Religion is the
opiate of the people.
If Christ were
here now there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
A man's ethical
behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy,
education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is
necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be
restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after
ends, religion begins."
ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by Homo Sapiens is that
the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes,
wants the saccharine adoration of his creations, that he can
be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he
does not receive this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion,
without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone
on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive
industries in history."
what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."
"Hell is an
outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made
you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly."
"Take from the
church the miraculous, the supernatural, the
incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the
unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains."
Robert G. Ingersoll
fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration -
courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all,
love of the truth."
"Nothing can be
more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and
Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
Good people can
do good and bad people can do evil. But for good people to
do evil -- that takes religion.
There are a
thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is
striking at the root.
Henry David Thoreau
Men never do
evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from
the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion
that has ever infected the world."
Christian theology to be one of the greatest disasters of
the human race."
"We have become
so accustomed to the religious lie that surrounds us that we
do not notice the atrocity, stupidity and cruelty with which
the teaching of the Christian church is permeated."
Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic
depravity, and the one great instinct of revenge, for which
no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and
small enough - I call it the one immortal blemish on the
"Of all the
systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none
more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man,
more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself
than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief,
too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for
practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only
atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the
purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice
of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in
general it leads to nothing here or hereafter."
persecuted, tortured, and burned. Like a hound it tracked
the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars, and nursed
furious hatreds and ambitions. . . . Man, far from being
freed from his natural passions, was plunged into artificial
ones quite as violent and much more disappointing."
student of history will discover that Christianity has been
of very little value in advancing civilization, but has done
a great deal toward retarding it."
"You find as you
look around the world that every single bit of progress in
humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every
step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better
treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of
slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the
world, has been consistently opposed by the organized
churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the
Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been
and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the
churches literally ruled society, the human drama
cruel subjection of women
(c) the most
savage forms of legal punishment
absurd belief that kings ruled by divine right
daily imposition of physical abuse
heartlessness for the sufferings of the poor
(g) as well
as assorted pogroms ('ethnic cleansing' wars) between
rival religions, capital punishment for literally
hundreds of offences, and countless other daily imposed
moral outrages. . . . [I]t was the free-thinking,
challenging work by people of conscience, who almost
invariably had to defy the religious and political
status quo of their times, that brought us out of such
"There was a
time when I believed in the story and the scheme of
salvation, so far as I could understand it, just as I
believed there was a Devil. . . . Suddenly the light broke
through to me and I knew this God was a lie. . . . For
indeed it is a silly story, and each generation nowadays
swallows it with greater difficulty. . . . Why do people go
on pretending about this Christianity?"
H. G. Wells
"I can truly
say, after an experience of seventy years, that all the
cares and anxieties, the trials and disappointments of my
whole life, are light, when balanced with my sufferings in
childhood and youth from the theological dogmas which I
sincerely believed. . . . The memory of my own suffering has
prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the
superstitions of the Christian religion."
"Religion is not
the hero of the day, but the zero. In any exposition of the
products of brains, the Sunday-School takes the booby prize.
. . . Man has asked for truth and the Church has given him
miracles. He has asked for knowledge, and the Church has
given him theology. He has asked for facts, and the Church
has given him the Bible. This foolishness should stop. The
Church has nothing to give man that has not been in cold
storage for two thousand years. Anything would become stale
in that time."
"I have recently
been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and
do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity]
one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon
fables and mythologies."
"Religion . . .
comprises a system of wishful illusions together with a
disavowal of reality, such as we find in an isolated form
nowhere else but in amentia, in a state of blissful
creeds encourage some of the craziest kinds of thoughts,
emotions, and behaviours and favour severe manifestations of
neurosis, borderline personality states, and sometimes even
"I believe that
religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind."
H. L. Mencken
"Man is the
religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the
only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He
is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and
cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made
a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth
his brother’s path to happiness and heaven."
religious ages were notable for their indifference to human
rights . . . not only for acquiescence in poverty,
inequality, exploitation and oppression, but also for
enthusiastic justifications for slavery, persecution,
abandonment of small children, torture, and genocide. . . .
Moreover, religion enshrined hierarchy, authority, and
inequality. . . . It was the age of equality that brought
about the disappearance of such religious appurtenances as
the auto-da-fe and burning at the stake."
"There was a
time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark
"Not material or
economic conditions in the ordinary sense, but perverse
religious ideas explain the suspension of civilization in
Europe from the 5th to the 12th century, and in the
Mohammedan world after the 15th century."
heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has
record have been committed under the cover of religion or
equally noble motives."
have been waged, more people killed, and more evil
perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other
institutional force in human history. The sad truth
continues in our present day." Charles Kimball
"Men never do
evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from
"Religion is the
brainchild of fear, and fear is the parent of cruelty. The
greatest evils inflicted on humankind are perpetrated not by
pleasure-seekers, self-seeking opportunists, or those who
are merely amoral, but by fervent devotees of religion."
"As editor of
the largest newspaper in West Virginia, I scan hundreds of
reports daily . . . and I am amazed by the frequency with
which religion causes people to kill each other. It is a
nearly universal pattern, undercutting the common assumption
that religion makes people kind and tolerant."
"The man who is
always worrying about whether or not his soul would be
damned generally has a soul that isn’t worth a damn."
Wendell Holmes, Sr.
religious complexion of the modern world is due to the
absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum."
trusteth to the book called the Scriptures, thou trusteth to
the rotten staff of fables and falsehood."
read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the
cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting
vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is
filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word
of a demon than the word of God."
"If a man would
follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would
be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of
the New, he would be insane."
"If a man really
believes that God once upheld slavery; that he commanded
soldiers to kill women and babes; that he believed in
polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion's sake; that he
will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the
effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad.
This belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This
belief made the Puritan murder the Quaker."
"I know of no
book which has been a source of brutality and sadistic
conduct, both public and private, that can compare with the
incredibility and obscenity, so conspicuous in many parts of
it, would justly condemn the works of a modern writer. It
contains a mixture of inconsistency and contradiction; to
call which the word of God, is the highest pitch of
extravagance: it is to attribute to the deity that which any
person of common sense would blush to confess himself the
"The God of the
Bible is a moral monstrosity."
"It is like most
other ancient books – a mingling of falsehood and truth, of
philosophy and folly – all written by men, and most of the
men only partially civilized. Some of its laws are good –
some infinitely barbarous. None of the miracles related were
performed. . . . Take out the absurdities, the miracles, all
that pertains to the supernatural – all the cruel and
barbaric laws – and to the remainder I have no objection.
Neither would I have for it any great admiration."
taken as a whole, can be used to praise or condemn
practically any human activity, thought, belief, or
"Let us read the
Bible without the ill-fitting colored spectacles of
theology, just as we read other books, using our judgment
and reason. . . ."
"If you really
delve into the Bible you will see that it is a maze, a mass,
a veritable labyrinth of contradictions, inconsistencies,
inaccuracies, poor mathematics, bad science, erroneous
geography, false prophecies, immoral comments, degenerate
heroes, and a multitude of other problems too numerous to
mention. It may be somebody's word but it certainly isn't
the product of a perfect, divine being. The Bible has more
holes in it than a backdoor screen. In a society dominated
by the Book's influence, all freethinkers should do what
Adam and Eve did when they were expelled from the Garden of
Eden. They went out and raised Cain."
to change universal power by selfish supplication I do not
"If you pray for
rain long enough, it eventually does fall. If you pray for
floodwaters to abate, they eventually do. The same happens
in the absence of prayers."
"Prayer is of no
avail. The lightning falls on the just and the unjust in
accordance with natural laws." Robert Ingersoll
expect God to plan their lives for them, and protect them,
they tend to lose their motivation to guide and control
their own lives."
"Men have never
fully used the powers they possess to advance the good in
life, because they have waited upon some power external to
themselves and to nature to do the work they are responsible
"I do not pray.
. . . I do not expect God to single me out and grant me
advantages over my fellow men. . . . Prayer seems to me a
cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the
rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit
weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility."
"To say grace,
knowing that people on this globe are starving, indicates a
highly selfish acquiescence in the arrogantly supposed
favouritism of the almighty. A really decent god-believer,
far from giving thanks for the food and good health and
fortune enjoyed by himself and his family and close friends,
would surely curse God for his neglect of the hungry, the
sick and the tormented, throughout the world."
"I pray every
single second of my life; not on my knees but with my work.
My prayer is to lift women to equality with men. Work and
worship are one with me. I know there is no God of the
universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and
calling him ‘great.’"
"The hands that
help are better far than lips that pray."
"It is best to
read the weather forecast before praying for rain."
"I prayed for
freedom twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed
with my legs."
"Faith is the
effort to believe what your common sense tells you is not
Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks
without knowledge, of things without parallel."
"Faith may be
defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of
H. L. Mencken
believing what you know ain’t so."
"The deepest sin
against the human mind is to believe things without
Germans had absolute faith in Hitler. Millions of Russians
had faith in Stalin. Millions of Chinese had faith in Mao.
Billions have had faith in imaginary gods."
taught that it is a virtue to accept statements without
adequate evidence, which leaves them a prey to quacks of
every kind in later life, and makes it very difficult for
them to accept the methods of thought which are successful
J. B. S.
religious training means credulity training, churches should
not be surprised to find that so many of their congregations
accept astrology as readily as theology, or a channelled
Atlantean priest as readily as a biblical prophet."
pernicious of absurdities is that weak, blind, stupid faith
is better than the constant practice of every human virtue."
"Of course, say
the true believers, religion rests on faith, not intellect.
But if all you need to do to prove I am wrong is to have
faith that you are right, then no discussion is possible. .
. . It is only by resort to what the Roman statesman Cicero
called 'right reason' that men and women can interact with
each other amicably in a civilized society."
"I do not
support religion because it demands that we give up our most
important human asset, the ability to question. It demands
that we simply believe. Isn't that true of any dictator, of
any totalitarian society? Insofar as social development is
concerned, nothing is of greater importance than the human
function of questioning. . . . Questioning led to the
development of civilization."
godly man may be more likely to do serious wrong than a man
who deeply questions himself. The 'godly man' often
zealously follows religious precepts that, in the end,
justify an unjust injury to others, while the questioning
man, addressing his own conscience, may have the better
chance to consider all the circumstances and come to the
civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to
believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt."
H. L. Mencken
"It forms a
strong presumption against all supernatural and miraculous
relations, that they are observed chiefly to abound among
ignorant and barbarous nations; or if a civilized people has
ever given admission to any of them, that people will be
found to have received them from ignorant and barbarous
instances of forged miracles and prophecies and supernatural
events, which, in all ages have been detected by contrary
evidence, or which detect themselves by their absurdity,
prove sufficiently the strong propensity of mankind to the
extraordinary and marvellous, and ought reasonably to beget
a suspicion against all relations of this kind"
"It raises a
question in the mind very easily decided, which is, is it
more probable that nature should go out of her course or
that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our
time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason
to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same
time; it is, therefore, at least millions to one that the
reporter tells a lie."
root of superstition is that men observe when things hit,
and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and
pass over the other."
"Every event, or
appearance, or accident, which seems to deviate from the
ordinary course of nature has been rashly ascribed to the
immediate action of the Deity."
propitious accidents, the natural causes of which are too
complicated to be readily understood."
of aspects of the natural world that were considered
miraculous only a few generations ago are now thoroughly
understood in terms of physics and chemistry."
"Since we do not
know the extent of all the laws of nature, we cannot say an
event lies outside those laws. . . . About all that can
intelligently be said about any modern-day ‘miracle’ is that
it is an event that cannot be explained by presently known
laws. If the course of the last ten thousand years holds
true, however, it will simply be a matter of time before the
explanation is discovered."
notion of miracles comes of our vanity, which makes us
believe we are important enough for the Supreme Being to
upset nature on our behalf."
"The priests of
one religion never credit the miracles of another religion.
Is this because priests instinctively know priests?"
presents enough problems if you believe it to be a world of
law and order; do not add to them by believing it to be a
world of miracles."
"It is no
defense of superstition and pseudoscience to say that it
brings solace and comfort to people. . . . If solace and
comfort are how we judge the worth of something, then
consider that tobacco brings solace and comfort to smokers;
alcohol brings it to drinkers; drugs of all kinds bring it
to addicts; the fall of cards and the run of horses bring it
to gamblers; cruelty and violence bring it to sociopaths.
Judge by solace and comfort only and there is no behaviour
we ought to interfere with."
"There are some
poisons which, before they kill men, allay pain and diffuse
a soothing sensation through the frame. We may recognize the
hour of enjoyment they procure, but we must not separate it
from the price at which it was purchased."
William E. H.
"One may say
with one's lips: 'I believe that God is one, and also three'
- but no one can believe it, because the words have no
"It is too late
in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in
the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is
three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are
the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and
three times one is one, and according to heavenly
subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The
addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one we have
but one. Each one is equal to himself and the other two.
Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic
and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity."
Problem of Evil
wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not
want to. . . . If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent.
If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. . . . If, as
they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do
it, why is there evil in the world?"
doctrine that God wanted man to do something for him, and
that he kept a watchful eye upon all the children of men;
that he rewarded the virtuous and punished the wicked, is
gradually fading from the mind. We know that some of the
worst men have what the world calls success. We know that
some of the best men lie upon the straw of failure. We know
that honesty goes hungry, while larceny sits at the banquet.
We know that the vicious have every physical comfort, while
the virtuous are often clad in rags."
you can see that the church concept of an all-loving
heavenly father doesn’t hold water. If a divine Maker
fashioned everything that exists, he designed breast cancer
for women, childhood leukaemia, cerebral palsy, leprosy,
AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Down’s syndrome. He mandated
foxes to rip rabbits apart (bunnies emit a terrible shriek
at that moment) and cheetahs to slaughter fawns. No human
would be cruel enough to plan such horrors. If a supreme
being did so, he’s a monster, not an all-merciful father."
The World Health Report 1996, most of the 17 million people
who died of infectious diseases in 1995 were young children.
Think of it! The death of each of those millions of children
constitutes a ‘rebuttal of the notion of the almighty and
kindly God in heaven.’ How many rebuttals does it take to
rid the world of belief in the omnipotent, omnibenevolent
God? And how much stronger is the case against God when we
consider the overwhelming amount of animal suffering. . . ."
A. J. Mattill
"The world in
which we live can be understood as a result of muddle and
accident; but if it is the outcome of deliberate purpose,
the purpose must have been that of a fiend. For my part, I
find accident a less painful and more plausible hypothesis."
"If there is a
supreme being, he’s crazy."
"The only excuse
for God is that he doesn’t exist."
religion, the pre-established impersonal code transcends the
right of the individual to explore, experience, and marvel
at the mysteries of his own life and death. Religions
introduce us not to God but to slavery. They deprive us of
our freedom to explore our own souls and to discover the
endless and wondrous possibilities presented to us by an
infinite universe. And most often the method of religions is
fear, not love. They demand blind obedience and often
obedience to dreadful dogma."
Religion's Arbitrary Moral Standards
morality is based on theology, whenever the right is made
dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust,
infamous things can be justified and established. . . .
Morality is then surrendered to the groundless arbitrariness
"It makes that a
virtue which is not a virtue, and that a crime which is not
a crime. Religion consists in a round of observances that
have no relation whatever to natural goodness, but which
rather exclude it by being a substitute for it. Penances and
pilgrimages take the place of justice and mercy, benevolence
and charity. Such a religion, so far from being a purifier,
is the great corrupter of morals."
Promotes Ignorant and Barbaric Ideas about Morality
"The harm that
theology has done is not to create cruel impulses, but to
give them the sanction of what professes to be lofty ethic,
and to confer an apparently sacred character upon practices
which have come down from more ignorant and barbarous
and justifying the worst of human instincts as the will of
God, theistic religions have resulted in countless millions
of people being tortured and murdered."
"I know of no
crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form
or other. The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new
truth, last of all, and only when denial has become
Forgiveness of Sins Produces Unethical Behaviour
say, that among the ancient Jews, if you committed a crime
you had to kill a sheep. Now they say 'charge it.' 'Put it
on the slate.' The Savior will pay it. In this way,
rascality is sold on credit, and the credit system in
morals, as in business, breeds extravagance."
"The idea that
there is a God who rewards and punishes, and who can reward,
if he so wishes, the meanest and vilest of the human race,
so that he will be eternally happy, and can punish the best
of the human race, so that he will be eternally miserable,
is subversive of all morality."
realizes that every selfish or cruel act and its
consequences would remain uncomfortably remembered by
himself, believing that no divine forgiveness is available
to assuage the pangs of a guilty conscience."
Cultures are not Highly Moral
"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. . . . You find this curious fact, that the
more intense has been the religion of any period and the
more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has
been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of
"Probably in all
history there is no instance of a society in which
ecclesiastical power was dominant which was not at once
stagnant, corrupt and brutal."
"The U.S. has
more churchgoing than any other major democracy and it
reports much higher rates of murder, rape, robbery,
shootings, stabbings, drug use, unwed pregnancy, and the
like, as well as occasional tragedies such as those at Waco
and Jonestown. . . . There may be no link between the two
conditions, but the saturation of religion has failed to
prevent the severe crime level. . . . Societies rife with
fundamentalism and religious tribalism are prone to
sectarian violence. In contrast, England, Scandinavia,
Canada, Japan, and such lands have scant churchgoing, yet
their people are more inclined to live peaceably, in accord
with the social contract. The evidence seems clear: To find
living conditions that are safe, decent, orderly, and
'civilized,' avoid places with intense religion."
baptism is a good thing."
estimates reported 80,000 slaves owned by Presbyterians,
225,000 by Baptists and 250,000 by Methodists. Anglicans
probably owned most of the rest of the nearly 4 million
blacks held in serfdom in the United States at the outbreak
of the Civil War."
"The slave trade
flourished with the approval of the Church, and in Britain
and America it was the established churches that fought most
vigorously against abolition. . . . Bible texts . . . were
used constantly to support slavery. Opponents of slavery,
including Wilberforce and Paine, were savagely attacked by
the churches for presuming to know better than the Bible,
and the antislavery attitude of the Quakers made them
unpopular with orthodox Christians. Wilberforce . . .
complained that his supporters were nonconformists and
atheists, while church people generally opposed him."
Hise notes in his book Pro-Slavery that ministers 'wrote
almost half of all defences of slavery published in
America.' He listed 275 men of the cloth who used the Bible
to prove that white people were entitled to own black people
as work animals."
failed to win the churches to their cause. In 1837, the
Presbyterian General Assembly 'excised' from the church its
most thoroughly antislavery synods. No major denomination
endorsed abolitionism. This reluctance on the part of
clergymen and church bodies was to have profound
consequences for the course of the antislavery movement. It
helped push Garrison and others into taking militant
anti-clerical stands, and it caused the movement in the
later 1830s and 1840s to adopt increasingly secular
"In all the ages
the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves,
authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. . .
. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their
meaning; . . . she was doing in all this thing what the
Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her
position that in all the centuries she had no word to say
against human slavery." Mark Twain
of the annual conference are decidedly opposed to modern
Abolitionism and wholly disclaim any right, wish, or
intention to interfere in the civil and political relation
between master and slave as it exists in the slave-holding
states of the union."
Episcopal Church, 1836 General Conference, Cincinnati
has exercised absolute mastery over the American Church. . .
. With the Bible in their hands, her priesthood have
attempted to prove that slavery came down from God out of
heaven. They have become slaveholders and dealers in human
Garrison, abolitionist leader
"I assert most
unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere
covering for the most horrid crimes - a justifier of the
most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful
frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest,
grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the
strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the
chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard
being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity
that could befall me. . . . I . . . hate the corrupt,
slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and
hypocritical Christianity of this land."
"Susan Boggs, a
black runaway interviewed in Canada in 1863, said of the
religious slave masters: 'Why the man that baptized me had a
colored woman tied up in his yard to whip when he got home
that very Sunday and her mother . . . was in church hearing
him preach. He preached, "You must obey your masters and be
good servants." That is the greater part of the sermon, when
they preach to the colored folks. . . .'"
Confederate States of America, with God on our side in the
defence of slavery for now and forever, do hereby declare
ourselves independent. . . ."
"More even than
Southern Presbyterians and Southern Methodists, the Baptists
provided the great mass of Confederate enlisted men."
gentleman go to Revelation to learn the decree of God - let
him go to the Bible. . . . I said that slavery was
sanctioned in the Bible, authorized, regulated, and
recognized from Genesis to Revelation. . . . Slavery existed
then in the earliest ages, and among the chosen people of
God; and in Revelation we are told that it shall exist till
the end of time shall come. You find it in the Old and New
Testaments - in the prophecies, psalms, and the epistles of
Paul; you find it recognized - sanctioned everywhere."
Davis, president of the Confederate States of America
"There was no
place in the land where the seeker could not find some small
budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land
but one - the pulpit. It yielded at last; it always does. It
fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it
always does, joined the procession - at the tail end.
Slavery fell. The slavery text in the Bible remained; the
practice changed; that was all."
"As the Church
assumed leadership, activity in the fields of medicine,
technology, science, education, history, art and commerce
all but collapsed. Europe entered the Dark Ages."
"The losses in
science were monumental. In some cases the Christian
church's burning of books and repression of intellectual
pursuit set humanity back as much as two millennia in its
"Turn over the
pages of history and read the damning record of the church's
opposition to every advance in every field of science. . .
establishment of Christianity . . . arrested the normal
development of the physical sciences for over fifteen
"The church says
the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have
seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a
shadow than in the church."
"The essence of
science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea
for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds
its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology
is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge,
and only a Holy Roller in the mountains of Tennessee would
dare to preach today what the popes preached in the
H. L. Mencken
"When two men of
science disagree, they do not invoke the secular arm; they
wait for further evidence to decide the issue, because, as
men of science, they know that neither is infallible. But
when two theologians differ, since there are no criteria to
which either can appeal, there is nothing for it but mutual
hatred and an open or covert appeal to force."
done more for the development of Western civilization in 100
years than Christianity did in 1,800 years."
theological influence has at once been the best measure, and
the essential condition of intellectual advance."
William E. H.
"Just to the
extent that the Bible was appealed to in matters of science,
science was retarded; and just to the extent that science
has been appealed to in matters of religion, religion has
advanced - so that now the object of intelligent
religionists is to adopt a creed that will bear the test and
criticism of science."
without science is blind."
morsel of bread given to a stranger in need, hundreds have
died from diseases whose cures were thwarted by organized
religion's traditional opposition to science. For every word
soothing the tempers of men, there have been calls to arms
resulting in the death and maiming of thousands. The United
Nation's Children's Emergency Fund estimates that forty
thousand children die each day even as religious
organizations obstruct the distribution of birth control
devices in poor countries. The resultant daily pain and
torturous deaths by starvation far outstrip the almsgiving
and generosity religion has always claimed to espouse.
Whatever percentage of this toll is attributable to church
practices, surely it has added up to far more accrued pain
and death over the centuries than the atrocities of Stalin
and Hitler combined."
and Family Values
"According to 2
Samuel 12:7-8, God himself gave David Saul’s wives. Here
again is the divine stamp of approval upon bigamy,
concubinage, and polygamy – a whole regiment of wives! . . .
Nowhere in the sacred book does God issue a command against
these practices. Little wonder that among Jews in Moslem
countries polygamy continues to the present day, and that
Mormons originally practiced polygamy."
A. J. Mattill
"Perhaps what is
really being proposed by the Evangelical fundamentalists is
a return not to the 1950s family but to the family of
biblical days. The Old Testament is clear that this was a
strong patriarchal family. Men were permitted several wives
and concubines. Children were legitimately conceived by
these concubines outside of marriage. . . . Is this the
Evangelical’s idea of an ideal family?"
Ira L. Reiss
backing for Mormon behaviour is easy to find, although Mark
Twain is reported to have denied its legitimacy to a Mormon.
The Mormon claimed polygamy was perfectly moral and he
defied Twain to cite any passage of Scripture which forbade
it. 'Well,' said Twain, 'how about that passage that tells
us no man can serve two masters at the same time?'"
The Age of
marriage in traditional cultures was arranged for by the
families. It wasn’t a person-to-person decision at all. . .
. In the Middle Ages, that was the kind of marriage that was
sanctified by the Church. And so the troubadour idea of real
person-to-person Amor was very dangerous. . . . It is in
direct contradiction to the way of the Church. The word AMOR
spelt backwards is ROMA, the Roman Catholic Church, which
was justifying marriages that were simply political and
social in their character. And so came this movement
validating individual choice, what I call following your
"All the men of
the Old Testament were polygamists, and Christ and Paul, the
central figures of the New Testament, were celibates, and
condemned marriage by both precept and example."
"Once married, a
man is positively encouraged to desert his wife for Jesus’
sake, for that is a virtuous deed (Matthew 19:29), but there
is no possibility of divorce, which is absolutely prohibited
in Mark’s gospel (Mark 10:2-12) and is allowed by Matthew
only ‘for the cause of fornication’ (Matthew 5:31-12). The
New Testament sees marriage as the only permissible outlet
for sex, which is a thing of this world and does not exist
in heaven (Mark 12:25; Galatians 3:28). If he possibly can,
a man should also avoid sex in this world (even if he is
married, I Cor. 7:29): Jesus himself teaches that the best
thing a man can do is castrate himself (Matthew 19:12). St.
John the Divine says that only men ‘which were not defiled
with women’ will be saved (Rev. 14:4)."
"The command of
Jesus that you should desert your family for his sake has
led thousands and thousands of people to desert their
families and join crusades or monasteries or missions, and
to feel virtuous for what they have done."
"Let us, also,
endeavour to realize the unutterable torments endured by men
and maidens in their efforts to subdue the natural desires
of their senses and their affections to the unnatural
celibacy of the cloister, and we shall see that the tortures
inflicted by Christianity have been more cruel than the
cruelties of death. Christianity has ever been the enemy of
human love; it has forever cursed and expelled and crucified
the one passion which sweetens and smiles on human life. . .
. It made of this, the angel of life, a shape of sin and
darkness, and bade the woman whose lips were warm with the
first kisses of her lover believe herself accursed and
ashamed. Even in the unions which it reluctantly permitted,
it degraded and dwarfed the passion which it could not
entirely exclude, and permitted it coarsely to exist for the
mere necessity of procreation. . . . Love, the winged god of
the immortals, became, in the Christian creed, a
thrice-damned and earth-bound devil, to be exorcised and
loathed. This has been the greatest injury that Christianity
has ever done to the human race. Love, the one supreme,
unceasing source of human felicity, the one sole joy which
lifts the whole mortal existence into the empyrean, was by
it degraded into the mere mechanical act of reproduction. It
cut the wings of Eros."
Louisa de la Ramee)
victims whose marriages have been destroyed by the church
have told me that this is the Scripture verse that a pastor
cited to convince their spouse to break up their marriage.
During radio interviews in various parts of the United
States I have received several on-air telephone calls from
the hapless survivors of such sabotaged marriages. They all
tell me the same story: 2 Corinthians 6:14 [‘Be ye not
unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness?’]. Perhaps the Bible
should be subtitled: ‘Words to Break Up a Family By.’"
in this case, as in many others, were anticipated by the
pagans; for virgin-born gods who sacrificed themselves for
the good of the race were quite common in the myths and
legends of the heathen nations of antiquity. The Reverend
Charles H. Vail, in a scholarly study, The World's Saviours,
records the stories of miraculous births of fifteen other
saviours, who lived before the Christian era."
virgin birth were a common way of glorifying famous people
and mythological heroes of ancient times. For example,
Julius Caesar, Augustus, Aristomenes, Alexander the Great,
Plato, Cyrus, the elder Scipio, Egyptian Pharaohs, the
Buddha, Hermes, Mithra, Attis-Adonis, Hercules, Cybele,
Demeter, Leo, and Vulcan - all were thought of as
virgin-born in at least some traditions."
Rod L. Evans
and Irwin M. Berent
"[T]he day will
come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme
Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be
classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the
brain of Jupiter."
"In all the
disputes which have excited Christians against each other,
Rome has invariably decided in favour of that opinion which
tended most towards the suppression of the human intellect
and the annihilation of the reasoning powers."
"The period of
Catholic ascendancy was on the whole one of the most
deplorable in the history of the human mind. . . . The
spirit that shrinks from enquiry as sinful and deems a state
of doubt a state of guilt, is the most enduring disease that
can afflict the mind of man. Not till the education of
Europe passed from the monasteries to the universities, not
till Mohammedan science, and classical free thought, and
industrial independence broke the sceptre of the Church, did
the intellectual revival of Europe begin."
William E. H.
"The Papacy was
corrupt for whole centuries: especially from about 880 to
1050 and (with a short decent pontificate at rare intervals)
1290 to about 1660. No 'primacy' in any other organized
religion has so disgraceful a record."
"J. M. Robertson
has estimated that from the first crusade launched by Pope
Urban II in 1095 to the fall of Acre . . . in 1291, nine
million lives were lost. This may be an overestimation, but
the number is certainly in the millions and represents only
the beginning of the carnage which places the Catholic
Church in the same league with the Third Reich and the
purges of Stalin or Mao. Before the crusades against the
'heathens' were concluded, the popes began an internal
crusade against heretics within Christendom. The resulting
Inquisition lasted officially almost 600 years and resulted
in the loss of additional millions of lives."
of the Inquisition was murderous. . . . The popes were not
only murderers in the great style, but they also made murder
a legal basis of the Christian Church and a condition of
"By far the
cruellest aspect of the inquisitional system was the means
by which confessions were wrought: the torture chamber.
Torture remained a legal option for the Church from 1252
when it was sanctioned by Pope Innocent IV until 1917 when
the new Codex Juris Canonici was put into effect. . . .
Thus, with license granted by the Pope himself, inquisitors
were free to explore the depths of horror and cruelty. . . .
The Inquisition invented every conceivable device to inflict
pain by slowly dismembering and dislocating the body. Many
of these devices were inscribed with the motto 'Glory be
only to God.'"
Catholic Church] worked hard at it night and day during nine
centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole
hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world
clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that
there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One
doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that
there was no such thing as a witch - the priest, the parson?
No, these never discover anything. . . ."
"I read in the
newspaper that the Catholic Church finally decided that it
had been theologically improper to try to convert the Jews.
Whoops! Sorry for all those inquisitions, crusades, and
autos-da-fe. Previous popes were wrong - infallible,
perhaps, but wrong."
consequences of the popes' ill-conceived dictates [about
contraception] are as catastrophic as the persecution of
heretics in bygone years. The result will be, in effect, to
sentence millions to face starvation and hundreds of
millions more to a marginal, subhuman existence."
pope's opposition to contraceptives results in hundreds of
thousands of abortions, most in illegal and unsafe
conditions that threaten women's lives. Due primarily to the
lack of readily available contraception, 55 million
abortions are performed in the world annually. Worldwide,
182,000 women die each year from dangerous abortions. In the
United States, where . . . women's right to abortion has
been recognized since 1973 (over the Church's strenuous
opposition), the death rate for women who obtain abortions
has dropped almost 90%. So by opposing contraceptives and
legalized abortion, the pope is in effect sentencing many
women to die."
teaches us that we can make God happy by being miserable
ourselves; that a nun is holier in the sight of God than a
loving mother with her child in her thrilled and thrilling
arms; that a priest is better than a father; that celibacy
is better than that passion of love that has made everything
of beauty in this world. That church tells the girl of
sixteen or eighteen years of age, with eyes like dew and
light; that girl with the red of health in the white of her
beautiful cheeks - tells that girl, 'Put on the veil, woven
of death and night, kneel upon stones, and you will please
God.' I tell you that, by law, no girl should be allowed to
take the veil and renounce the joys and beauties of this
contrary to human liberty. Catholicism bases salvation upon
belief. Catholicism teaches man to trample his reason under
foot. And for that reason it is wrong."
attention to that man behind the curtain."
". . . I fail to
find a trace [in Protestantism] of any desire to set reason
free. The most that can be discovered is a proposal to
change masters. From being a slave of the papacy, the
intellect was to become the serf of the Bible."
have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the pope is
capable of intellectual advancement. In addition to this,
the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be afflicted with
the same idiot forever. The Protestants have a book for a
pope. The book cannot advance. Year after year, and century
after century, the book remains as ignorant as ever."
conservative estimate, ten million witches were killed
throughout Europe. . . . [T]he decline of witch-belief was .
. . entirely the product of religious scepticism. . . . The
Catholic Church did not reform itself on this matter; it was
forced by outside pressure to reform. To be sure, the
Protestant churches were no better in this regard; it is
simply that they had less time - only two or three centuries
- to engage in the torching of witches. After all, John
Wesley, the founder of Methodism, stated quite correctly
that disbelief in witches meant a disbelief in the Bible."
S. T. Joshi
to its power, Protestantism has been as persecuting as
William E. H.
Church is a thousand times better than your Protestant
Church upon that question [of damnation]. The Catholic
Church believes in purgatory - that is, a place where a
fellow can get a chance to make a motion for a new trial."
"As to the gods,
I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not
"How should I
know anything about another world when I know so little of
simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes
that for which he has no grounds for professing to believe."
"As a matter of
fact, no one knows that God exists and no one knows that God
does not exist. To my mind there is no evidence that God
exists - that this world is governed by a being of infinite
goodness, wisdom and power, but I do not pretend to know."
"The mystery of
the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for
one must be content to remain an agnostic."
"There is no
difference. The Agnostic is an Atheist. The Atheist is an
Agnostic. The Agnostic says: 'I do not know, but I do not
believe there is any God.' The Atheist says the same."
"Where is the
soul? . . . I refuse to believe anything of that kind
without proof. The idea that, as soon as a man's breath
leaves his body, the soul flops out like a chicken's head
and flies off into space to find a lodgement where there
[are] harps and haloes. Too much for me."
newspaper account of a conversation between Ingersoll and a
Spiritualist who accosted him after a speech.]
Prayer:] "O Lord - if there is a Lord; save my soul - if I
have a soul. Amen."
that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits
suicide. . . . Every influx of atheism, of scepticism, is
thus made useful as a mercury pill assaulting and removing a
diseased religion, and making way for truth."
"The atheist is
a man who destroys the chimeras which afflict the human
race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to
despite the efforts of millions of true believers to support
this myth, there is no more evidence for the Judeo-Christian
god than any of the gods on Mount Olympus."
"I'm an atheist
and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except
that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for
believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate
the simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists,
but you have no right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists
of the world with contempt. You owe them a deep debt of
gratitude, for not only have they shed much light on a
naturally dark world but they have very probably helped
civilize your own specific religion."
"The great god
Ra, whose shrine once covered acres, is filler now for
crossword puzzle makers."
[From an ancient
"Do not pass by
my epitaph, traveller.
But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way.
There is no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon,
no caretaker Aiakos, no dog Cerberus.
All we who are dead below
have become bones and ashes, but nothing else.
I have spoken to you honestly, go on, traveller,
lest even while dead I seem loquacious to you."