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Anti-religious aphorisms & quotations

Mostly from "Epigrams, Aphorisms & Maxims".   Aphorisms
in quotes are authored by the people named alongside.
The rest are mine, as are all the interpretations and comments.

Many of my favourite aphorisms come from Bertrand Russell, quoted here.
Also see the Atheism section of Citatum.





Religion starts with belief, philosophy with doubt

The hallmark of religion is an unquestioning belief and faith in the incredible,
while that of philosophy is doubt even about what most of us would regard as
certainties. (This epigram isn’t literally true: religion invariably starts with

"Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is
      answers that may never be questioned." (Anon)

“Man has no nobler function than to defend the truth”
     (Ruth McKenney)

Well, first he has to find out how to recognise the truth, or else he may be defending
lies and nonsense. Half the world's people believe they are defenders of "the truth",
but really they have no concept of truth and defend only what they've been told.

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When
      many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion”
      (Robert M. Pirsig)

Everything has a reason - except religion

Truth before God, God before Scriptures

If there’s a God (whatever that means), he will be revealed by reasoned
consideration of empirical facts, not from the fantasies of ancient scriptures.

"It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."
      (G.K. Chesterton)

"Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every
      possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor."
      (Sigmund Freud)

Forgive me, God, so I can go and do it again

Religion, in particular the belief in redemption of sins, undermines personal
responsibility and authorises wrongdoing.

It’s wrong to eat this, God, so bless it and then it will be all right

This typifies the injustice of religion, the superiority of man’s morality over God’s,
and the utter wretchedness and degeneracy of stooping to the latter.

Those who believe in nonsense will rarely be believed

If a person tells you that a load of patent nonsense is actually the absolute truth, why
should you believe anything else he says?

Those who follow their deepest beliefs with clowning will always
      be seen as clowns

If a person behaves ridiculously (or even dangerously) in the execution of his
beliefs, why should you trust him to act sensibly at other times?

“Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration -
      courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth"
     (H L Mencken)

"All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays."
      (Cathy Ladman)

"Sunday school: a prison in which children do penance for the evil
      conscience of their parents." (H.L. Mencken)

"Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?" (Anon)

“Uncle Alf said he was an atheist, but didn’t have a clue what it was
      he was saying he was not” (unknown source)

Exactly! Is this why many people claim only to be agnostic? Not because they don't know
whether there's a god, but because they don't know what it is that they don't know.

"If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to
      make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then
      it is time we got rid of Him." (James Baldwin)

“All postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory.”
      (Christopher Hitchens)

“Life and wit and inquiry begin just at the point where faith ends.”
      (Christopher Hitchens)

Certainty is the mother of devastation

Those who take their beliefs seriously and unconditionally invite disaster.

Prattle means battle

The perpetrators of theological nonsense frequently bring conflict and war.

Quotations of hope

Friedrich Nietzsche:

"In fact, we philosophers and ‘free spirits’ feel ourselves irradiated by a new dawn by the report that the ‘old God is dead’; our hearts overflow with gratitude, astonishment, presentiment, and expectation. At last, the horizon seems open once more, granting even that it is not bright; our ships can at last put out to sea in face of every danger; every hazard is again permitted to the discerner; the sea, our sea, again lies open before us; perhaps never before did such an open sea exist."

Robert G. Ingersoll:

"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds."

... and a quotation of despair

William Sargant (from Battle for the Mind - The Mechanics of Indoctrination, Brainwashing and Thought Control):

"The most kindly, generous and humane of men have in fact been conditioned, throughout history, to commit acts which appear horrifying in retrospect to those who have been differently conditioned. Many otherwise sensible people cling to strange and cruel views merely because these have been firmly implanted in their brains at an early age, and they can no more be disabused of them by argument than could the generation that still insisted on the flatness of the earth, though it had been circumnavigated on several occasions."