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Unbelief is a lack (or rejection) of belief, especially religious belief, but extending to anything in which belief can be held.


  • All we have gained then by our unbelief
    Is a life of doubt diversified by faith,
    For one of faith diversified by doubt;
    We called the chessboard white,— we call it black.
  • The fearful Unbelief is unbelief in yourself.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1833–1834), The Everlasting No, Book II, Chapter VII.
  • Fear, fear, she's the mother of violence
Making me tense to watch the way she breed
Fear, she's the mother of violence
You know self-defense is all you need
It's getting hard to breathe
It's getting so hard to believe
To believe in anything at all
  • Unbelief was easier than belief, much less demanding and subtly flattering because the agnostic felt himself to be intellectually superior to the believer. And then unbelief haunted by faith, as she knew by experience, produced a rather pleasant nostalgia.
    • Elizabeth Goudge, The Scent of Water (1963), Ch. XIII.2; "she" is the novel's protagonist, Mary Lindsay.
  • Anti-clericalism and non-belief have their bigots just as orthodoxy does.
  • The trouble is I don't believe my unbelief.
    • Graham Greene, reported in Leopoldo Duran, Graham Greene: An intimate portrait by his closest friend and confidant, translated by Euan Cameron. HarperCollins, 1994, p. 38.
  • Now let it be written in history and on Mr. Lincoln's tombstone: "He died an unbeliever."
    • William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's law partner in Springfield, Abraham Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, 1896. Quoted in Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby, 2004.
  • Perhaps unbelievers do not so much reject the religious needs and impulses of the human race as adapt to them in realistic and humanistic terms, replacing the fairy tales of conventional religion with the more intellectually demanding tales, provided by modern science, of natural laws and of the demonstrable, replicable evidence of cause-and-effect relationships.
  • In the relics of the saints the Lord Christ has provided us with saving fountains which in many ways pour out benefactions and gush with fragrant ointment. And let no one disbelieve. For, if by the will of God water poured out of the precipitous living rock in the desert, and for the thirsty Sampson from the jawbone of an ass, is it unbelievable that fragrant ointment should flow from the relics of the martyrs? Certainly not, at least for such as know the power of God and the honor which the saints have from Him.
  • Alternate translation: Christ gives us the relics of saints as health-giving springs through which flow blessings and healing. This should not be doubted. For if at God’s word water gushed from hard rock in the wilderness-yes, and from an ass’s jawbone when Samson was thirsty -why should it seem incredible that healing medicine should distill from the relics of saints
    • In Relics: The Shroud of Turin, the True Cross, the Blood of Januarius...History, Mysticism, and the Catholic Church, Joan Carroll Cruz, 1984, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Indiana, ISBN 0879737018 ISBN 9780879737016 p. 206. [3]
    • In The Incorruptibles, 1974, 1977, Joan Carroll Cruz, St. Benedict Press & TAN Books, Rockford, Illinois, ISBN 0895550660 ISBN 9780895550668 Introduction, p. 37.
  • There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave.
    • Louis Kronenberger, Company Manners: A Cultural Inquiry into American Life. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954, p. 14.
  • With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.
  • There is no stretch in unbelief. Even the unbelief of what is false is no source of might. It is the truth shining from behind that gives the strength to disbelieve.
  • I'm from Missouri; you must show me.
    • Col. Willard D. Vandiver; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 826, which references Literary Digest (Jan. 28, 1922), p. 42, where origin is discussed at length.