35 Best God is Not Great Quotes

The day has finally arrived! My time at my Christian college is finally coming to a close. I’ve finished my tests and papers, and in a week, I’ll be graduating. To take a break from writing, this week I am sharing with you my favorite quotes from Hitchens’ God is Not Great. Enjoy! 

  1. “Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we must mistrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason.” p. 5
  2. “We shall resolve [disagreements] by evidence and reasoning and not by mutual excommunication.” p. 5
  3. “How much effort it takes to offer the incredible! . . . How much vanity must be concealed in order to pretend that one is a personal object of a divine plan? How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one’s own sin? . . . How much contortion is required to receive every new insight of science and manipulate it so as to “fit” with the revealed words of ancient man-made deities?” p. 7
  4. “Those who have believed what the priests and rabbis and imams tell them about what the unbelievers think and about how they think, will find further such surprises as we go along.” p. 10
  5. “Nothing optional—from homosexuality to adultery—is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting have a repressed desire to participate.” p. 40
  6. “Today, ancient stupidity is upon us again.” p. 41
  7. “A modern believer can say and even believe that his faith is quite compatible with science and medicine, but the awkward fact will always be that both things have a tendency to break religion’s monopoly, and have often been fiercely resisted for that reason.” p. 47
  8. “Can it be a coincidence, then, that all religions claim the right to legislate in matters of sex? The principal way in which believers inflict on themselves, on each other, and on nonbelievers, has always been their claim to monopoly in this sphere.” p. 53
  9. “A special subgenre of modern literature is the memoir of a man or woman who once underwent a religious education.” p. 55
  10. “Every effect which God causes through the mediation of a secondary cause he can produce immediately by himself.” William Ockham, p. 69
  11. “The three monotheistic religions teach people to think abjectly of themselves, as miserable and guilty sinners prostrate before an angry and jealous god. . .” p. 73
  12. “The real ‘miracle’ is that we, who share genes with the original bacteria that began life on the planet, have evolved as much as we have.” p. 84
  13. “What believers will do, now that their faith is optional and private and irrelevant, is a matter for them. We should not care, as long as they make no further attempt to inculcate religion by any form of coercion.” p. 96
  14. “Then there is the very salient question of what the commandments do not say. Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide? Or is it too exceedingly ‘in context’ to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended?” p. 100
  15. “Rightly are the simple so called.” p. 110
  16. “All religions take care to silence or to execute those who question them (and I choose to regard this recurrent tendency as a sign of their weakness rather than their strength).” p. 125
  17. “Provisionally, then, one is entitled to conclude that the apparent unity and confidence of the faith is a mask for a very deep and probably unjustifiable insecurity.” p. 125-126
  18. “Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.” p. 143
  19. “Everything is already explained. I fail to see why the religious are so reluctant to admit this: it would free them from all the futile questions about why god permits so much suffering. But apparently this annoyance is a small price to pay in order to keep alive the myth of divine intervention.” p. 149
  20. “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” p. 150
  21. “The cobbled-together ancient Jewish books had an ill-tempered and implacable and bloody and provincial god, who was probably more frightening when he was in a good mood.” p. 175
  22. “I am not the only one who has been an atheist in a foxhole.” p. 188
  23. “There you have it again: a baseless assumption that some undefined external ‘force’ has a mind of its own, and the faint but menacing suggestion that anyone who disagrees is in some fashion opposed to the holy or paternal will.” p. 201
  24. “All the creation myths of all people have long been known to be false.” p. 205
  25. “. . . What will you say if you die and are confronted with your Maker? . . . My own reply: Imponderable Sir, I presume from some of not all of your many reputations that you might prefer honest and convinced unbelief to the hypocritical and self-interested affectation of faith or the smoking tributes of bloody altars.” p. 212
  26. “If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had reached the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.” p. 220
  27. “The slightest infringement—of a holy day, or a holy object, or an ordinance about sex or food or caste—could bring calamity.” p. 231
  28. “What is a totalitarian system if not one where the abject glorification of the perfect leader is matched by the surrender of all privacy and individuality, especially in matters sexual, and in denunciation and punishment—’for their own good’—of those who transgress?” p. 232
  29. “There is nothing in modern secular government that even hints at any ban on religious observance.” p. 247
  30. “Humanism has many crimes for which to apologize. But it can apologize for them, and also correct them, in its own terms and without having to shake or challenge the basis of any unalterable system of belief.” p. 250
  31. “Philosophy begins where religion ends.” p. 256
  32. “I do not know for certain about death and the gods—but I am as certain as I can be that you do not know, either.” p. 257
  33. “There is no requirement for any enforcing or supernatural authority. And why should there be? Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” p. 266
  34. “No grand and noble deity should have such atrocities and stupidities laid to its charge.” p. 268
  35. “We do not have the option of ‘choosing’ absolute truth, or faith. We only have the right to say, of those who do claim to know the truth of revelation, that they are deceiving themselves and attempting to deceive—or to intimidate—others. Of course, it is better and healthier for the mind to ‘choose’ the path of skepticism and inquiry in any case, because only by continual exercise of these faculties can we hope to achieve anything.” p. 278

There you have it! These have been my favorite quotes from God is Not Great. In other words, God may not be great, but these quotes sure are! I’m sorry about that. I know it wasn’t funny. Anyways, what were your favorite God is Not Great quotes or quotes in general? Let me know in a comment, or tweet me at @thclosetatheist. 🙂

Hitchens, Christopher. god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve Books, 2006.

Read next:

letter to a christian nation

15 Replies to “35 Best God is Not Great Quotes”

  1. I’m not atheist, but I don’t follow any religion either. and although I do believe in a higher power, all of these quotes made complete sense.i love atheists who don’t bash religion, and I love your blog for that.keep writing awesome stuff!id love for you to check my blog out too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are so many good Hitch quotes in God is not great. Here is one I like:

    Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How False Religions Poison Everything would be a more appropriate title. If you lump all religions together into one big poisonous heap, then you would have to toss away the heroic contributions of those who followed and loved the teachings of the true religion.

    You would have to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. was poisonous…a perplexing dilemma that even Hitchens couldn’t reconcile to his theory.

    You would have to say that William Wilberforce was poisonous as he fought year after year against slavery in the British empire…based on the Word of God.

    You would have to say that the early church who redeemed slaves by the thousands and cared for the sick and took in orphans and widows were poisonous.

    You would have to say that the Confessing Church was evil when it became the only internally organized opposition to Nazism and Adolph Hitler. They nearly all were sent to concentration camps.

    You would have to say that Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison were poisonous as they worked together to abolish slavery.

    I could go on and on listing the heroic contributions of those who believed in and obeyed the gospel.

    I know you are grappling with your faith, but I ask you to follow the advice of Jesus and “know them by their fruit.” There is a beautiful scarlet thread of the martyrs and heroes who remained faithful to the truth that runs down through the ages.

    Be careful or you will become an unfair Inquisitor who condemns unjustly from the position of an atheistic worldview.


      1. By the rulers as useful….except if you’re a Christian in North Korea, or a Christian in a Muslim nation, or a Christian in communist Russia, China, or any eastern bloc country. Except if you were a Bible-believing Christian in Nazi Germany (the Confessing Church), or a Christian who wouldn’t worship the Roman emperors, or a Christian being tortured and burnt at the stake by the inquisititors, or if you were a Christian black man by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. Then rulers might not find you too useful.


    1. This was the argument used by the communists as they placed Christians in mental hospitals and gulags. This is the exact same argument used by the prison guards who tortured Richard Wurmbrand in a Rumanian prison. It comes from the mind of Ludwig Fuerbach, whose “Eleventh Thesis” is engraved on Karl Marx’s gravestone. Ultimately, it led to the atheist revolution which was responsible for the death and torture of millions of people over the course of more than a century. Be careful what ideas you promote.


  4. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation.

    I have no doubt that, walking out of the closet and into the world, you will show others that one can be “Good without God,” like you have shown me. You give me hope for the future. Thank you for being you.

    Continue to test all things, keep an open mind, help others, and make the most of your talents and passions.

    On a another note: on my blog, I wrote a post expressing my thoughts on “God is Not Great,” but have decided that, for the time being. that will be my last post critiquing one of yours. The time has come for me to focus on other things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some very good quotes in there. Perhaps I’m missing some context here, in number 5, is Hitchens implying that homosexuality is a choice? It just seems strange he put ‘homosexuality’ and ‘adultery’ in the same sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If god wanted to be worshipped without question, it would not have given life the ability to think, and choose. That would have been a pestilence upon us.
    We were not “given” the ability to think, we created it for ourselves, because we needed it in order to advance our understanding of life.
    Without the ability to choose, we would all be the same. We are not the same, not even twins, triplets, etc. We have commonalities, but they just emphasize the differences.
    If god existed, thought and choice would not exist. Since they do, god cannot exist. It is as simple as that. At least in my thinking mind…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “What could I do, that I would do, to make life a little better?” You are not dictating to yourself what ‘better’ must be. You are not being a totalitarian, or a utopian, even to yourself because you have learned from the Nazis and the Soviets and the Maoists and from your own experience that being a totalitarian is a bad thing. Aim high. Set your sights on the betterment of Being. Align yourself, in your soul, with Truth and the Highest Good. There is habitable order to establish and beauty to bring into existence. There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.” ~ Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life


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