I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis. I am not an enemy of the Catholics, as I am not an enemy of the tuberculars, the myopic or the paralytics; you cannot be an enemy of the sick, only their good friend in order to help them cure themselves.
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I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis. I am not an enemy of the Catholics, as I am not an enemy of the tuberculars, the myopic or the paralytics; you cannot be an enemy of the sick, only their good friend in order to help them cure themselves.

-Diego Rivera

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I am an atheist.

-Hans Bethe

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That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.

-Bertrand Russell

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I do not consider myself a religious person, because I don't adhere to a particular religion or faith or prescribed beliefs, as did my father, who was a Baptist minister. And I am not an atheist, one who thinks that belief in anything beyond the here and now and the rational is delusion. I love science, but I allow for mystery, things that can never be proven by a rational mind. I am a person who thinks about the nature of the spirit when I write. I think about what can't be known and only imagined. I often sense a spirit or force or meaning beyond myself. I leave it open as to what the spirit is, but I continue to make guesses -- that it could be the universal binding of the emotion of love, or a joyful quality of humanity, or a collective unconscious that turns out to be a unified conscience. The spirit could be all those worshiped by all the religions, even those that deny the validity of others. It could be that we all exist in all ten dimensions of a string-theory universe and are seeding memories in all of them and occupy them simultaneously as memory. Or we exist only as thought and out perception that it is a physical world is a delusion. The nature of spirit could also be my mother and my grandmother and that they really do serve as my muses as I fondly imagine them doing at times. Or maybe the nature of the spirit is a freer imagination. I've often thought that imagination was the conduit to compassion, and compassion is a true spiritual nature. Whatever the spirit might be, I am not basing what I do in this life on any expected reward or punishment in the hereafter or thereafter. It is enough that I feel blessed -- and by whom or what I don't know -- but I receive it with gratitude that I am a writer and my work is to imagine all the possibilities.

-Amy Tan

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