31 Best God Delusion Quotes

As you probably know, I recently finished reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and a few weeks ago, I posted my review of it. I didn’t review the book all too highly, especially in regards to Dawkins accomplishing the goal that he set for the book as a whole. That being said, I found myself underlining a lot of what he said as I read, so here are 31 of what I think are the best quotes found within the pages of The God Delusion.

  1. “There are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option.” p. 1
  2. “To be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.” p. 1
  3. “Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means it, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!'” p. 20 (quote by Douglas Adams)
  4. “You can’t get away with saying, ‘If you try to stop me from insulting homosexuals it violates my freedom of prejudice.’ But you can get away with saying, ‘It violates my freedom of religion.'” p. 24
  5. “If people wish to love a 7th century preacher more than their own families, that’s up to them, but nobody else is obliged to take it seriously…” p. 26 (quote by Andrew Mueller)
  6. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a mysogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” p. 31
  7. “Who cares? Life is too short to bother with the distinction between one figment of the imagination and many.” p. 36
  8. “…Judaism: originally a tribal cult of a single fiercely unpleasant God, morbidly obsessed with sexual restrictions, with the smell of charred flesh, with his own superiority over rival gods with the exclusiveness of his chosen desert tribe.” p. 37
  9. “Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” p. 38 (quote from Barry Goldwater)
  10. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” p. 42 (quote from Thomas Jefferson)
  11. “The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing.” p. 49
  12. “I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.” p. 53
  13. “There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities.” p. 54
  14. “Remember Ambrose Bierce’s witty definition of the verb ‘to pray’: ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy’.” p. 60
  15. “[Natural selection] has lifted life from primeval simplicity to the dizzy heights of complexity, beauty and apparent design they dazzle us today.” p. 73
  16. “Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.” p. 77
  17. “Do people never open the book that they believe is the literal truth? Why don’t they notice these glaring contradictions?” p. 94
  18. “It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.” p. 125
  19. “One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” p. 126
  20. “. . . Design certainly does not work as an explanation for life, because design is ultimately not cumulative and it therefore raises bigger questions than it answers – it takes us straight back along the . . . ultimate regress.” p. 141
  21. “Some educated individuals may have abandoned religion, but all were brought up in a religious culture from which they had to make a conscious decision to depart. The old Northern Ireland joke, ‘Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?’ is spiked with bitter truth.” p. 166
  22. “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” p. 167, George Bernard Shaw
  23. “A great deal of the opposition to the teaching of evolution has no connection with evolution itself, or with anything scientific, but is spurred on by moral outrage.” p. 211
  24. “If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would ‘commit robbery, rape, and murder’, you reveal yourself as an immoral person, ‘and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.'” p. 227 (quoted partially from Michael Shermer)
  25. “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird. . .” p. 237
  26. “Why should a divine being, with creation and eternity on his mind, care a fig for petty human malefactions? We humans give ourselves such airs, even aggrandize from our poky little ‘sins’ to the level of cosmic significance!” p. 238
  27. “It is, when you think about it, remarkable that a religion should adopt an instrument of torture and execution as its sacred symbol, often worn around the neck.” p. 251
  28. “The idea that baptizing an unknowing, uncomprehending child can change him from one religion to another at a stroke seems absurd – but it is surely not more absurd than labeling a tiny child as belonging to any religion in the first place.” p. 315
  29. “The faithful are encouraged to profess belief, whether they are convinced by it or not. . . It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade.” p. 352-53
  30. “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. p. 354 (Mark Twain)
  31. “The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.” p. 361

These have been my favorite God Delusion quotes! What are some of your favorite atheist quotes? Or if you’re a Christian, what are your favorite bible verses or quotes in general?

Citation:
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Bantam Press, 2006.


Read next:

I Am an Atheist (31)

29 Replies to “31 Best God Delusion Quotes”

  1. “Asking ‘if there is no God, what is the purpose of life?’ Is like asking ‘If there is no master, whose slave will I be?'” – Dan Barker

    “I am not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I have seen what it can do to skyscrapers.” – William Gascoyne

    “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.” – Hippocrates

    “God is a sound people make when they’re too tired to think anymore.” – Edward Abbey

    “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”- David Hume

    “Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.” – Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics

    “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.” –Carl Sagan

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful”. — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    “If the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same infinite god, whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?”
    — Robert G. Ingersoll

    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg (1979 Nobel Prize in Physics)

    “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.” – H. P. Lovecraft

    If you got through all of those, congratulations! I just so happen to keep a list of favorite quotes so I’m sorry if it’s a bit much.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Just my thoughts on Dawkins and his book as a whole.

    Many arguments of atheists is that creationism is not science or that it does nothing to benefit science. I fail to see how Dawkins thoughts or blatant attack on religion, specifically the Judeo-Christian God, furthers science at all. Also, most of his writing or awards have been about or given on the basis for criticizing religion, not on scientific discoveries.

    In fact, evolutionary theory hardly does anything for science at all. Biologists would still have learned about cells, bacteria, DNA, organelles, etc. without the thoughts about whether or not we arose from those organisms. It does not make predictions about biology besides the thought that, as Dawkins stated, natural selection took simplicity and formed complexity, which in itself, goes against reason.

    And no, antibiotic resistance is not proof of evolution in action. It is devolution, if anything. The resistance results from a mutation in DNA code and thus a change in shape or function of a protein or cell structure. The antibiotic can no longer work or at least not properly because the shape of the protein has been altered. However, a protein’s function relies heavily on its shape and folding. So, yes, resistance has been achieved, but so has function or at least efficiency. When compared to other bacteria, the resistant one has far less fitness. Instead of increased complexity, those mutations have only taken away.

    I apologize if this was a ramble or off topic. My train of thought began with Dawkins and followed from there.

    Like

    1. Many arguments of atheists is that creationism is not science or that it does nothing to benefit science.

      To me, that seems like a fair criticism of “scientific creationism”. If creationists did not make scientific claims, they would get far less criticism.

      I fail to see how Dawkins thoughts or blatant attack on religion, specifically the Judeo-Christian God, furthers science at all.

      Did Dawkins claim that it was a science book?

      There are lots of book that are not science books, and I read some of those. I have not read that particular Dawkins book, because I had no interest in it. But others have found it of value. I enjoy some occasional P.G. Wodehouse, but his books also don’t further science.

      In fact, evolutionary theory hardly does anything for science at all.

      I’ll just leave a link. Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Ill just leave a couple quotes from individuals discussing this topic:

        Surprisingly, however, the most notable aspect of natural scientists in assembly is how little they focus on evolution. Its day-to-day irrelevance is a great ‘paradox’ in biology, according to a BioEssays special issue on evolution in 2000. ‘While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas”, the editor wrote. “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.” The annual programs of science conventions also tell the story. When the zoologists met in 1995 (and changed their name to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology), just a few dozen of the 400 academic papers read were on evolution. The North American Paleontological Convention of 1996 featured 430 papers, but only a few included the word ‘evolution’ in their titles. The 1998 AAS meeting organised 150 scientific sessions, but just 5 focused on evolution—as it relates to biotechnology, the classification of species, language, race and primate families.”
        -Larry A. Witham

        “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”
        – Dr Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.

        Like

        1. Okay. But I think you are missing the point.

          Yes, a lot of biology is done without explicit reference to evolution. But that’s because evolution is part of the shared background assumptions. It rarely needs to be made explicit, because its implicit presence is so strong.

          To illustrate, consider my own field of mathematics. Very few research projects mention the Pythagoras theorem. Yet the very metric we use for distance in our coordinate systems comes from the Pythagoras theorem. We don’t have to explicitly mention Pythagoras, but the implicit presence is very strong.

          One of your quotes mentions biochemistry as not taking evolution into account. Yet much of biochemistry is related to DNA and RNA. And that’s because evolution has focused our attention on inheritance of traits.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. I don’t think I am. I think that our definitions of “evolution” are differing in this conversation. When I am saying, the theory of evolution has done nothing for science except the field of evolutionary biology itself, as the quote says, I am saying that the interpretation of DNA changes results in single-celled organisms evolving overtime into more complex organisms. DNA, cells, organelles, medicine, etc. is all studied and discovered without invoking evolution as the reason it was discovered. If your definition of evolution is merely changes within DNA resulting from mutations, then sure, we have used those to better understand many aspects of biology and medicine. However, it would be equivocation to state that such mutations are the mechanism to add brand new functionality and complexity, not just an alteration or modification of a previous structure. We do not witness this in lab or experiment.

            The evolutionary interpretation also relies on chemical evolution which is still a massive area of mystery and unknowns. We have not been able to reproduce the conditions for the beginning of life, regardless of our knowledge and technology. Instead, we have merely pawned off the idea that life may have started elsewhere, which does not solve the problem of abiogenesis, it merely moves its location.

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            1. I don’t try to define evolution. I leave that to the biologists. I see evolution as common descent, inheritance of favorable traits, and change over time. I do not see it as requiring that evolution be “into more complex organisms.” That complexity has increased is an observed happenstance, but I don’t see it as part of what evolution means or implies. And I also don’t see evolution as implying anything about the origin of life.

              Biology, as studied today, is very different from what it was 150 years ago. And a lot of that change is because of understandings about evolution. Yes, organelles were studied before Darwin — the invention of the microscope is important there. But the role of DNA and RNA was intensely studied because it was seen to be an important part of the inheritance of favorable traits.

              I don’t rely on a “great man” version of the history of science. Ideas about evolution were in the air, so to speak, and if it were not Darwin then someone else would have proposed similar ideas. The classification system from Linnaeus pretty much made that inevitable.

              As for other sciences — physics and inorganic chemistry don’t have much dependence on evolutionary thinking. But evolution is almost as important to geology as it is to biology..

              Liked by 3 people

            2. You sort of just did define evolution, and how you described it is basically the same as when I talked about complexity and functionality. You see that changes in the DNA code via mutations as the mechanism of common descent. Natural selection would select beneficial or “favorable” traits as you have said. However, this is indeed equivocation. Stating we see small changes in DNA which can benefit organisms is true. However, “beneficial” does not mean the same thing as the addition of a new function or increase in complexity. As I described in my very first comment on this post, antibiotic resistance is not an example of evolution increases complexity or adding functionality. It is merely the alteration or modification of a protein, which in turn actually makes it lose functionality since proteins rely heavily on exact shape and folding. To say that this instance could then add complexity and allow common descent is equivocation. So what is your claimed “observed happenstance?”

              “But the role of DNA and RNA was intensely studied because it was seen to be an important part of inheritance of favorable traits.” So DNA and RNA were seen as important for evolutionary biology, not vice versa. As I said my previous comment, we have seen changes in DNA and RNA via mutations. So, we have seen evolution to a point in that change has occurred. Understanding how DNA and RNA changes has most definitely helped us in medicine, biology, and genetics. However, the interpretation of common descent does nothing for such fields. Again, it is equivocation.

              As for your claim about geology, that is incorrect. Geology is my field of study. The fossil record is important in correlating strata and rock layers, yes. However, evolutionary biology and common descent is merely an interpretation of why the fossil record is the way it is. In fact, it is the fossil record that is important to evolution. Almost all of geology, besides mainly paleontology fields, functions completely independent from the theory of evolution and common descent.

              Like

            3. You sort of just did define evolution, and how you described it is basically the same as when I talked about complexity and functionality. You see that changes in the DNA code via mutations as the mechanism of common descent.

              Strange. I tried to search on the page for “mutation”, and the browser only found uses by you. It did not find any by me. You are reading something into my comments that isn’t there.

              I’ve been talking about the broad picture of evolution, and how it has affected the overall direction of biology. You seem to be arguing against a narrow mechanistic reductionistic view of evolution. I am not a proponent of a mechanistic or reductionist account. I am not a proponent of neoDarwinism.

              I’m not at all sure why you wanted to argue that.

              I’m bowing out of this discussion. And we are way off-topic for a post on “God Delusion Quotes.”

              Liked by 2 people

  3. This was from Neil who slapped down Colorstorm in no uncertain manner.
    I laughed so loud I nearly spat my coffee over my laptop when I read it.,

    Colorstorm: Maybe you should try allowing the scriptures to defend itself.

    Neil: Yes, I tried. In fact, I got as far as Genesis 1, where I discovered that it got the physics wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One of the great things about being an atheist is that we don’t just have one book you are supposed to agree with. We can pick and choose the bits we like out of any book, even if we didn’t really like or agree with the rest of it.

    I keep a word file, where I copy good quotes I’ve run across. Often, some of the best ones aren’t from books, but from blogs and comments on blogs, so that’s the only way I can remember them. Here’s one I liked, from “Marty” on “Life after 40”:

    “If you study one religion intensely, you’ll be an enthusiastic believer and you’ll know that your religion is the only true religion. If you study two religions intensely, you’ll begin to notice the basic constructs and commonalities between all religions, and you’ll start to doubt whether or not there is one true religion. If you study three religions, you’ll finally have the epiphany that all religions are ancient man-made attempts at explaining the meaning of life and where the sun goes at night.”

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Atheism is not an emptiness waiting to be filled. It is enlightenment and choosing your own path because religion, worship, and prayer are placebos and empty promises that keep men from achieving their potential to live a meaningful, independent, curious life ~JiminPanama

    Liked by 3 people

    1. And the greatest of these is choosing. You make the left/right choices, you decide which floor to go to, you decide what to eat and who to love and how to entertain yourself. You don’t have to ask permission.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I think I need to read this book again to refresh my memory. I started circling and bookmarking pages in a couple of Sam Harris’ shorter books to remind myself of the quotes, TGD would need a lot more time!

    Completely unrelated, where did you design your site logo? It looks pretty cool, simple and I was thinking of making one of my own.

    Sam

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of my favorites:

    “Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base thought.”

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Those are all pretty good quotes.

    The old Northern Ireland joke, ‘Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?’ is spiked with bitter truth.” p. 166

    When I deconverted, I guess I was a protestant atheist. But, by now, I’m more of an ecumenical atheist. I have grown to appreciate some of what the Catholics do, though that is marred by other stuff that they do.

    The worst of them, I think, are the snake handlers, the “talking in tongues” types, the “holy laughter” ones. Too many of them are just con men, using their religion to exploit others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My favorite of the Jesus preachers are the healers. I remember watching in horrified fascination as Oral Roberts healed everyone, the blind, the lame, the two headed girl, the halt…and the power of belief was so strong that we believed he had really healed sick people.

      I agree, messing with annoyed rattlers and talking in tongues is way too creepy–Frankly my money is on the snakes.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This:

        6. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a mysogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” p. 31

        Two thoughts on this. One, Our father in heaven is actually the dysfunctional head of an actively and joyous dysfunctional family, that by his writings (we are assuming he wrote this, just for argument’s sake) and teachings is kept that way, truly believing they’re no more than pond scum to this dude, and most of them will never make it to heaven, because they just aren’t good enough. However, at some point, God the sociopath will allow a few of them in because they have redeeming values. Like green stamps.

        Two, He reminds me a great deal of our Great White Leader in Washington.

        Liked by 1 person

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