Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Atheism

"God is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To me God is truth and love, God is ethics and morality, god is fearlessness, God is the source of light and life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. he is even the atheism of the atheist." -

"Liberal minds are open to conviction. Liberal doctrines are capable of improvement. There are proselytes from atheism; but none from superstition." -

"Atheism can benefit no class of people; neither the unfortunate, whom it bereaves of hope, nor the prosperous, whose joys it renders insipid, nor the soldier, of whom it makes a coward, nor the woman whose beauty and sensibility it mars, nor the mother, who has a son to lose, nor the rulers of men, who have no surer pledge of the fidelity of their subjects than religion." - François-René de Chateaubriand, fully François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand

"To put more faith in lies and hate than truth and love is the true atheism." - James Russell Lowell

"The only atheism is the denial of truth." - Arthur Alfred Lynch

"Atheism is the death of hope, the suicide of the soul." - Hugh Miller

"There is a power in the soul, quite separate from the intellect, which sweeps away or recognizes the marvelous, by which God is felt. Faith stands serenely far above the reach of the atheism of science. It does not rest on the wonderful, but on the eternal wisdom and goodness of God... No science can sweep away the everlasting love which the heart feels, and which the intellect does not even pretend to judge or recognize." -

"Often we find atheism both in individual and society a necessary passage to deeper religious and spiritual truth: one has sometimes to deny God in order to find Him." -

"Darwin’s and Huxley’s picture of man’s place in the universe prepared the way for the Holocaust… Darwin the scientist directly inspired Nietzsche’s superman theory and the Nazi corollary that some people were subhuman… People have to learn to stop thinking of other people as machines and learn to think of them as men and women possessed of souls… History doesn’t need another one hundred million deaths to prove that scientific atheism is a form of mental illness." - John Koster

"Atheism leads not to badness but only to an incurable sadness and loneliness." - William P. Montague, fully William Pepperell Montague

"Fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion." -

"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." - Simone Weil

"The basic sense of vocation which once gave meaning and direction to all walks of life has been the causality of collectivism, existentialism and sexualism, three of the moods induced by widespread practical atheism." - John Joseph Wright

"Throughout human history, progress has come through the men and women who dared to challenge the precepts and dogmas that curtailed freedoms. Freethinking (which includes skepticism, rationalism, unbelief, atheism, agnosticism, humanism and so forth) has made great and lasting contributions to human freedom, human rights, and human equality." - Gerald Alexander Larue

"Theology is an incubus that a humanist can never shake off. He may seek refuge from theism in atheism or from animism in materialism. But after each desperate twist and turn he will find himself committed to some theological position or other. Theology is inescapable, and it is dynamite." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Worrying is a form of atheism." - Author Unknown NULL

"I maintain that superstition is more hurtful to God than atheism is." - Denis Diderot

"Atheism is rather in the life than in the heart of man." - Francis Bacon

"A little philosophy inclineth a man to atheism. Depth in philosophy brings a man back to God." - Francis Bacon

"God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, but His ordinary works convince it." - Francis Bacon

"The Devil divides the word between Atheism and Superstition." - George Herbert

"My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests." - George Santayana

"Selfishness is the only real atheism; aspiration, unselfishness, the only real religion." - Israel Zangwill

"Selfishness is the only real atheism; unselfishness the only real religion." - Israel Zangwill

"To be an atheist requires an infinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny." - Joseph Addison

"Atheism is a disease of the soul, before it becomes an error of the understanding." - Plato NULL

"Fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion." - Wilhelm Stekel

"Many an attack of depression is nothing but the expression of regret at having to be virtuous." - Wilhelm Stekel

"If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion." - Edmund (Louis Antoine Huot) de Goncourt (1822-1896) and Jules (Alfred Huot) de Goncourt

"I shall quite briefly mention here the notorious atheism of science. The theists reproach it for this again and again. Unjustly. A personal God can not be encountered in a world picture that becomes accessible only at the price that everything personal is excluded from it... We know that whenever God is experienced, it is an experience exactly as real as a direct sense impression, as real as one’s own personality. As such He must be missing from the space-time picture. ‘I do not meet with God in space and time’, so says the honest scientific thinker, and for that reason he is reproached by those in whose catechism it is nevertheless stated: ‘God is Spirit’." - Erwin Schrödinger, fully Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger

"Religious people tend to encounter, among those who are not, a cemented certainty that belief in God is a crutch for the weak and the fearful...Now the belief in God may turn out at the last trump to be a mistake. Meantime, let us be quite clear, it is not merely the comfort of the simple--though it is that too, much to its glory--it is a formidable intellectual position with which most of the first-class minds of the human race, century in and century out, have concurred, each in his own way....speaking of crutches--Freud can be a crutch, Marx can be a crutch, rationalism can be a crutch, and atheism can be two canes and a pair of iron braces. We none of us have all the answers, nor are we likely to have. But in the country of the halt, the man who is surest he has no limp may be the worst-crippled." - Herman Wouk

"A good deal of so-called atheism is itself, from my point of view, theologically significant. It is the working of God in history, and judgement upon the pious. An authentic prophet can be a radical critic of spurious piety, of sham spirituality." - James Luther Adams

"If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion." - Jules de Goncourt, fully Jules Huot de Goncourt

"Regardless of their prior attitudes [on near death experience] - whether skeptical or deeply religious - and regardless of the many variations in religious beliefs and degrees of skepticism from tolerant disbelief to outspoken atheism - most of these people were convinced that they had been in the presence of some supreme and loving power and had a glimpse of a life yet to come." - Kenneth Ring

"If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism - at least in the sense of this work - is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature." - Ludwig Feuerbach, fully Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach

"I advise you to guard against atheism and materialism. The biggest blunder made by Europe was the separation of Church and State. This deprived their culture of moral soul and diverted it to the atheistic materialism." - Mohamed Iqbal or Sir Muhammad Iqbal, aka Allama Iqbal

"If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism -- at least in the sense of this work -- is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature." - Paul Johann Feuerbach, fully Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach

"An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one. I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." - Richard Dawkins

"The alternative which I favor is to renounce all euphemisms and grasp the nettle of the word atheism itself, precisely because it is a taboo word carrying frissons of hysterical phobia. Critical mass may be harder to achieve than with some non-confrontational euphemism, but if we did achieve it with the dread word atheist, the political impact would be all the greater." - Richard Dawkins

"It is atheism to pray and not wait on hope." - Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)

"The major obstacle to a religious renewal is the intellectual classes, who are highly influential and tend to view religion as primitive superstition. They believe that science has left atheism as the only respectable intellectual stance." - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork

"Pleasure is far sweeter as a recreation than a business." - Roswell Dwight Hitchcock

"School children and students who love God should never say: For my part I like mathematics; I like French; I like Greek. They should learn to like all these subjects, because all of them develop that faculty of attention which, directed toward God, is the very substance of prayer." - Simone Weil

"All the prayers in the Scripture you will find to be reasoning with God, not a multitude of words heaped together." - Stephen Charnock

"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." - Thomas Jefferson

"I confess I have the same fears for our South American brethren; the qualifications for self-government in society are not innate. They are the result of habit and long training, and for these they will require time and probably much suffering." - Thomas Jefferson

"If God is supposed to give our lives a meaning that we can't understand, it's not much of a consolation." - Thomas Nagel

"In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture from a very different direction: the attack on Darwinism mounted in recent years from a religious perspective by the defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. Another skeptic, David Berlinski, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair." - Thomas Nagel

"At sixty, labor ought to be over, at least from direct necessity. It is painful to see old age working itself to death, in what are called civilized countries, for its daily bread." - Thomas Paine

"Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry." - Thomas Paine