Some Words and Thoughts on Religion

How to spot a Middle Eastern terrorist

"There are ten church members by inheritance for every one by conviction." [Anonymous]

"I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." [Albert Einstein, 1954, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side"]

"Religion stills a thinking mind." [Greg Erwin]

"If God wanted people to believe in him, why'd he invent logic then?" [David Feherty, PGA Tour golfer]

"There are two things in the world that can never get together - religion and common sense."
[George W. Foote]

"Religion; humanity's greatest folly, greatest curse." [Kevin Harris]

"Jesus is just a word I use to swear with." [Richard Harris]

"Christ rode on an ass, but now asses ride on Christ." [Heine]

"It never ceases to amaze me at how many religions depend upon circumcised penises." [Dawn Henderson]

"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." [Adolph Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941]

"The world holds two classes of men -- intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence." [Abu'l-Ala-Al-Ma'arri (973-1057; Syrian poet)]

"Faith is to the human what sand is to the ostrich."

"Jesus Christ: Imaginary Playmate to Millions of Adults."

"Christianity - a whole religion based on an oxymoron."

"Why be born again, when you can just grow up?"

"As 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make one drink,' so also, 'You can drag a Christian to the truth, but you can't make one think.' "[Delmar Coughlin]

"If thinking freely for yourself is a sure ticket to hell, then the conversations in heaven must be awfully boring." 

"If you believe in an omnipotent God, then there are no accidents." [Roberto Cassini]

"The believer is happy; the doubter is wise." [Hungarian proverb]

"A believer is a bird in a cage, a free-thinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing."
[Robert G. Ingersoll]

"Faith is often the boast of the man who is too lazy to investigate." [F. M. Knowles]

"In the brain of every religious person there is a god shaped vacuum." [Jeremy Konopka]

"There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages." [Richard Lederer]

"Praying is like a rocking chair - it'll give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere."
[Gypsy Rose Lee]

"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church." [Ferdinand Magellan]

"The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike." [Delo McKown]

"Perhaps the most revolting character that the United States ever produced was the Christian business man." [H.L. Mencken]

"The certainty with which a religious belief is held is usually in direct proportion to its absurdity." [Rev. Donald Morgan]

"Making fun of born-again christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope." [P.J. O'Rourke]

"Kill one man and you are a murderer. Kill millions and you are a conqueror. Kill all and you are God." [Jean Rostand (1894-1977) French biologist, writer]

"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe." [Carl Sagan]

"A healthy nature needs no God or immortality." [Johann Schiller]

"Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to." [George Seaton]

"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means." [George Bernard Shaw]

"One might be asked "How can you prove that a god does not exist?" One can only reply that it is scarcely necessary to disprove what has never been proved." [David A. Spitz]

"It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." [Mark Twain]

"People who rely most on God rely least on themselves." [Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays]

The belief in God today is strongest where man has least to thank God for, and it is weakest where men have most knowledge and most mental training. It is universal only where life is poorest and where men have the least intelligence to perceive whether or not they are indebted to God. [Anonymous]

"God made me an atheist. Who are you to question his wisdom." [Unknown]

"I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true." [Bertrand Russell]

"Without doubt you are not sane." [Tage Danielsson]

"Only the fool says in his heart: There is no god -- The wise says it to the world." [Unknown]

"Remember there is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over." [Frank Zappa]

"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet." [Napoleon Nonaparte]

"I reverse the phrase of Voltaire, and say that if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him." [Mikhail Bakunin]

"It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, 'mad cow' disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate." [Richard Dawkins - 'The Humanist', Vol. 57, No. 1]


"This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no [organized] religion in it." [John Adams]


"I do not see how it is possible for an intelligent human being to conclude that the Song of Solomon is the work of God, and that the tragedy of Lear was the work of an uninspired man." [Robert Ingersoll]


"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." [Carl Sagan]


"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary beliefs." [Steve Nadis]


"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." [Gene Roddenberry]


"My spell-checker lacks the word 'creationism' in its dictionary, so each time that word is encountered, an alternative pops up at the bottom of my screen, 'cretinism'" [E. T. Babinski]


"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." [Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787)]


"Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time." [Isaac Asimov]


"Faith can remove a mountain, but doubt can put it back in place again." [Tage Danielsson]


"Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat." [Sir Julian Huxley]


"Philosophy is questions that may never be answered.  Religion is answers that may never be questioned." [Unknown]


"Our ignorance is God; what we know is science." [Robert Ingersoll]


"Jesus' last words on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" hardly seem like the words of a man who planned it that way. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure there is something wrong here." [Donald Morgan]


"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State." [Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to S. Kercheval, 1810)]


"Among mammals, a virgin birth (parthenogenesis) can only produce female offspring, for chromosomal reasons. Messiahs are mammals. Therefore, Jesus was... On the other hand, among turkeys, the chromosomal situation is such that all products of virgin birth are males. So if Jesus was a male, he might also have been..." [Frank Zindler in a note to the debate Does god exist? with John Koster)] - [Note: It appears that mammals cannot reproduce parthenogenetically because the maternal chromosome set and the paternal chromosome set have been imprinted, with the result that neither is capable of contributing everything the embryo needs to develop normally.]


"The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see." [Huang Po]


"Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense." [Voltaire (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764)]


"The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike." [Delos B. McKown]


"...any belief in supernatural creators, rulers, or influencers of natural or human process introduces an irreparable split into the universe, and prevents us from grasping its real unity. Any belief in Absolutes, whether the absolute validity of moral commandments, of authority of revelation, of inner certitudes, or of divine inspiration, erects a formidable barrier against progress and the responsibility of improvement, moral, rational, and religious." [Sir Julian Huxley]


"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin." [Cardinal Bellarmine]


"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." [Stephen F Roberts]


"With soap, baptism is a good thing." [Robert Ingersoll]


"I do think the Roman Catholic religion is a disease of the mind which has a particular epidemiology similar to that of a virus... Religion is a terrific meme. That's right. But that doesn't make it true and I care about what's true. Smallpox virus is a terrific virus. It does its job magnificently well. That doesn't mean that it's a good thing. It doesn't mean that I don't want to see it stamped out." [Richard Dawkins (Interviewed in: Sceptic Vol. 3, No. 4, 1995)]


"How unfortunate for mankind that the Lord is reported by Holy Writ as having said 'Vengeance is mine!'" [Sir Julian Huxley]


"The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion." [Karl Marx]


"Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning." [Albert Einstein]


"The church lives on the fact that modern research about Jesus is not known amongst the public." [Hans Konzelmann]


"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration--courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth." [Henry Louis Mencken]


"While men are gazing up to Heaven, imagining after a happiness, or fearing a Hell after they are dead, their eyes are put out, that they see not what is their birthright." [Gerrard Winstanley (The Law of Freedom, 1652)]


"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." [Albert Einstein]


"The sense of spiritual relief, which comes from rejecting the idea of God as a supernatural being, is enormous." [Sir Julian Huxley (Religion without revelation)]


"There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages." [Richard Lederer (Anguished English)]


"If Atheism is a religion, then health is a disease!" [Clark Adams]


"Take from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains." [Robert G. Ingersoll (Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 1, p. 285)]


"People have suffered and become insane for centuries by the thought of eternal punishment after death. Wouldn't it be better to depend on blind matter (...) than by a god who puts out traps for people, invites them to sin, and allows them to sin and commit crimes he could prevent. Only to finally get the barbarian pleasure to punish them in an excessive way, of no use for himself, without them changing their ways and without their example preventing others from committing crimes." [Baron d'Holbach (Systeme de la Nature, 1789)]


"If the Bible is mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust it to tell us where we're going?" [Justin Brown]


"An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated." [Madalyn Murray O'Hair]


"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy." [David Brooks (The Necessity of Atheism)]


"The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail" [Gustaf Lindborg]


"If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses" [Lenny Bruce]


"The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation (...)The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has shown itself reliable, and I have never regretted having chosen it." [Albert Einstein (Autobiographical Notes)]


"The few took advantage of the ignorant many. They pretended to have received messages from the Unknown. They stood between the helpless multitude and the gods. They were the carriers of flags of truce. At the court of heaven they presented the cause of man, and upon the labor of the deceived they lived. We find now that the prosperity of nations has depended, not upon their religion, not upon the goodness or providence of some god, but on soil and climate and commerce, upon the ingenuity, industry, and courage of the people, upon the development of the mind, on the spread of education, on the liberty of thought and action; and that in this mighty panorama of national life, reason has built and superstition has destroyed. I believe in the religion of reason -- the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to feed and clothe the world." [Robert Ingersoll (Why Am I an Agnostic?, North American Review, December, 1889)]


"If all the historic books of the Bible were blotted from the memory of mankind, nothing of value would be lost." [Robert Ingersoll]

"A man without a god is like a fish without a bicycle." [Adapted from a quotation of feminist Gloria Steinem]


"Killing for peace is like fucking for chastity" [Unknown]


"If, as they say, God spanked this town
For being much too frisky,
Why did He burn His churches down
And save Hotaling's Whiskey?" [Poem on 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, in which the city's largest whiskey distillery was left unscathed]

"If god doesn't like the way I live, let him tell me, not you."


"There are none more ignorant and useless, than they that seek answers on their knees, with their eyes closed."


"Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successively. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject."


"The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next."


"To the philosophic eye, the vices of the clergy are far less dangerous than their virtues."


"The mind of the fundamentalist is like the pupil of the eye: the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract."

"Theology: The study of elaborate verbal disguises for non-ideas."

"Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject -- otherwise there's no need for faith."


"Humanity's first sin was faith; the first virtue was doubt."


"Any belief worth having must survive doubt."

"Organized religion is like organized crime; it preys on peoples' weaknesses, generates huge profits for its operators, and is almost impossible to eradicate." [Unknown]

"I am treated as evil by those who feel persecuted because they are not allowed to force me to believe as they do." [Unknown]

"A society without religion is like a crazed psychopath without a .45." [Unknown]

"Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned." [Unknown]

"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." [Unknown]

"'God is as real as I am', the old man said. I was relieved since I knew Santa wouldn't lie to me..." [Unknown]

"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish." [Unknown]

"Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on weekends." [Woody Allen]

"When the doors of perception are cleansed, man will see things as they truly are, infinite." [William Blake]

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." [Derek Bok - Harvard President]

"Confession without repentance is just bragging." [Rev. Eugene Bolton]

"Anyone who engages in the practice of psychotherapy confronts every day the devastation wrought by the teachings of religion." [Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.]

Imagine the ego of the human race, to consider themselves so grand, as to warrant a creator worthy of praise. [Robert Brunswick Jr.] 

For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us. [Charles Bukowski] 

"In the 'bullshit department' a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman." [George Carlin]

"When in comes to bullshit... big-time, major league have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims...religion." [George Carlin]

"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever until the end of time...but he loves you." [George Carlin]

"When a man ceases to believe in god, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in everything." [G. K. Chesterson]

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

"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." [Chapman Cohen]

"I do not believe in God, because I do not believe in Mother Goose." [Clarence Darrow]

"I've been reading an Alabama newspaper that one man shot another man because he beat him in a Bible-quoting competition." [Richard Dawkins]

"I think; therefore I am." [Rene Descartes]

"Men have never fully used [their] powers to advance the good in life, because they have waited upon some power external to themselves and to nature to do the work they are responsible for doing." [John Dewey]

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." [Philip K. Dick]

"I believe the spreading of Catholicism to be the most horrible means of political and social degradation left in the world." [Charles Dickens]

Asked soon after Carl's death: "Didn't [Sagan] want to believe?" She responded, "He didn't want to believe. He wanted to know." [Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan's wife] 

"I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God." [Thomas Edison]

"The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so, cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are both able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, how does it exist?" [Epicures, 300 B.C.]

"If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing" [Anatole France]

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." [Ben Franklin   Poor Richard's Almanac, 1758]

"Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?" [Jules Feiffer]

"Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition." [Freedom From Religion Foundation]

"In the long run nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is only too palpable." [Sigmund Freud]

"We dance around in a ring and suppose, while the secret sits in the middle and knows." [Robert Frost]

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, had intended for us to forgo their use." [Galileo Galilei]

 Religion is like an ice cold whiskey on a hot day. [Ernest Hemingway]

"See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all nothing but their own folly." [Homer, The Odyssey]

"Agnosticism simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that for which he has no grounds for professing to believe." [Thomas Henry Huxley]

"Organized religion: The world's largest pyramid scheme." [Bernard Katz]

"I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end... where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice." [President John F. Kennedy]

"Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking." [John Maynard Keynes]

"The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance...logic can be happily tossed out the window." [Stephen King]

"Randomness scares people. Religion is a way to explain randomness." [Fran Lebowitz]

"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church." [Ferdinand Magellan]

"I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance." [Christopher Marlowe]

"It requires only two things to win credit for a miracle: a mountebank and a number of silly women." [Marquis de Sade]

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." [Karl Marx]

"I have my own God, and I think my God finds me incredibly fucking funny. That's why I chose him as my God ... " [Dennis Miller]

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education." [Wilson Mizner]

"One would like to believe that people who think of themselves as devout Christians would also behave in a manner that is in according with Christian ethics. But pastorally and existentially, I know that this is not the case, and never has been." [John Neuhaus, in San Jose Mercury News]

"The last Christian died on a cross." [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]

"Faith: not wanting to know what is true." [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]

"I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time." [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]

"In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point." [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]

"The man of the future who will redeem us not only from the hitherto reigning ideal but also from that which was bound to grow out of it, the great nausea, the will to nothingness, nihilism; this bell stroke of noon and of the great decision that liberates the will again and restores its goal to the earth and his hope to man; this Antichrist and anti-nihilist; this victor over God and nothingness - he must come one day."
[Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]

"Religion has caused more misery to all men in every state of human history than any other single idea." [Madelyn Murray O'Hair]

"No God ever gave any man anything, nor ever answered any prayer at any time -- nor ever will."
[Madelyn Murray O'Hair]

"The only force more devastating than a nuclear holocaust is a group of Christians fresh out of church."
[Matt Polek]

"Better to be unborn than untaught, for ignorance is the root of all misfortune." [Plato]

"I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other gods you will understand why I dismiss yours." [Stephen F. Roberts]

"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." [Gene Roddenberry]

"Indifference to religion, due to thought, strengthens character." [W.T. Root, Prof. of Psychology at Univ. of Pittsburgh, after examining 1,916 prisoners]

"It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so." [Ernestine Rose]

"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death...Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man." [Bertrand Russell]

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." [Carl Sagan]

"I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking."
[Carl Sagan --The Demon-Haunted World]

"The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides." [Carl Sagan --Billions and Billions]

"This above all: to thine own self be true." [William Shakespeare (Polonius)]

"The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose." [William Shakespeare]

"All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few." [Stendhal]

"I'm sickened by all religions. Religion has divided people. I don't think there's any difference between the pope wearing a large hat and parading around with a smoking purse and an African painting his face white and praying to a rock." [Howard Stern]

"It's an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous." [Gloria Steinem]

"I was getting tired about what the preacher called Christian. Anything he did was Christian, and the people in the church believed it, too. If he stole some book he didn't like from the library, or made the radio station play only part of the day on Sunday, or took somebody off to the state poor home, he called it Christian. I never had much religious training, and I never went to Sunday school because we didn't belong to the church when I was old enough to go, but I thought I knew what believing in Christ meant, and it wasn't half the things the preacher did." [John Kennedy Toole -- The Neon Bible]

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

"Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel." [Horace Walpole]

"When it comes to a choice between two evils, I always choose the one I haven't tried before." [Mae West]

"Truth in matters of religion is simply the opinion that has survived." [Oscar Wilde]

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame." [Oscar Wilde]

"I was driving alone one day and I saw a hitchhiker with a sign saying Heaven. So I hit him." [Steven Wright]

"Fundamentalists are like the fir trees in German forests: they cannot stand alone, and are only stable when crowded together, branches locked with those of their brothers. That is why we must always fear them, because they will always hate us for our individualism." [Brent Yaciw]

"If the lord had meant us to have faith, he'd have given us lobotomies." [Zlatko]

"I definitely want Brooklyn to be Christened, but I don't know into what religion yet." [David Beckham, England and Real Madrid Footballer]

And some comments from Desmond Morris

"....Man can contemplate his own mortality and finds the thought intolerable. Any animal will struggle to protect itself from a threat of death. Faced with a predator, it flees, hides, fights or employs some other defensive mechanism, such as death-feigning or the emission of stinking fluids. There are many self-protection mechanisms, but they all occur as a response to an immediate danger. When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot--the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of an immortal soul--a soul which is more 'him' than even his physical body is 'him.' If this soul can survive in an afterlife, then he has successfully defended himself against the threatened attack on his life. This gives the agents of the gods a powerful area of support. All they need to do is to remind their followers constantly of their mortality and to convince them that the afterlife itself is under the personal management of the particular gods they are promoting. The self-protective urges of their worshippers will do the rest." ["Religious Displays," Manwatching: A Field Guide To Human Behaviour]

"Religious Displays, as distinct from religious beliefs, are submissive acts performed towards dominant individuals called gods. The acts themselves include various forms of body-lowering, such as kneeling, bowing, kowtowing, salaaming and prostrating; also chanting and rituals of debasement and sacrifice; the offering of gifts to the gods and the making of symbolic gestures of allegiance. The function of these actions is to appease the super-dominant beings and thereby obtains favours or avoid punishments. There is nothing unusual about this behaviour in itself. Subordinates throughout the animal world subject themselves to their most powerful companions in a similar way. But the strange feature of these human submissive actions, as we encounter them today, is that they are performed towards a dominant figure, or figures, who are never present in person. Instead they are represented by images and artifacts and operate entirely through agents called holy-men or priests. These middle-men enjoy a position of social influence and respect because some of the power of the gods rubs off on them. It is therefore extremely important to the holy-men to keep the worshippers permanently obedient to the super-dominant figures, and they do this in several ways." [Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour]

"One of the demands put upon the priests and holy-men is that they should provide impressive rituals. Nearly all religions include ceremonial procedures during which the followers of a particular deity can indulge in complex group activities. This is essential as a demonstration of the power of the gods--that they can dominate and command submissive behaviour from large numbers of people at one and the same time--and it is also a method of strengthening the social bonding in relation to the common belief. Since the gods are super-parents and super-leaders, they must necessarily have large houses in which to 'meet' with their followers. Anyone flying low over human settlements in a spacecraft and ignorant of
our ways would notice immediately that in many of the villages and towns and cities there were one or two homes much bigger than the rest. Towering over the other houses, these large buildings must surely be the abodes of some enormous individuals, many times the size of the rest of the population. These--the houses of the gods--the temples, the churches and the cathedrals--are buildings apparently made for giants, and a space visitor would be surprised to find on closer examination that these giants are never at home. Their followers repeatedly visit them and bow down before them, but they themselves are invisible. Only their bell-like cries can be heard across the land. Man is indeed an imaginative species." ["Religious Displays," Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour]

"I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape" ["The Naked Ape"]

"No matter how old we become, we can still call them [i.e., the super-dominant beings] 'Holy Mother' and 'Father' and put a child-like trust in them (or their agents, who often adopt similar titles for themselves)." ["Religious Displays," Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour]

Also from ‘The Naked Ape’

Having brought up the question of religion, it is perhaps worthwhile taking a closer look at this strange pattern of animal behavior. It is not an easy subject to deal with, but as zoologists we must do our best to observe what actually happens rather than listen to what is supposed to be happening. If we do this, we are forced to the conclusion that, in a behavioral sense religious activities consist of the coming together of large groups of people to perform repeated and prolonged submissive displays to appease a dominant individual. The dominant individual concerned takes many forms in different cultures, but always has the common factor of immense power. Sometimes it takes the shape of an animal from another species, or an idealized version of it. Sometimes it is pictured more as a wise and elderly member of our own species. Sometimes it becomes more abstract and is referred to simply as ‘the state’, or in other such terms. The submissive responses to it may consist of closing the eyes, lowering the head, clasping the hands together in a begging gesture, kneeling, kissing the ground, or even extreme prostration, with the frequent accompaniment of wailing or chanting vocalizations. If these submissive actions are successful, the dominant individual is appeased. Because its powers are so great, the appeasement ceremonies have to be performed at regular and frequent intervals, to prevent its anger from rising again. The dominant individual is usually, but not always, referred to as a god.

Since none of these gods exist in a tangible form, why have they been invented? To find the answer to this we have to go right back to our ancestral origins. Before we evolved into co-operative hunters, we must have lived in social groups of the type seen today in other species of apes and monkeys. There, in typical cases, each group is dominated by a single male. He is the boss, the overlord, and every member of the group has to appease him or suffer the consequences. He is also most active in protecting the group from outside hazards and in settling squabbles between lesser members. The whole life of a member of such a group revolves around the dominant animal. His all-powerful role gives him a god-like status. Turning now to our immediate ancestors, it is clear that, with the growth of the co-operative spirit so vital for successful group hunting, the application of the dominant individual’s authority had to be severely limited if he was to retain the active, as opposed to passive, loyalty of the other group members. They had to want to help him instead of simply fear him. He had to become more ‘one of them’. The old-style monkey tyrant had to go, and in his place there arose a more tolerant, more co-operative naked ape leader. This step was essential for the new type of ‘mutual-aid’ organization that was evolving, but it gave rise to a problem. The total dominance of the Number One member of the group having been replaced by a qualified dominance, he could no longer command unquestioning allegiance. This change in the order of things, vital as it was to the new social system, nevertheless left a gap. From our ancient background there remained a need for an all-powerful figure who could keep the group under control, and the vacancy was filled by the invention of a god. The influence of the invented god-figure could then operate as a force additional to the now more restricted influence of the group leader.

At first sight, it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency, inherited directly from our monkey and ape ancestors, to submit ourselves to an all-powerful, dominant member of the group. Because of this, religion has proved immensely valuable as a device for aiding social cohesion, and it is doubtful whether our species could have progressed far without it, given the unique combination of circumstances of our evolutionary origins. It has led to a number of bizarre by-products, such as a belief in ‘another life’ where we will at last meet up with the god figures. They were, for reasons already explained, unavoidably detained from joining us in the present life, but this omission can be corrected in an after-life. In order to facilitate this, all kinds of strange practices have been developed in connection with the disposal of our bodies when we die. If we are going to join our dominant overlords, we must be well prepared for the occasion and elaborate burial ceremonies must be performed.

Religion has also given rise to a great deal of unnecessary suffering and misery, wherever it has become over-formalized in its application, and whenever the professional ‘assistants’ of the god figures have been unable to resist the temptation to borrow a little of his power and use it themselves. But despite its checkered history it is a feature of our social life that we cannot do without. Whenever it becomes unacceptable, it is quietly, or sometimes violently, rejected, but in no time at all it is back again in a new form, carefully disguised perhaps, but containing all the same basic elements. We simply have to ‘believe in something’. Only a common belief will cement us together and keep us under control. It could be argued that, on this basis, any belief will do, so long as it is powerful enough; but this is not strictly true. It must be impressive and it must be seen to be impressive. Our communal nature demands the performance of and participation in elaborate group ritual. Elimination of the ‘pomp and circumstance’ will leave a terrible cultural gap and the indoctrination will fail to operate properly at the deep, emotional level so vital to it. Also, certain types of belief are more wasteful and stultifying than others and can side-track a community into rigidifying patterns of behavior that hamper its qualitative development. As a species we are a predominantly intelligent and exploratory animal, and beliefs harnessed to this fact will be the most beneficial for us. A belief in the validity of the acquisition of knowledge and a scientific understanding of the world we live in, the creation and appreciation of aesthetic phenomena in all their many forms, and the broadening and deepening of our range of experiences in day-to-day living, is rapidly becoming the ‘religion’ of our time. Experience and understanding are our rather abstract god-figures and ignorance and stupidity will make them angry. Our schools and universities are our religious training centers, our libraries, museums, art galleries, theatres, concert halls and sports arenas are our places of communal worship. At home we worship with our books, newspapers, magazines, radios and television sets. In a sense, we still believe in an after-life, because part of the reward obtained from our creative works is the feeling that, through them, we will ‘live on’ after we are dead. Like all religions, this one has its dangers, but if we have to have one, and it seems that we do, then it certainly appears to be the one most suitable for the unique biological qualities of our species. Its adoption by an ever growing majority of the world population can serve as a compensating and reassuring source of optimism to set against the pessimism expressed earlier concerning our immediate future as a surviving species.

Here are some more good quotes:

and direct form the Bible itself are these facts: Bible Quotes

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