Quotations from World Historical Figures

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.

  • Seneca the Younger, 4 B.C - 65 A.D.

  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

  • Galileo, 1564-1642

  • I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but ignorance.

  • Christopher Marlowe, 1564-1593

  • Any religion which says that mankind's primary - almost only - hope lies in another life, can be presumed to be a hoax in this one.

  • Johann Gottfried Seume, 1763-1810

  • Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

  • Voltaire, 1694-1778

  • The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America, and the introduction of African slaves in their place.

  • Arthur Shopenhauer, 1788-1860

  • Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.

    I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world, and yet they lay their hands on everything they can get.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte, 1822-1891

  • For Shakespeare [1564-1616], in the matter of religion, the choice lay between Christianity and nothing. He chose nothing.

    Each religion, so dear to those whose life it sactifies, and fulfilling so necessary a function in the society that has adopted it, necessarily contradicts every other religion, and probably contradicts itself.

  • George Santayana, 1863-1952, philosopher

  • I have always read the ancient pagans with infinite pleasure while in Christian writers I find only system, egoism, intolerance, and a complete lack of artistic taste.

    Regligion is a means of exploitation employed by the strong against the weak; religion is a cloak of ambition, injustice and vice.

  • Georges Bizet, 1838-1881, composer

  • I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.

    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900

  • All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former-of the corruption of the will.

  • Alexander Herzen, 1812-1870

  • A man's ethical behavior should be based effectively on sympathy, education and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he is good only because he is restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

    The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is a good as dead; his eyes are closed.

    We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

    The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously ... Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

    The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.

  • Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

  • I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, Your christians are so unlike your christ.

    Don't talk to me of miracles 2000 years ago. Don't tell me of the greatness of your god. Show your god to others, as he lives through you.

  • Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

  • All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.

  • Edmund Burke, 1729-1797

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

  • Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900

  • Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.

  • Pascal, 1623-1662

  • In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable. The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise about this view of life.

    The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.

    Am I to believe is every absurdity? If not, why this one in particular?

    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 this way from childhood to maturity.

  • Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939

  • Do not believe is anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysist, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

  • Siddhartha Gautama - The Buddha, 563-483 B.C.

  • No man ever believes that the Bible means what it say; he is always convinced that it says what he means.

    The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

  • George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950