Atheism … that bugbear of women and fools … is the very top and perfection of free-thinking. It is the grand arcanum to which a true genius naturally riseth, by a certain climax or gradation of thought, and without which he can never possess his soul in absolute liberty and repose.
GEORGE BERKELEY, Alciphron
A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
FRANCIS BACON, Essays
I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion, I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually the case.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, Letters to a Young Contrarian
Fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion.
WILHELM STEKEL, Autobiography
The legitimate powers of government extend to only such acts as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no God.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, Life and Selected Writings
The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief — call it what you will — than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.
To be an atheist requires an indefinitely greater measure of faith than to recieve all the great truths which atheism would deny.
JOSEPH ADDISON, The Spectator, Mar. 8, 1711
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.
ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL, Why I Am An Agnostic
Agnosticism is a perfectly respectable and tenable philosophical position; it is not dogmatic and makes no pronouncements about the ultimate truths of the universe. It remains open to evidence and persuasion; lacking faith, it nevertheless does not deride faith. Atheism, on the other hand, is as unyielding and dogmatic about religious belief as true believers are about heathens. It tries to use reason to demolish a structure that is not built upon reason.
SYDNEY J. HARRIS, Pieces of Eight
All religions, with their gods, their demi-gods, and their prophets, their messiahs and their saints, were created by the prejudiced fancy of men who had not attained the full development and full possession of their faculties.
MIKHAIL BAKUNIN, God and the State
I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, news conference, Aug. 27, 1987
It is the absolutism of theism, its pernicious influence upon humanity, its paralyzing effect upon thought and action, which Atheism is fighting with all its power.
EMMA GOLDMAN, Mother Earth, Feb. 1916
It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan.
CALVIN COOLIDGE, speech, Jul. 25, 1924
By night an atheist half believes in God.
EDWARD YOUNG, Night Thoughts
Nothing shall warp me from the belief that every man is a lover of truth. There is no pure lie, no pure malignity in nature. The entertainment of the proposition of depravity is the last profligacy and profanation. There is no scepticism, no atheism but that. Could it be received into common belief, suicide would unpeople the planet.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, lecture, Mar. 3, 1844
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE, O Magazine, Dec. 2006
It is not hardness of heart or evil passions that drive certain individuals to atheism, but rather a scrupulous intellectual honesty.
STEVE ALLEN, 2000 Years of Disbelief
I don’t think even the blackest atheist has an idea of what real separation [from God] will be. Outer darkness. What we live in you might call … “inner darkness.”
JOHN UPDIKE, Rabbit, Run
Let us enquire. Who, then, shall challenge the words? Why are they challenged. And by whom? By those who call themselves the guardians of morality, and who are the constituted guardians of religion. Enquiry, it seems, suits not them. They have drawn the line, beyond which human reason shall not pass — above which human virtue shall not aspire! All that is without their faith or above their rule, is immorality, is atheism, is — I know not what.
FRANCES WRIGHT, Course of Popular Lectures
Sometimes when I’m faced with an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we have finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there’s a cook.
RONALD REAGAN, Speaking My Mind
Since ancient times, the philosophers’ secret has always been this: we know that God does not exist, or, at least, if he does, he’s utterly indifferent to our individual affairs–but we can’t let the rabble know that; it’s the fear of God, the threat of divine punishment and the promise of divine reward, that keeps in line those too unsophisticated to work out questions of morality on their own.
ROBERT J. SAWYER, Calculating God
I cannot but pity the man who recognizes nothing godlike in his own nature.
WILLIAM E. CHANNING, Thoughts
Atheism is a disease of the mind caused by eating underdone philosophy.
AUSTIN O’MALLEY, Keystones of Thought
If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they? Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom do not accept the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confident that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population. And yet, athiests are the most reviled minority in the United States.
SAM HARRIS, Letter to a Christian Nation
They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility, for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.
FRANCIS BACON, Essays
My atheism … 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, “On My Friendly Critics,” Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies
When men stop believing in God, it isn’t that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.
UMBERTO ECO, Foucault’s Pendulum
Favorite Atheist Quotes