What is it to be a skeptic?
- One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.
- One inclined to skepticism in religious matters.
It wouldn't be accurate to say that all of the people listed here were atheist. Some were atheists, some were deists, but all were skeptical of religion and the claims of religions. Some were excomunicated for speaking their minds, some were incarcerated because of their skepticism and others were villified and executed.
- Anaxagoras (500?-428? BCE)~ “Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god but a great rock and the sun a hot rock."
- Protagoras (481?-411 BCE) “As to gods, I have no way of knowing either that they exist or do not exist, or what they are like."
Democritus (460?-357 BCE)~ “Now as of old the gods give men all good things, excepting only those that are baneful and injurious and useless. These, now as of old, are not gifts of the gods: men stumble into them themselves because of their own blindness and folly.”
Epicurus (341-270 BCE)~ "Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist."
Lucretius (96?-55 BCE)~ "So potent was religion in persuading to evil deeds."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4-65)~ "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."
Gallus Petronius (1st C)~"It is fear that first brought Gods into the world."
John of Lackland (1199-1216)~ "You happy beast, never forced to patter prayers nor dragged to Holy Mass."
Giordano Bruno (1548?-1600)~ “There is no law governing all things.”
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)~ "I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but innocence." Machiavel, in The Jew of Malta, "Prologue."
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)~ "Fear of things invisible in the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion."
François La Rochefoucauld (1650?-?)~ "The only thing constant in life is change."
Thomas Otway (1652-1685)~ "These are rogues that pretend to be of a religion now! Well, all I say is, honest atheism for my money."
Francois Marie Arouet "Voltaire" (1694-1778)~"Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror."
- "Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world."
- "If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
- "Superstition, born of paganism and adopted by Judaism, invested the Christian Church from earliest times. All the fathers of the Church, without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always condemned magic, but she always believed in it: she did not excommunicate sorcerers as madmen who were mistaken, but as men who were really in communication with the devil."
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)~ "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
David Hume (1711-1776)~ "The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one."
Frederick the Great (1712-1786)~ .". . . you will certainly grant me that neither antiquity nor whatever nation has devised a more repulsive and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating your God. This is the most disgusting dogma of Christian religion, the greatest insult to the Highest Being, the climax of madness and insanity."
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) ~ "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."
- "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit."
James Madison (1751-1836)~ "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
- "In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.""Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) ~"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
- "All religions have been made by men."
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) ~"If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced."
- "It is easier to suppose that the universe has existed for all eternity than to conceive a being beyond its limits capable of creating it."
Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.