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Religion is a word which refers to approaches to human spirituality. These usually encompass a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, which give meaning and guidance to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

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Children of men! the unseen Power, whose eye
Forever doth accompany mankind,
Hath look'd on no religion scornfully
That men did ever find. ~ Matthew Arnold
  • Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out,"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion the world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean Hell.
    • John Adams, letter (original manuscript at the Library of Congress) to Thomas Jefferson, 19 April 1817. The italicized section within the statement has often been quoted out of context. Earlier in the letter Adams explained that Bryant was his "Parish Priest" and Cleverly his "Latin School Master".
    • "Religion maybe linked to social inequality if the religion being practiced is not the dominant religion in a particular culture or society"
  • Because religion is such an opinion-based topic, I had better lay my own cards on the table. I was raised a Catholic and was a strong believer until age 21. After searching other religions I became a “None,”and then an agnostic--believing one cannot say at this point whether the universe had a creator, and if so what that creator’s qualities might be (beyond the all-time highest score on the SAT-Math test). I have enough familiarity with religion that I can pass as a scholar among people who know nothing about the subject. Similarly, I know enough of the Bible to seem well informed in a room of people who have never opened the book. I don’t think any of this has affected the answers people have given to my surveys, which is what this chapter is about. But as always, you will be the judge of that.
  • In a rational religion there is no perplexity.
    • Agni Yoga,  Leaves of Morya’s Garden: Book One: The Call,  11, (1924)
  • The primary concern of religion should be to provide a practical solution of life. The heavenly reward is too remote; the return should be brought within the earthly span. People can now understand as universally accessible the miracle of the renewal of possibilities. Hence, either the hand of the Invisible Friend or a sharp sword. And, remembering the advantage of immediate remuneration, people will find a new path to the Temple. There is no need to implore Divinity. One should bring to oneself the best deed.
    • Agni Yoga, Leaves of Morya’s Garden: Book Two: Illumination, 111.  (1925)
  • It was after the time of Origen’s disciples that the false religion of the priesthood began to spread.
    • Agni Yoga,  Leaves of Morya’s Garden: Book One: The Call,  268, (1924)
  • People believe they can attain perfection by many methods. This multiplicity of mirages lulls the mediocre mind. But one really has only two ways to live: either wisely and ardently to seek the realization of Aum, or to lie in a coffin like a log — self-centered and impoverished in spirit — assuming that one's destiny will be taken care of by something or someone else.
    It would seem, then, that a true striving toward realization of supreme possibilities should fill the greater part of human life as a most essential and engrossing occupation. But in reality the light of knowledge has been replaced by the conventional dogma of religion; and man, meant to be a thinker, worships his dark corner of idols, hanging amulets upon himself without even understanding the meaning of their symbols. Repeat this to all those who sleep in the darkness of the ordinary.  
  • Religions have frightened humanity with their dogma of final judgment, and have thereby deprived it of daring... Can one accept on faith the decisions of strangers who take fees for communing with heaven?  
  • It is useful to teach about immortality in the schools. Religion that teaches about death will pass away, as will all those who believe in death.
  • A knowledge of reincarnation would also be helpful. But existing conditions of government and religion severely impede the development of such responsibility.
  • The loss of religion has shaken the movement forward. Without God there is no path. Call Him what one will, the highest Hierarchic Principle must be observed, otherwise there is nothing to adhere to. Thus, one must understand how the upward aspiration of people's wills surrounds the planet like a protective net.
  • In primitive religions the fear of God was taught first of all. Thus was suggested a feeling which usually ends in rebellion. Certainly, each one who contacts the Higher World experiences a trembling, but this unavoidable sensation has nothing in common with fear. Fear is cessation of creative energy. Fear is ossification and submission to darkness. Whereas turning to the Higher World must evoke ecstasy and expansion of one’s forces for the expression of the beautiful. Such qualities are born not of fear but through love. Therefore higher religion teaches not fear but love. Only by such a path can people become attached to the Higher World.
When something is done by Jews, that does not make it Jewish. Jewish [religion] is defined by what Torah commands. ~ Meir Hirsch
  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."
    It's an oral history. It was passed down, word-of-mouth, father to son, from Adam to Seth, from Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, for 40 generations, a growing, changing, story, it was handed down, word-of-mouth, father to son. Until Moses finally gets it down on lambskin. But lambskins wear out, and need to be recopied. Copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    From Hebrew it's translated into Arabic, from Arabic to Latin, from Latin to Greek, from Greek to Russian, from Russian to German, from German to an old form of English that you could not read. Through 400 years of evolution of the English language to the book we have today, which is: a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
    You can't put a grocery list through that many translations, copies, and re-telling, and not expect to have some big changes in the dinner menu when the kids make it back from Kroger's.
    And yet people are killing each other over this written word. Here's a tip: If you're killing someone in the name of God — you're missing the message.
  • The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires.
  • A man's religion should be more in his life than on his lips.
    • Joseph Arch, The Story of his Life Told by Himself (1898), p. 48
  • Children of men! the unseen Power, whose eye
    Forever doth accompany mankind,
    Hath look'd on no religion scornfully
    That men did ever find.
    • Matthew Arnold, Progress, Stanza 10 (1867; revised from 1852 publication)
  • Arrogance and fanatical belief had become a racial trait. The galaxy belonged to them, having been fashioned for them by their God, so everything belonged to them, and they could do with it what they wanted, and what they wanted usually involved subjugation, destruction, and death. Religion, a vicious and hearty meme at best, usually collapsed as civilizations became spacefaring, for most such belief systems, initiated when the world was still flat and thunder was the bellowing of gods, usually could not survive the realities of the universe and the steady abrasion of science.
  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
  • In human life, you will find players of religion until the knowledge and proficiency in religion will be cleansed from all superstitions, and will be purified and perfected by the enlightenment of real science.
  • Religions have been basis of the tyranny of kings and sultans.
    • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as quoted in Medenî Bilgiler ve M. Kemal Atatürk'ün El Yazıları [Civics and M. Kemal Atatürk's Manuscripts] (1998) by Afet İnan, p. 438
  • A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose.
  • There is a strange idea prevalent that by merely teaching the dogmas of religion children can be made pious and moral. This is an European error, and its practice either leads to mechanical acceptance of a creed having no effect on the inner and little on the outer life, or it creates the fanatic, the pietist, the ritualist or the unctuous hypocrite. Religion has to be lived, not learned as a creed.
    • Sri Aurobindo, The Hour of God and other writings. VI. Education and Art A System of National Education Some Preliminary Ideas. 3. The Moral Nature
  • It seems that most religions are obsessed with sex. They assume that if a religious male sees a woman, whatever her age and looks, he is aroused and cannot think about anything else. So, logically, women must be hidden away.


The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. ~ Joel Barlow
At the center of religion is love. I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. Everything in our life should be based on love. ~ Ray Bradbury
All Faith is false, all Faith is true: Truth is the shattered mirror strown in myriad bits; while each believes his little bit the whole to own. ~ Richard Francis Burton
  • There was never law, or sect, or opinion did so much magnify goodness, as the Christian religion doth.
    • Francis Bacon, Essays. Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature (1625)
  • The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions.
  • There has been a useful and wholesome swing away from Churchianity and from orthodox religion during the past century, and this will present a unique opportunity for the restoration of true religion and the presentation of a simple return to the ways of spiritual living.
  • In the past, the keynote of the Christian religion has been death, symbolised for us in the death of Christ and much distorted by St. Paul in his effort to blend the new religion which Christ brought with the old blood religion of the Jews. In the cycle which Christ will inaugurate after His reappearance, the goal of all the religious teaching in the world will be the resurrection of the spirit in mankind; the emphasis will be upon the livingness of the Christ nature in every human being, and upon the use of the will in bringing about this living transfiguration of the lower nature.
    • Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, Chapter Two (1947)
  • True religion is again emerging in the hearts of men in every land; this recognition of a divine hope and background may possibly take people back into the church and into the world faiths, but it will most certainly take them back to God.
    • Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, Chapter Three (1947)
  • Religion is the name, surely, which we give to the invocative appeal of humanity which leads to the evocative response of the Spirit of God. This Spirit works in every human heart and in all groups.
    • Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, Chapter Three (1947)
  • All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers.
  • The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.
  • One's religion is whatever he is most interested in.
  • The call to religion is not a call to be better than your fellows, but to be better than yourself.
  • Men use religion just as they use buoys and life-preservers; they do not intend to navigate the vessel with them, but they keep just enough of them on hand to float into a safe harbor when a storm comes up and the vessel is shipwrecked; and it is only then that they intend to use them. I tell you, you will find air-holes in all such life-preservers as that.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, Evening sermon (12 June 1859), published in 595 Pulpit Pungencies (1866)
  • By religion I do not mean outward things, but inward states, I mean perfected manhood. I mean the quickening of the soul by the beatific influence of the divine Spirit in truth, and love, and sympathy, and confidence, and trust.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, The sermons of Henry Ward Beecher: in Plymouth church, Brooklyn (1874)
  • A religion may be discerned in capitalism—that is to say, capitalism serves essentially to allay the same anxieties, torments, and disturbances to which the so-called religions offered answers.
    • Walter Benjamin, "Capitalism as Religion" (1921), translated by Rodney Livingstone in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1 (Harvard: 1996)
  • Capitalism is presumably the first case of a blaming, rather than a repenting cult. ... An enormous feeling of guilt not itself knowing how to repent, grasps at the cult, not in order to repent for this guilt, but to make it universal, to hammer it into consciousness and finally and above all to include God himself in this guilt.
    • Walter Benjamin, "Capitalism as Religion" (1921), translated by Chad Kautzer in The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers (2005), p. 259
  • Today's secularists too often have very little accurate knowledge about religion, and even less desire to learn. This is problematic insofar as their sense of self is constructed in opposition to religion. Above all, the secularist is not a Jew, is not a Christian, not a Muslim, and so on. But is it intellectually responsible to define one's identity against something that one does not understand?
  • Religio peperit divitias et filia devoravit matrem.
    • Religion brought forth riches, and the daughter devoured the mother.
    • Saying of Bernard of Clairvaux. Religio censum peperit, sed filia matri caussa suæ leti perniti osa fuit. See Reusner's Ænigmatographia, Ed. 2, (1602), Part I. Page 361; Heading of an epigram ascribed to Henricus Meibomius
  • The primary epiphenomenona of any religion's foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion's establishment are the intentions of its founder.
  • What is the object of religions? They are given to the world by men wiser than the masses of the people on whom they are bestowed, and are intended to quicken human evolution. In order to do this effectively they must reach individuals and influence them. Now all men are not at the same level of evolution, but evolution might be figured as a rising gradient, with men stationed on it at every point. The most highly evolved are far above the least evolved, both in intelligence and character... Yet all the types need religion, so that each may reach upward to a life higher than that which he is leading, and no type or grade should be sacrificed to any other. Religion must be as graduated as evolution, else it fails in its object. p. 5
    • Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity: Or, The Lesser Mysteries, by Annie Besant (1914)
  • Research has indisputably proved that the religions of the world are markedly similar in their main teachings, in their possession of Founders who display superhuman powers and extraordinary moral elevation, in their ethical precepts, in their use of means to come into touch with invisible worlds, and in the symbols by which they express their leading beliefs. This similarity, amounting in many cases to identity, proves... a common origin.
    • Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity: Or, The Lesser Mysteries, (1914)
  • Comparative Mythologists contend that the common origin is the common ignorance, and that the loftiest religious doctrines are simply refined expressions of the crude and barbarous guesses of savages, of primitive men, regarding themselves and their surroundings.... A Kṛiṣhṇa, a Buddha, a Lao-tze, a Jesus, are the highly civilised but lineal descendants of the whirling medicine-man of the savage... And so forth. It is all summed up in the phrase: Religions are branches from a common trunk—human ignorance. p. 8
    • Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity: Or, The Lesser Mysteries, (1914)
  • Comparative Religionists consider, on the other hand, that all religions originate from the teachings of Divine Men, who give out to the different nations of the world, from time to time, such parts of the fundamental verities of religion as the people are capable of receiving, teaching ever the same morality... "Religions are branches from a common trunk—Divine Wisdom."
  • Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
  • A l’erreur opposons la vérité, à la foi l’évidence, la science aux religions. Les propagandistes religieux ne font connaître aux enfants qu’une seule doctrine. Faisons-leur connaître toutes les doctrines, non seulement dans leur état actuel, mais dans leur genèse et dans leur développement. Instruisons-les des ressemblances et des analogies qu’elles ont entre elles, et aussi des ressemblances et des analogies qu’ont entre eux leurs fondateurs et leurs propagateurs. Puis laissons-les libres de choisir entre les hypothèses, et si aucune des anciennes ne les satisfait, libres d’en imaginer de nouvelles.
    • Translation: Let us oppose truth to error, evidence to faith, science to religion. Religious propagandists teach children only one doctrine. Let us make them acquainted with all the doctrines, not only in their present state, but in their genesis and in their development. Let us educate them about the resemblances and analogies that they have between them, and also about the resemblances and analogies that their founders and their propagators have between them. Then let's leave them free to choose between the hypotheses, and if none of the old ones satisfy them, free to imagine new ones.
    • Charles Binet-Sanglé, Le crime de suggestion religieuse et sa nouvelle prophylaxie sociale [The crime of religious suggestion and its new social prophylaxis], Extract from: Archives d’anthropologie criminelle et de médecine légale, (Paris), 16th year, n°95, 1901, pp. 453-473.
  • In short, in whatever light we view religion, it appears solemn and venerable. It is a temple full of Majesty, to which the worshiper may approach with comfort, in the hope of obtaining grace and finding mercy; but where they cannot enter without being inspired with awe. If we may be permitted to compare spiritual with natural things, religion resembles not those scenes of natural beauty where every object smiles. It cannot be likened to the gay landscape or the flowery field. It resembles more the august and sublime appearances of Nature; the lofty mountain, the expanded ocean, and the starry firmament; at the sight of which the mind is at once overawed and delighted; and, from the union of grandeur with beauty, derives a pleasing but a serious emotion.
    • Hugh Blair, The Works: Sermons (1820) Sermon XIV "On the Mixture of Joy and Fear in Religion"
  • The spirit of true religion breathes gentleness and affability; it gives a native, unaffected ease to the behavior. It is social, kind, cheerful; far removed from the cloudy and illiberal superstition which clouds the brow, sharpens the temper, and dejects the spirit.
    • Hugh Blair, The Works: Sermons (1820) Sermon X "On the Duties of the Young"
  • I went to the Garden of Love
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

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

    And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars my joys & desires.

  • In the United States of America, sixty thousand (60,428) men are paid salaries to teach the Science of God and His relations to His creatures. These men contract to impart to us the knowledge which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of our Creator; His laws and government; the doctrines we are to believe and the duties we are to practice. Five thousand (5,141) of them, with the prospect of 1273 theological students to help them in time, teach this science according to a formula prescribed by the Bishop of Rome, to five million people. Fifty-five thousand (55,287) local and traveling ministers, representing fifteen different denominations, each contradicting the other upon more or less vital theological questions, instruct, in their respective doctrines, thirty-three million (33,500,000) other persons... These figures are copied from the "Religious Statistics of the United States for the year 1871.
  • H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, Chapter III], (1877)
  • The God of the Unitarians is a bachelor; the Deity of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and the other orthodox Protestant sects a spouseless Father with one Son, who is identical with Himself. In the attempt to outvie each other in the erection of their sixty-two thousand and odd churches, prayer-houses, and meeting-halls, in which to teach these conflicting theological doctrines, $354,485,581 have been spent. The value of the Protestant parsonages alone, in which are sheltered the disputants and their families, is roughly calculated to approximate $54,115,297... One Presbyterian church in New York cost a round million; a Catholic altar alone, one-fourth as much!...
    And now, with Pilate, let us inquire, What is truth? Where is it to be searched for amid this multitude of warring sects? Each claims to be based upon divine revelation, and each to have the keys of the celestial gates. Is either in possession of this rare truth?... These figures are copied from the "Religious Statistics of the United States for the year 1871.
  • Tant de fiel entre-t-il dans l'âme des dévots?
  • No mere man since the Fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Shorter Catechism
  • It doesn’t matter how often I hear: religion, religion, religion, I know deep in my heart that it is not about religion. It is about the battle of matter and spirit—the battle of the oppressed that are dispossessed— and want to possess—because they feel possessed. And they are possessed of spirit. It is the call of the oppressed to be possessed by something higher than material dispossession. After all the schisms of isms—after Capitalism, Socialism, Marxism, Communism, Feminism —after separation of church and state—it is an anachronism to call it a religious crusade when it is a global conflict between the ones who have too much and the ones who have too little, too little to lose.
  • What we have here is a war--the war of matter and spirit... The war of banks and religion. Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion.
    • Giannina Braschi on the war against terrorism as discussed in "United States of Banana" and in New York 1 TV [1]
  • You humans, most of you, subscribe to this policy of an eye for an eye, a life for a life, which is known throughout the universe for its… stupidity. Even your Buddha and your Christ had quite a different vision; but nobody's paid much attention to them, not even the Buddhists or the Christians.
  • Maia recognized a look of true religion in the other woman’s eyes. A version and interpretation that conveniently justified what had already been decided.
  • Yet where were answers to the truly deep questions?
    Religion promised those, though always in vague terms, while retreating from one line in the sand to the next. Don't look past this boundary, they told Galileo, then Hutton, Darwin, Von Neumann, and Crick, always retreating with great dignity before the latest scientific advance, then drawing the next holy perimeter at the shadowy rim of knowledge.
  • Vain are the thousand creeds
    That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
    Worthless as withered weeds,
    Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
    To waken doubt in one
    Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
    So surely anchored on
    The steadfast Rock of immortality.
  • Curva trahit mites, pars pungit acuta rebelles.
    • The crooked end obedient spirits draws,
      The pointed, those rebels who spurn at Christian laws.
    • Thomas Broughton, Dictionary of all Religions. (1756). The croisier is pointed at one end and crooked at the other. "Curva trahit, quos virga regit, pars ultima pungit"; is the Motto on the Episcopal staff said to be preserved at Toulouse
  • Persecution is a bad and indirect way to plant religion.
  • Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
    From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low,
    Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
    Who art not missed by any that entreat.
  • It were endless to enumerate all the passages both in the sacred and profane writers, which establish the general sentiment of mankind, concerning the inseparable union of a sacred and reverential awe, with our ideas of the divinity. Hence the common maxim, primos in orbe deos fecit timor [fear brought the first gods into the world]. This maxim may be, as I believe it is, false with regard to the origin of religion. The maker of the maxim saw how inseparable these ideas were, without considering that the notion of some great power must be always precedent to our dread of it. But this dread must necessarily follow the idea of such a power, when it is once excited in the mind. It is on this principle that true religion has, and must have, so large a mixture of salutary fear; and that false religions have generally nothing else but fear to support them.
    • Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), Part II, Section V.
    • The Latin maxim quoted by Burke is from Statius, Thebaid, iii, 661
  • But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance, it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion.
  • The writers against religion, whilst they oppose every system, are wisely careful never to set up any of their own.
    • Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society (1756) Preface. Vol. I. p. 7
  • The body of all true religion consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His perfections.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  • People differ in their discourse and profession about these matters, but men of sense are really but of one religion. — "What religion?" — the Earl said, "Men of sense never tell it."
    • Gilbert Burnet, History of his Own Times. Vol. I, Book I. Sec. 96. Footnote by Onslow, referring to Earl of Shaftesbury
  • An Atheist's laugh's a poor exchange
    For Deity offended!
  • G__ knows I'm no the thing I should be,
    Nor am I even the thing I could be,
    But twenty times I rather would be
    An atheist clean,
    Than under gospel colours hid be,
    Just for a screen.
  • One religion is as true as another.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Book III. Sec. IV. Memb. 2. Subsec. 1
  • I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren’t religious people.
    • George W. Bush, Interview of the President by Al Arabiya in Oval Office, White House News, (October 4, 2007)
  • It is only religion, the great bond of love and duty to God, that makes any existence valuable or even tolerable. Without this, to live were only to graze.… Without this, the beauties of the world are but splendid gewgaws, the stars of heaven glittering orbs of ice, and, what is yet far worse and colder, the trials of existence profitless and unadulterated miseries.
    • Horace Bushnell, Sermons for the New Life (1859) ch. XI, "Obligation a Privilege" pp. 221-222
  • What but the mighty mastership of religion has ever led a people up through civil wars and revolutions into a regenerated order and liberty? What has planted colonies for a great history but religion? The most august and beautiful structures of the world have been temples of religion; crystallizations, we may say, of worship. The noblest charities, the best fruits of learning, the richest discoveries, the best institutions of law and justice, every greatest thing the world has seen, represents more or less directly the fruitfulness and creativeness of religious talents.
    • Horace Bushnell, Sermons for the New Life (1859) ch. IX, "Extirpated by Disguise" p. 170
  • As if Religion were intended
    For nothing else but to be mended.
  • Synods are mystical Bear-gardens,
    Where Elders, Deputies, Church-wardens,
    And other Members of the Court,
    Manage the Babylonish sport.
  • So 'ere the storm of war broke out,
    Religion spawn'd a various rout
    Of petulant capricious sects,
    The maggots of corrupted texts,
    That first run all religion down,
    And after every swarm its own.
  • There's naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.


To read a poem as a chronicle of fact is — to say the least — to miss the point. ~ Joseph Campbell
  • All religions make me wanna throw up.
    All religions make me sick.
    All religions make me wanna throw up.
    All religions suck.
    They all claim that they have the truth
    That'll set you free.
    Just give 'em all your money and they'll set you free.
    Free for a fee.
    They all claim that they have the Answer
    When they don't even know the Question.
    They're just a bunch of liars.
    They just want your money.
    They just want your consciousness.
    All religions suck.
    All religions make me wanna throw up.
  • Religion is not a perpetual moping over good books. Religion is not even prayer, praise, holy ordinances — these are necessary to religion — no man can be religious without them. But religion, I repeat, is, mainly and chiefly the glorifying God amid the duties and trials of the world; the guiding of our course amid adverse winds and currents of temptation by the star-light of duty and the compass of divine truth, the bearing up manfully, wisely, courageously, for the honor of Christ, our great Leader, in the conflict of life.
    • John Caird, Religion in Common Life (1856) pp. 24-25
  • Carry religious principles into common life, and common life will lose its transitoriness. "The world passes away!" The things seen are temporal. Soon business, with all its cares and anxieties — the whole "unprofitable stir and fever of the world" — will be to us a thing of the past. But religion does something better than sigh and moan over the perishableness of earthly things; it finds in them the seeds of immortality.
    • John Caird, Religion in Common Life (1856) pp. 55-56
  • Religion is poetry misunderstood.
  • 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 ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time... But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
  • His religion at best is an anxious wish; like that of Rabelais, "a great Perhaps".
  • On the whole we must repeat the often repeated saying, that it is unworthy a religious man to view an irreligious one either with alarm or aversion; or with any other feeling than regret, and hope, and brotherly commiseration.
  • It seems to me a great truth … that human things can not stand on selfishness, mechanical utilities, economics, and law-courts; that if there be not a religious element in the relations of men, such relations are miserable, and doomed to ruin.
  • The world is full, also, of great traditional books tracing the history of man (but focused narrowly on the local group) from the age of mythological beginnings, through periods of increasing plausibility, to a time almost within memory, when the chronicles begin to carry the record, with a show of rational factuality, to the present. Furthermore, just as all primitive mythologies serve to validate the customs, systems of sentiments, and political aims of their respective local groups, so do these great traditional books. On the surface they may appear to have been composed as conscientious history. In depth they reveal themselves to have been conceived as myths: poetic readings of the mysteries of life from a certain interested point of view. But to read a poem as a chronicle of fact is — to say the least — to miss the point. To say a little more, it is to prove oneself a dolt.
  • The church has been so harsh with heretics only because she deemed that there is no worse enemy than a child who has gone astray. But the record of Gnostic effronteries and the persistence of Manichean currents have contributed more to the construction of orthodox dogma than all the prayers.
    • Albert Camus, in "Absurd Creation" in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), as translated by Justin O'Brien, Vantage International, 1991, ISBN 0-679-73373-6, p. 113
  • Religion… is such a belief of the Bible as maintains a living influence on the heart.
    • Richard Cecil, The works of the Rev. Richard Cecil vol. 3 (1825) "On Scriptures", p. 359
  • If you are seeking the comforts of religion rather than the glory of our Lord, you are on the wrong track. The Comforter meets us unsought in the path of duty. There is something in religion, when rightly comprehended, that is masculine and grand. It removes those little desires which are "the constant hectic of a fool."
    • Richard Cecil, The works of the Rev. Richard Cecil vol. 3 (1825) p. 290
  • O Heavenly Father! convert my religion from a name to a principle. Bring all my thoughts and movements into an habitual reference to Thee.
  • The sum and substance of the preparation needed for a coming eternity is that you believe what the Bible tells you, and do what the Bible bids you.
    • Thomas Chalmers, Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans vol. 1 (1837) pp. 29-30
  • Religion is faith in an Infinite Creator, who delights in and enjoins that Rectitude which conscience commands us to seek, This conviction gives a Divine Sanction to duty.
  • The true office of religion is to bring out the whole nature of man in harmonious activity…
  • It was religion which, by teaching men their near relation to God, awakened in them the consciousness of their importance as individuals. It was the struggle for religious rights which opened men's eyes to all their rights. It was resistance to religious usurpation which led men to withstand political oppression. It was religious discussion which roused the minds of all classes to free and vigorous thought.
  • Religion assures us that our afflictions shall have an end; she comforts us, she dries our tears, she promises us another life. On the contrary, in the abominable worship of atheism, human woes are the incense, death is the priest, a coffin the altar, and annihilation the Deity.
  • I realized that ritual will always mean throwing away something; Destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.
  • The rigid saint, by whom no mercy's shown
    To saints whose lives are better than his own,
    Shall spare thy crimes; and Wit, who never once
    Forgave a brother, shall forgive a dunce.
  • Deos placatos pictas efficiet et sanctitas.
    • Piety and holiness of life will propitiate the gods.
    • Cicero, De Officiis. II. 3
  • Res sacros non modo manibus attingi, sed ne cogitatione quidem violari fas fuit.
    • Things sacred should not only be untouched with the hands, but unviolated in thought.
    • Cicero, Orationes in Verrem. II. 4. 45
  • Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.
  • I for one would never be a party, unless the law were clear, to saying to any man who put forward his views on those most sacred things, that he should be branded as apparently criminal because he differed from the majority of mankind in his religious views or convictions on the subject of religion. If that were so, we should get into ages and times which, thank God, we do not live in, when people were put to death for opinions and beliefs which now almost all of us believe to be true.
    • John Duke Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice, Regina v. Bradlaugh and others (1883), 15 Cox, C.C. 230
  • Forth from his dark and lonely hiding place,
    (Portentous sight!) the owlet atheism,
    Sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon,
    Drops his blue-fring'd lids, and holds them close,
    And hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven,
    Cries out, "Where is it?"
  • Too soon did the Doctors of the Church forget that the Heart, the Moral Nature, was the Beginning and the End; and that Truth, Knowledge, and insight were comprehended in its expansion.
  • Life and the Universe show spontaneity;
    Down with ridiculous notions of Deity!
    Churches and creeds are lost in the mists;
    Truth must be sought with the Positivists.
  • Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but — live for it.
  • For the majority of English people there are only two religions, Roman Catholic, which is wrong, and the rest, which don't matter.
  • In America the taint of sectarianism lies broad upon the land. Not content with acknowledging the supremacy as the Deity, and with erecting temples in his honor, where all can bow down with reverence, the pride and vanity of human reason enter into and pollute our worship, and the houses that should be of God and for God, alone, where he is to be honored with submissive faith, are too often merely schools of metaphysical and useless distinctions. The nation is sectarian, rather than Christian.
  • Religion, if in heavenly truths attired,
    Needs only to be seen to be admired.
  • Religion does not censure or exclude
    Unnumbered pleasures, harmlessly pursued.
  • Pity! Religion has so seldom found
    A skilful guide into poetic ground!
    The flowers would spring where'er she deign'd to stray
    And every muse attend her in her way.


  • Sacred religion! Mother of Form and Fear!
  • Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I'm not worried about my soul.
    • Clarence Darrow in a debate with religious leaders in Kansas City, as quoted in a eulogy for Darrow by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1938)
  • Usbek can be as brilliant and satirical on occasion as his younger companion, but his aim is to probe to the heart of things, and he knows that truth will only reveal itself to a reverent search. To him all religions are worthy of respect, and their ministers also, for “God has chosen for Himself, in every corner of the earth, souls purer than the rest, whom He has separated from the impious world that their mortification and their fervent prayers may suspend His wrath.” He thinks that the surest way to please God is to obey the laws of society, and to do our duty towards men. Every religion assumes that God loves men, since He establishes a religion for their happiness; and since He loves men we are certain of pleasing Him in loving them, too. Usbek’s prayer in Letter XLVI. Is not yet out of date. “Lord, I do not understand any of those discussions that are carried on without end regarding Thee: I would serve Thee according to Thy will; but each man whom I consult would have me serve Thee according to his.” He insists that religion is intended for man’s happiness; and that, in order to love it and fulfil its behests, it is not necessary to hate and persecute those who are opposed to our beliefs – not necessary even to attempt to convert them. Indeed, he holds that variety of belief is beneficial to the state. A new sect is always the surest means of correcting the abuses of an old faith; and those who profess tolerated creeds usually prove more useful to their country than those who profess the established religion, because, being excluded from all honours, their endeavour to distinguish themselves by becoming wealthy improves trade and commerce.
  • Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!
  • I think that what really matters about a religion is whether it's true.
  • If all enlightened men were, like us, to point out, in an impartial spirit, various defects found in different religions, it is not at all impossible that all quarrels should cease, that people should live together in peace all following one religion, and that truth should thus triumph.
    • Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883) Dayanand Saraswati, “The religion of Moslems,” Ch. 14 of 'The Light of Truth', Published by Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, 3/5, Maharishi Dayanand Bhawan, Ramlila Ground New Delhi – 110002.
  • Evolution’s logical, unlike religion. Even the Church will agree with that. You have to take religion on faith and you can’t test it by common sense.
  • In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.
  • Once he saw the officials of a temple leading away some one who had stolen a bowl belonging to the treasurers, and said, "The great thieves are leading away the little thief."
  • "As for that," said Waldenshare, "sensible men are all of the same religion." "Pray what is that?" inquired the Prince. "Sensible men never tell."
    • Benjamin Disraeli, Endymion (1880), Chapter LXXXI. Borrowed from Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (Lord Shaftesbury)
  • Religion, in its most general view, is such a Sense of God in the soul, and such a conviction of our obligations to Him, and of our dependence upon Him, as shall engage us to make it our great care to conduct ourselves in a manner which we have reason to believe will be pleasing to Him.
  • Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.
  • You can and you can't — You shall and you shan't — You will and you won't — And you will be damned if you do — And you will be damned if you don't.
  • Gardez-vous bien de lui les jours qu'il communie.
  • L'institut des Jesuites est une épée dont la poigée est à Rome et la pointe partout.
    • The Order of Jesuits is a sword whose handle is at Rome and whose point is everywhere.
    • André M. J. Dupin, Procès de tendance (1825). Quoted by him as found in a letter to Mlle. Voland from Abbé Raynal. Rousseau quotes it from D'Aubigné–Anti-Coton, who ascribes it to the saying of the Society of Jesus which is "a sword, the blade of which is in France, and the handle in Rome".
  • Puritanism and paganism — the repression and the expression of the senses and desires — alternate in mutual reaction in history. Generally religion and puritanism prevail in periods when the laws are feeble and morals must bear the burden of maintaining social order; skepticism and paganism (other factors being equal) progress as the rising power of law and governments permits the decline of the church, the family, and morality without basically endangering the stability of the state.
  • There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion. France, the United States, and some other nations have divorced their governments from all churches, but they have had the help of religion in keeping social order.
  • We frolic in our emancipation from theology, but have we developed a natural ethic — a moral code independent of religion — strong enough to keep our instincts of acquisition, pugnacity, and sex from debasing our civilization into a mire of greed, crime, and promiscuity? Have we really outgrown intolerance, or merely transferred it from religious to national, ideological, or racial hostilities?
  • Science and religion are two human enterprises sharing many common features. They share these features also with other enterprises such as art, literature and music. The most salient features of all these enterprises are discipline and diversity. Discipline to submerge the individual fantasy in a greater whole. Diversity to give scope to the infinite variety of human souls and temperaments. Without discipline there can be no greatness. Without diversity there can be no freedom. Greatness for the enterprise, freedom for the individual—these are the two themes, contrasting but not incompatible, that make up the history of science and the history of religion.
    • Freeman Dyson, Infinite in All Directions (1988) pp. 5-6 (paperback, 1989).


  • We do not want a religion that deceives us for our own good.
  • If our so-called facts are changing shadows, they are shadows cast by the light of constant truth. So too in religion we are repelled by that confident theological doctrine... but we need not turn aside from the measure of light that comes into our experience showing us a Way through the unseen world.
If the believers of the present-day religions would earnestly try to think and act in the spirit of the founders of these religions then no hostility on the basis of religion would exist among the followers of the different faiths. ~ Albert Einstein
God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
I see that sensible men and conscientious men all over the world were of one religion. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.
    • Albert Einstein, in response to atheist, Alfred Kerr in the winter 1927, who after deriding ideas of God and religion at a dinner party in the home of the publisher Samuel Fischer, had queried him "I hear that you are supposed to be deeply religious" as quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler.
  • For any one who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible. Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in Has Science Discovered God? : A Symposium of Modern Scientific Opinion (1931) by Edward Howe Cotton, p. 101
  • All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
    The essential unity of ecclesiastical and secular institutions was lost during the 19th century, to the point of senseless hostility. Yet there was never any doubt as to the striving for culture. No one doubted the sacredness of the goal. It was the approach that was disputed.
    • Albert Einstein, "Moral Decay" (1937); Later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
  • While religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra. Everywhere, in economic as well as in political life, the guiding principle is one of ruthless striving for success at the expense of one's fellow men. This competitive spirit prevails even in school and, destroying all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation, conceives of achievement not as derived from the love for productive and thoughtful work, but as springing from personal ambition and fear of rejection.
    There are pessimists who hold that such a state of affairs is necessarily inherent in human nature; it is those who propound such views that are the enemies of true religion, for they imply thereby that religious teachings are Utopian ideals and unsuited to afford guidance in human affairs. The study of the social patterns in certain so-called primitive cultures, however, seems to have made it sufficiently evident that such a defeatist view is wholly unwarranted.
  • I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
    • Albert Einstein, in a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)
  • A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of piece of mind.
    • Albert Einstein, in "a letter to a distraught father who had lost his young son and had asked Einstein for some comforting words" (12 February 1950), quoted in The New Quotable Einstein (2005) by Alice Calaprice, p. 206
  • I have found no better expression than "religious" for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.
    • Albert Einstein, in letter to Maurice Solovine, (1 January 1951) [Einstein Archive 21-174]; published in Letters to Solovine (1993).
  • 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, in a letter to an atheist (1954) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1979) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman.
  • I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86
  • I can understand your aversion to the use of the term "religion" to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza... I have not found a better expression than "religious" for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason.
  • These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all peoples--those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country. They conform to our firm faith that God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.
  • I do not find that the age or country makes the least difference; no, nor the language the actors spoke, nor the religion which they professed whether Arab in the desert or Frenchman in the Academy, I see that sensible men and conscientious men all over the world were of one religion.
  • I like the church, I like a cowl,
    I love a prophet of the soul;
    And on my heart monastic aisles
    Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
    Yet not for all his faith can see,
    Would I that cowlèd churchman be.
  • In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the difference between their own creed and yours; whilst the charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities in all the religions of humanity.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in Jennifer Leigh Selig, Thinking Outside The Church : 110 Ways to Connect with Your Spiritual Nature (2004), p. 53


  • Die Theologie ist die Anthropologie.
    • Theology is Anthropology.
    • Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity ["Wesen des Christenthums"], Preface to the 2nd Ed. (1843)
  • Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
    • Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1915 - 1917)
  • A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
    • Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)
  • The different religions have never overlooked the part played by the sense of guilt in civilization. What is more, they come forward with a save mankind from this sense of guilt, which they call sin.
  • Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. … If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.
  • There are at bottom but two possible religions — that which rises in the moral nature of man, and which takes shape in moral commandments, and that which grows out of the observation of the material energies which operate in the external universe.
  • Sacrifice is the first element of religion, and resolves itself in theological language into the love of God.
  • I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
    • Stephen Fry, in his "Trefusis Blasphemes" radio broadcast, as published in Paperweight (1993)
  • Religion is the best armour in the world, but the worst cloak.


  • In reality there are as many religions as there are individuals.... Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?
  • A religion is (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
    • Clifford Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System," in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (1966), p. 4
  • [Gustave LeBon argues] religion originates in the most peremptory of human instincts, namely “the need to submit oneself to a divine, political, or social faith, whatever the circumstances.” [and] “This sentiment has very simple characteristics, such as worship of a being supposed superior, fear of the power with which the being is credited, blind submission to its commandments, inability to discuss its dogmas, the desire to spread them, and a tendency to consider as enemies all by whom they are not accepted. Whether such a sentiment apply to an invisible God, to a wooden or stone idol, to a hero or toa political conception, its essence always remains religious. A person is not religious solely when he worships a divinity, but when he puts all the resources of his mind, the complete submission of his will, and the whole-souled ardour of fanaticism at the service of a cause or an individual who becomes the goal and guide of his thoughts and actions.” The religious beliefs produced by this sentiment are the primordial force that created and established empires and civilizations. Religion’s strength is to be found in its power to mold and transform the character of a human mass by inculcating shared feelings, interests, and ideas in the individuals that make it up. It thus produces a formidable power to generate enthusiasm and action and to channel individual and collective energies toward a single purpose, the triumph of their beliefs: “The majority of historical events were created indirectly by the variation of religious ideas. The history of humanity is parallel to that of the gods. The birth of new gods has marked the dawn of a new civilization…
    • Emilio Gentile, "A Never-Never Religion, A Substitute for Religion, or a New Religion?"
  • Benedetto Croce wrote ….”Religion derives from the need for a concept of reality and life, and for direction in relation to them. Without religion and without this direction, you cannot live or you live unhappily with a divided and confused spirit. Of course, it is better to have a religion that conforms to philosophical truth than a religion based on myth, but it is better to have any religion based on myth than no religion at all. Given that no one wishes to live unhappily, everyone in their own way endeavors consciously or unconsciously to create a religion for themselves."
    • Emilio Gentile, "A Never-Never Religion, A Substitute for Religion, or a New Religion?"
A nation without a religion - that is like a man without breath. ~ Joseph Goebbels
  • A nation without a religion - that is like a man without breath.
  • And when we take our last remove, I fear that we shall find that a great deal which we call religion, and which we were at the trouble of lugging about with us through our whole pilgrimage, is perfectly worthless, fit only to be burned…
    • William Goodell, Forty Years in the Turkish Empire. Or, Memoirs of Rev. William Goodell (1876)
  • The religious instinct, at its best, builds vast cathedrals and motivates people to be empathic, to help others, to share, to do no harm. At it worst, it is a means of creating sharply defined classes of people—those in power, who can bully with impunity, and those without power, without human rights, who must submit or be hurt, ostracized, or even killed. This is the history of all religions through all time. In an initiate, pathways of thought are established in the mind that, is some cases, claim to obviate the need for deep thought regarding morally complex issues.
  • Four kinds of answer are standardly given to the question why religion exists. One is that it provides explanations—of the origin of the universe, of the way it works, of the apparently inexplicable things that happen in it, and of why it includes evil and suffering. Another is that religion provides comfort, giving hope of life after death, providing reassurance in a hostile world, and a means (by supplication, propitiation, and the practice of one or another form of prescribed behaviour) to get a better deal in it. A third is that it makes for social order, in promoting morality and social cohesion. And a fourth is that it rests on the natural ignorance, stupidity, superstitiousness and gullibility of mankind.
  • There is no greater social evil than religion. It is the cancer in the body of humanity.
  • Outside the formal disciplines of logic and mathematics there are no absolute certainties—except of course in religion, which abounds in them, to the extent that people commit murder for their sake.
  • Religion humanizes this universe, makes us feel important and loved. We are not animals governed by uncontrollable drives, animals that die for no apparent reason, but creatures made in the image of supreme being.
  • Religion is the great balm of existence because it takes us outside ourselves, connects us to something larger.
  • Die Irreligiösen sind religiöser als sie selbst wissen, und die Religiösen sind's weniger, als sie meinen.
    • Translation: The irreligious are more religious than they themselves know, and the religious are less so than they think.
    • Franz Grillparzer, aphorism (1857), in Studien zur Philosophie und Religion. Historische und politische Studien. Hamburg: Tredition, 2011, p. 32. ISBN 978-3-8424-1558-4
  • The so-called religious convictions of many people [amount to] a few notions learnt by heart, in a purely mechanical and schoolboy way, which they have never assimilated, to which they have never devoted serious thought, [and] which they store in their memory and repeat on occasion as part of a certain convention or formal attitude which is all they understand by the name of religion.
    • René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World (Sophia Perennis, 2001; originally published in 1942 in French as La Crise du Monde Moderne), p. 85 (Ch. 7, "A Material Civilization"). [2]


Cultural elites in countries that dominate peoples have adapted subject people’s religion for their own purposes ~ Richard A. Horsley
  • Now they had given their wills to Agon, and it was Agon who acted through them—they could spy upon their benefactors, they could betray their friends, they could torture the weak, prostitute themselves, beat a helpless old cripple to death in an alleyway, and remain, in their hearts, good people, kindly people, men and women worthy of regard, because it was, after all, the Veiled God who was acting, not them.
  • Man without religion is the creature of circumstances. Religion is above all circumstances, and will lift him up above them.
  • We do ourselves wrong, and too meanly estimate the holiness above us, when we deem that any act or enjoyment good in itself, is not good to do religiously.
  • The undoubted historical connection between religion and the values that have shaped and furthered our civilisation, such as the family and several property, does not of course mean that there is any intrinsic connection between religion as such and such values. Among the founders of religions over the last two thousand years, many opposed property and the family. But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Ch. 8: The Extended Order and Population Growth
  • From Greenland's icy mountains,
    From India's coral strand,
    Where Afric's sunny fountains
    Roll down their golden sand;
    From many an ancient river,
    From many a palmy plain,
    They call us to deliver
    Their land from error's chain.
  • For the men that history enshrines on her immortal pages, the men whose memories are embalmed in the hearts of their fellows for all ages, were men who placed unfaltering trust in the loftiest convictions of the soul, and consecrated life and death to their realization.
  • Religion, therefore, is the answer to that cry of Reason which nothing can silence, that aspiration of the soul which no created thing can meet, that want of the heart which all creation cannot supply.
  • There is no use disguising the fact, our religious needs are the deepest. There is no peace until they are satisfied and contented. The attempt to stifle them is in vain. If their cry be drowned by the noise of the world, they do not cease to exist. In some unexpected moment they will break through with redoubled energy. They must be answered.
  • It is the very nature and essence of religion to raise men, peoples, and nations, above the common level of life, to break through its ordinary bounds, and express itself in a thousand ways, in poetry, painting, music, sculpture, and in every other form of ideal expression. The splendid monuments of the genius and greatness of by-gone ages are the monuments inspired by their religion.
  • Science embraces facts and debates opinion; religion embraces opinion and debates the facts.
  • The objects of philosophy, it is true, are upon the whole the same as those of religion. In both the object is Truth, in that supreme sense in which God and God only is the Truth.
  • It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
  • The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.
  • Religion is a solace to many and it is conceivable that some religion, somewhere, is Ultimate Truth. But being religious is often a form of conceit. The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was 'saved,' they were 'damned'—we were in a state of grace and the rest were 'heathens.' By 'heathen' they meant such as our brother Mahmoud. Ignorant iouts who seldom bathed and planted corn by the Moon claimed to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled them to look down on outsiders. Our hymns were loaded with arrogance—self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, and what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.
  • History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
  • The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
    The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.
  • The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
    But it's lovely work if you can stomach it.
  • I think that you are immune to the temptations of religion. If you are not, I cannot help you, any more than I could keep you from acquiring a drug habit. A religion is sometimes a source of happiness and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong—and you are strong. The great trouble with religion—any religion—is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask in at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason—but one cannot have both.
  • Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything — just give him time to rationalize it. Forgive me for being blunt.
  • Nothing exposes religion more to the reproach of its enemies than the worldliness and half-heartedness of the professors of it.
    • Matthew Henry, An Exposition of All the Books of the Old and New Testaments, vol. 2 (1804) p. 482
  • Religion stands on tiptoe in our land,
    Ready to pass to the American strand.
  • Dresse and undresse thy soul: mark the decay
    And growth of it: if, with thy watch, that too
    Be down, then winde up both: since we shall be
    Most surely judged, make thy accounts agree.
  • Authentic religion, like authentic liberty, is a continuous inquiry, indeed continuous doubt, of a living soul. Certainty exists only among disciplined ranks, the servile and delusive certainty of dead souls.
    • Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Dziennik pisany nocą 1971–1972 (Journal Written at Night 1971–1972) (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1973); journal entry dated 3 September 1972
  • My Fathers and Brethren, this is never to be forgotten that New England is originally a plantation of religion, not a plantation of trade.
    • John Higginson, Election Sermon. The Cause of God and His People in New England. May 27, 1663
  • Religious ideas, supposedly private matters between man and god, are in practice always political ideas.
    • Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (1990), Chatto Counterblasts
  • One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on.
  • It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher god.
  • We must seize the evil in Germany by the root and tear it out, to make way for true socialism, for the new faith, for the new religion.
    • Adolf Hitler, according to Otto Wagener in "Hitler Memoirs of a Confidant", editor, Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., Yale University Press (1985) p. 59
  • Is religion one of the fine arts, that it should consist in going to meeting in good clothes every Sunday, saying grace at table, and praying night and morning? Is there every thing to receive, and nothing to give? Are we so literally a flock that we have nothing to do but to be fed all the year, yielding only the annual fleece which forms our pastor's salary?
  • Religion may enter a pothouse as a minister of good, but it may not lay aside its dignity to argue its rights and claims there. The moment that it does this it is shorn of its power.
  • There are men who stalk about the world gloomy and stiff and severe — self-righteous embodiments of the mischievous heresy that the religion of peace and good-will to all mankind — the religion of love and hope and joy, the religion that bathes the universal human soul in the light of paternal love, and opens to mankind the gates of immortality — is a religion of terror — men guilty of misrepresenting Christ to the world, and doing incalculable damage to His cause, yet who find it in them to rebuke the careless laughter that bubbles up from a maiden's heart that God has filled with life and gladness.
  • No solemn, sanctimonious face I pull,
    Nor think I'm pious when I'm only bilious —
    Nor study in my sanctum supercilious
    To frame a Sabbath Bill or forge a Bull.
  • The greatest, the chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power... is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the Churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity, and that almost overwhelms mankind.
    • The Master K.H. quoted in The Mahatma Letters, A.P. Sinnett (1923)
  • Remove from the history of the past all those actions which have either sprung directly from the religious nature of man, or been modified by it, and you have the history of another world and of another race.
    • Mark Hopkins, Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity (1846) Lecture II, p. 49
  • Who ever heard of a devout deist? Who ever heard of one who was willing to spend his life in missionary labor for the good of others? It is not according to the constitution of the mind that such a system should awaken the affections. And what is true of this system is true of every false system. All such systems leave the heart cold, and, accordingly, exert very little genuine transforming power over the life.
    • Mark Hopkins, Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity (1846) Lecture V, p. 156
  • Cultural elites in countries that dominate peoples have adapted subject people’s religion for their own purposes.
    • Richard A. Horsley, Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003), p. 12
  • Rational arguments don't usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.
    • Dr. House in House season 4 episode 2, "The Right Stuff" (2007-10-02)
    • Sometimes paraphrased as "If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people."
  • A religion that never suffices to govern a man, will never suffice to save him; that that which does not distinguish him from a sinful world, will never distinguish him from a perishing world.
    • John Howe, The works of the Rev. John Howe vol. 2 (1835) p. 798
  • The canon of the [sharia] and the Church, closely linked with the laws of the bourgeosie, treated women as a commodity, a thing to be bought and sold by the male... Just as the bourgeosie had made the worker into its proletarian, so had the savage ancient canons of the [shariah], the Church, feudalism and the bourgeosie, reduced woman to the proletariat of the man.
  • Should all the banks of Europe crash,
    The bank of England smash,
    Bring all your notes to Zion's bank,
    You're sure to get your cash.
    • Henry Hoyt, Zion's Bank, or Bible Promises Secured to all Believers, Pub. in Boston (1857); probably a reprint of English origin.
  • Il y a maintenant en France dans chaque village un flambeau allumé, le maître d'école, et une bouche qui souffle dessus, le curé.
    • Victor Hugo, Histoire d'un crime. Déposition d'un témoin (1877), Deuxième Journée. La lutte, ch. III: La barricade Saint-Antoine
    • Translation: There is now, in France, in each village, a lighted torch—the schoolmaster—and a mouth which blows upon it—the curé.
      • T. H. Joyce and Arthur Locker (tr.), The History of a Crime: The Testimony of an Eye-Witness (1877), The Second Day, Chapter III, p. 120
    • Translation: In every French village there is now a lighted torch, the schoolmaster; and a mouth trying to blow it out, the priest.
      • Huntington Smith (tr.), History of a Crime (1888), The Second Day, Chapter III, p. 187
    • Variants: There is in every village a torch: The schoolteacher/teacher. And an extinguisher: The priest/clergyman.
  • Maintaining, in this matter, the attitude of a strict operationalist, the Buddha would speak only of the spiritual experience, not of the metaphysical entity presumed by the theologians of other religions, as also of later Buddhism, to be the object ... of that experience.


  • I am a believer in liberty. That is my religion — to give to every other human being every right that I claim for myself, and I grant to every other human being, not the right — because it is his right — but instead of granting I declare that it is his right, to attack every doctrine that I maintain, to answer every argument that I may urge — in other words, he must have absolute freedom of speech.
  • Who is a worshiper? What is prayer? What is real religion? Let me answer these questions.
    Good, honest, faithful work, is worship.
  • I belong to the Great Church which holds the world within its starlit aisles; that claims the great and good of every race and clime; that finds with joy the grain of gold in every creed, and floods with light and love the germs of good in every soul.
    • Robert G. Ingersoll, in discussion with Rev. Henry M. Field on Faith and Agnosticism, quoted in Vol. VI of Farrell's edition of his works; also in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922) edited by Kate Louise Roberts, p. 663
  • My creed is this:
    Happiness is the only good.
    The place to be happy is here.
    The time to be happy is now.
    The way to be happy is to help make others so.


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ~ James 1:27
It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.
    • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
    • James 1:27 NIV
  • I envy them, those monks of old
    Their books they read, and their beads they told.
  • Science says things are; morality says some things are better than other things; and religion says essentially two things.
    First, she says that the best things are the more eternal things, the overlapping things, the things in the universe that throw the last stone, so to speak, say the final word. "Perfection is eternal,"—this phrase of Charles Secrétan seems a good way of putting this affirmation of religion, an affirmation which obviously cannot yet be verified scientifically at all.
    The second affirmation of religion is that we are better off even now if we believer her first affirmation to be true.
  • There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and eccentric. I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to study this second-hand religious life. We must make search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct.
    • William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture 1, 1902
  • I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged.
  • In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
  • Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
    State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion.
    Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
  • Sir, I think all Christians, whether Papists or Protestants, agree in the essential articles, and that their religious differences are trivial, and rather political than religious.
  • There are a hundred and fifty or more definitions of religion. One says it is “what we do with our solitariness”; another that it is “how we integrate ourselves socially”; another that “the root of religion is fear,” and so on. The reason it is so difficult to define is that life itself is difficult to define. When we define religion in terms of its various manifestations, we get partial, sometimes contradictory definitions. But religion, having many forms, has only one root. That root is the urge after life, fuller life. In everything, from the lowest cell clear up to the highest person, there is an urge toward completion. We are all incurably religious. Even the Communists, though repudiating religion, are deeply religious. They want a better social order. They may be right or wrong in their method of getting it, but the very desire for a better social order is religious. For religion is a cry for life.
    • E. Stanley Jones, Victorious Living
  • A little is fine, but the minute you start believing that you've picked the only right one out of the 4,200 or so on offer, you need to get a grip on yourself. Once you start thinking that it's okay to hate someone that chose one of the 4,199 others... snap out of it.
  • We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want that. We may quarrel with men about things on earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.
    • Chief Joseph, quoted in The Wisdom of the Native Americans (1999) by Kent Nerburn


Business leaders, of course, had long been working to "merchandise" themselves through the appropriation of religion. In organizations such as Spiritual Mobilization, the prayer breakfast groups, and the Freedoms Foundation, they had linked capitalism and Christianity. ~ Kevin M. Kruse
  • [Jesus] claims that not the observance of outer civil or statutory churchly duties but the pure moral disposition of the heart alone can make man well-pleasing to God (Matthew V, 20-48); … that injury done one’s neighbor can be repaired only through satisfaction rendered to the neighbor himself, not through acts of divine worship (V, 24). Thus, he says, does he intend to do full justice to the Jewish law (V, 17); whence it is obvious that not scriptural scholarship but the pure religion of reason must be the law’s interpreter, for taken according to the letter, it allowed the very opposite of all this. Furthermore, he does not leave unnoticed, in his designations of the strait gate and the narrow way, the misconstruction of the law which men allow themselves in order to evade their true moral duty, holding themselves immune through having fulfilled their churchly duty (VII, 13). He further requires of these pure dispositions that they manifest themselves also in works (VII, 16) and, on the other hand, denies the insidious hope of those who imagine that, through invocation and praise of the Supreme Lawgiver in the person of His envoy, they will make up for their lack of good works and ingratiate themselves into favor (VII, 21). Regarding these works he declares that they ought to be performed publicly, as an example for imitation (V, 16), and in a cheerful mood, not as actions extorted from slaves (VI, 16); and that thus, from a small beginning in the sharing and spreading of such dispositions, religion, like a grain of seed in good soil, or a ferment of goodness, would gradually, through its inner power, grow into a kingdom of God (XIII, 31-33).
    • Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Book IV, Part 1, Section 1, “The Christian religion as a natural religion,” as translated by Theodore M. Greene
  • What makes the decisive difference is not whether religion is persecuted or not, but whether religion is a pious name for conformity or a fighting name for non-conformity.
  • The most obvious failure of organized religions is surely that almost all of them have made a mockery of what their founders taught.
  • Organized religion flourishes. And so do thoughtlessness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.
  • A religiously developed person makes a practice of referring everything to God, of permeating and saturating every finite relation with the thought of God, and thereby consecrating and ennobling it.
  • It requires moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.
  • Softmindedness often invades religion. … Softminded persons have revised the Beautitudes to read "Blessed are the pure in ignorance: for they shall see God." This has led to a widespread belief that there is a conflict between science and religion. But this is not true. There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. … Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
  • So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a taillight behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.
  • Religion is hate, religion is fear, religion is war, religion is rape, religion's obscene, religion's a whore.
  • And now, after making due allowance for evils that are natural and cannot be avoided... I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches. It is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man ; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his God or gods demand the crime? ; voluntary victim of an illusionary God, the abject slave of his crafty ministers.
  • And wasn’t that a common pattern in human history! Greedy religious orders, wanting to keep power for themselves, using customs and myth and threats and murder to keep the people in line and then making them believe it was all for their own good so they wouldn’t challenge the supremacy of the priesthood. Some political thinker of a few centuries ago had nailed it exactly: “Religion is the opiate of the people.”
  • Business leaders, of course, had long been working to "merchandise" themselves through the appropriation of religion. In organizations such as Spiritual Mobilization, the prayer breakfast groups, and the Freedoms Foundation, they had linked capitalism and Christianity and, at the same time, likened the welfare state to godless paganism. After decades of work, these businessmen believed their efforts had finally paid off with the election of Dwight Eisenhower.
    • Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015) p. 86


We have too long supposed that the Unknown mysterium tremendum et fascinosum of religion was outside us, when in fact that Unknown, although ego-alien or unconscious, was all the while within us: the alleged “supernatural” is the human “subconscious.” ~ Weston La Barre
The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • We have too long supposed that the Unknown mysterium tremendum et fascinosum of religion was outside us, when in fact that Unknown, although ego-alien or unconscious, was all the while within us: the alleged “supernatural” is the human “subconscious.”
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 261
  • A religion is a kind of group dream.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 264
  • Like the paranoid schizophrenic, the vatic personality pretends to be talking about the grandiose outside cosmic world, but he is really talking grandiosely in symbolic ways only about his narcissistic self and his inner world. The mystic pretends to discard his sensory self in order to meld with the cosmic Self; but in discarding his senses he abjures his only connection with the cosmos and re-encounters only himself. The realities he expounds are inside him.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 265
  • “God” is often clinically paranoiac because the shaman’s “supernatural helper” is the projection of the shaman himself. The personality of Yahweh, so to speak, exactly fits the irascible personality of the sheikh-shaman Moses; the voices of Yahweh and Moses are indistinguishable. Of course, shamans do not always have an easy time of it. If the dereistic dreamer arouses too much anxiety, people call him crazy, just as people must put themselves at a psychological distance from the frightening and uncanny schizophrenic. But if the dreamer largely allays anxiety in the society, then he is the shaman-savior. Thus it is that outsiders to the society cannot tell the difference between a psychotic and a vatic personality. Only the society itself can distinguish between its psychotics and its shaman-saviors.
    • Weston La Barre, “Hallucinogens and the Shamanic Origins of Religion,” Flesh of the Gods (1972), p. 266
  • All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.
  • You ask about the Great One whom we call the Christ, the Lord Maitreya, and about His work in the past and in the future... there is what we may call a department of the inner government of the world which is devoted to religious instruction—the founding and inspiring of religions, and so on. It is the Christ who is in charge of that department; sometimes He Himself appears on earth to found a great religion and sometimes He entrusts such work to one of His more advanced assistants. We must regard Him as exercising a kind of steady pressure from behind all the time, so that the power employed will flow as though automatically into every channel anywhere and of any sort which is open to its passage; so that He is working simultaneously through every religion, and utilizing all that is good in the way of devotion and self-sacrifice in each. The fact that these religions may be wasting their strength in abusing one another upon the physical plane is of course lamentable, but it does not make much difference to the fact that whatever is good in each of them is being simultaneously utilized from behind by the same great Power. p. 19
  • Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye.
    • Timothy Leary, “The Seven Tongues of God,” The Politics of Ecstasy (1968)
  • It takes a long time to learn to live without God, and some people never do. They would rather have a false God than none at all.
  • Imagine there's no countries,
    It isn't hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for,
    No religion too,
    Imagine all the people
    living life in peace...

    You may say I'm a dreamer,
    but I'm not the only one,
    I hope some day you'll join us,
    And the world will be as one.

  • The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practises to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbor in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from the outside.
    • C. S. Lewis in "Lilies that Fester" in The Twentieth Century (April 1955)
  • Individuals must be persuaded to believe in an apparent paradox, that something is gained through selflessness and something is lost through self-fulfillment. ...The four cardinal virtues from Greek philosophy are prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. Islam recognizes those, as well as, righteousness, respect, sincerity, and honesty. Christianity adds faith, hope, charity, and love. Buddhism's Divine States are loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. Practicing these virtues requires self-restraint and generosity towards others. Vices, for example, pride, avarice, and gluttony are typically described as manifestations of selfishness. Although the following is a very simplified formula, excellence of character or proper living is said to be achieved through practicing virtue (which is self-effacing) and avoiding vice (selfishness).
    Is personal transcendence consistent with this formula? “No,” assert the critics of transhumanity. It is egotistical, too grasping, and may result in new forms of injustice. Living a good life accepting of human mortality... has intrinsic value and it helps promote the greater good.
    • Stephen Lilley, Transhumanism and society: the social debate over human enhancement (2013) p. 21-22.
  • I am much indebted to the good christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.
    • Abraham Lincoln's Letter to Eliza Gurney (4 September 1864); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 535
  • Mr. Doctor, pray remember that text, He that seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, his religion is vain.
    • John Lisle, Hewet's Case (1658), 5. How. St. Tr. 894
  • Other hope had she none, nor wish in life, but to follow
    Meekly, with reverent steps, the sacred feet of her Saviour.
  • Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.
  • Puritanism, believing itself quick with the seed of religious liberty, laid, without knowing it, the egg of democracy.
  • God is not dumb, that he should speak no more;
    If thou hast wanderings in the wilderness
    And find'st not Sinai, 'tis thy soul is poor.
  • But he turned up his nose at their murmuring and shamming,
    And cared (shall I say?) not a d—n for their damning;
    So they first read him out of their church and next minute
    Turned round and declared he had never been in it.
  • Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum!
    • Translated: How many evils has religion caused!
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura. I. 102
  • Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the way of the Sacramentarians, nor sat in the seat of the Zwinglians, nor followed the Council of the Zurichers.
  • Religion is not 'doctrinal knowledge,' but wisdom born of personal experience.
    • Martin Luther, Holborn, Hajo; A HISTORY OF MODERN GERMANY: The Reformation; 1959/1982 Princeton university Press


  • The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
  • To judge religion we must have it—not stare at it from the bottom of a seeming interminable ladder
  • Religion is no dry morality; no slavish, punctilious conforming of actions to a hard law. Religion is not right thinking alone, nor right emotion alone, nor right action alone. Religion is still less the semblance of these in formal profession, or simulated feeling, or apparent rectitude. Religion is not nominal connection with the Christian community, nor participation in its ordinances and its worship. But to be godly is to be godlike.
  • Religion to be permanently influential must be intelligent.
  • Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
  • Either every imaginable institution is founded on a religious concept or it is only a passing phenomenon. Institutions are strong and durable to the degree that they are, so to speak, deified. Not only is human reason, or what is ignorantly called philosophy, incapable of supplying these foundations, which with equal ignorance are called superstitious, but philosophy is, on the contrary, an essentially disruptive force.
  • There is no civilized religion without it saints and devils, without its illuminations and tokens, without the spirit of God descending upon the community of the faithful. There is no new-fangled creed, no new religion, whether it be a form of Spiritism, Theosophy, or Christian Science, which cannot prove its legitimacy by the solid fact of supernatural manifestation. The savage also has his thaumatology, and in the Trobriands, where magic dominates all supernaturalism, it is a thaumatology of magic. Round each form of magic there is a continuous trickle of small miracles, at times swelling into bigger, more conspicuously supernatural proofs, then again, running in a smaller stream, but never absent.
  • I never really hated a one true God, but the God of the people I hated.
  • If I could pray with my cock I'd be a lot more religious.
  • To rely on intellectual methods for the direct advance of devout thought is to mistake philosophy for religion… Who does not know, out of his own heart, that he never was reasoned into holy wonder, love, or reverence? and who can fail to observe that there is no fixed proportion between force of understanding and clearness or depth of religion?
    • James Martineau, Hours of Thoughts on Sacred Things Vol. 2 (1879) "The Way of Rememberance" p. 96
  • Law, morality, religion, are ... so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. ~ Karl Marx
  • In any discussion of religion and personality integration the question is not whether religion itself makes for health or neurosis, but what kind of religion and how is it used? Freud was in error when he held that religion is per se a compulsion neurosis. Some religion is and some is not.
    • Rollo May, Man's Search for Himself (1953), p. 166
  • We define religion as the assumption that life has meaning. Religion, or lack of it, is shown not in some intellectual or verbal formulations but in one's total orientation to life. Religion is whatever the individual takes to be his ultimate concern. One's religious attitude is to be found at that point where he has a conviction that there are values in human existence worth living and dying for.
    • Rollo May, Man's Search for Himself (1953), p. 180
  • Religious history also offers another striking parallel between Rome and China. The Buddhist faith began to penetrate the Han empire in the first century A.D., and soon won converts in high places. Its period of official dominance in court circles extended from the third to the ninth centuries A.D. This obviously parallels the successes that came to Christianity in the Roman empire during the same period.
  • Like Christianity, Buddhism explained suffering. In forms that established themselves in China, Buddhism offered the same sort of comfort to bereaved survivors and victims of violence or of disease as Christian faith did in the Roman world. Buddhism of course originated in India, where disease incidence was probably always very high as compared with civilizations based in cooler climates; Christianity, too, took shape in the urban environments of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria where the incidence of infectious disease was certainly very high as compared to conditions in cooler and less crowded places. From their inception, therefore, both faiths had to deal with sudden death by disease as one of the conspicuous facts of human life. Consequently, it is not altogether surprising that both religions taught that death was a release from pain, and a blessed avenue of entry upon a delightful afterlife where loved ones would be reunited, and earthly injustices and pains amply compensated for.
  • When something is done by Jews, that does not make it Jewish. Jewish [religion] is defined by what Torah commands. Making our own state, or oppressing other people, is forbidden by Judaism and cannot be considered “Jewish”[...]Judaism is defined by Torah, and Torah teaches Jews to be subservient to the Almighty, follow His commandments, and live peacefully alongside the other nations of the world. Torah commands Jews not to kill or steal.
    • Meir Hirsch, Chief Rabbi: Nakba, Al-Quds Days Opportunities to Express Anti-Zionist Position by Orthodox Judaism (May 2020) Fars News Agency
  • While religion, contrary to the common notion, implies, in certain cases, a spirit of slow reserve as to assent, infidelity, which claims to despise credulity, is sometimes swift to it.
  • Certainly religion must be granted to be one of the greatest inventions ever made on earth. It not only probably antedated all the rest... it was also more valuable to the Dawn Man than any or all of them. For it had the peculiar virtue of making his existence more endurable.
  • The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him a ride.
  • Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian.
  • Socrates reminds us that it is not the same thing, but almost the opposite, to understand religion and to accept it.
  • Compassion in the highest degree is the divinest form of religion.
    • Alice Meynell, "Introductory Note" to The Poetry of Pathos & Delight: From the Works of Coventry Patmore; Passages Selected by Alice Meynell (London: William Heinemann, 1906), p. xi
  • Our religion is made to eradicate vices, instead it encourages them, covers them, and nurtures them.
    • Montaigne, Essays, Book II, Chapter 12, “Apology for Raymond Sebond”
  • I acknowledge that history is full of religious wars: but we must distinguish; it is not the multiplicity of religions which has produced wars; it is the intolerant spirit animating that which believed itself in the ascendant.
  • While the U.S. was founded on basic freedoms, including the freedom of religion, there is a distinction between belief and conduct. One can believe whatever one wishes; however, one cannot practice a belief if such practice violates a valid law.
    • Andrea Moore-Emmett, God’s Brothel, ISBN 978-1-930074-13-2, Part 1, “Contemporary Fundamentalist Polygamy in America” (p. 37)
  • If the women in these stories seem very removed from the religions that once consumed their lives, it is because they are. Once they began to exercise critical thinking skills, they were able to sort through the dogma, releasing the hold their religion once had on them to allow them to leave. During interviews, more than one woman stopped in the middle of a theological narrative to say, “I can’t believe I ever fell for that shit.”
    • Andrea Moore-Emmett, God’s Brothel, ISBN 978-1-930074-13-2, Part 1, “Contemporary Fundamentalist Polygamy in America” (p. 48)
  • Having brought up the question of religion, it is perhaps worthwhile taking a closer look at this strange pattern of animal behaviour, before going on to deal with other aspects of the aggressive activities of our species. It is not an easy subject to deal with, but as a zoologist 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 behavioural 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 as 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • Pascal says that when men become separated from God, two courses present themselves; to imagine that they are gods themselves, and try to behave as such, or, alternatively, to seek for enduring satisfaction in the transitory pleasures of the senses. The one sends them, like Icarus, flying into the bright furnace of the sun, there to perish; the other reduces them to far below the level of the farmyard, where the cows with their soft eyes, and the hens with their shrill cries, and the strutting peacocks and the grunting pigs, down to the tiny darting flies and wasps and insects, all live out whatever span of animal existence is vouchsafed them, under God’s kindly gaze. Men are denied this satisfaction. If they set up as a farmyard, it is a place of dark fantasies and weird imaginings –Prometheus, unbound, chaining himself to the rock, and there, day by day, gorging his own entrails.
    • Malcolm Muggeridge, The Great Liberal Death Wish
  • Religion is a species of mental disease.
    • Benito Mussolini, as qtd. in 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, James A. Haught, Amherst: NY, Prometheus Books (1996) p. 256
  • Science is now in the process of destroying religious dogma. The dogma of the divine creation is recognized as absurd.
    • Benito Mussolini, as qtd. in 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James A. Haught (1966) p. 256. Originally came from Mussolini’s essay l'Homme et la Divinité, 1904.


A circle can have only one centre but it can have numerous radii. The centre can be compared to God and the radii to religions. So, no one sect, no one religion or book can make an absolute claim of It. He who works for It gets It. ~ Swami Narayanananda
One of the fundamental points about religious humility is you say you don't know about the ultimate judgment. It's beyond your judgment. And if you equate God's judgment with your judgment, you have a wrong religion. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Quant à moi, je ne vois pas dans la religion le mystère de l'incarnation, mais le mystère de l'ordre social; elle rattache au ciel une idée d'égalité qui empêche que le riche ne soit massacré par le pauvre.
    • I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation, but the mystery of the social order; religion attaches to heaven an idea of equality that stops the rich from being massacred by the poor.
      • Napoléon Bonaparte, March 4, 1806, as reported in Opinions de Napoléon sur divers sujets de politique et d'administration, recueillies par un membre de son conseil d'état (1833), p. 223
  • A circle can have only one centre but it can have numerous radii. The centre can be compared to God and the radii to religions. So, no one sect, no one religion or book can make an absolute claim of It. He who works for It gets It.
  • The religion of some people is constrained; they are like people who use the cold bath — not for pleasure, but necessity, and for their health, they go in with reluctance, and is glad when they get out; but religion to a true believer is like water to a fish; it is his element, he lives in it, and could not live out of it.
    • John Newton, letter, 24 January 1800, The Aged Pilgrim's Triumph Over Sin and the Grave (1825), p. 158
  • I will make an attempt to attain freedom, the youthful soul says to itself; and is it to be hindered in this by the fact that two nations happen to hate and fight one another, or that two continents are separated by an ocean, or that all around it a religion is taught which did not yet exist a couple of thousand years ago. All that is not you, it says to itself. No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.
  • Even that Dionysus is a philosopher, and that gods, too, thus philosophy, seems to me a novelty that is far from innocuous and might arouse suspicion precisely among philosophers.


The so-called mahatmas and saints are all cowards. I have never come across a single mahatma—Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist—who can be said to be really a rebellious spirit. Unless one is rebellious, one is not religious. Rebellion is the very foundation of religion. ~ Osho
  • Ancient [Graeco-Roman] religion was tolerant and non-sectarian. In this it was unlike ancient philosophy. The adherents of Epicurean and Stoic philosophy fought long and acrimonious feuds, as one can see by reading Lucretius. The reason for this difference between religion and philosophy is that philosophers maintained various factual propositions about the world—that it was made of 'breath' or atoms, that it was finite or infinite, and so on—whereas ancient religions only presupposed the existence of forces capable of being persuaded by prayer and sacrifice. Since Roman religion offered no dogmas about the universe, there was nothing for people to contradict or to argue about. Philosophers, on the other hand, had elaborate systems which they defended to the last detail with grotesque ingenuity.
  • Reverend Lovejoy: This so-called new religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants, designed to take away the money of fools. Now let's say the Lord's Prayer 40 times, but first, let's pass the collection plate.
  • The so-called mahatmas and saints are all cowards. I have never come across a single mahatma—Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist—who can be said to be really a rebellious spirit. Unless one is rebellious, one is not religious. Rebellion is the very foundation of religion.
    • Osho, Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (2000), p. 19
  • Expedit esse deos et, ut expedit, esse putemus.
    • The existence of the gods is expedient and, as it is expedient, let us assume it.
    • Ovid, The Art of Love (c. AD 2) I, 645


  • Do they profess to have delighted us by telling us that they hold our soul to be only a little wind and smoke, especially by telling us this in a haughty and self-satisfied tone of voice? Is this a thing to say gaily? Is it not, on the contrary, a thing to say sadly, as the saddest thing in the world?
  • I cannot really endorse Planck's philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
    Einstein's conception is closer to mine. His God is somehow involved in the immutable laws of nature. Einstein has a feeling for the central order of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws. We may take it that he felt this simplicity very strongly and directly during his discovery of the theory of relativity. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the contents of religion. I don't believe Einstein is tied to any religious tradition, and I rather think the idea of a personal God is entirely foreign to him. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.
  • È religione anche non credere in niente.
    • Not believing in anything is also religion.
    • Cesare Pavese, The house on the hill (La casa in collina, 1949), Chapter 15
  • No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
  • It was a friar of orders grey
    Walked forth to tell his beads.
    • Thomas Percy, The Friar of Orders Grey (based on an older ballad)
  • The psychology of the religious experience has been well-researched and taped. There are many paths up the mountain—sensory deprivation or sensory overload—emotional response to stimuli or the lack thereof is common. Drugs, of course, from psychoactives to the more mundane depressants. Electropophy can bring it about, as can organic brain damage, lack or excess of oxygen, even sex can trigger it. And what it is, according to the science of man and mue, is a subjective mental state, somewhere to the left of hypnosis. A trick the mind plays on itself. A delusion, void of reality.
  • Religion, which true policy befriends,
    Design'd by God to serve man's noblest ends,
    Is by that old deceiver's subtle play
    Made the chief party in its own decay,
    And meets the eagle's destiny, whose breast
    Felt the same shaft which his own feathers drest.
  • The Puritan did not stop to think; he recognized God in his soul, and acted.
  • All religious expression is symbolism; since we can describe only what we see, and the true objects of religion are The Seen. The earliest instruments of education were symbols; and they and all other religious forms differed and still differ according to external circumstances and imagery, and according to differences of knowledge and mental cultivation. All language is symbolic, so far as it is applied to mental and spiritual phenomena and action. All words have, primarily, a material sense, howsoever they may afterward get, for the ignorant, a spiritual non-sense. To "retract," for example, is to draw back, and when applied to a statement, is symbolic, as much so as a picture of an arm drawn back, to express the same thing, would he. The very word "spirit" means " breath," from the Latin verb spiro, breathe.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. III : The Master, p. 62
  • It is not in the books of the Philosophers, but in the religious symbolism of the Ancients, that we must look for the footprints of Science, and re-discover the Mysteries of Knowledge.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXXII : Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
People look for a path in the heavens for the simple reason that they have lost their way on earth.
~ Georgi Plekhanov
  • People [who belong in this environment] look for a path in the heavens for the simple reason that they have lost their way on earth.
    • Georgi Plekhanov, On the so-called religious searches in Russia, 1909, article 3 (Gospel from decadence), chapter 8, first paragraph.
      • Original: Люди, принадлежащие к этой среде, ищут пути на небо по той простой причине, что они сбились с дороги на земле.
  • We have a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy.
Transference of fear and self-loathing to an authoritarian vessel. It's catharsis. He absorbs their dread with his narrative. Because of this, he's effective in proportion to the amount of certainty he can project. Certain linguistic anthropologists think that religion is a language virus that rewrites pathways in the brain. Dulls critical thinking. ~ Nic Pizzolatto
  • So upright Quakers please both man and God.
  • To happy convents, bosom'd deep in vines,
    Where slumber abbots purple as their wines.
  • Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,
    And unawares Morality expires.
  • For virtue's self may too much zeal be had;
    The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.
  • I think while zealots fast and frown,
    And fight for two or seven,
    That there are fifty roads to town,
    And rather more to Heaven.
  • Suddenly he was angry.
    “And that’s what you think religion is, is it?” he said, trying to keep his temper.
    “I gen’rally don’t think about it at all,” said the voice behind him.
  • “Now if I’d seen him, really there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. If I thought there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched ‘em like a father and cared for ‘em like a mother...well, you wouldn’t catch me sayin’ things like ‘there are two sides to every question’ and ‘we must respect other people’s beliefs.’ You wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, ‘cos that’s what it’d be. You say that you people don’t burn folk and sacrifice people anymore, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see? Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it. That’s religion. Anything else is just bein’ nice. And a way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbors.”
  • The Auditors had tried to understand religion, because so much that made no sense whatsoever was done in its name. But it could also excuse practically any kind of eccentricity. Genocide, for example.
  • The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
  • Let a man be firmly principled in his religion, he may travel from the tropics to the poles, it will never catch cold on the journey.


  • They say: "If it had been the will of The Most Gracious, we should not have worshiped such (deities)!" Of that they have no knowledge! they do nothing but lie! Indeed, have We given them a Scripture before this, to which they are holding fast? Nay! they say: "We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we do guide ourselves by their footsteps." Just in the same way, whenever We sent a Warner before thee to any people, the wealthy ones among them said: "We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps." He said: "Even if I brought you better guidance than that which ye found your fathers following?" They said: "For us, we deny that ye are sent!" So We exacted retribution from them: now see what was the end of those who rejected!
  • Western psychologists accuse religion of repressing the vital energy of man and rendering his life quite miserable as a result of the sense of guilt which especially obsesses the religious people and makes them imagine that all their actions are sinful and can only be expiated through abstention from enjoying the pleasures of life. Those psychologists add that Europe lived in the darkness of ignorance as long as it adhered to its religion but once it freed itself from the fetters of religion, its emotions were liberated and accordingly it achieved wonders in the field of production.


Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practise even a grain of it. The wise man speaks little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action. ~ Ramakrishna
As the saints and prophets were often forced to practise long vigils and fastings and prayers before their ecstasies would fall upon them and their visions would appear, so Virtue in its purest and most exalted form can only be acquired by means of severe and long continued culture of the mind. Persons with feeble and untrained intellects may live according to their conscience; but the conscience itself will be defective. … To cultivate the intellect is therefore a religious duty; and when this truth is fairly only recognized by men, the religion which teaches that the intellect should be distrusted and that it should be subservient to faith, will inevitably fall. ~ William Winwood Reade
In the presence of infinite might and infinite wisdom, the strength of the strongest man is but weakness, and the keenest of mortal eyes see but dimly. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practice would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissension which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
  • Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practise even a grain of it. The wise man speaks little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.
  • As the saints and prophets were often forced to practise long vigils and fastings and prayers before their ecstasies would fall upon them and their visions would appear, so Virtue in its purest and most exalted form can only be acquired by means of severe and long continued culture of the mind. Persons with feeble and untrained intellects may live according to their conscience; but the conscience itself will be defective. … To cultivate the intellect is therefore a religious duty; and when this truth is fairly recognized by men, the religion which teaches that the intellect should be distrusted and that it should be subservient to faith, will inevitably fall.
  • If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron.
  • I listened to the sermon, and I remember complete astonishment because what they were talking about were things that were just crazy. It was communion time, where you eat this wafer and are supposed to be eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood. My first impression was, "This is a bunch of cannibals they've put me down among!" For some time, I puzzled over this and puzzled over why they were saying these things, because the connection between what they were saying and reality was very tenuous. How the hell did Jesus become something to be eaten?
I guess from that time it was clear to me that religion was largely nonsense--largely magical, superstitious things. In my own teen life, I just couldn't see any point in adopting something based on magic, which was obviously phony and superstitious.
  • I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will — and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.
    • Gene Roddenberry, as quoted in In His Name (2010) by E. Christopher Reyes, p. 39
  • Let us also bear in mind that all the ancient religions, without exception, were divided into esoteric and exoteric. Indeed, much has become complicated in our Christian religion due to the fact that the clergy lost, or rather rejected, the key to the understanding of Christ's Teaching. This Teaching is full of esotericism, as is continuously confirmed by the words of Christ Himself.
  • One may be quite sure that the conventional religious instruction, without the knowledge of the One Source, without the comparative history of the religions of all nations, gives only a false concept of the spiritual evolution of humanity and develops a sense of religious intolerance. Intolerance is a terrible scourge of the human race, and it contradicts all the Covenants of the Founders of the existing religions.
  • Wrong are the assertions found in books that all religions and teachings discuss the low level of woman. Such discussions as do appear are the distortions and additions made in later times by those holding power through avarice and ignorance. Verily, the Great Founders of religions and teachings are not to be blamed for this crying ignorance. Let us consider how many dishonest and avaricious hands have handled these teachings during thousands of years!
  • In the presence of infinite might and infinite wisdom, the strength of the strongest man is but weakness, and the keenest of mortal eyes see but dimly.
    • Theodore Roosevelt's Christian Citizenship Address before the Young Men's Christian Association, Carnegie Hall, New York, 30 December 1900
  • The demand for a statement of a candidate’s religious belief can have no meaning except that there may be discrimination for or against him because of that belief. Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practice would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissension which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization.
  • Locke would have us begin with the study of spirits and go on to that of bodies. This is the method of superstition, prejudice, and error; it is not the method of nature, nor even that of well-ordered reason; it is to learn to see by shutting our eyes. We must have studied bodies long enough before we can form any true idea of spirits, or even suspect that there are such beings. The contrary practice merely puts materialism on a firmer footing. I am aware that many of my readers will be surprised to find me tracing the course of my scholar through his early years without speaking to him of religion. At fifteen he will not even know that he has a soul, at eighteen even he may not be ready to learn about it. For if he learns about it too soon, there is the risk of his never really knowing anything about it.
  • Ils ont les textes pour eux; disait-il, j'en suis faché pour les textes.
    • Translated: They have the texts in their favor; said he, so much the worse for the texts.
    • Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, Dictionnaire de Sciences Philosophiques (Paris 1851, vol. V) "Life of M. Royer Collard" p. 442
  • The ultimate source of our civilization's disease is the spiritual and religious crisis which has overtaken all of us and which each must master for himself. Above all, man is Homo religiosus, and yet we have, for the past century, made the desperate attempt to get along without God, and in the place of God we have set up the cult of man, his profane or even ungodly science and art, his technical achievements, and his State. We may be certain that some day the whole world will come to see, in a blinding flash, what is now clear to only a few, namely, that this desperate attempt has created a situation in which man can have no spiritual and moral life, and this means that he cannot live at all for any length of time, in spite of television and speedways and holiday trips and comfortable apartments. We seem to have proved the existence of God in yet another way: by the practical consequences of His assumed non-existence.
    • Wilhelm Röpke, A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market (1958)
  • Humanity and Immortality consist neither in reason, nor in love; not in the body, nor in the animation of the heart of it, nor in the thoughts and stirrings of the brain of it;]], but in the dedication of them all to Him who will raise them up at the last day.
  • I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion is anything to do with argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds. One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.
  • My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others.
    • Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (1930)


Faith: The opposite of dogmatism. ~ John Ralston Saul
The relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest. ~ Friedrich Schlegel
In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time… Upton Sinclair
Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. ~ Upton Sinclair
  • In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
    • Carl Sagan (1987) Keynote address at CSICOP conference, as quoted in Do Science and the Bible Conflict? (2003) by Judson Poling, p. 30
  • I’m naturally suspicious of people who wear religion heavily on their sleeves.
  • The whole point in having a religion and faith is that you campaign for what you believe, not just for what you think is achievable.
  • I won't take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.
    I ask you to come through and show me where you're pouring out the blood of your life.
    • Carl Sandburg, in "To a Contemporary Bunkshooter" in Chicago Poems (1916), p. 63
  • Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.
  • Faith: The opposite of dogmatism.
    • John Ralston Saul, The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense (1994): "Faith"
  • There are as many gods as there are ideals. And further, the relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest.
  • Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.
  • If, while hurrying ostensibly to the temple of truth, we hand the reins over to our personal interests which look aside at very different guiding stars, for instance at the tastes and foibles of our contemporaries, at the established religion, but in particular at the hints and suggestions of those at the head of affairs, then how shall we ever reach the high, precipitous, bare rock whereon stands the temple of truth?
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, "Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real," Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), as translated by E. Payne (1974), Vol. 1, p. 3
  • So, what did we do for nearly 250,000 years? We huddled in caves and around small fires, fearful of the things that we didn't understand. It was more than explaining why the sun came up, it was the mystery of enormous birds with heads of men and rocks that came to life. So we called them 'gods' and 'demons', begged them to spare us, and prayed for salvation.
  • The core of common culture is religion. Tribes survive and flourish because they have gods, who fuse many wills into a single will, and demand and reward the sacrifices on which social life depends.
  • Religion is like the fashion, one man wears his doublet slashed, another laced, another plain; but every man has a doublet; so every man has a religion. We differ about the trimming.
  • [Lord Shaftesbury said] "All wise men are of the same religion." Whereupon a lady in the room … demanded what that religion was. To whom Lord Shaftesbury straight replied, "Madam, wise men never tell."
  • I always thought
    It was both impious and unnatural
    That such immanity and bloody strife
    Should reign among professors of one faith.
  • The ground of all religion, that which makes it possible, is the relation in which the human soul stands to God.
  • They who seek religion for culture's sake are aesthetic, not religious, and will never gain that grace which religion adds to culture, because they never can have the religion.
  • But now I think the belief in a Divine education, open to each man and to all men, takes up into itself all that is true in the end proposed by culture, supplements, and perfects it.
  • There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.
  • I can't talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.
  • Religion is a great force — the only real motive force in the world; but what you fellows don't understand is that you must get at a man through his own religion and not through yours. Instead of facing that fact, you persist in trying to convert all men to your own little sect, so that you can use it against them afterwards. You are all missionaries and proselytizers trying to uproot the native religion from your neighbor's flowerbeds and plant your own in its place. You would rather let a child perish in ignorance than have it taught by a rival sectary. You can talk to me of the quintessential equality of coal merchants and British officers; and yet you can't see the quintessential equality of all the religions.
  • The moon of Mahomet
    Arose, and it shall set:
    While, blazoned as on heaven's immortal noon,
    The cross leads generations on.
  • Human pride / Is skilful to invent most serious names / To hide its ignorance.
    The name of God / Has fenced about all crime with holiness.
  • Indeed, I am a free rider, but only in the freedom from one set of cultural traditions usually gathered under the umbrella of religion. But, like everyone else, I face judges that are in their own ways transcendent and powerful: family and friends, colleagues and peers, mentors and teachers, and society at large. My judges may be lowercased and occasionally deceivable, but they are transcendent of me as an individual, even if they are not transcendent of nature; as such, together, we all stand in a long pilgrim community struggling down the evolutionary and historical ages trying to live and love and learn to temper our temptations and do the right thing. I may be free from God, but the god of nature holds me to her temple of judgment no less than her other creations. I stand before my maker and judge not in some distant and future ethereal world, but in the reality of this world, a world inhabited not by spiritual and supernatural ephemera, but by real people whose lives are directly affected by my actions, and whose actions directly affect my life.
  • the world cannot stay narrow anymore. We are
    building bridges among religions
  • Sol found their tracts the usual combination of double talk and navel lint-gathering common to most religions.
  • Government oppressed the body of the wage-slave, but Religion oppressed his mind, and poisoned the stream of progress at its source.
  • In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: "All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian gospel. The early Christians had "all things in common, except women;" they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.
    But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again, to get Jesus' church. He came when, through the power of the new revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed the guise of no less a person than the Emperor himself, suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world's greatest religion.
    • Upton Sinclair, The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918), Book Seven : The Church of the Social Revolution, "Christ and Caesar"
  • Logic or so called intellectual reasoning have no real meaning in religious debates.
    • Judge Jussi Sippola, Helsinki district court, in the Halla-Aho trial on charges of incitement of an ethnic group and disturbing religious worship, 2009. [4]
  • She’s found that religion here is worn here like a raincoat, on and off at at convenience.
  • With many people, religion is merely a matter of words. So far as words go we do what we think right. But the words rarely lead to action, thought, and conduct, or to purity, goodness, and honesty. There is too much playing at religion, and too little of enthusiastic, hard work.
    • Samuel Smiles, Duty, With Illustrations of Courage, Patience & Endurance (1880)
  • A Gay and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity — thou must commune with God.
  • Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either.
  • The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.
  • But meddle not with any man for his religion: all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God's kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood.
  • No man's religion ever survives his morals.
    • Robert South, a sermon preached at Christ-Church, Oxon. (17 October 1675)
  • The human mind has an adequate knowledge of the eternal and infinite essence of God.
    • Baruch Spinoza, Ethics (1677) Part II: On the Nature and Origin of the Mind
  • In despotic statecraft, the supreme and essential mystery is to hoodwink the subjects, and to mask the fear, which keeps them down, with the specious garb of religion, so that men may fight as bravely for slavery as for safety, and count it not shame but highest honor to risk their blood and lives for the vainglory of a tyrant.
  • Religion has nothing more to fear than not being sufficiently understood.
  • There is, I believe, something, which may be named by the misleading and debased word 'religion', and is the most distinctively human or awakened activity of man. But clearly there is something else, which is also called 'religion', and is his greatest folly and shame.
  • One must build to the praise of a Being above, to build the noblest memorial of himself. Then, Angelo may verily " hang the Pantheon in the air." Then the unknown builder, whose personality disappears in his work, may stand an almost inspired mediator between the upward-looking thought and the spheres overhead. Each line then leaps with a swift aspiration, as the vast structure rises, in nave and transept into pointed arch and vanishing spire. The groined roof grows dusky with majestic glooms; while, beneath, the windows flame, as with apocalyptic light of jewels. Angelic presences, sculptured upon the portal, invite the wayfarer, and wave before him their wings of promise. Within is a worship which incense only clouds, which spoken sermons only mar. The building itself becomes a worship, a Gloria in Excelsis, articulate in stone; the noblest tribute offered on earth, by any art, to Him from whom its impulse came, and with the ineffable majesty of whose spirit all skies are filled!
  • What religion is he of?
    Why, he is an Anythingarian.
  • He made it a part of his religion, never to say grace to his meat.
  • We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
    • Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects. Collected by Pope and Swift; found in Spectator No. 459


It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion. ~ Tertullian
Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. … The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one. ~ Nikola Tesla
Besides the instinctive life ... there was a spiritual life. This life was disclosed in religion, but a religion having nothing in common with that one ... from childhood. ... This was a lofty, mysterious religion connected with a whole series of noble thoughts and feelings, which one could do more than merely believe because one was told to, which one could love. ~ Leo Tolstoy
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
  • If you can't spontaneously detect (without analyzing) the difference between the sacred and profane, you'll never know what religion means. You will also never figure out what we commonly call art. You will never understand anything.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) The Sacred and the Profane, p.19.
  • The way to judge of religion is by doing our duty; and theology is rather a Divine life than a Divine knowledge. In heaven, indeed, we must first see, and then love; but here, on earth, we must first love, and love will open our eyes as well as our hearts; and we shall then, see and perceive, and understand.
    • Jeremy Taylor, "A sermon preached to the University of Dublin", The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor. Vol 6, (1839) Sermon VI, p. 379
  • It is a mistake to suppose that God is only, or even chiefly, concerned with religion.
  • Nec religionis est cogere religionem.
    • It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion.
  • Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. I cut myself in the finger, and it pains me: this finger is a part of me. I see a friend hurt, and it hurts me, too: my friend and I are one. And now I see stricken down an enemy, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole?
    For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.
  • The lives and writings of the mystics of all great religions bear witness to religious experiences of great intensity, in which considerable changes are effected in the quality of consciousness. Profound absorption in prayer or meditation can bring about a deepening and widening, a brightening and intensifying, of consciousness, accompanied by a transporting feeling of rapture and bliss. The contrast between these states and normal conscious awareness is so great that the mystic believes his experiences to be manifestations of the divine; and given the contrast, this assumption is quite understandable. Mystical experiences are also characterized by a marked reduction or temporary exclusion of the multiplicity of sense-perceptions and restless thoughts. This relative unification of mind is then interpreted as a union or communion with the One God. ...

    The psychological facts underlying those religious experiences are accepted by the Buddhist and are well-known to him; but he carefully distinguishes the experiences themselves from the theological interpretations imposed upon them. After rising from deep meditative absorption (jhāna), the Buddhist meditator is advised to view the physical and mental factors constituting his experience in the light of the three characteristics of all conditioned existence: impermanence, liability to suffering, and absence of an abiding ego or eternal substance. This is done primarily in order to utilize the meditative purity and strength of consciousness for the highest purpose: liberating insight. But this procedure also has a very important side effect which concerns us here: the meditator will not be overwhelmed by any uncontrolled emotions and thoughts evoked by his singular experience, and will thus be able to avoid interpretations of that experience not warranted by the facts.
    Hence a Buddhist meditator, while benefiting from the refinement of consciousness he has achieved, will be able to see these meditative experiences for what they are; and he will further know that they are without any abiding substance that could be attributed to a deity manifesting itself to his mind. Therefore, the Buddhist’s conclusion must be that the highest mystical states do not provide evidence for the existence of a personal God or an impersonal godhead.

  • If we look more deeply into humanity’s ancient religions and spiritual traditions, we will find that underneath the many surface differences there are two core insights that most of them agree on. The words they use to describe those insights differ, yet they all point to a twofold fundamental truth. The first part of this truth is the realization that the “normal” state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness. Certain teachings at the heart of Hinduism perhaps come closest to seeing this dysfunction as a form of collective mental illness. They call it maya, the veil of delusion.Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest Indian sages, bluntly states: The mind is maya. Buddhism uses different terms. According to the Buddha, the human mind in its normal state generates dukkha, which can be translated as suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or just plain misery. He sees it as a characteristic of the human condition. Wherever you go, whatever you do, says the Buddha, you will encounter dukkha, and it will manifest in every situation sooner or later.
    According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted... It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.
  • The Arising New Consciousness. Most ancient religions and spiritual traditions share the common insight – that our “normal” state of mind is marred by a fundamental defect. However, out of this insight into the nature of the human condition – we may call it the bad news – arises a second insight: the good news of the possibility of a radical transformation of human consciousness. In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation.
  • For the majority of mankind, religion is a habit, or, more precisely, tradition is their religion. Though it seems strange, I think that the first step to moral perfection is your liberation from the religion in which you were raised. Not a single person has come to perfection except by following this way.
  • Kitty made the acquaintance of Madame Stahl too, and this acquaintance, together with her friendship with Varenka, did not merely exercise a great influence on her, it also comforted her in her mental distress. She found this comfort through a completely new world being opened to her by means of this acquaintance, a world having nothing in common with her past, an exalted, noble world, from the height of which she could contemplate her past calmly. It was revealed to her that besides the instinctive life to which Kitty had given herself up hitherto there was a spiritual life. This life was disclosed in religion, but a religion having nothing in common with that one which Kitty had known from childhood, and which found expression in litanies and all-night services at the Widow's Home, where one might meet one's friends, and in learning by heart Slavonic texts with the priest. This was a lofty, mysterious religion connected with a whole series of noble thoughts and feelings, which one could do more than merely believe because one was told to, which one could love.
  • Honour your parents; worship the gods; hurt not animals.
    • Triptolemus, according to Porphyry (On Abstinence IV.22) From his traditional laws or precepts.
  • In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.


  • None are so likely to believe too little as those who have begun by believing too much.


  • “It occurs to me that the man and his religion are one and the same thing. The unknown exists. Each man projects on the blankness the shape of his own particular world-view. He endows his creation with his personal volitions and attitudes. The religious man stating his case is in essence explaining himself. When a fanatic is contradicted he feels a threat to his own existence; he reacts violently.”
    “Interesting!” declared the fat merchant. “And the atheist?”
    “He projects no image upon the blank whatever. The cosmic mysteries he accepts as things in themselves; he feels no need to hang a more or less human mask upon them. Otherwise, the correlation between a man and the shape into which he molds the unknown for greater ease of manipulation is exact.”
    • Jack Vance, Servants of the Wankh (1969), Chapter 3
  • Reverend Lovejoy: Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They're all pretty much the same.
  • To devote your life to the good of all and to the happiness of all is religion. Whatever you do for your own sake is not religion.


  • Once I journeyd far from home
    To the gate of holy Rome;
    There the Pope, for my offence,
    Bade me straight, in penance, thence
    Wandering onward, to attain
    The wondrous land that height Cokaigne.
  • When I can read my title clear
    To mansions in the skies,
    I'll bid farewell to every fear,
    And wipe my weeping eyes.
  • It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for this very reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relationships that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed but all the more strongly felt, of ethical religions.
  • The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more apt are the religion’s virtuosi to reject the world, especially its economic activities.
  • Legitimation by a recognized religion has always been decisive for an alliance between politically and socially dominant classes and the priesthood. Integration into the Hindu community provided such religious legitimation for the ruling stratum. It not only endowed the ruling stratum of the barbarians with recognized rank in the cultural world of Hinduism, but, through their transformation into castes, secured their superiority over the subject classes with an efficiency unsurpassed by any other religion.
  • Religion is the tie that connects man with his Creator, and holds him to His throne.
    • Daniel Webster, speech at the Supreme Court of Massachusetts on the death of Jeremiah Mason (14 November 1848)
  • Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong. ... With those who have received a Christian education, the lower parts of the soul become attached to these mysteries when they have no right at all to do so. That is why such people need a purification of which St. John of the Cross describes the stages. Atheism and incredulity constitute an equivalent of such a purification.
    • Simone Weil, “Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the Divine” in The Simone Weil Reader (1957) edited by G. Panichas, pp. 417-418
  • Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    • Steven Weinberg, address at the Conference on Cosmic Design, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., April 1999, quoted in "Freethought of the Day: May 3rd", Freedom from Religion Foundation
  • Take care what you are about, for unless you base all this on religion, you are only making so many clever devils.
    • Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Philip Henry, Fifth Earl Stanhope, Notes of Conversation with the Duke of Wellington, 1831-1851 (1886). Talking about non-denominational education, often paraphrased as "Educate men without religion, and you make them but clever devils".
  • The religion of the heathen mythology not only was not true, but was not even supported as true; it not only deserved no belief, but it demanded none. The very pretension to truth—the very demand of faith—were characteristic distinctions of Christianity.
  • A legal religion is insufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God.
  • The world has a thousand creeds, and never a one have I;
    Nor church of my own, though a million spires are pointing the way on high.
    But I float on the bosom of faith, that bears me along like a river;
    And the lamp of my soul is alight with love, for life, and the world, and the Giver.
  • So many gods, so many creeds—
    So many paths that wind and wind
    While just the art of being kind
    Is all the sad world needs.
  • All your Western theologies, the whole mythologies of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent…
  • Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. Far from being rivals or enemies religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistance. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.
    • James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 106 & 103-105.
  • The Discordian Society, we repeat again, is not a complicated joke disguised as a new religion but really a new religion disguised as a complicated joke.
  • And then there’s religion—God, angels, sin—but none of that has ever appealed to me. Fiction masquerading as cosmology is what it feels like to me, and all too self-important, too self-serious.
    • Tim Wirkus, The Infinite Future (2018), Part 1, Chapter 14
  • Who God doth late and early pray
    More of his Grace than Gifts to lend;
    And entertains the harmless day
    With a Religious Book or Friend.
    • Sir Henry Wotton, The Character of a Happy Life (1614), Stanza 5




  • The gods of all pagan faiths have been allied with the rich rulers. The priests of most religions are the employees of the landowners. But the God of Israel has always claimed to be with the poor—whether in the legislation of Deuteronomy, the words of the prophets, or the experiences of the New Testament. Our God is on the side of the poor.
  • Religion's all. Descending from the skies
    To wretched man, the goddess in her left
    Holds out this world, and, in her right, the next.
  • But if man loses all, when life is lost,
    He lives a coward, or a fool expires.
    A daring infidel (and such there are,
    From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
    Or pure heroical defect of thought),
    Of all earth's madmen, most deserves a chain.
  • Instead of holding on to the Biblical view that we are made in the image of God, we come to realize that we are made in the image of the monkey...
  • Such religion as there can be in modern life, every individual will have to salvage from the churches for himself.
  • I feel, like all modern Americans, no consciousness of sin and simply do not believe in it. All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell. That is a final fact of my inner consciousness, and for no religion could I deny its truth.




  • Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
    Workin' in the dark against your fellow man
    But as sure as God made black and white
    What's down in the dark will be brought to the light.
  • Go tell that long tongue liar
    Go and tell that midnight rider
    Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
    Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
    • Anonymous "God's Gonna Cut You Down", traditional folk song
  • Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
  • Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.
    • Anonymous, The Baptist Observer No. 7 - (1966).

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • You have no security for a man who has no religious principle.
    • Richard Cobden, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 503
  • Too much is said in these days about the aesthetics of religion and its sensibilities. Religion's home is in the conscience. Its watchword is the word "ought." Its highest joy is in doing God's will.
    • Theodore L. Cuyler, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 503
  • Religion, in its purity, is not so much a pursuit as a temper; or rather it is a temper, leading to the pursuit of all that is high and holy. Its foundation is faith; its action, works; its temper, holiness; its aim, obedience to God in improvement of self, and benevolence to men.
    • Jonathan Edwards, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 494
  • True religion is not what men see and admire; it is what God sees and loves; the faith which clings to Jesus in the darkest hour; the sanctity which shrinks from the approach of evil; the humility which lies low at the feet of the Redeemer, and washes them with tears; the love which welcomes every sacrifice; the cheerful consecration of all the powers of the soul; the worship which, rising above all outward forms, ascends to God in the sweetest, dearest communion — a worship often too deep for utterance, and than which the highest heaven knows nothing more sublime.
    • Richard Fuller, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496
  • I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.
    • Attributed to Patrick Henry, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496. The earliest attribution does not appear until 1823, nearly a quarter century after Henry's death in 1799, suggesting that this quote was falsely credited to Henry.
  • Religion is the only metaphysics that the multitude can understand and adopt.
    • Joseph Joubert, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 504
  • How admirable is that religion which, while it seems to have in view only the felicity of another world, is at the same time the highest happiness of this.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 498
  • Religion gives to virtue the sweetest hopes, to unrepenting vice just alarms, to true repentance the most powerful consolations; but she endeavors above all things to inspire in men love, meekness, and piety.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 502
  • All noblest things are religious,— not temples and martyrdoms only, but the best books, pictures, poetry, statues, and music.
    • William Mountford, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 500
  • You have respect for religion! How vastly condescending! How deeply humble! The creature has a respect for the service of the Creator! A grasshopper deigns to acknowledge that it has a respect for the King of kings and Lord of lords! Verily a subject of congratulation for the universe! A worm crawling in the dust confesses to its fellow worm that it has some respect for the government of the high and mighty One that inhabiteth eternity.
  • Human things must be known to be loved; but Divine things must be loved to be known.
    • Blaise Pascal, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 496
  • Religious faith and purpose are the only certain safeguards against the growing perils of life. So far as there has been among educated men a decline of loyalty to Christ and His gospel, there has been a decline in those qualities which claim confidence and honor, which insure unblemished reputation, which minister to social well-being, and to the integrity and purity of public life.
    • A. P. Peabody, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 498
  • Other religions have risen and decayed; Christ's comes down the ages in the strength of youth, through the seas of popular commotion, like the Spirit of God on the face of the waters, through the storms of philosophy, like an apocalyptic angel, and through all the wilderness of human thought and action, like the pillar of fire before the camp of the Israelites.
    • Edward Thompson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 500
  • There is a great deal too much in the world, of the "heavenly-mindedness" which expends itself in the contemplation of the joys of paradise, which performs no duty which it can shirk, and whose constant prayer is to be lifted in some overwhelming flood of Divine grace, and be carried, amidst the admiration of men and the jubilance of angels, to the very throne of God.
    • Henry Clay Trumbull, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 502
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 219-220.
  • It is the office of Judges to advance laws made for religion, according to their end, though the words be short and imperfect.
  • He that seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, his religion is vain.
    • Quoted by Lisle (Lord President), in Hewet's Case (1658), 5 How. St. Tr. 894
  • All persecution and oppression of weak consciences on the score of religious persuasions, are highly unjustifiable upon every principle of natural reason, civil liberty, or sound religion.
  • No laws can be of avail except in so far as they are founded on religion.
    • Park, J., Williams v. Paul (1830), 6 Bing. 653

See also


Philosophy of religion


Organized and major religions


Other spiritual traditions


Religious texts


Religious figures


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