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

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

—Voltaire, 1764

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

The Church says that the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in the shadow than in the Church.

—Ferdinand Magellan, c. 1510

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

The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious, which is the endowment of persons as individuals, is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

—Pope Paul VI, 1965

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

God is a concept by which we measure our pain.

—John Lennon, 1970

Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god.

—Jean Rostand, 1939

Educate people without religion and you make them but clever devils.

—Arthur Wellesley, c. 1830

One religion is as true as another.

—Robert Burton, 1621

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

—C.S. Lewis, 1961