Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Faith without evidence is, properly, not faith, but prejudice or presumption; faith beyond evidence is superstition, and faith contrary to evidence is either insanity or willful perversity of mind." - Arthur Aughey

"Ceremonies in themselves are not sin; but whoever supposes that he can attain to life either by baptism or by partaking of bread is still in superstition." - Hans Denk

"Enthusiasm is an evil much less to be dreaded than superstition. Superstition is the disease of nations; enthusiasm that of individuals; the former grows inveterate by time; the latter is cured by it." - Robert Hall

"Weakness, fear, melancholy, together with ignorance, are the true sources of superstition. Hope, pride, presumption, a warm indignation, together with ignorance, are the true sources of enthusiasm." - David Hume

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

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"Nominally a great age of scientific inquiry, ours has actually become an age of superstition about the infallibility of science; of almost mystical faith in its nonmystical methods; above all... of external verities; of traffic-cop morality and rabbit-test truth." - Louis Kronenberger

"Superstition always inspires littleness, religion grandeur of mind; the superstitious raises being inferior to himself to deities." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"The superstition in which we were brought up never loses its power over us, even after we understand it." - Bruno Lessing, pseudonymn for Randolph Edgar Block

"They set the slave free, striking off his chains. Then he was as much of a slave as ever. He was still chained to servility. He was still manacled to indolence and sloth, he was still bound by fear and superstition, by ignorance suspicion and savagery. His slavery was not in the chains, but in himself. They can only set free men free. And there is no need of that. Free men set themselves free." - José Joaquín de Olmedo, fully José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri

"Fear is main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty." - John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, Lord John Russell

"A great fear... is the parent of superstition; but a discreet and well-guided fear produced religion." - Jeremy Taylor

"Superstition is not, as has been defined, an excess of religious feeling, but a misdirection of it, an exhausting of it on vanities of man’s devising." - Richard Whately

"All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance, ferocity; and modern religions are only ancient follies rejuvenated." -

"Superstition renders a man a fool, and skepticism makes him mad." - Henry Fielding

"Superstition is the poetry of life." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy." - William Ralph Inge

"Security is mostly superstition. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright experience. Life is either daring adventure or nothing." -

"Pleasure, pride, dominion and superstition, these are the four afflictions which corrupt the spirit of a nation... The essence of nationality is the essence of a people's spirituality." -

"The superstition in which we grew up, though we may recognize it, does not lose its power over us. Not all are free who make mock of their chains." - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

"Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a distinct conception of what poets of strong ages call inspiration? If not, I will describe it. If one had the slightest residue of superstition left in one, one would hardly be able to set aside the idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely medium of overwhelming forces. The concept of revelation , in the sense that something suddenly, with unspeakable certainty and subtlety, becomes visible, audible, something that shakes and overturns one to the depths, simply describes the fact. One hears, one does not seek; one takes, one does not ask who gives; a thought flashes up like lightning, with necessity, unfalteringly formed - I have never had any choice... Everything is in the highest degree involuntary but takes place as in a tempest of a feeling of freedom, of absoluteness, of power, of divinity... The involuntary nature of image, of metaphor is the most remarkable thing of all; one no longer has any idea what is image, what metaphor, everything presents itself as the readiest, the truest, the simplest means of expression." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Have faith in your immortal nature. Know that you are Spirit. Those who think they are limited and mortal, that they are born and that they die, are superstitious. Anything that is weakening, anything that is degenerating, anything that tells us that we are limited human beings is a terrible superstition. By all the means in our power we must overcome it. Let us tear aside this veil of superstition, recognize our true nature, and know that we are eternal, imperishable and immortal." - Paramananda, fully Swami Paramananda, born Suresh Chandra Guha-Thakurta NULL

"The prayer is an attempt at influencing the divine will. In short, one is back in the realm of superstition. It is true that love of god’s will can be found in whatever happens, but the prayer of petition is best understood, not as an attempt at influencing the ways things go, but as an expression of, and a request for, devotion to God through the way of things." - D. Z. Phillips, fully Dewi Zephaniah Phillips

"No itch is more infectious than superstition." - Joannes Jovianus Pontanus

"What the world needs is a fusion of the sciences and the humanities. The humanities express the symbolic, poetic and prophetic qualities of the human spirit. Without them we would not be conscious of our history; we would lose our aspirations and the graces of expression that move men's hearts. The sciences express the creative urge in man to construct a universe which is comprehensible in terms of the human intellect. Without them, mankind would find itself bewildered in a world of natural forces beyond comprehension, victims of ignorance, superstition and fear." - Isidor Isaac Rabi

"Astronomy was born of superstition; eloquence of ambition, hatred, falsehood, and flattery; geometry of avarice; physics of an idle curiosity; and even moral philosophy of human pride. Thus the arts and sciences owe their birth to our vices." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Religion worships God, while superstition profanes that worship." -

"Funerals are always occasions for pious lying. A deep vein of superstition and a sudden touch of kindness always lead people to give the departed credit for more virtues than he possessed." - I. F. Stone, fully Isidor Feinstein Stone, born Isidor Feinstein

"A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition." - José Bergamin, fully José Bergamín Gutiérrez

"Religion is not removed by removing superstition." -

"We have a duty to perform, to cultivate the human soul, to adore the incomprehensible and reject the absurd; to purify faith and obliterate superstition from the face of religion, to remove the vermin from the garden of God." - Victor Hugo

"He who sets out in search of Truth must leave Superstition forever and wander down into the land of Absolute Negation and Denial. He must then go… where the mountains of Stern Reality will rise before him. Beyond them lies Truth." - Olive Schreiner

"On the grave of faith there blooms the flower of superstition." - Gustave Thibon

"Superstition may be defined as constructive religion which has grown incongruous with intelligence." - John Tyndall

"In the study of ideas, it is necessary to remember that insistence on hardheaded clarity issues from sentimental feeling, as it were a mist, cloaking the perplexities of fact. Insistence on clarity at all costs is based on sheer superstition as to the mode in which human intelligence functions." - Alfred North Whitehead

"Our civilization… is not devaluing its awareness of the unknowable; nor is it deifying it. It is the first civilization that has severed it from religion and superstition in order to question it." - André Malraux

"Faith without reason leads to superstition: Reason without faith leads to cynicism." - Author Unknown NULL

"How blest would our age be if it could witness a religion freed from all the trammels of superstition!" -

"Conscience without judgment is superstition." - Benjamin Whichcote

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavor after a worthy manner of life." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

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

"Superstition is the religion of feeble minds." - Edmund Burke

"The mind is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced." - Francis Bacon

"In all superstition wise men follow fools." - Francis Bacon

"Superstition is the Reproach of the Deity... The Master of superstition is the People; and in all Superstition, Wise Men follow Fooles... There is a Superstition in avoiding Superstition." - Francis Bacon

"It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy of Him; for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely: and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity." - Francis Bacon

"Religion [cannot] maintain itself apart from thought, but either advances to the comprehension of the idea, or, compelled by thought itself, becomes intensive belief - or lastly, from despair of finding itself at home in thought, flees back from it in pious horror, and becomes superstition." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus." - George Bernard Shaw

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