quotations about atheism
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
ISAAC ASIMOV, Free Inquiry, spring 1982
All thinking men are atheists.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A Farewell to Arms
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.
CARL SAGAN, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
God was always invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time -- life and death -- stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand.
RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, Superstrings: A Theory of Everything
The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, Gutkind Letter, Jan. 3, 1954
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
ISAAC ASIMOV, Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, attributed, Albert Einstein: The Human Side
All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don't regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.
H. P. LOVECRAFT, letter to Robert E. Howard, Aug. 16, 1932
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
The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism -- that's the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don't. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That's a dangerous type of atheism.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., sermon delivered at Detroit's Second Baptist Church, Feb. 28, 1954
An atheist doesn't have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can't be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question.
JOHN MCCARTHY, "Agnostics and Atheists"
I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting. Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold; surely the same pride should teach us to think truly about man's place in the world. Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a splendour of their own.
BERTRAND RUSSELL, "What I Believe"
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
RICHARD DAWKINS, attributed, The Root of All Evil
I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.
KATHARINE HEPBURN, "Kate Talks Straight", Ladies Home Journal, Oct. 1, 1991
Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!... But He loves you!
GEORGE CARLIN, "George Carlin on Religion"
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.
When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.
UMBERTO ECO, Foucault's Pendulum
If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? If he has spoken, why is the universe not convinced? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, The Necessity of Atheism
Consider the long history of the activities inspired by moral fervour: human sacrifices, persecutions of heretics, witch-hunts, pogroms leading up to wholesale extermination by poison gases ... Are these abominations, and the ethical doctrines by which they are prompted, really evidence of an intelligent Creator? And can we really wish that the men who practised them should live for ever? The world in which we live can be understood as a result of muddle and accident; but if it is the outcome of a deliberate purpose, the purpose must have been that of a fiend. For my part, I find accident a less painful and more plausible hypothesis.
BERTRAND RUSSELL, Do We Survive Death?
Is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man?
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Twilight of the Idols