Oh, the things people say.

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A mind that is stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr, poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)

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

Oscar Wilde, writer (1854-1900)

This is what religion is: they angle for fresh prey, and once they snag you, they swallow you up. You are embraced in the rugae and crypts of the gut of the church, all warm and pink and soft and wet and intimate, and each of the members is like a little villus — a multitude of villi brush adoringly against you, each telling you how wonderful and delicious you are, and each leeching away a little of yourself, your individuality, your independence. It feels good as you are slowly absorbed. Then at last, when your will is gone and your dependence is complete, you are digested by the body of Christ, and there you will be for all of your productive years. Eventually, when you are old and no longer active, you'll take residence in the colon of the church, serviced by occasional visits from a priest or a volunteer, in hopes of one final ka-ching from your will…and then your empty husk will be shat out into the church graveyard, with the leavings of other past meals. The churches of your community all ought to be viewed as predatory animals, some lazy and sated, others restless and hungry, but all eyeing you as potential fodder to keep the beast alive.

P.Z. Myers in Pharyngula post

But here’s a central issue of contention: FAITH. No one word personifies the absolute worst and most wicked properties of religion better than that. Faith is mind-rot. It’s the poison that destroys critical thinking, undermines evidence, and leads people into lives dedicated to absurdity. It’s a parasite regarded as a virtue. I speak as a representative of the scientific faction of atheism: it’s one thing we simply cannot compromise on. Faith is wrong.

P.Z. Myers in Pharyngula post

The most merciful thing an omnicient God might do is end the life of a child whom he knows will never seek Him.

Pastor Doug Humphrey

Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet (1792-1822)

Science reveals where religion conceals. Where religion purports to explain, it actually resorts to tautology. To assert that "God did it" is no more than an admission of ignorance dressed deceitfully as an explanation..

Peter Atkins

When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.

Peter O'Toole

Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise.

Pierre Beaumarchais, playwright (1732-1799)

Dear Lord: The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here's the deal: You freeze everything the way it is, and I won't ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, give me no sign. Thy will be done.

Prayer by Homer Simpson

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

If there is a God, I don't think He would demand that anyone bow down or stand up to Him.

Rebecca West, author and journalist (1892-1983)

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.

Richard Dawkins

A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.

Richard Dawkins

A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.

Richard Dawkins

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Richard Dawkins, biologist and author (b. 1941)

What has theology ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has theology ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false. If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference? Even the bad achievements of scientists, the bombs, and sonar-guided whaling vessels work! The achievements of theologians don’t do anything, don’t affect anything, don’t mean anything. What makes anyone think that “theology” is a subject at all?

Richard Dawkins, biologist and author (b. 1941)

We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

Richard Dawkins, biologist and author (b. 1941)

When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.

Richard Dawkins, biologist and author (b. 1941)

When one guy sees an invisible man, he's a nut case; ten people see him, it's a cult; ten million people see him, it's a respected religion.

Richard Jeni, comedian and actor (1957-2007)

History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis.

Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)

Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.

Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)

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.

Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)

I turned to speak to God, About the world's despair; But to make bad matters worse, I found God wasn't there.

Robert Frost

Every [Christian] sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed His will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning. About the meaning of this book, called a revelation, there have been ages of war and centuries of sword and flame. If written by an infinite God, He must have known that these results must follow; and thus knowing, He must be responsible for all.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Hands that help are far better than lips that pray.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Environment is a sculptor – a painter. If we had been born in Constantinople, then most of us would have said: 'There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.' If our parents had lived on the banks of the Ganges, we would have been worshipers of Siva, longing for the heaven of Nirvana. As a rule, children love their parents, believe what they teach, and take great pride in saying that the religion of mother is good enough for them.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery.

Robert Green Ingersoll

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.

Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator (1833-1899)

The hands that help are better far / Than lips that pray. / Love is the ever gleaming star / That leads the way, / That shines, not on vague worlds of bliss, / But on a paradise in this.

Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator (1833-1899)

There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: “Let us be friends.” It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: “Let us agree not to step on each other’s feet.”

Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator (1833-1899)

The price of freedom of religion or of speech or of the press is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.

Robert H. Jackson, US Supreme Court justice (1892-1954)

Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.

Robert King Merton, sociologist (1910-2003)

What evangelical apologists are still trying to show... is that their version of the resurrection was the most compatible with accepting all the details of the gospel Easter narratives as true and non-negotiable... [D]efenders of the resurrection assume that their opponents agree with them that all the details are true, that only the punch line is in question. What they somehow do not see is that to argue thus is like arguing that the Emerald City of Oz must actually exist since, otherwise, where would the Yellow Brick Road lead?... We simply have no reason to assume that anything an ancient narrative tells us is true.

Robert M. Price

We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.

Ronald Reagan, 40th US President (1911-2004)

The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.

Salman Rushdie

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

Salman Rushdie, writer (b. 1947)

Consider: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian. And yet you do not find their reasons compelling... Why don't you lose any sleep over whether to convert to Islam? Can you prove that Allah is not the one, true God? Can you prove that the archangel Gabriel did not visit Muhammad in his cave? Of course not. But you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims as absurd. The burden is upon them to prove that their beliefs about God and Muhammad are valid. They have not done this. They cannot do this... The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims. Isn't it obvious Muslims are fooling themselves? Isn't it obvious that anyone who thinks that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe has not read the book critically?... Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity. And it is the way I view all religions." .

Sam Harris

The problem with religion, because it's been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.

Sam Harris

People in general are equally horrified at hearing the Christian religion doubted, and at seeing it practiced.

Samuel Butler

Prayers are to men as dolls are to children. They are not without use and comfort, but it is not easy to take them very seriously.

Samuel Butler, poet (1612-1680)

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

Saul Bellow, writer, Nobel laureate (1915-2005)

Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires

Sigmund Freud

Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.

Sigmund Freud

It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be. In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable.

Sigmund Freud

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Sinclair Lewis

...I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.

Sir David Attenborough

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.

Sir Richard Francis Burton, British explorer & orientalist (1821 - 1890)

God isn't the 300 people who died in the plane crash. No, no, no. God is the one person who survived it. God is that unlikely event.

God isn't the death, mayhem, destruction and chaos of the tornado. No, no, no. God is the miracle puppy which lived through it.

God isn't the hundreds of US children who die every year due to medical neglect by their Christian Science parents. No, no, no. God is the one who may have suffered needlessly, but didn't die.

Christian faith is blindness to manifest horror in favor of comfort. Christian faith is picking over a cataclysm looking for anything to indulge their insatiable lust for feeling good.

Sir Russ, commenter at Debunking Christianity