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Quotes


If you Google 'atheist quotes' you'll come up with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of thoughtful, interesting, challenging, humorous statements from women and men across the centuries. There are a couple of problems, however; sometimes these words were never spoken or written by the person they were attributed to, and sometimes the speaker or writer was a believer (often a Deist) not an atheist.

We are - or should be - atheists because we think. We take care - or should take care - to base our statements on proven reality and research. If we repeat a quote only because someone else repeats it, we are no better than believers who mindlessly repeat words attributed to Jesus or Muhammad. That means that quotes are only included in this section when their origin can be ascertained. And don't necessarily trust this website; before you refer to it, make sure you are satisfied that what it states is accurate.
Atheist quotes

Abū al-'Ala al-Ma'arrī
Douglas Adams
Isaac Asimov
Clarence Darrow
Sigmund Freud
Sam Harris
Robert Green Ingersoll
Jean Meslier
Samuel P Putnam
Jules Renard
Carl Sagan
Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron D'Holbach

False / unattributed quotes


Seneca the Younger

Quotes by believers


Thomas Jefferson




Atheist quotes


Abū al-'Ala al-Ma'arrī
Arab philosopher and poet, 973 - 1057
"They all err - Muslims, Christians, Jews and Magians. There are two kinds of humans - the intelligent, who have no religion, and the religious, who have no intellect."
for more on al-'Ala al-Ma'arrī and on the origins of this quote see Wikipedia





Douglas Adams
British author, 1952 - 2001
"I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously."
The Salmon of Doubt, 2002
Adams is best known for his The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series - see his take on the origins of God here





Isaac Asimov
US scientist and science fiction writer, 1920 - 1992
"When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
The Relativity of Wrong, 1988





Clarence Darrow
US lawyer (most notably in the Tennessee Scopes Evolution Trial in 1925), 1857 - 1938
"I am not afraid of any god in the universe who would send me or any other man or woman to hell. If there were such a being, he would not be a god; he would be a devil."
attributed to Darrow in a eulogy by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius





Sigmund Freud
Austrian neurologist / psychoanalyst
1856 - 1939

"Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."
New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (publ December 1932, but copyright 1933)





Sam Harris
US writer, 1967 -
"Tell a devout Christian ... that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever."
Chapter One of The End of Faith





Robert Green Ingersoll
US Civil War veteran and orator, 1833 - 1899
"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust."
Why I Am An Agnostic





WHY DON'T HE LEND A HAND?
By Samuel P. Putnam
(1838-1896)

You say there is a God
Above the boundless sky,
A wise and wondrous deity
Whose strength none can defy



You say that he is seated
Upon a throne most grand,
Millions of angels at his beck . . .
Why don’t he lend a hand?



See how the earth is groaning,
What countless tears are shed,
See how the plague stalks forward
And brave and sweet lie dead.



Homes burn and hearts are breaking,
Grim murder stains the land;
You say he is omnipotent . . .
Why don’t he lend a hand?



Behold, injustice conquers;
Pain curses every hour;
The good and true and beautiful
Are trampled like the flower.



You say he is our father,
That what he wills doth stand;
If he is thus almighty
Why don’t he lend a hand?



What is this monarch doing
Upon his golden throne,
To right the wrong stupendous,
Give joy instead of moan?



With his resistless majesty,
Each force at his command,
Each law his own creation . . .
Why don’t he lend a hand?



Alas! I fear he’s sleeping,
Or is himself a dream,
A bubble on thought’s ocean,
Our fancy’s fading gleam.



We look in vain to find him
Upon his throne so grand,
Then turn your vision earthward
, ‘Tis we must lend a hand.


‘Tis we must grasp the lightning,
And plow the rugged soil;
‘Tis we must beat back suffering,
And plague and murder foil;


‘Tis we must build the paradise
And bravely right the wrong;
The god above us faileth,
The god within is strong.
Jean Meslier
French priest, 1664-1729
"Think hard about the reasons for believing and not believing, what your religion teaches you and demands so inexorably that you believe. I am convinced that if you follow closely the natural light of your spirit, you will see ... that all the religions in the world are only human inventions and that everything your religion teaches you and forces you to believe as supernatural and divine is at heart only error, lie, illusion and trickery."
Testament
for more on Meslier and his Testament see Wikipedia: English; français





Jules Renard
French author, 1864-1910
"I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't."
Journal, 26 January 1906
for more on Renard see Wikipedia: English; français





Carl Sagan
US astronomer, 1934 - 1996
"The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides."
Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (1997, p 215)





Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron D'Holbach
French-German philosopher, 1723 - 1789
"If we go back to the beginnings of things, we shall always find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that imagination, rapture and deception embellished them; that weakness worships them; that custom spares them; and that tyranny favors them in order to profit from the blindness of men."
Le Système de la nature ("The System of Nature", 1770)





False / unattributed quotes



Seneca the Younger
Roman philosopher and dramatist, 4 BCE - 65 CE
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."
no-one has identified the text in which he is supposed to have said or written these words



Quotes by believers



Thomas Jefferson
Third US President and principal author of that country's Declaration of Independence
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
Thomas Jefferson
letter to Jefferson's nephew (date uncertain).
Like many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers, Jefferson was more Deist than atheist.








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If God existed, he would...

admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create

recognize that eternity is meaningless

deny both heaven and hell

disown all men and women who speak in his name

denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"

help the human race to thrive without him

If God existed, he would be an atheist.



What is the difference between science and faith?

science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything

faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing

Which do you trust?


"I know there is no God"
or
"I believe there is no God"
???


Check the answer





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