The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. … To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
At sometime in our lives a devil dwells within us, causes heartbreaks, confusion and troubles, then dies.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.
—The 14th Dalai Lama (b.1935) Tibetan Buddhist Religious Leader, Civil Rights Leader, Philosopher, Author
The strength of a country is the strength of its religious convictions.
—Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) American Head of State, Lawyer
I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.
—Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) French Historian, Political Scientist
Religion is as effectually destroyed by bigotry as by indifference.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.
—G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) English Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet
The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
—Thomas Paine (1737–1809) American Nationalist, Author, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor
We always believe God is like ourselves, the indulgent think him indulgent and the stern, terrible.
—Joseph Joubert (1754–1824) French Writer, Moralist
Each one prays to God according to his own light.
—Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) Indian Hindu Political leader
What has religion to do with facts? Nothing.
—Robert G. Ingersoll (1833–99) American Lawyer, Orator, Agnostic
The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.
—Richard Burton (1925–84) Welsh Actor
My religion? Well, my dear, I am a Millionaire. That is my religion.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
Religions are the cradles of despotism.
—Marquis de Sade (1740–1814) French Political leader, Revolutionary, Novelist, Poet, Critic
Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.
—Dwight L. Moody (1837–99) Christian Religious Leader, Publisher
Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand
—Karl Marx (1818–1883) German Philosopher, Economist
When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty.
—Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) American Head of State
We found nothing grand in the history of the Jews nor in the morals inculcated in the Pentateuch. I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of woman.
—Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) American Social Reformer
All humble, meek, merciful, just, pious, and devout souls are everywhere of one religion, and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another, though the divers liveries they wear make them strangers.
—William Penn (1644–1718) American Entrepreneur, Political leader, Philosopher
Religious awe is the same organic thrill which we feel in a forest at twilight, or in a mountain gorge
—William James (1842–1910) American Philosopher, Psychologist, Physician
If your whole life is guided by religion, the hearts of others may be touched by this mute language, and may open to the reception of that spirit which dwells in you.
—Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) German Theologian, Philosopher
Is discord going to show itself while we are still fighting, is the Jew once again worth less than another? Oh, it is sad, very sad, that once more, for the umpteenth time, the old truth is confirmed: What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.”
—Anne Frank (1929–45) Holocaust Victim
There’s no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible.
—Sean O’Casey (1880–1964) Irish Dramatist, Memoirist
Religion—a daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.—Impiety—your irreverence toward my deity.
—Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913) American Short-story Writer, Journalist
It is a great dishonor to religion to imagine that it is an enemy to mirth and cheerfulness, and a severe exacter of pensive looks and solemn faces.
—Walter Scott (1771–1832) Scottish Novelist, Poet, Playwright, Lawyer
Call a truce, then, to our labors—let us feast with friends and neighbors, and be merry as the custom of our caste; for if “faint and forced the laughter,” and if sadness follow after, we are richer by one mocking Christmas past.
—Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) British Children’s Books Writer, Short story, Novelist, Poet, Journalist
Christian life consists of faith and charity.
—Martin Luther (1483–1546) German Protestant Theologian
I the Christian religion is one that diffuses among the people a pure, benevolent, and universal system of ethics, adapted to every condition of life, and recommended as the will and reason of the Supreme Deity, and enforced by sanctions of eternal punishment.
—Edward Gibbon (1737–94) English Historian, Politician
On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism’.
—Barry Goldwater (1909–98) American Elected Representative, Businessperson, Politician
God is only a great imaginative experience.
—D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) English Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Essayist, Literary Critic
Religion, if it be true, is central truth; and all knowledge which is not gathered round it, and quickened and illuminated by it, is hardly worthy the name.
—William Ellery Channing (1780–1842) American Unitarian Theologian, Poet
Those who marry God can become domesticated too—it’s just as hum-drum a marriage as all the others. The word Love means a formal touch of the lips as in the ceremony of the Mass, and Ave Maria like dearest is a phrase to open a letter. This marriage like the world’s marriages was held together by habits and tastes shared in common between God and themselves—it was God’s taste to be worshipped and their taste to worship, but only at stated hours like a suburban embrace on a Saturday night.
—Graham Greene (1904–91) British Novelist, Playwright, Short Story Writer
I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.
—Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931) Lebanese-born American Philosopher, Poet, Painter, Theologian, Sculptor
A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.
—Carl Sagan (1934–96) American Astronomer
To the excessively fearful the chief characteristic of power is its arbitrariness. Man had to gain enormously in confidence before he could conceive an all-powerful God who obeys his own laws.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
Archbishop—A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
Religion is what keeps the poor man from murdering the rich.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
Why should a country worship another country’s tin gods, when it has tin gods of its own?
—Dero A. Saunders (1914–2002) American Journalist, Scholar
Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand.
—Frederick II of Prussia (1712–86) Prussian Monarch
Do anything in this world but monkey with somebody else’s religion. What reasoning of conceit makes anyone think theirs is right?
—Will Rogers (1879–1935) American Actor, Rancher, Humorist
One must choose in life between boredom and suffering.
—Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766–1817) French Woman of Letters
We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
—Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) Irish Satirist
Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.
—Paul Tillich (1886–1965) American Lutheran Theologian, Philosopher
Our religion is itself profoundly sad—a religion of universal anguish, and one which, because of its very catholicity, grants full liberty to the individual and asks no better than to be celebrated in each man’s own language—so long as he knows anguish and is a painter.
—Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) French Poet, Art Critic, Essayist, Translator
Whether religion be true or false, it must be necessarily granted to be the only wise principle and safe hypothesis for a man to live and die by.
There are but two religions,—Christianity and paganism, the worship of God and idolatry. A third between these is not possible. Where idolatry ends, there Christianity begins; and where idolatry begins, there Christianity ends.
—Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743–1819) German Philosopher
The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
You don’t have to be religious to have a soul; everybody has one. You don’t have to be religious to perfect your soul; I have found saintliness in avowed atheists.
—Harold Kushner (b.1935) American Jewish Religious Leader, Priest
One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up.
—George Orwell (1903–50) English Novelist, Journalist