Christian Quotations and other Religious Quotations

  John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  
  Words spoken at the presenting of the Holy Bible at the British Coronation Service Here is wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.    
  Ecclesiastes 12:12 Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
  The Epic of Gilgamesh, c 2500 BC (Translation by N. K. Sanders) "…Tear down your house, I say, and build a boat. These are the measurements of the barque as you shall build her: let her beam equal her length, let her deck be roofed over like the vault that covers the abyss; then take up into the boat the seed of all living creatures"  
  Franklin P. Jones Originality is the art of concealing your source.    

Thomas Paine
The Age of Reason, Part II

Having now shown that every book in the Bible, from Genesis to Judges, is without authenticity, I come to the book of Ruth, an idle, bungling story, foolishly told, nobody knows by whom, about a strolling country-girl creeping slyly to bed with her cousin Boaz. Pretty stuff indeed to be called the word of God!
  Oscar Wilde When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.    
  Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Penguin p260.
The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church.
  H. L. Mencken
(attributed: source unknown)
Men become civilized not in proportion to their willingness to believe but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.    
The Early Church, p 207.
The principal form of the argument from authority became the florilegium or anthology of carefully selected excerpts from orthodox fathers, designed to show that the unchanging orthodox tradition was in accordance with the compiler's convictions. The makers of these collections of excerpts were not always scrupulous about the integrity and authenticity of their texts...
  Cardinal Bellarmine
during the trial of Galileo in 1615.
To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.    
  Bertrand Russell,
Why I Am Not A Christian. p 125.
The fundamental difference between the liberal and the illiberal outlook is that the former regards all questions as open to discussion and all opinions as open to greater or less measure of doubt, while the latter holds in advance that certain opinions are absolutely unquestionable, and that no argument against them must be allowed to be heard. What is curious about this position is the belief that if impartial investigation were permitted it would lead men to the wrong conclusion, and that ignorance is, therefore, the only safeguard against error

Tertullian (150-225CE) Church Father

And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd. And he was buried and rose again; the fact is certain because it is impossible.    
  Thomas Paine
The Age of Reason Part II.
…it is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record so many and such glaring absurdities, contradictions and falsehoods as are in these books.  
  Voltaire (1694-1778) People who believe absurdities will commit atrocities  
  Footnotes in the Jerusalem Bible demonstrate all sort of errors and sometimes how they arose:
"…not always consistent" Numbers 22b
"not an accurate figure" 1 Kings 20:b
"The chronological details cannot be harmonised…" Esther 1c
"…a 'modernisation' by a later hand." Zechariah 6c
"Different sources have been conflated" Genesis 21b
"… later elaboration …" Genesis :32a
"… the conflation of two versions" Genesis 43a
"Two narratives are conflated here…." Joshua 6a
"… contains several traditions put together by an editor;…" Judges 21a
"Editorial comment" Exodus 5a.
  Job 39:9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?  

Proverbs 26:4


Proverbs 26:5

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit

  2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.  
  Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976),
Jesus and the Word
I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary.    
  Voltaire (1694-1778),
Philosophical Dictionary.
It is reported in the supplement of the council of Nicæa that the Fathers, being very perplexed to know which were the cryphal or apocryphal books of the Old and New Testaments, put them pell-mell on an alter, and the books to be rejected fell to the ground. It is a pity that this elegant procedure has not survived.    
  St. Thomas Aquinas
The light of faith makes us see what we believe.    
  Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899),
Oration on the Gods
No god was ever in advance of the nation that created him    
  Thomas Paine
The Age of Reason Part II,
If Matthew speaks truth, Luke speaks falsehood, and if Luke speaks truth, Matthew speaks falsehood; and as there is no authority for believing one more than the other, there is no authority for believing either…

  Note in the New International Version of the Bible The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.    
  Thomas Paine (1737-1809),
The Age of Reason, Part II
Priests and conjurers are of the same trade.  
  Epictetus By itself, truth always wins. A lie needs an accomplice.    
  St John Chrysostom (c 347-407), Letters Hell is paved with the skulls of priests    
  Voltaire (1694-1778),
Philosophical Dictionary
But why, it will be asked, have so many councils contradicted each other?…Roman Catholics now believe only in councils approved by the Vatican; and the Greek Catholics believe only in those approved in Constantinople. Protestants deride them both.    
  Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day…  
  Peter de Rosa (Catholic priest) quoting a pope
Vicars of Christ p285
If by the Roman Church you mean its head or pontiff, it is beyond question that he can err even in matters touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgement or decretal. In truth, many Roman Pontiffs were heretics. The last of them was John XXII.
  Mark 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.  
  Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.    
  Mark 3:21 (NEB) …people were saying that he was out of his mind    
  Albert Sweitzer
The Quest For The Historical Jesus
There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth, and died to give his work final consecration, never had any existence.    

Joseph Ernest Renan
Life of Jesus (1863), Chapter 15

That Jesus never dreamt of making himself pass for an incarnation of God, is a matter about which there can be no doubt. Such an idea was entirely foreign to the Jewish mind; and there is no trace of it in the synoptic gospels; We only find it indicated in portions of the Gospel of John, which cannot be accepted as expressing the thoughts of Jesus. Sometimes Jesus even seems to take precautions to put down such a doctrine. The accusation that he made himself God, or equal to God, is presented, even in the Gospel of John, as a calumny of the Jews. In this last Gospel he declares himself less than the Father. Elsewhere he avows that the Father has not revealed everything to him. He believes himself to be more than an ordinary man, but separated from God by an infinite distance. He is Son of God, but all men are, or may become so, in diverse degrees. …
  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Nothing is so firmly believed as what we know least.

  Thomas Paine (1737-1809),
The Age of Reason, Part 1
Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?  



Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, p 266-7

Speaking of the first (ie Jewish) followers of Jesus who rejected the novelties of St Paul

They affirmed that if the Being who is the same through all eternity had designed to abolish those sacred rites which had served to distinguish his chosen people, the repeal of them would have been no less clear and solemn than their first promulgation; that, instead of those frequent declarations which either suppose or assert the perpetuity of the Mosaic religion, it would have been represented as a provisionary scheme intended to last only till the coming of the Messiah, who should instruct mankind in a more perfect mode of faith and of worship; that the Messiah himself, and his disciples who conversed with him on earth, instead of authorising by their example the most minute observances of the Mosaic law, would have published to the world the abolition of those useless and obsolete ceremonies without suffering Christianity to remain during so many years obscurely confounded among the sects of the Jewish church

  Charles, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755),
No Kingdom has ever suffered as many civil wars as Christ's    

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Aids to Reflection: Moral and Religious Aphorisms

He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.    
  Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
The Hunting of the Snark
What I tell you three times is true    
Outlines of Christian Doctrine, p 90.
There is no authoritative decision or consensus of teaching which commits the Church to any theory about the details of the method of the Atonement.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Thoughts of God.

…daily the trained parrot in the pulpit gravely delivers himself of these ironies, which he has acquired second-hand and adopted without examination, to a trained congregation which accepts them without examination…    
  Aldous Huxley (1894-1964)
Grey Eminence
Christianity accepted as given a metaphysical system derived from several already existing and mutually incompatible systems.    
  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.    
  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) What man is capable of the insane self-conceit of believing that an eternity of himself would be tolerable even to himself.    

Homer in the Odyssey:

describing a place much like the later Christian heaven

Olympus, the abode of the Gods, stands fast for ever. Neither is it shaken by winds nor ever wet with rain, nor does snow fall upon it, but the air is outspread clear and cloudless, and over it hovers a radiant whiteness.
  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Sceptical Essays The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented hell.    
  Cited and denied by Alcuin (AD 735-804) in a letter to Charlemagne Vox populi, vox dei (The voice of the people is the voice of God)

  Bishop William Warburton
Orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is another man's doxy.    
  Duff Cooper (1890-1954),
Old Men Forget
For the majority of English people there are only two religions, Roman Catholic, which is wrong, and the rest, which don't matter    
  Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The theologian may indulge in the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings  
  H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) Archbishop: A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.
  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan. The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.  
  Pollock and Maitland
The History of English Law, Bk. 1, Ch 1 (p 17).
The Isidorian forgeries were soon accepted at Rome. The popes profited by documents which taught that ever since the apostolic age the bishops of Rome had been declaring, or even making, law for the universal church. On this rock or on this sand a lofty edifice was reared.
  Cicero (106 - 43 BC) The first law is that the historian shall never dare to set down what is false; the second is that he shall never dare to conceal the truth; the third that there shall be no suspicion in his work of either favouritism or prejudice.    
  Mohammed (c570-629) The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr    
  Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), Intellectual Development Any doctrine that will not bear honest investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man    
  Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
An Essay on Man
An honest man's the noblest work of God

  Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
Further Extracts
An honest God's the noblest work of man

Jean Meslier
Mon Testament, extracts published by Voltaire, Extrait du Testament de J. Meslier, 1762 (Ch 1, 2) and cited in translation by Knight, Humanist Anthology, p 24.

Abbé Jean Meslier was a French priest who was also an atheist (sic) writing around the year 1700:

It is no use saying that the Gospel stories have always been regarded as holy and sacred, and that they have been faithfully preserved without any tampering. It was common practice among the writers who copied these stories to add, delete or alter the text as seemed good to them. The Christians themselves cannot deny this; for St. Jerome said explicitly in many places in his Prologues that the text had been corrupted and falsified, having already been through the hands of many people who added and cut out what they pleased; with the result, as he said, that there were as many different readings as there were different texts

  Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets…    

Robin Lane Fox
The Unauthorised Version, 339-340

When Christians quoted those old prophesies, they used Greek translations which were untrue to the Hebrew originals: they ran separate bits of text into one; they twisted the sense and reference of the nouns (Paul, at Galatians 3:8, is a spectacular example); they mistook the speakers and the uses of personal pronouns (John 19:37 or Matthew 27:9); they thought that David or Isaiah had written what they never wrote (Acts 2 or Acts 8:26); they muddled Jeremiah with Zechariah (Matthew 27:9); they reread the literal sense and found non-existent allegory (Paul, to the Galatians at 4:21-3). There are vintage errors in the famous speech which Acts' author gives to Peter at Pentecost: Peter tortures bits of Psalms 16 and 132, mistakes their meaning and context, and quotes them in a poor Greek translation, although Greek was not the historical Peter's mother tongue and most of his supposed audience would not have understood a word of it.
  Thomas Wrightson
On the Punishment of Death, 1833
Men too often study the scriptures, not so much for the discovery of truth, as to find support for the prejudices which have already gained possession of their minds.    

Open Letter to Canadian radio personality called Laura Schlessinger in 2000.

She had made commentson air about homosexuals, based on a literal reading of the Jewish scriptures. The text quoted is an open letter to her which was posted on the internet soon afterwards by a listener in the US:

Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread. (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev. 24:10-16). Couldn't we just stone them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan, Franc Mosbaugh

  The Epistle of Barnabas 10, interpreting prophetic injunctions in the Old Testament Among other things, he also says, "you are not to eat of the hare" by which he means you are not to debauch young boys, or become like those who do; because the hare grows a fresh orifice in its backside every year, and has as many of these holes as the years of its life. And "You are not to eat the hyena" signifies that you are to be no lecher or libertine, or copy their ways; for that creature changes its sex annually and is a male at one time and a female at another. The weasel, too, he speaks of with abhorrence, and not without good reason; his implication being that you are not to imitate those who, we are told, are filthy enough to use their mouths for the practice of vice, nor to frequent the abandoned women who do the same - since it is through the mouth that this animal is impregnated.
  Deuteronomy 23:2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.  
  Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) I have examined all of the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our superstitions of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all founded on fables and mythology. Christianity has made one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites.    
  Exodus 20:28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit  
  Preface to the Book of Common Prayer There was never anything by the wit of man devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted.    
  1 Timothy 3:2, c/f Titus 1:6 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...  

James Madison (1751-1836) fourth President of the United States (1809-1817)
A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assemby, 1785

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have 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. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy.

  Matthew 10:35 quoting Jesus For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against the mother in law.  
  Benjamin Jowett (1817-93),
quoted in Margo Asquith's Autobiography
My dear child, you must believe in God in spite of what the clergy tell you.    
  Luke 14:26, Cf. Matthew 19:29 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
  Don Cupitt,
The Myth of God Incarnate, (ed. John Hick) p133-4.
The idealisation of the family is a modern cultural creation, which the Churches have validated, and now no modern bishop would dream of publicly endorsing Jesus' views about the family.
  Fëdor Dostoevsky (1821-1881),
The House of the Dead
Man is pliable animal, a being who gets accustomed to everything    

Father Joseph Furniss
The Sight of Hell, 1855.

Furniss was a Roman Catholic priest, known as the Children's Apostle, who, like his contemporaries, had no doubt about the reality of eternal damnation. Here he is describing a boy in Hell:

Extracts quoted are from XXVII. The Fourth Dungeon and XXVIII. The Fifth Dungeon.). The booklet now available through the internet.

This booklet is not the product of a maverick. It represented mainstream Catholic thought and sold over 4,000,000 copies. Here is the text of the Approbation on the inside cover:

I have carefully read over this Little Volume for Children and have found nothing whatever in it contrary to the doctrines of Holy Faith; but, on the contrary, a great deal to charm, instruct, and edify our youthful classes, for whose benefit it has been written.
William Meagher, Vicar General, Dublin, December 14, 1855

His eyes are burning like two burning coal. Two long flames come out of his ears...Sometimes he opens his mouth, and breath of blazing fire rolls out. But listen! There is a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really a kettle boiling? No. Then what is it? Hear what it is. The blood is boiling in the scalding veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is boiling in his bones.

And again

The little child is in the red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out; see how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor… God was very good to this little child. Very likely God saw it would get worse and worse and never repent, and so it would have been punished more severely in Hell. So God in his mercy called it out of the world in early childhood.

  From one of the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory … is a fond [i.e. foolish] thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.    
  Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Tractatus Logico-Phiosophicus What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.    
  Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice Through the Looking-Glass. "When I use a word", Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less".    
  John Hick, Professor of Theology at Birmingham University, in (Hick, Ed) The Myth of God Incarnate, p 180 As one professor of Theology has written of this doctrine
Is not such an idea excessively parochial, presenting God in effect as the tribal deity of the predominantly Christian West? And so theologians have recently been developing a mass of small print to the old theology, providing that devout men of other faiths may be Christians without knowing it, or may be anonymous Christians, or may belong to the invisible church, or may have implicit faith and receive baptism by desire, and so on. These rather artificial theories are all attempts to square an inadequate theology with the facts of God's world. They are thoroughly well intentioned and are to be welcomed as such. But in the end they are an anachronistic clinging to the husk of the old doctrine after its substance has crumbled.

  Thomas Paine
The Age of Reason, Pt I, p 63.
When men, whether from policy or pious fraud, set up systems of religion incompatible with the word or works of God in the creation, and not only above, but repugnant to human comprehension, they are under the necessity of inventing or adopting a word that should serve as a bar to all questions, inquiries and speculation. The word mystery answered this purpose, and thus it has happened that religion, which is itself without mystery, has been corrupted into a fog of mysteries

Sigmund Freud
The Future of an Illusion (Hogarth Press, 1927), Ch VI (translation by W D Robson-Scott)

Freud's opinion on the state of God's transition in 1927, when theologians were still considered to be philosophers:

Where questions of religion are concerned people are guilty of every possible kind of insincerity and intellectual misdemeanour. Philosophers stretch the meaning of words until they retain scarcely anything of their original sense; by calling 'God' some vague abstraction which they have created for themselves, they pose as deists, as believers, before the world; they may even pride themselves on having attained a higher and purer idea of God, although their God is nothing but an insubstantial shadow and no longer the mighty personality of religious doctrine    

Anonymous theological parody of Mark 8:29

How far modern theology has moved away from the straightforward literal language of early Christians.

Jesus said to them "But whom say ye that I am?". And Peter answereth and saith unto him "Thou art the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, in the kerygma of which we find the ultimate meaning in our interpersonal relationships"    
  George Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman, Maxims for Revolutionists
Beware the man whose god is in the skies    
  Origen, Contra Celsum, 8:12 If these men worshipped no other God but one, perhaps they would have a valid argument against the others. But in fact they worship to an extravagant degree this man who appeared recently
  Proverbs 8:12
(AV, but with names capitalised as in modern translations)
I Wisdom dwell with Prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions  
  Hymns Ancient and Modern: 292 Praise the LORD! ye heavens, adore Him,
Praise Him, Angels, in the height;
Sun and moon, rejoice before Him,
Praise Him, all ye stars and light:
  John Selden (1584-1654),
Table Talk 'Bible Scripture'
We pick out a text here and there to make it serve our turn; whereas if we take it all together, and consider what went before and what followed after, we should find it meant no such thing.    
  Voltaire (1694-1778),
It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.    
  Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970), Sceptical Essays It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true    
  Christopher Marlowe (1564-93)
The Jew of Malta, Prologue
I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.
  Corinthians 13:12 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  
  George Gordon, Lord Byron
He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool, and he who dare not is a slave.    
  T. H. Huxley (1825-1895),
Collected Essays xii, 'The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species'.
It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions    
  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), Letters and papers from Prison, 8th June 1944. Man has learned to cope with all questions of importance without recourse to God as a working hypothesis.    

All Things Bright and Beautiful
by Mrs Alexander, taken from Hymns Ancient and Modern.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,

And order'd their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,

The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,

The pleasant summer sun
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;


Monty Python's Life Of Brian (Eyre Methuen, 1979, Python Productions Ltd). ©Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

All things dull and ugly
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The Lord God made the lot.

Each little snake that poisons
Each little wasp that stings
He made their brutish venom
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small
All things foul and dangerous
The Lord God made them all.

Each nasty little hornet
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spiky urchin,
Who made the sharks? He did.

All things scabbed and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.

  Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Philosophische Untersuchungen Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language    
  Anon Few doubted the existence of God until Philosophers tried to prove it.    

Fëdor Dostoevsky (1821-1881),

Ivan to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov

If you were God, would you have consented to create the present world if its creation depended on the unexpiated tears of one tortured child crying in its stinking outhouse to 'dear, kind God'?
  Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Under the Greenwood Tree
Good, but not religious-good    
  Graham Greene
The End of the Affair
If we had not been taught how to interpret the story of the Passion, would we have been able to say from their actions alone whether it was jealous Judas or the cowardly Peter who loved Christ?    
  Georg Christoph Lichtenberg Isn't it curious that men should be so willing to fight for their religions and so unwilling to live by their precepts.    
  A N Whitehead (1861-1947) Dialogues What is morality in any given time and place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like and immorality is what they dislike.    
  Percy Bysshe Shelley
A Refutation of Deism, 1814
Christianity itself declares that the worth of the tree is to be determined by the quality of its fruit.    
  W. E. Gladstone (1809-1898) Beware lest you make your religion a substitute for your morality.
  Peter 2:18 (New International Version) Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.    
  Exodus 21:20-21 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.  
  Desmond Tutu (1931- ), Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa Thank God I am black. White people will have a lot to answer for at the last judgement    
  George Gordon, Lord Byron
Don Juan
Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That the apostles would have done as they did
  W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), A Writer's Notebook What mean and cruel things men do for the love of God    
  Revelations 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father.  
  Samuel Butler (1612-1680)
Miscellaneous Thoughts

The souls of women are so small,
That some believe they've none at all.
  Colossians 3:18; cf. 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
  1 Corinthians 11:3 & 7-9 ... I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man...
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, foreasmuch as he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
  1 Corinthians 14:34, c/f 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 & Timothy 2:11-12 Let your women keep silence in churches: for it is not permitted unto them; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also sayeth the law.
  Kramer & Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum, Pt I, q 6.

After saying that women are intellectually like children they explain why women are given to the practice of witchcraft:

But the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives.
  Sir William Blackstone
Commentaries, Vol. I, p442

The very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband
  Voltaire (1694-1778) Every sensible man, every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror
  Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773),
letter to his godson, number 112
Religion is by no means a proper subject of conversation in a mixed company.
  Bishop Lancelot Andrews
The nearer the Church the further from God    
  J H Baker
An Introduction to English Legal History, p265.
Some of the subtleties of the Canonists in this regard seem very remote from theology, morality or human feeling, and served merely to facilitate divorces on flimsy grounds, by the discovery of forgotten indiscretions or genealogical obscurities. Moreover, some of the impediments could be dispensed with in return for money paid to the Church.
  Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  
  J H Baker
An Introduction to English Legal History,p263
Bastardy, or illegitimacy, was a condition imposed upon a child by the Canon Law as a punishment for the sin of the parents who conceived it by illicit connection. By a legal fiction, a child born out of wedlock was no one's child, filius nullius.
  Exodus 20:5, see also 24:7 ...I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
  Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chastiseth him betimes    
  Proverbs 20:30 The blueness of the wound cleanseth away evil...    
  Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correctionshall drive it far from him.    
  Proverbs 23:13-14 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell    
  Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.    
  Book of Common Prayer, Order for the Visitation of the Sick …whatsoever your sickness is, know you certainly, that it is God's visitation    
  Walter Bachmann,
Das unselige Erbe des Christentums: Die Wechselbälge. Zur Geschichte der Heilpädagogik (The Baneful Legacy of Christianity: Changelings. On the History of Therapeutic Training) 1985, p442 - translation from Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Eunuchs For Heaven, p213.
It is doubtful if the handicapped have ever, in any other cultural domain in human history, been more wronged and despised or treated with greater intolerance and inhumanity, than in Christendom

  Proverbs 10:13 …a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding    
  Proverbs 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back    
  Isaiah 3:15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?  
  Caritate christi compulsi
cited by Hector Hawton, Controversy: The Humanist/Christian Encounter, (Pemberton, London 1971), p. 57
Let the poor, and all those who at this time are facing the hard trial of want of work and security of food - let them in a like spirit of penance suffer with greater resignation the privations imposed upon them by these hard times and the state of the society which Divine Providence, in an inscrutable but ever-loving plan, has assigned to them
  Fëdor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov
Man, do not exalt yourself above the animals, they are without sin, while you defile the earth by your appearance on it,...    
  William Ralph Inge (1860-1954), Dean of St Pauls
Outspoken Essays
The whole of Nature, as has been said, is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive    
  Samuel Butler (1835-1902) Notebooks. An apology for the Devil - it must be remembered that we have only heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.    
  Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Thoughts on Religion I never saw, heard, nor read that the clergy were beloved in any nation where Christianity was the religion of the Country. Nothing can render them popular but some degree of persecution.    
Pagans and Christians, p 553.
We know of at least one martyrdom which followed its despatch, but it occurred in a province which was not at first under Gallienus's control: otherwise, we have no knowledge of martyrdoms, as opposed to Christian fictions of them, between 260 and the 290s. When we find Christians being martyred, they are soldiers in the army. The charge against them is not their religion and their refusal to sacrifice, but their refusal to serve in the ranks, an offence which was punishable on other grounds.

  Ambrose Bierce
The Devil's Dictionary
Heathen: A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something he can see and feel.  
  Jón Hjálmarsson
History of Iceland, (Iceland Review, 1993), pp 29, 32, 33, 44, 71.
King Ólafur's first missionary to Iceland was Stefnir Thorgilsson, a native of Iceland, who started by attacking and breaking down heathen temples, and was promptly exiled. Next, the King sent a Flemish priest named Thangbrandur, who had reached Norway via England. He managed to baptise several of the noble Icelandic chieftains, but as he could not tolerate any opposition and killed several men who spoke against him, he too had to leave the country.
    The introduction of Christianity in Iceland was a peaceful and almost unique historical event. It was quite different from the prolonged conflicts, warfare and bloodshed which customarily accompanied Christianization in most other countries. This peaceful settlement arose probably more for political than religious reasons. x  
  King James I of England (VI of Scotland), Daemonologie, 1597 Loath they are to confess without torture, which witnesseth their guiltiness.    
  John Gaule
Select Cases of Conscience Touching Witches and Witchcraft, 1646
Every old woman with a wrinkled face, a furrowed brow, a hairy lip, a gobber tooth, a squint eye, a squeaking voice, or a scolding tongue, having a rugged coat on her back, a skull-cap on her head, a spindle in her hand, and a Dog or Cat by her side, is not only suspected, but pronounced a witch.    

Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Penguin p 474.

Gibbon is referring tof those who affirmed the reality of witchcraft

They believed with the wildest inconsistency, that this preternatural dominion of the air, of earth, and of hell was exercised, from the vilest motives of malice or gain, by some wrinkled hags and itinerant sorcerers who passed their obscure lives in penury and contempt
  Kramer and Sprenger
Malleus Maleficarum I, q1
Any person, whatever his rank or position, upon such an accusation may be put to the torture, and he who is found guilty, even if he confess his crime, let him be racked, let him suffer all other tortures prescribed by law in order that he may be punished in proportion to his offences.

Letter from one Johannes Junius from jail.
George Lincoln Burr (Ed), 'The witch-Persecution at Bamberg', Translations and Reprints from Original Sources of European History, Vol. 3 (University of Pennsylvania, 1896), pp 23-8.

Johannes Junius is describing his experience at the hands of the Inquisition. (He had bribed a gaoler to smuggle out to his daughter the letter dated 24th July 1624:)

…and then came also - God in highest heaven have mercy - the executioner, and put the thumb-screws on me, both hands bound together, so that the blood ran out at the nails and everywhere, so that for four weeks I could not use my hands, as you can see from the writing… Thereafter they first stripped me, bound my hands behind me, and drew me up in the [strappado]. Then I thought heaven and earth were at an end; eight times did they draw me up and let me fall again, so that I suffered terrible agony…And so I made my confession…but it was all a lie. [He records his confession. Later they wanted him to accuse others. He named some names, but would not say more]. …So they gave me to the executioner, told him to strip me, shave me all over, and put me to the torture…Then I had to tell what crimes I had committed…So I said that I was to kill my children, but I had killed a horse instead. It did not help. I had also taken a sacred wafer, and had desecrated it. When I had said this they left me in peace…Good night, for your father Johannes Junius will never see you more.


Four Centuries of Witch Beliefs, p190-1.

It is probable that the Methodist movement gave an impetus to mob violence against witches in the latter part of the eighteenth century and helped witch-beliefs to survive so late into the following century…John Wesley himself - almost alone in his day amongst men of his high intellectual and cultural level - repeatedly and emphatically affirmed his belief in the stern reality of witchcraft

  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.  

Cod. Theod. 16.1.2See J Stevenson, Creeds, Councils and Controversies (1966)

Laws against heresywhich appeared in 380 AD under the Christian Emperor Theodosius I,.

We command that those persons who follow this rule shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom we adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with divine judgement.

  Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin,
Gulliver's Travels
It is computed, that eleven thousand persons have, at several times, suffered death, rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end.
  Lucretius (99-55 BC),
De Rerum Natura
Such are the heights of wickedness to which men are driven by religion.

  Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury Without centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, Hitler's passionate hatred would never have been so fervently echoed.    
  Michael Costen
The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade, p 38.
Organised and official persecution of the Jews became a normal feature of life in the south only after the Crusade because it was only then that the Church became powerful enough to insist on the application of positive measures of discrimination.

Part of a declaration made by the Presidents of German Protestant Churches in 1941:

English translation from Kahl, The Misery of Christianity, p 62 citing Karlheinz Deschner, Abermals krähte der Hahn (Eine kritische Kirchengeschichte von den Anfängen bis zu Pius XII), 2nd Ed, Stuttgart, 1964. The declaration was made on 17th December 1941 by the Church Pesidents and bishops of Saxony, Mecklenburg, Schlswig-Holstein, the Anhalt of Saxony, Thüringen and Lübeck.

The National Socialist leaders of Germany have provided indisputable documentary evidence that the Jews have are responsible for this war in its world-wide magnitude. They have therefore made the necessary decisions and taken the necessary steps, both internal and external, to ensure that the life of the German nation is protected against Judaism.

As members of that same German nation, the undersigned leaders of the German Evangelical Church stand in the forefront of this historical struggle to defend our country, because of which it has been necessary for the national police to issue a statement to the effect that the Jews are the enemies of the German nation and of the world, just as it was also necessary for Dr Martin Luther to demand, on the basis of his own bitter experience, that the severest measures should be taken against Jews and that they should be expelled from all German countries.

… Christian baptism does not change in any way the Jew's racial character, his membership of the Jewish people and his biological nature. It is the duty of a German Evalgelical Church to foster and to promote the religious life of the German people. Christians who are Jews by race have no place in that Church and no right to a place.
The undersigned leaders of the German Evangelical Church have therefore decided not to accept Jewish Christians as members of the Church community.

  Lord Acton (1834-1902) The principle of the Inquisition was murderous ... The popes were not only murderers in the great style, but they also made murder a legal basis of the Christian Church and a condition for salvation.    
A History of Heresy, p 109.
...The obdurate and relapsed were taken outside the church and handed to the magistrates with a recommendation to mercy and instruction that no blood be shed. The supreme hypocrisy of this was that if the magistrate did not burn the victims on the following day, he was himself liable to be charged with abetting heresy
  William C MacDonald
Modern Evangelism
It took God longer to write the Bible than it has taken him to build the British Empire
  T M Macaulay
Letters, 1838
The states of the Pope are, I suppose, the worst governed in the civilised world; and the imbecility of the police, the venality of the public servants, the desolation of the country, force themselves on the observation of the most heedless traveller
  Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)
The Bishop of Chichester preached before the King and made a great flattering sermon which I did not like, that clergy should meddle in matters of state.
  Rev. Pat Robertson
quoted in the Church Times, March 1988.
My choicest political adviser is God who told me to run for the Presidency
  Romans 8:31 If God be for us, who can be against us ?    
  Sir Matthew Hale (1609-76), Lord Chief Justice of England (1671-6) Christianity is a parcel of the laws of England
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, p 675
But of all the ordeals, that which the clergy reserved for themselves was the one least likely to cause any member of their corps to be declared guilty. The most culpable monster in existence came off clear when tried by this method. It was called cornsed, and was thus performed. A piece of barley bread and a piece of cheese were laid upon the alter, and the accused priest, in his full canonicals, and surrounded by all the pompous adjuncts of Roman ceremony, pronounced certain conjurations, and prayed with great fervency for several minutes. The burden of prayer was, that if he were guilty of the crime laid to his charge, God would send his angel Gabriel to stop his throat, that he might not be able to swallow the bread and cheese. There is no instance upon record of a priest having been choked in this manner.
  Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.  
  Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law  
  Complaint to Pope Gregory XI, 1376 Be it considered that God hath committed His sheep to our Holy Father to be fed, not to be shorn…    
A History of The Crusades, Vol. 3, p 339, citing the Collectio de Scandalis Ecclesiae, edited by Stroik, in Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, Vol. XXIV7

While prelates spent their money on fine horses and pet monkeys, their agents raised money by the wholesale redemption of Crusading vows. None of the clergy would contribute to the taxes levied to pay for the Crusades, though Saint Louis, to their rage, had refused them exemption. Meanwhile the general public was taxed again and again for Crusades that never took place.

A History of the Medieval Church 590-1500, p 356

Men left large sums in their wills to be paid at the time of their burial to priests, monks and nuns to say matins and vespers of the dead for them, to poor bedesmen to say Paternosters and Aves, to priests to say mass on the day, to anchorites and anchoresses for prayers, to monasteries and friaries to say mass for thirty days after death, and to keep a yearly orbit.

    Give me a child up to the age of seven, and I will give you the man Traditional Jesuit Maxim
Let me control the textbooks and I will control Germany Josef Goebbels (1897-1945)

This new invention has produced various results, of which Your Holiness cannot be ignorant. If it has restored books and learning, it has also been the daily cause of sectarianism and schism. People are beginning to call into question the Church's present faith and doctrines. Lay people are reading the Bible, and praying in their own language…. The mysteries of religion must be kept in the hands of the priests.


Quoted by Tribe,
100 years of freethought, p174.

Looking to the poor as a class, they could not expect that those who were assigned by Providence to the laborious occupations of life, should be able largely to cultivate their intellects

Father Henneberry, National Reformer 21 April 1878, cited by Tribe, 100 Years of Freethought, p 124

.In 1877 New Zealand introduced free, compulsory and secular education. The Churches were outraged, and the Catholic Church, which still saw secular education as inherently evil, was uncompromising

If you have Catholic faith and Catholic hearts within you, you will never give a vote to any of these infidels, whom Almighty God will send to hell some day for leading a whole generation away from religion.    
  Margaret Knight (1903-1983), Christianity: The Debit Account I now incline to the view that the conversion of Europe to Christianity was one of the greatest disasters of history
  Emperor Tiberius (42 BC -AD 37), cited by Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome Deorum injuriae diis curae
(The gods take care of injuries to the gods)

Statement was made by the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1871

Cited by Frank Swancara, The Separation of Religion and Government (New York, Truth Seeker Co., 1950), p 140.

The man who has the hardihood to avow that he does not believe in a God, shows a recklessness of moral character and utter want of moral responsibility, such as very little entitles him to be heard or believed in a court of justice in a country designated as Christian.
  David Hume (1711-76).
Essays: Moral and Political (1741-2), 'The Sceptic'
In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies of liberty.    
  S. G. Tallentyre's summary of Voltaire's attitude. I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.
    Unto the pure, all things are pure Titus 1:15
To the Puritan all things are impure D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Etruscan Places
  Joachim Kahl
The Misery of Christianity p 75
The New Testament is work of neurotic philistines, who regarded human sexuality not as a source of joy, but as a source of anxiety; not as a means of expressing love, but as a means of expressing sin
Eunuchs For Heaven p75
That sin declares itself mainly in the realm of sex remains the view of the celibatarian Catholic establishment and is rooted in Augustine's antisexual flights of fancy.
  Tertullian (c AD 160-220),
Exhortation to the Greeks 1.8.4. See Disciplinary, Moral and Ascetical Works (New York, 1959). translated by Rudolph Arbessman, Sister Emily Joseph Daly, and Edwin A Quain SJ, and quoted in Warner, Alone of All Her Sex p 58

The views of the Carthaginian theologian Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, on women were fairly typical:

Do you not realise that Eve is you? The curse God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty, you must bear its hardships. You are the devil's gateway, you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the law of God, you who softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, the man Adam, you broke him, it was child's play to you. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!
  Karen Armstrong,
The Gospel According to Women
Christianity is unique in having hated and outlawed sex and in making people feel guilty because they are sexual beings.    
  George Bernard Shaw
The Doctor's Dilemma
Morality consists of suspecting other people of not being married.    
Eunuchs For Heaven p81
...anyone who derives his theology from Catholic moral theologians will be convinced, even today, that masturbation wastes the spinal marrow, softens or desiccates the brain, and can generally impair the constitution.
  Deuteronomy 22:28-9 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife...  
  George Riley Scott
A History of Torture
The Scourging of penitents might well have fulfilled a twofold purpose, enabling the priest to indulge a taste for sadism and the penitent a penchant for masochism    
  Marina Warner
Alone of All Her Sex. p71
In Christian hagiography, the sadomasochistic content of the paeans to male and female martyrs is startling, from the early documents like the Passion of saints Perpetua and Felicity into the high Middle Ages. But the particular focus on women's torn and broken flesh reveals the psychological obsession of the religion with sexual sin, and the tortures that pile up one upon the other with pornographic repetitiousness underline the identification of the female with the perils of sexual contact
Death and Burial in Medieval England, p 127 citing Erbe, Theodor (ed.), Mirk's Festival, Early English Text Society Extra Series 96, (1905), p298

A woman that [has] died in childing shall not be buried in church, but in churchyard, so that the child first be taken out of her and buried outwith churchyard
  H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), Chrestomathy Puritanism - the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
  George Bernard Shaw
All great truths begin as blasphemies.    
  Sophocles (c 496-406 BC)
Reason is God's crowning gift to man    
  Pope Gregory I, St Gregory the Great (c540-604),
Faith has no merit where human reason supplies the truth    
  Desiderius Erasmus (c1469-1536) By identifying the new learning with heresy we make orthodoxy synonymous with ignorance.    
A Short History of Medicine, p 43
When Europe became static and religious during the Middle Ages, its medicine resembled Indian medicine tremendously, except that Indian medicine was much better. When in Europe, through the Renaissance, the Greek attitude prevailed again, Europe surpassed India rapidly
  Laurens van der Post
The Lost World of the Kalahari
Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right
  Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Pensées sur la religion
I was lost in a great forest at night, with only a small flickering light to guide me. A stranger came and said to me "My friend, put out your candle, so that you will find the way better". That man was a theologian.    
  Bishop Mandell Creighton
Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton by his wife (1904) vol. 2. P. 503
No People de so much harm as those who go around doing good.    
  Lambeth Conference 1978
Resolution 8
The healing of the sick in His name is as much a part of the proclamation of the Kingdom as the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) Religion has not civilised man, man has civilised religion
  Howell Forgy (1908-83) Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition    
  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662),
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.    
  St Bernard
(translated by Bruno Scott James) in James A Brundage, Crusades: A Documentary Survey, (Milwaukee, Marquette University Press, 1962).
But to those of you who are merchants, men quick to seek a bargain, let me point out the advantages of this great opportunity. Do not miss them. Take up the sign of the cross and you will find indulgence for all sins which you humbly confess. The cost is small, the reward is great…
The Orthodox Church, p 69
Eastern Christendom has never forgotten those three appalling days of pillage. 'Even the Saracens are merciful and kind,' protested Nicetas Choniates [a contemporary historian], 'compared with these men who bear the Cross of Christ on their shoulders.' What shocked the Greeks more than anything was the wanton and systematic sacrilege of the Crusaders. How could men who had specially dedicated themselves to God's service treat the things of God in such a way? As the Byzantines watched the Crusaders tear to pieces the alter and icon screen in the Church of the Holy Wisdom, and set prostitutes on the Patriarch's throne, they must have felt that those who did such things were not Christians in the same sense as themselves.    
  Henri-Fréderic Amiel (1821-1881), Journal We are always making God our accomplice, that we may legalise our own iniquities. Every successful massacre is consecrated by a Te Deum, and the clergy have never been wanting in benedictions for any victorious enormity
  Attributed to Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscomte de Turenne (1611-75) God is always on the side of the big battalions.
  Deuteronomy 6:5 … thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their alters, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire  
  Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
Whenever books are burned men also in the end are burned.    
  Paul Johnson
A History of Christianity p 94
The monks were often formed, or formed themselves, into black-robed squads for the execution of the Church's business, first to smash up pagan temples, later to rampage through the streets in time of doctrinal controversy. Monasticism attracted misfits, bankrupts, criminals, homosexuals, fugitives as well as the pious; it was also a career for raw peasant youths who could be drilled into well-disciplined monkish regiments to be deployed as an unscrupulous bishop might think fit.
  Exodus 34:13, cf. Deuteronomy 6:5
… ye shall destroy their alters, break their images, and cut down their groves:
  Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, Guidebook to Rome, Cadogan Books Ltd (London, 1989) p 49 … the popes wantonly ruined more of ancient Rome than Goths or Saracens had ever managed.    


Robert Graves
The White Goddess, p 144.

Graves is talking about Ireland:

...the age of toleration did not last long; once Irish princes lost the privilege of appointing bishops from their own sept, and iconoclasts were politically strong enough to begin their righteous work, the axe rose and fell on every sacred hill.    
  Montaigne (1533-1592),
Essay 'Of Cripples'
…it is putting a very high value on one's conjectures to roast a man alive on the strength of them.    

Extract from a proclamation read out by the Conquistadores to their new subjects:

Kahl, Joachim, The Misery of Christianity, (Eglish translation by N D Smith), Penguin Books, p 48.

The Lord God has delegated to Peter and his successors all power over all people of the earth, so that all people must obey the successors of Peter [ie the Pope]. Now one of these popes has made a gift of the newly discovered islands and countries and everything that they contain to the kings of Spain, so that, by virtue of this gift, their Majesties are now kings and lords of these islands and of the continent. You are therefore required to recognise Holy Church as mistress and ruler of the whole world and to pay homage to the King of Spain as your new lord. Otherwise, we shall, with God's help, proceed against you with violence and force you under the yoke of the Church and the king, treating you as rebellious vassals deserve to be treated. We shall take your property away from you and make slaves of your women and children. At the same time, we solemnly declare that only you will be to blame for the bloodshed and the disaster that will overtake you.
  Matthew 7:18-20 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them  
  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Why I Am Not A Christian, p 33
The most virtuous man was the man who retired from the world; the only men of action who were regarded as saints were those who wasted the lives and substance of their subjects in fighting the Turks, like St Louis. The Church would never regard a man as a saint because he reformed the finances, or the criminal law, or the judiciary. Such mere contributions to human welfare would be regarded as of no importance. I do not believe there is a single saint in the whole calendar whose saintship is due to work of public utility.

Sir Lesley Stephen, 'Dreams and Realities' in An Agnostic's Apology and other Essays, 1893,

Stephen was an ex-Anglican clergyman. Here he is speaking of the Church towards the end of the nineteenth century:

You can damn men readily enough for not holding the right shade of belief about mysteries which you loudly proclaim to be inconceivable; did you ever - when you were strong enough - bring your tremendous arsenal of threats to bear upon men who were making hell on earth, and committing every abomination under the sun in your name and for your profit? You did not explicitly approve; or, rather, the persons who approved in your name did it without proper authority. But what is the good of a body which can allow its whole influence to be used in favour of unspeakable atrocities, till its power of inflicting them has vanished?

  H C Lea, The Inquisition in the Middle Ages (New York, 1955)
…[the Christian Church] introduced a system of jurisprudence which infected the criminal law of all the lands subjected to its influence, and rendered the administration of papal justice a cruel mockery for centuries. It furnished the Holy See with a powerful weapon in aid of political aggrandisement, it tempted temporal sovereigns to imitate the example...



Juan de Mariana,
Historia General de España, Bibioteca de Autores Españoles, Madrid, 1950, XXXI, p 202 cited by Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, p 70.

Juan de Mariana, was a sixteenth century Jesuit writing about the Spanish Inquisition

What caused the most surprise was that children paid for the crimes of their parents, and that accusers were not named or made known, nor confronted by the accused, nor was there publication of witnesses: all of which was contrary to the practice followed of old in other tribunals.    

Percy Bysshe Shelley
A Refutation of Deism, 1814,

It is sufficiently evident that an omniscient being never conceived the design of reforming the world by Christianity. Omniscience would surely have foreseen the inefficacy of that system, which experience demonstrates not only to have been utterly impotent in restraining, but to have been most active in exhaling the malevolent propensities of men. During the period which elapsed between the removal of the seat of empire to Constantinople in 328, and its capture by the Turks in 1453, what salutary influence did Christianity exercise upon that world which it was intended to enlighten? Never before was Europe the theatre of such ceaseless and sanguinary wars: never were the people so brutalised by ignorance and debased by slavery    
  Thomas Paine (1737-1809),
The Age of Reason, Part II, Conclusion
The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.  
  1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; Hold fast that which is good  
  Philip Guedalla (1889-1944) Any stigma, as the old saying is, will serve to beat a dogma.
  Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass (1872) ch. 5.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.    
  David Hume (1711-1776)
On Miracles
The Christian religion not only was first attended by a miracle, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.    
  H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), Notebooks, 'Minority Report'. It takes a long while for a naturally trustful person to reconcile himself to the idea that after all God will not help him.    
  Samuel Butler (1835-1902), Notebooks Prayers are to men as dolls are to children    
  William Blake (1757-1827),
The Everlasting Gospel
The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision's greatest enemy
Thine has a great hook nose like thine
Mine has a snub nose like to mine
  Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975)
Religion Without Revelation.
Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.    
  Paul Valéry (1871-1945)
Mauvaises Pensées et Autres
God made everything out of nothing. But the nothingness shows through.    
  Thomas Paine
Introduction to the First Part of The Age of Reason, 1794
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.  
  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), St Joan A miracle is an event which creates faith. Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive; therefore it is not a fraud but a miracle.
  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan To say He [God] hath spoken to him in a dream is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him, ...  

President McKinley
c ited by Johnson, A History of Christianity p 456

I am not ashamed to tell you, Gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance that one night. And late one night it came to me… There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all and to educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilise and Christianise them…

  H L Mencken (1880-1956)
Prejudices, 'Types of Men'
Faith may be described briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.    
  Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Criticism of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Introduction
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.    
  Evelyn Waugh (190-1966)
Put Out More Flags
'It is a curious thing,' he thought, 'that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilised taste'
  John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-), Economics, Peace and Laughter. The Contradictions of the Old Testament mean that with a little effort anyone can find a faith that accords with his preferences and a moral code that is agreeable to his tastes, even if fairly depraved    
  Matthew 24:33-35; see also Mark 13:30-31 and Luke 21:32-32 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away...

  Ralph Waldo Emerson
Essays, 'Self Reliance'
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.    
  Zechariah 10:3 Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats.  
  T S Elliot (1888-1965) Christianity is always adapting itself into something which can be believed    
  St Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
De Baptismo contra Donatistas., IV}.
Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. There is no salvation outside the church.

  Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury. I can't believe in a God who only saves people who live in certain latitudes.    
  Attributed to William Temple (1881-1944), Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-4) I believe in the Church, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, and I regret that it nowhere exists.    
  Robert Burton (1577-1640)
Anatomy of Melancholy
One religion is as true as another.    
  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), Essays, 'Character' The religions we call false were once true    
  Tennessee Williams (1912-1983)
The Night of the Iguana
All your western theologies, the mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.    
  William Ralph Inge (1860-1954), Dean of St Pauls
Outspoken Essays
To become a popular religion, it is necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy

  Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
The Advancement of Learning
If a man shall begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties .
  Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) There is no greater hatred in the world than hatred of ignorance for knowledge
  Letter from Francesco Niccolini to Andrea Cioli, about Galileo, dated 5th September 1632 …I humbly begged His Holiness to agree to give him the opportunity to justify himself. Then His Holiness answered that in these matters of the Holy Office the procedure was simply to arrive at a censure and then call the defendant to recant.    
  Bishop John of Nikiu, 4th C Hypatia was devoted to her magic, astrolabes, and instruments of music … She beguiled many people through her satanic wiles.    
  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Journals The religion that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits suicide
  Attributed to Alfonso 'the Wise', King of Castile (1221-84) Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe    
Reason, Ridicule and Religion, p116.
No one seeking to enquire into rocks or minerals, into earth history or the formation of the earth's configuration could afford to ignore or deny the value of his primary source, the Bible
  Nietzsche (1844-1900),
The Gay Science
Do you really believe that the sciences would ever have originated and grown if the way had not been prepared by magicians, alchemists, astrologers and witches ...    
  Averroës (1126-98) Philosophy for Philosophers, Religion for the rest    
  Lucan (AD 39-65) Pharsalia, I. 128.

Lucan wrote this when Christianity was still an obscure Jewish sect:

Is the abode of God anywhere but in the earth, and sea, and sky, and air, and virtue? Why do we seek heavenly ones beyond? Whatever you see, and whatever you touch, that is Jupiter.
  William Blake
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.    
  T H Huxley (1825-1895) . Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside the cradle of Hercules.    
  John Burrow, in his Editor's Introduction to the Penguin edition of Darwin's Origin of Species. Darwin was struck by a number of facts observed during his voyage which seemed at odds with the view that each species had been individually created. The organic life and fossils he studied so intensively and collected with such assiduity seemed littered with clues, odd similarities, and juxtapositions. Why did closely allied animals replace one another as one travelled southwards? Why did extinct fossil species show such close structural relation to living animals? Above all, why, in the Galapagos islands did the finches and the giant tortoises show slight variations from island to island, so that the local inhabitants could always tell from which island a tortoise had come? The more closely different species resembled each other in adjacent areas or in different epochs in the same area, the more likely did it seem that those species might share a common ancestor, and the less plausible seemed the hypothesis of a separate creation of each separate species.
  Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)
The Note Book
The supernatural is the natural not yet understood
  Anonymous graffito Religion: man's attempt to communicate with the weather    
  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Unpopular Essays. Man is a credulous animal and must believe something. In the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.    
  Edmund Burke (1729-1794), Reflections on the Revolution in France. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.
  Baron d'Holbach (1723-89)
Good Sense, Preface
Theology is but the ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system.    
  Alexander Comfort, 'The Case for Humanism - or can Science make us good?, contribution to a discussion before the Fifty-One Society broadcast in 1957, cited in Knight, Humanist Anthology p 135. I have sometimes imagined the kind of literature which might exist in our culture if one of the most deepseated and comforting tenets embodied in our traditional religion had been the real existence of mermaids. It would be no good, I think, pointing out that they were improbable organisms, counter to almost everything we know about vertebrates, or that the legends of this kind are general among savages, or that supposed mermaids were probably dugongs. We would still be told in sermons that humanity by its nature cries out for the reality of mermaids, that we need only believe and we should see them with our own eyes - which is quite true - that the seas were full of surprises and coelacanths, and that no biologist could prove that it did not also contain mermaids. At the last ditch we should be told that they exist in a symbolic manner.    
  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion.  
  Argyle & Beit-Hallahmi
The Social Psychology of Religion, p 29
Religion in America has become an American religion, which is mostly secularised, middle-class and supportive of an individual and national 'good image'.
  Henry Louise Mencken
Notebooks, 'Minority Report'.
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 them above their betters.
  John Tillotson (1630-1694), Archbishop of Canterbury (1691-1694) If God were not a necessary being of himself, He might almost seem to be made for the use and benefit of mankind.    
  Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
No truly great man, from Jesus Christ down, ever founded a sect.    
  Friedrich Wilhelm Neitzsche
Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft
God is dead: but considering the state the species Man is in, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which his shadow will be shown .
  H. L. Menken (1880-1956), Notebooks, 'Minority Report' 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.    
  Matthew 7:17 A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit  
  Carl Sagan
The Demon Haunted World
If we're absolutely sure that our beliefs are right, and those of others wrong; that we are motivated by good, and others by evil; that the King of the Universe speaks to us, and not to the adherents of very different faiths; that it is wicked to challenge conventional doctrines or to ask searching questions; that our main job to believe and obey - then the witch mania will recur in its infinite variations down to the time of the last man.
  Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-1400), Canterbury Tales, General Prologue And shame it is to see - let priests take heed -
A shitten shepherd and a clean sheep
  Voltaire (1694-1778)
Philosophical Dictionary of Religion

Theological religion is the source of all imaginable follies and disturbances: it is the parent of fanaticism and evil discord. It is the enemy of mankind.
  John Adams
Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
  Frederick Douglass, escaped slave I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.    
  Isaac Asimov Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.    
  Delos B. McKown, quoted from Victor J. Stenger, Physics And Psychics The invisible and nonexistent look much alike.    
    All Gods were immortal.    
  Ron Patterson Could a being create the fifty billion galaxies, each with two hundred billion stars, then rejoice in the smell of burning goat flesh?    
  Thomas Jefferson Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.    
  Lenny Bruce Anyone who has two shirts when someone has none is not a christian.    
  Epicurus Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?    
  Sigmund Freud It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.    
  David Hume
Of Miracles
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.    
  Benjamin Franklin The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.    
    Like all religions, the Holy Religion of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is based upon both Logic and Faith. We have Faith that She is Pink; and we Logically know that She is Invisible, because we can't see Her    
  Earle Jones - in alt.atheism.satire The Romans killed Jesus on the cross. His death on the cross saved us from our sins. Therefore, we should worship the Romans.    
  Richard Dawkins. We should be open-minded, but not so open that our brains fall out.    
  Arthur C. Clarke Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?    
  Bishop John Shelby Spong, Christ Episcopal Church, Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, September 3, 2003. The theistic idea of God is not only in this day and age unbelievable, it is immoral.    
  John Stuart Mill The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known.    
  Rev. Nathaniel Emmons (1745 - 1840) The happiness of the elect will consist in part of witnessing the torments of the damned in hell, among whom may be their own children, parents, husbands, wives and friends; ... but instead of taking the part of their miserable being, they will say 'Amen!', 'Hallelujah!', 'Praise the Lord!'    
  Abu'l-Ala-Al-Ma'arri (973-1057) Syrian poet. The world holds two classes of men - intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.    
  Bertolt Brecht The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.    
  The Koran Give tidings, O Mohammed, of painful doom to those who disbelieve... Slay the idolators wherever ye find them... And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.    
  German-born Theologian Franz Bibfeld It is of course always best to be led by god, and have him personally whisper into your ear. Only, when it is the devil talking he will tell you he is god, for the devil is a crafty liar. So you never know who is talking to you.    
  Shelly If god has spoken, why is the world not convinced?    
  Steven Weinberg - Nobel Laureate 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.    
  Thomas Edison All Bibles Are Man-Made    
  Jonathan Meades If you believe in the existence of fairies at the bottom of the garden you are deemed fit for the bin. If you believe in parthenogenesis, ascension, transubstantiation and all the rest of it you are deemed fit to govern the country.    
  Jerry Falwell If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being.    
  Ambrose Bierce
The Devil's Dictionary.
Christian: One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.    
  H. L. Mencken Religion deserves no more respect than a pile of garbage.    
  L. Ron Hubbard Writing science fiction for about a penny a word is no way to make a living, If you really want to make a million, the quickest way is to start your own religion.    
  Ruth Hermence Green There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the dark ages.    
  John Stuart Mill
[Utility of Religion]
In sober truth, nearly all the things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature’s everyday performances. Killing, the most criminal act recognized by human laws, nature does once to every being that lives, and in a large proportion of cases after protracted tortures such as only the greatest monsters whom we read of ever purposely inflicted on their living fellow creatures.    
    Christian humility is preached by the clergy, but practiced only by the lower classes.    
  Ernest Hemingway All thinking men are atheists.    
    Scratch the Christian and you find the pagan, spoiled    
  Rev. Joseph Griesedieck, Episcopal priest. After September 11, the face of God was a blank slate for me. God could not be counted on in the way I thought God could be counted on.    
    All religions die of but one disease, that of being found out    
  Rabbi Brad Hirschfeld. Religion drove those planes into those buildings, it's amazing how good religion is at mobilizing people to do awful, murderous things. There is this dark side to it, and anyone who loves religious experience, including me, better begin to own that there is a serious shadow side to this thing.    
  Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) Russian author Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: "Great God, grant that twice two be not four."    
  God (Micah 5:15) And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.    
  Mark Twain The Bible has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.    
    So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the gospels in praise of intelligence    
  Linda Smith If god wanted us to believe in him... he'd exist!    
  Agnes Gonxa Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot... the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.    
    The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.    
  A C Grayling - 21st century English philosopher. (From an interview on ...religious belief has been a massively negative force in human history, causing great suffering and conflict, and standing deliberately in the way of most of mankind's efforts at progress, freedom and flourishing.    
  Napoleon Bonaparte Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.    
  Jesus - Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.    
    A theologian is like a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat which isn't there - and finding it!    
    Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.    
    Faith: not wanting to know what is true    
  Sister Nirmala, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity - after the death of Mother Teresa. The poor should remain poor ... Without them, we will lose our jobs.    
  Robert Ingersoll
The Gods
This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.    
  Robert Ingersoll
The Gods

Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw material cost so little, that generally the god market was fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms.

  George Bernard Shaw
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.    
    The Christian lives in a nightmare and thinks it is a pleasant dream    
  Bertrand Russell
At what point sin begins is a matter as to which casuists differ. One eminently orthodox Catholic divine laid it down that a confessor may fondle a nun's breasts, provided he does it without evil intent. But I doubt whether modern authorities would agree with him on this point.    
    Christian Fundamentalism: The doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life.    
  Wiliam K Clifford
It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.    
  Hans Konzelmann
The church lives on the fact that modern research about Jesus is not known amongst the public.    
  Tom Stoppard
George, in Jumpers
If God exists, he certainly existed before religion. He is a philosopher’s God, logically inferred from self-evident premises. That he should have been taken up by a glorified supporters’ club is only a matter of psychological interest.    
  Ludwig Feuerbach
It is not as in the Bible, that God created man in his own image. But, on the contrary, man created God in his own image.    
  Robert G. Ingersoll
Jehovah was not a moral god. He had all the vices and he lacked all the virtues. He generally carried out all his threats, but he never faithfully kept a promise.    
    For many, faith is a suitable substitute for knowledge, as death is for a difficult life    
  Gene Roddenberry
We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.    
  Bertrand Russell
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 even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.    
    Religions are what dreams are made of    
  St. Thomas Aquinas
In order that the happiness of the saints will be more delightful ... they are permitted perfectly to behold the sufferings of the damned. ... The saints will rejoice in the punishment of the damned ... which will fill them with joy.    
  Richard Dawkins

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

“Nearly all peoples have developed their own creation myth, and the Genesis story is just the one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants.” [The Blind Watchmaker, Oxford University Press (1988), p316]

    If a man would follow today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly, the teachings of the new, he would be insane.    
    It is no accident that the symbol of a bishop is a crook, and the sign of an archbishop is a double-cross    
  Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, Muslim cleric. It is wonderful to kill a non-believer.    
  Justin Brown If the Bible is mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust it to tell us where we're going?    
  Mark Twain
Faith is believing what you know ain't so.    
    In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as part of the latter.    
  Arthur C. Clarke. (18th February 2004, The Onion AV Club interview.)

Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.

  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.    
  Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete professor of theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York. From the first moment I looked into that horror on September 11th, into that fireball, into that explosion of horror, I knew it, I recognized an old companion. I recognized religion.    

Charles Taze Russell, American religious leaderand founder of Jehovah's Witnesses

Studies in the Scripture, Volume 3, 1910 edition

Studies in the Scripture, Volume 3, 1923 edition

The deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914

The deliverance of the saints must take place some time after 1914.

  Tammy Faye Bakker
I take Him shopping with me. I say, 'OK, Jesus, help me find a bargain    
  Deepak Chopra
Walk with those seeking Truth. Run from those who think they've found it.    
  John Wesley (1703 - 1791) Whatever the natural cause, sin is the true cause of all earthquakes.    
  Friedrich Nietzsche
The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly, has made the world evil and ugly.    
  Martin Luther
on Copernicus

An upstart astrologer...This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.

  Adolf Hitler
... I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work.    

in a letter to Frederick the Great:

Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world."    
Why do people go on pretending about this Christianity?    
  Clarence Darrow
Scopes "monkey" trial, Dayton, Tennessee, July 13, 1925

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 - that is all that agnosticism means.

  Proverbs 14:15 The simple believeth every word.  
  John Buchan (1875-1940), author and statesman. An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.    

George Santayana

My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image to be servants of their human interests.


Pearl S. Buck

When men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.

  Havelock Ellis The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum    
  Clarence Darrow I do not believe in God because I do not believe in Mother Goose.
  Seneca the Younger (circa 4 B.C.E - 65 C.E) "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." -    

Dennis McKinsey
newsletter Biblical Errancy

If God kills, lies, cheats, discriminates, and otherwise behaves in a manner that puts the Mafia to shame, that's okay, he's God. He can do whatever he wants. Anyone who adheres to this philosophy has had his sense of morality, decency, justice and humaneness warped beyond recognition by the very book that is supposedly preaching the opposite.



As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist.


Thomas Jefferson

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

  Roman Tombstone:
Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler.
But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way.
There is no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon,
No caretaker Aiakos, no dog Cerberus.
All we who are dead below
Have become bones and ashes, but nothing else.
I have spoken to you honestly, go on, traveler,
Lest even while dead I seem loquacious to you.
  Martin Luther

What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church...a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.

  A. E. Harvey
Christian scholar.
All the Gospels, after having run closely together in their accounts of the trial and execution, diverge markedly when they come to the circumstance of the Resurrection. It's impossible to fit their accounts together into a single coherent scheme.    
  Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Macaulay (1800-1859)
English historian and Whig politician
History of England, vol. 1, ch. 2 (1849),

The Puritan hated bearbaiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.

  Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Macaulay (1800-1859)
English historian and Whig politician,
from Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The Church is the handmaid of tyranny and the steady enemy of liberty.

  Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Macaulay (1800-1859)
English historian and Whig politician
Macintosh's History of the Revolution

The doctrine which, from the very first origin of religious dissensions, has been held by bigots of all sects, when condensed into a few words and stripped of rhetorical disguise, is simply this: I am in the right, and you are in the wrong. When you are the stronger, you ought to tolerate me; for it is your duty to tolerate truth. But when I am the stronger I shall persecute you; for it is my duty to persecute error.

  Camille Flammarion (1842-1925)
French astronomer
from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Men have had the vanity to pretend that the whole creation was made for them, while in reality the whole creation does not suspect their existence.

  Michael Martin
Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, p. 159 (1990)

Religious experiences in one culture often conflict with those in another. One cannot accept all of them as veridical, yet there does not seem to be any way to separate the veridical experiences from the rest.

  Thomas Paine (1737-1809),
The Age of Reason, Part II
It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them - for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses, whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con. [adultery] against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves

Michael Martin
Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, p. 159 (1990)

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.


Émile Zola
from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Has science ever retreated? No! It is Catholicism which has always retreated before her, and will always be forced to retreat.


Émile Zola
from Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest!

  Oscar Wilde
The Critic as Artist (1891)

Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.


Oscar Wilde
The Portrait of Mr. W. H., ch. 1 (first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July 1889)

No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true.

  Henry A. Williams
The True Wilderness (1965)

All fanaticism is a strategy to prevent doubt from becoming conscious.

  Somerset Maugham
A Writer's Notebook (1949), entry for 1901

No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.

  Somerset Maugham
The Summing Up (1938)

I cannot believe in a God that has neither honour nor common sense.

  Robert A. Wilson
Right Where You Are Sitting Now

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.


Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau's Autobiography, vol. i, pp. 30-31,

I certainly never believed, more or less, in the "essential doctrines" of Christianity, which represent God as the predestinator of men to sin and perdition, and Christ as their rescuer from that doom. I never was more or less beguiled by the trickery of language by which the perdition of man is made out to be justice, and his redemption to be mercy.

  St. Augustine

As to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite to ours, that is on no ground credible...that there was only one pair of original ancestors, and it is inconceivable that such distant regions should have been peopled by Adam's decendants.

  Sir Julian Huxley
The New Divinity

Today the god hypothesis has ceased to be scientifically tenable ... and its abandonment often brings a deep sense of relief. Many people assert that this abandonment of the god hypothesis means the abandonment of all religion and all moral sanctions. This is simply not true. But it does mean, once our relief at jettisoning an outdated piece of ideological furniture is over, that we must construct some thing to take its place.

  Joseph McCabe
What Gods Cost Men
Any body of men who believe in hell will persecute whenever they have the power.

Francis Bacon

Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.

  Wilhelm Meinhold (1797-1851)
History professor, University of Bonn
quoted from John E. Remsberg, The Christ, p. 393

The transfiguration and ascension of Christ may be compared to the heathen apotheosis of such heroes as Hercules, while the story of the descent into Hades is modeled after such narratives as those describing the visit of Hercules and Theseus to the lower world.

  Herman Melville
Ishmael in Moby Dick

I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has turned out to be hollow courtesy.
  H. L. Mencken
A Mencken Chrestomathy, "Sententiæ: Arcana Cœlestia" (1949)
Theology: An effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into terms of the not worth knowing.
  George Meredith
Fortnigbtly Review (1909), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Insulting Quotations
The man who has no mind of his own lends it to the priests.    
  Jean Meslier
Testament, quoted from Jim Herrick, Against the Faith (1985), p. 42-3
You will think, perhaps, my dear friends, that among the great number of false religions there are in the world, my intention will be to except from their number at least Christianity, apostolic and Roman, which we profess and which we say is the only one to teach genuine truth, the only one which recognises and adores, as is required, the true God, and the only one which leads men on the path to salvation and eternal happiness. But disabuse yourself, my dear friends, disabuse yourself of that, and generally of all that your pious ignoramuses, or your mocking and self-interested priests and doctors, press you to say and to believe, under the false pretext of the infallible certitude of their supposedly sacred and divine religion.... Your religion is no less vain, no less superstitious than any other; it is not less false in its principles, not less ridiculous and absurd in its dogmas and maxims; you are no less idolaters than those you blame and condemn for idolatry; the idols of the pagans and of your religion are only different in names and figures. In a word, all that your priests and doctors preach to you with such eloquence touching the grandeur, excellence and sanctity of the mysteries that they make you adore, all that which they recount to you with such gravity, with the certainty of their claimed miracles and all that which is given out to you with such zeal and such assurance concerning the grandeur of the rewards of heaven, and concerning the terrifying punishments of hell, are no more at bottom than illusions, errors, dreams, fictions and impostures, invented firstly for political ends and ruses, continued by deceivers and impostors; finally received and believed blindly by the ignorant and rude common people, and then eventually maintained by the authority of the great, and the sovereigns of the earth, who have favoured the abuses, the errors, the superstition and the imposture which are upheld by their laws in order to hold the mass of men in yoke and make them do all that their rulers want.
  David Feherty (attributed: source unknown) If god wanted people to believe in him, why'd he invent logic then?
  James K. Feibleman,
Understanding Philosophy (1973), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.

James Feibleman (b. 1904)

  Andrew Dickson White
The History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom (1898), vol. II, ch. xvi, p. 149
The cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God.
  Lemuel K. Washburn
Is The Bible Worth Reading?
The cross everywhere is a dagger in the heart of liberty.
  Evelyn Waugh
The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish.
  Paul Valéry
Tel quel I (1943)
That which has been believed by everyone, always and everywhere, has every chance of being false.
  Gore Vidal
From the Secular Humanist Bulletin (Summer 1995)
Once people get hung up on theology, they've lost sanity forever. More people have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ than any other name in the history of the world.
Philosophical Dictionary (1764)
The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.
  A. C. Swinburne
Dirae (1875)
The beast faith lives on its own dung.
  Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle) All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.
  Percy Bysshe Shelley
Queen Mab (1813)

And priests dare babble of a God of peace,
Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood,
Murdering the while, uprooting every germ
Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all,
Making the earth a slaughter-house!
Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 3
Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian.
  Arthur Schopenhauer
Religion: a Dialogue (1851)
Monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun 3,000 years: just because a jealous god had said, "Thou shalt make no graven image."
  Armand Salacrou
"Certitudes et Incertitudes," in Theatre (1943)
The existence of a world without God seems to me less absured than the presence of a God, existeing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell.
  George Santayana
Atlantic Monthly (1953)
Religion is the natural reaction of the imagination when confronted by the difficulties in a truculent world.    
  Bertrand Russell
Why I Am Not A Christian
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
Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954)
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.
  Bertrand Russell
"Christian Ethics" from Marriage and Morals (1950)
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 likely to be foolish than sensible.
  Bertrand Russell
The History of Western Philosophy
A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
  Gene Roddenberry
Free Inquiry (autumn, 1992)
We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.
  Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939; repr. in The Substance of Man, 1962, p. 68).
Kill a man: you are a murderer; kill a million, a conqueror; kill them all, a God.

  Jean Rostand
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939; repr. in The Substance of Man, "A Biologist's Thoughts," ch. 10, 1962).
Stupidity, outrage, vanity, cruelty, iniquity, bad faith, falsehood -- we fail to see the whole array when it is facing in the same direction as we.    
  Winwood Reade
The Martyrdom of Man (1948), p. 428
One fact must be familiar to all those who have any experience of human nature - a sincerely religious man is often an exceedingly bad man.
  George A. Reid
from George Seldes, The Great Quotations (1967),
Probably in all history there is no instance of a society in which ecclesiastical power was dominant which was not at once stagnant, corrupt and brutal.
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