Beliefs and Superstitions

Religion has been a benefit to the advance of technology and civilization to the same degree as wars, for until comparatively recently, wars were fought largely under the flag of religion. Religion has taken many forms and served many purposes. It has been soma for the masses, an excuse for invasion, and a foundation for authority.

The concept of religion is ancient. In one form or another, it has formed the basis for almost every society which has ever existed. Religion both reflects and magnifies the underlying norms and standards of the culture it inhabits. In our present society, many of the Bible's fundamental precepts are incorporated into law. Many of our laws are, in a sense, arbitrary in that we could imagine a different structure of law based on a different set of cultural beliefs, a different set of assumptions about property rights and the sanctity of life. They are as they are largely because of the framework passed down through the Bible.

Religion still runs deep in American culture, but it has shifted toward the background of the culture as opposed to being at its cutting edge. The forefront of today's society is more secular, some would say hedonist, in nature.

The Christian religion does not seem the most appropriate one for Americans to adopt. It does contain certain concepts such as "an eye for and eye" and the meeting of force with force which have a great deal to be said for them, but the concept of heaven is entirely inappropriate for a free-spirited America. Can you really imagine Americans spending eternity worshipping some arbitrary and capricious being just because He happens to claim omnipotence?

Much more satisfying is the old Norse religion with its twilight of the gods, Ragnorock, and the thousand years in Valhalla for the warriors fallen in this earth-rending battle. Now there is an idea that the pioneers could have gotten excited about.

The difference between Carter and [Ted] Kennedy: Carter has this vague religion which he believes in strongly, while Kennedy has this strong religion which he believes in vaguely.
Eugene McCarthy

I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose.
Clarence Darrow

If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God?
George Dacon

A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe, "That fact has not created in me a sense of obligation."
Stephen Crane

Gabriel: How about cleanin' up de whole mess of 'em and startin' all over ag'in wid some new kind of animal?
God: An' admit I'm licked?
Marcus Connely

A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
Arthur C. Clarke

The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except for the fact that it is missing.
G.K. Chesterton

If Jesus Christ were alive today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, hear what he had to say, and make fun of it.
Thomas Carlyle

Jesus died too soon. He would have repudiated his doctrine if he had lived to my age.
Friedrich Nietzsche anarchist who succeeded. That's all.
Andre Malraux

An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard only one side of the case. God has written all the books.
Samuel Butler

Science has done more for the development of Western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred.
John Burroughs

Rome has seven sacraments, but the Protestant churches, being less prosperous, feel that they can afford only two, and these of inferior sanctity.
Ambrose Bierce

God's only excuse is that he does not exist.
Marie Beyle

Hell must be isothermal, for otherwise the resident engineers and physical chemists, (of which there must be some), could set up a heat engine to run a refrigerator to cool off a portion of their surroundings to any desired temperature.
Henry Albert Bent

When Socialism comes into power, the Roman Church will advocate Socialism with the same vigor it is now favoring feudalism and slavery.
August Bebel, 1906

Zionism is rascism because it is built on exclusivity. The Jews believe they are a superior race, a chosen people. They believe their home should be in Palestine, the Promised Land. Since when was God in the real-estate business?
J.M. Baroody

Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.
Woody Allen

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' -- probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
Woody Allen

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.
Woody Allen

Eternal nothingness is OK, if you're dressed for it.
Woody Allen

I cannot say for certain that God does not exist; I think the worst thing that can be said about him is that he's a bit of an underachiever.
Woody Allen

Most of us spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then we go to church on Sunday to pray for a crop failure.
Fred Allen

Even God cannot change the past.

The world holds two classes of men -- intelligent men without religion and religious men without intelligence.

I can see where influential people would like Maharishi better than Jesus. My God, if the Beatles and Mia Farrow went to Jesus, He'd tell them to give all their money away.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The number one book of the ages was written by a committee, and it was called the Bible.
Louis B. Mayer

A dull, dark, depressing day in Winter: the whole world looks like a Methodist church at Wednesday night prayer meeting.
H.L. Mencken

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive their flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in history.
Robert Heinlein

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just, omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates like the board of a corporation that is losing money.
H.L. Mencken

The only really respectable Protestants are the fundamentalists. Unfortunately, they are also palpable idiots.
H.L. Mencken

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God`s -- but remember that which you render unto God is deductible.
Church circular, appealing for funds

As long as the Southern colleges have revivals on their campuses and students get converted to Methodism and join the YMCA and are accepted as gentlemen, it will be impossible to think of the South as civilized...The educated folk of the Old South took theology lightly, and religion to them was hardly more than a charming ritual, useful on solemn occassions.
H.L. Mencken

What is the function that a clergyman serves in the world? I guess it's living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell.
H.L. Mencken

I am one of the few goyim who have ever actually tackled the Talmud. I suppose you now expect me to add that it is a profound and noble work, worthy of hard study by all other goyims. Unhappily, my report must differ from this expectation. It seems to me, save for a few bright spots, to be quite indistinguishable from rubbish.
H.L. Mencken

Who will argue that 98.6 Farenheit is the right temperature for man? As for me, I decline to do it. It may be that we are all actually freezing hence the pervading stupidity of mankind. At 110 or 115 degrees even archbishops might be intelligent.
H.L. Mencken

The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.
Herb Caen

The Bible says that woman was the last thing that God made. He must have made it on Saturday night. It shows fatigue.
Alexandre Dumas

Thanksgiving 'twas founded be th' Puritans to give thanks f'r bein' presarved fr'm th' Indyans, an'...we keep it to give thanks we are presarved fr'm th' Puritans.
Finley Dunne

I decline Christianity because it is Jewish, because it is international, and because, in cowardly fashion, it preaches Peace on Earth.
Erich von Ludendorff, German WW I general

Go get yourself crucified and then rise on the third day.
Voltaire, advising a young man on starting a religion

An atheist is a guy who watches a Notre Dame-SMU football game and doesn't care who wins.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

I'm an atheist, thank God.
Wilbur G. Gaffney, 1927

Civilized men arrived in the Pacific, armed with alcohol, syphilis, trousers, and the Bible.
Havelock Ellis

He was a wise man who originated the idea of God.

There are Universes begging for Gods, yet he hangs around this one looking for work.
Philip Jose Farmer

A myth is a religion that no one any longer believes.
James Fiebleman

If God had intended us to fly he would never have given us railways.
Michael Flanders

Heresy is the side that loses.
J.V. Flemming

Religion has done love a great service by making it a sin.
Anatole France

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.
Benjamin Franklin

Christianity -- An old metaphysical romance, filled with marvels, contradictions, and absurdity, born in the ardent imagination of Orientals, has spread into our Europe. Enthusiasts have purveyed it, careerists have pretended to accept it, imbeciles have believed it.
Frederick the Great

I could prove God statistically.
George Gallup

The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
Giuseppe Garibaldi

I darted a contemptuous look at the stately models of superstition.
Edward Gibbon, on Gothic cathedrals

To the philosophic eye, the vices of the clergy are far less dangerous than their virtues.
Edward Gibbon

Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by the dozen.
Michel de Montaigne

I want a priest, a rabbi, and a Protestant clergyman. I want to hedge my bets.
Wilson Mizner

I would like to see the last king strangled with the guts of the last priest.
Jean Messelier

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with the superior capacity for happiness.
H.L. Mencken

The Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
Thomas Macaulay

The Puritans came to America to worship in their way and to force everybody else to do the same thing.
Sam Levenson

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.
H.L. Mencken

He no playa the game, he no maka the rules.
Earl Butz, in response to Pope Paul's stand on birth control

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
H.L. Mencken

Why assume so glibly that the God who presumably created the universe is still running it? It is certainly conceivable that He may have finished it and then turned it over to lesser gods to operate.
H.L. Mencken

The Catholic clergy seldom bother to make their arguments plausible; it is plain that they have little respect for human intelligence, and indeed little belief in its existence.
H.L. Mencken

The Church has, through the centuries, understood that ideas are really more dangerous than other weapons. Their use should be restricted.
Francis J. Lalby

When it comes to football, God is prejudiced -- toward big, fast kids.
Chuck Mills

It often happens that I wake up at night and think about a serious problem and decide that I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and realize that I am the Pope.
Pope John XXIII

Matrimony is always a vice, all that can be done is to excuse it and sanctify it; therefore it was made a religious sacrament.
St. Jerome

Use against heritics the spiritual sword of excommunication, and if this does not prove effective, use the material sword.
Pope Innocent III

Lutheranism is essentially German... It worships a God who is neither just nor merciful.
William R. Inge

If we must play the theological game, let us never forget that it is a game. Religion, it seems to me, can survive only as a consciously accepted system of make-believe.
Alduous Huxley

When you tell me that your Diety made you in his own image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.
Victor Hugo

A Miracle: An event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it.
Elbert Hubbard

Heaven -- the Coney Island of the Christian imagination.
Elbert Hubbard

History does not record anywhere at any time a religion which has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
Robert Heinlein

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

How much luckier than all the rest of mankind are the astrologers who, if they tell one truth among a hundred lies, obtain so much credit that even their lies are believed.
Francesco Guicciardini

I believe that there is no God, but that matter is God and God is matter; and that it is no matter whether there is any God or no.
Unbeliever's Creed, 1754

Atheism is aristocratic.
M.M.I. Robespierre

Ninety percent of all Christians practice polygamy -- only they don't call it that.
a Utah Mormon

Even a warm church can't compete successfully with a cold barroom.

Religion: a fantastic faith in gods, angels and spirits...It serves for the subjugation of the working people and building up the power of the exploiting bourgeois classes.
Soviet State Publishing House

A christian is a man who feels repentence on a Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday.
Thomas B. Ybarra

I somtimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.
Oscar Wilde

The man who says to me, "Believe as I do, or God will damn you," will presently say, "Believe as I do, or I shall assassinate you."

He charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it,too.
Mark Twain

When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life.
Mark Twain

I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
Mark Twain

If there is no hell, a good many preachers are obtaining money under false pretences.
Billy Sunday

Some ministers would make good martyrs: they are so dry they would burn well.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When I am on the pulpit, I have the pleasure of seeing my audience nod approbation while they sleep.
Sydney Smith

The observances of the church concerning feasts and fasts are tolerably well kept since the rich keep the feasts and the poor the fasts.
Sydney Smith

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

Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
George Bernard Shaw

In converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of pork.
William Shakespeare

The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.
Bertrand Russell

If there be a God, I think he would like me to paint Africa British-Red as possible.
Cecil Rhodes

I often think the doctrine of fasting in Lent and having meatless days as might be better to give up television.
Arthur Ramsey

A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there. A theologian is the man who finds it.
Laurence J. Peter

What nuns don't realize is that they look better in nun clothes than J.C. Penney pantsuits.
Walker Percey

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pascal

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
Thomas Paine

I would have made a good pope.
Richard Nixon

I've taken up the Bible again, somewhat in the spirit of W.C. Fields -- looking for loopholes.
David Niven

We are most unfair to God; we do not allow Him to sin.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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