"Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable."
(Ambrose Gwinett Bierce / 1842-1914 / The Devil's Dictionary)
"If we go back to the beginnings of things, we shall always find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that imagination, rapture and deception embellished them; that weakness worships them; that custom spares them; and that tyranny favors them in order to profit from the blindness of men."
(Paul-Henri, baron d'Holbach / 1723-1789 / System of Nature / 1770)
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
(Thomas Jefferson / 1743-1826 / to Peter Carr, 1787)
"My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others."
(Bertrand Russell / 1872-1970 / Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? / 1930)
"That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject."
(George Santayana / 1863-1952 / The Life of Reason)
"Religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few."
(Stendhal / 1783-1842)