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Quotes

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

—Jonathan Swift, 1706

I can’t see (or feel) the conflict between love and religion. To me they’re the same thing.

—Elizabeth Bowen, c. 1970

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

—George Washington, 1796

To place oneself in the position of God is painful: being God is equivalent to being tortured. For being God means that one is in harmony with all that is, including the worst. The existence of the worst evils is unimaginable unless God willed them.

—Georges Bataille, 1957

The nature of God is a circle, of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.

—Empedocles, c. 450 BC

Religion! How it dominates man’s mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began.

—Emma Goldman, 1910

To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the need for thought.

—Henri Poincaré, 1903

God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.

—Pablo Picasso, 1964

The various modes of religion which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true, by the philosophers equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.

—Edward Gibbon, 1776

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

—Voltaire, 1764

An irreligious man is not one who denies the gods of the majority, but one who applies to the gods the opinions of the majority. For what most men say about the gods are not ideas derived from sensation, but false opinions, according to which the greatest evils come to the wicked, and the greatest blessings come to the good from the gods.

—Epicurus, c. 250 BC

The state dictates and coerces; religion teaches and persuades. The state enacts laws; religion gives commandments. The state is armed with physical force and makes use of it if need be; the force of religion is love and benevolence.

—Moses Mendelssohn, 1783

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.

—John F. Kennedy, 1960