Human beings have created religions from early history. Religion is about what we value most highly, and then organizing beliefs, ceremonies, and rules around those values. Most religions, but not all, have a superhuman power or powers as part of the belief system, often a personal God. Religious belief is about what one believes is ultimate reality, worthy of reverence and commitment, and religious practice centers around honoring the worth of that reality. Religion tends to be a community experience, while religious experience can also be individual.

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If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!

— “Ma” Ferguson

Religion is a shared quest for the values of the good life, the age-long, groping effect of [humanity] to create the social order in which human powers may flower in joyous fulfillment.

— A. Eustace Haydon

True religion, like our founding principles, requires that the rights of the disbeliever be equally acknowledged with those of the believer.

— A. Powell Davies

My religion is the best — my nation is the best — my language is the best — my skin color is the best — and so on. One may feel proud saying all these things, but that very pride ends up becoming the cause of all interhuman conflicts in the human society.

— Abhijit Naskar, Build Bridges not Walls

When religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion — its message becomes
meaningless.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one’s own tradition with reverence for different traditions.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

Our concern is not how to worship in the catacombs, but how to remain human in the skyscrapers

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.

— Abraham Lincoln

The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.

— Abraham Lincoln

That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.

— Abraham Lincoln

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

— Abraham Lincoln

What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too is my relation to all life, my religion. And this is not so easy to talk about. Religious experience is highly intimate and, for me, ready words are not at hand.

— Adlai Stevenson

White people cannot live with the idea of living aimlessly. They think that work is the reason for their existence. They enslaved so much ‘others’, that now they need to enslave themselves… as if becoming ‘civilized’ was our destiny. They can’t stop and experience life as something that is simply part of a marvelous world. This is their religion: the religion of civilization.

— Ailton Krenak

It is the human condition to question one god after another, one appearance after another, or better, one apparition after another, always pursuing the truth of the imagination, which is not the same as the truth of appearance.

— Alain (Émile-Auguste Chartier)

Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don’t grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink. You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging and holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

— Alan Watts

The question “Why” in the human sphere is easy to answer: to create satisfaction for ourselves and for other people. In the extra-human sphere the question has no meaning. Also the belief in God is no way out for in this case you may ask “Why God”.

— Albert Einstein

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble minds harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

— Albert Einstein

I am a deeply religious nonbeliever — this is a somewhat new kind of religion.

— Albert Einstein

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.

— Albert Einstein

The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and noblest driving force behind scientific research.

— Albert Einstein (attributed)

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

— Aldous Huxley

Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations.

— Aldous Huxley

As society is now constituted, a literal adherence to the moral precepts scattered throughout the gospels would mean sudden death.

— Alfred North Whitehead

Religion carries two sorts of people in two entirely opposite directions: the mild and gentle people it carries towards mercy and justice; the persecuting people it carries into fiendish sadistic cruelty. Mind you, though this may seem to justify the eighteenth-century Age of Reason in its contention that religion is nothing but an organized, gigantic fraud and a curse to the human race, nothing could be farther from the truth. It possesses these two aspects, the evil one of the two appealing to people capable of naïve hatred; but what is actually happening is that when you get natures stirred to their depths over questions which they feel to be overwhelmingly vital, you get the bad stirred up in them as well as the good; the mud as well as the water. It doesn’t seem to matter much which sect you have, for both types occur in all sects….

— Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead

Religion is what an individual does with his solitariness.

— Alfred North Whitehead

Why not let people differ about their answers to the great mysteries of the Universe? Let each seek one’s own way to the highest, to one’s own sense of supreme loyalty in life, one’s ideal of life. Let each philosophy, each world-view bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.

— Algernon Black

One doesn’t have to be religious to lead a moral life or attain wisdom.

— Allan Lokos

Though Buddhism is a religion like any other, it began with at least two specific characteristics that were quite unusual, to wit, its foundational agnosticism and its commitment to public communication and discussion.

— Amartya Sen

It is hard to understand how a compassionate world order can include so many people afflicted by acute misery, persistent hunger and deprived and desperate lives, and why millions of innocent children have to die each year from lack of food or medical attention or social care.
This issue, of course, is not new, and it has been a subject of some discussion among theologians. The argument that God has reasons to want us to deal with these matters ourselves has had considerable intellectual support. As a nonreligious person, I am not in a position to assess the theological merits of this argument. But I can appreciate the force of the claim that people themselves must have responsibility for the development and change of the world in which they live.

— Amartya Sen

Mammon, n. The god of the world’s leading religion. His chief temple is in the holy city of New York.

— Ambrose Bierce

BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.

— Ambrose Bierce

Kindness has no religion. Religions are like narrow tracks but kindness is like an open sky.

— Amit Ray, The Transforming Power

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

— Anaïs Nin

A successful woman preacher was once asked “what special obstacles have you met as a woman in the ministry?” “Not one,” she answered, “except the lack of a minister’s wife.”

— Anna Garlin Spencer

….Every human being may be better … We know it, because we — the human beings we know best — could be better than we are. Every human being should take advantage of his opportunity, however poor. We know this because we feel that we have failed to make the best of our opportunities. Every human being can… become a larger, finer, and fairer specimen of the human race. This is the gospel of religion and this is the gospel of personal ethics. more

— Anna Garlin Spencer, Philadelphia, 1908

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ ‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not if you did not know.’ ‘Then why,’ asked the Inuit earnestly, ‘did you tell me?’

— Annie Dillard

When religion goes hi-tech, it’s lost what it should have remembered. And that’s the basics!

— Anthony T. Hincks

Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves. It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.

— Archibald Macleish

When visitors come to a worship service in my own religious tradition, a great deal depends on how warmly they are welcomed and whether they feel included or excluded by what they hear during the short time they are with us. We may have exactly one shot at communicating who we are to people who know nothing about us – or who think they already know a lot about us – but who, in either case, will remember us at the embodiment of our entire tradition, the prime exemplars of our faith.

— barbara brown taylor

I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.

— Baruch Spinoza

My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.

— Bayard Rustin

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.

— Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

The Hopi Indians of Arizona believe that our daily rituals and prayers literally keep this world spinning on its axis. For me, feeding the seagulls is one of those everyday prayers.

— Brenda Peterson

And, after all, what is a lie? Tis but / The truth in masquerade; and I defy / Historians—heroes— lawyers—priests, to put /A fact without some leaven of a lie.

— Byron, Don Juan

If our religion is based on salvation, our chief emotions will be fear and trembling. If our religion is based on wonder, our chief emotion will be gratitude.

— Carl Jung

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ 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

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

— Carl Sagan

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” 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.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.

— Carl Sagan
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