning. By human standards, the Christian God cannot be good. By divine standards, God may be ‘good’ in some unspecified, unknowable way – but this term no longer makes any sense. And so, for the last time, we fail to comprehend the Christian God.” George Smith


“God does not exist if Big Bang cosmology, or some relevantly similar theory, is true. If this cosmology is true, our universe exists without cause and without explanation. There are numerous possible universes, and there is possibly no universe at all, and there is no reason why this one is actual rather than some other one or none at all. Now the theistically alleged human need for a reason for existence, and other alleged needs, are unsatisfied. But I suggest that humans do or can possess a deeper level of experience than such anthropocentric despairs. We can forget about ourselves for a moment and open ourselves up to the startling impingement of reality itself. We can let ourselves become profoundly astonished by the fact that this universe exists at all.” Quentin Smith


“A major function of fundamentalist religion is to bolster deeply insecure and fearful people. This is done by justifying a way of life with all of its defining prejudices. It thereby provides an appropriate and legitimate outlet for one’s anger. The authority of an inerrant Bible that can be readily quoted to buttress this point of view becomes an essential ingredient to such a life. When that Bible is challenged, or relativized, the resulting anger proves the point categorically.” Bishop John Shelby Spong


“Selling eternal life is an unbeatable business, with no customers ever asking for their money back after the goods are not delivered.” Victor J. Stenger


“Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it… One man’s faith is another man’s delusion…” Anthony Storr, “Feet of Clay”


“What distinguishes gurus from more orthodox teachers is not their manic-depressive mood swings, not their thought disorders, not their delusional beliefs, not their hallucinatory visions, not their mystical states of ecstasy: it is their narcissism.” Anthony Storr, “Feet of Clay”


“Each epoch has found in the Gospels what it sought to find there, and has overlooked what it wished to overlook.” Ludwig von Mises


“…in matters of faith, inconvenient evidence is always suppressed while contradictions go unnoticed.” Gore Vidal


“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying.” Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


“We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.” Robert Wilensky


“In conservative Christianity you are told you are unacceptable. You are judged with regard to your relationship to God. Thus you can only be loved positionally, not essentially. And, contrary to any assumed ideal of Christian love, you cannot love others for their essence either. This is the horrible cost of the doctrine of original sin.” Marlene Winell


“Intellectual ambiguity can be very uncomfortable. It is always easier to be sure of something. A religion that neatly provides all the answers saves you the frustration and anxiety that inevitably accompany a stuggle with difficult questions. Fundamentalism is especially dogmatic and detailed in describing a grand scheme. The Bible is offered as the inerrant word of God, revealing the path of history, a plan of salvation, and predictions about the future. Reasons and justifications are given. And for questions that still remain, there is the ultimate comfort that comes with trusting that a benign father God had everything under control.” Marlene Winell


“The most serious demand for unquestioned belief is, of course, the atonement. First the believer is to suspend familiar notions of justice, such as punishment for the guilty as opposed to an innocent party. You are then expected to accept the necessity of blood sacrifice for sin; that wrongdoing must be paid for, and not necessarily in proportion to the crime. A father’s sacrifice of his innocent son is supposed to be not only just but generous and wonderful. Then the temporary three-day death of this one person is supposed to wipe out all the wrongdoing and ineptitude of a species. And finally, you should believe that all you need do to erase responsibility for your actions and enter a haven of eternal reward is to believe. It’s no wonder that once a convert has wrapped his or her mind around this story, anything can be accepted as truth. The rest of fundamentalist doctrine can be easily swallowed, including Jonah.” Marlene Winell


“In the fundamentalist view, unbelievers have only two relevant attributes: They are potential converts and sources of temptation. As objects of evangelism, they are called ‘crops to be harvested,’ ‘sheep to be found,’ and ‘fish to be netted.’ Because of the danger of worldly influence (much like a contagious disease), relationships with ‘them’ must be handled gingerly. Contacts must be superficial, geared toward evangelism only, and cut short if there is not a positive response. Since Christians are already full of truth, there is no need for them to listen, nothing for them to learn, and much for them to lose by admitting alternative views into their consciousness.” Marlene Winell


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 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send *you* to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever til the end of time…but he loves you.”
George Carlin


“Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a crucial component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God…”
…Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of God”, June 2004


“And if you just do what the prophet says, all the responsibility for your actions is now totally in his hands. You can refuse to pay the guy, or even kill somebody, or whatever, and feel completely good about it. And that’s a real big part of what holds this religion [Mormon] together: it’s not having to make those critical decisions that many of us have to make, and be responsible for your decisions.”
DeLoy Bateman, as quoted in Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of God”