Humanist Quotes

Below is a list of the humanist quotes featured in our newsletters. These quotes are a sprinkling of thoughts about religion, science, humanism, atheism, skepticism, open-mindedness, learning, reason, and other related topics, from famous humanists and friends of humanists.


“An atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy. An atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it, and enjoy it. An atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment. He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man. He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter. He believes that we are our brother’s keepers and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.”
Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“Conversion…feasts on the wills of the weakly, loving to impress, to impose, adoring her own features stamped on the face of the populace…on a tub she stands preaching; shrouds herself in white and walks penitentially disguised as brotherly love through factories and parliaments; offers help, but desires power; smites out of her way roughly the dissentient, or dissatisfied; bestows her blessing on those who, looking upward, catch submissively from her eyes the light of their own.”
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

“The less a man knows about the past and present the more insecure must be his judgment of the future.”
Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion

“One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

“Most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

“One trouble with having read nothing worth reading is that one never fully understands the other side of one’s argument, never understands that the argument is an old one (all great arguments are), never understands the dignity and worth of the people one has cast as enemies.”
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
Richard Dawkins

“With or without religion, 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

“It is what we aspire to be that colours our characters—and it is our trying, not just our succeeding, which ennobles them.”
A.C. Grayling, Meditations for the Humanist

“The things you really need are few and easy to come by; but the things you can imagine you need are infinite, and you will never be satisfied.”
Epicurus

“When I do good, I feel good.When I do bad, I feel bad.That’s my religion.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Edmund Burke

“It’s not enough to have a good mind; the most important thing is to apply it well.”
René Descartes

“There’s only one rule I know of, babies—Goddamnit, you’ve got to be kind.”
Kurt Vonnegut

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
Guillaume Apollinaire

“Reason, Observation and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.”
Robert Green Ingersoll

“I think it would be a very long time before a child who was not influenced began to trouble himself about God and things in another world.”
Sigmund Freud

“The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
Naguib Mahfouz

“Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”
Kurt Vonnegut

“Heresy makes for progress.”
Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner

“The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good…and belief in the human race.”
E.M. Forster

“The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.”
Thomas Paine

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

“Humanism is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity.”
Linus Pauling

“Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.”
Sam Harris

“For [the person of science], skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
Thomas Huxley

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