Naomi Sherer reviews...

2000 Years of Disbelief
Famous people with the courage to doubt
James A. Haught

This isn't so much a review as a revelation
with quotations from freethinkers throughout the ages
and there are hundreds of other people
and many hundreds of quotations


"It was man who first made men believe in gods." - Critias - 480 B.C.E.

"Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life." - Aristotle - ancient Greek

And 900 years ago Omar Khayyam scoffed at theologians, laments the unknowability of the hereafter, and hails worldly pleasures as the only
tangible goal.

"Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough
A flask of wine, a book of verse--and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness--
And wilderness is Paradise enow."

"Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen." - Michel de Montaigne - 1580

"I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance." - Christoper Marlowe - 1590

"In every age, natural philosophy had a troublesome adversary and hard to deal with: namely, superstition, and the blind and immoderate zeal of religion." - Sir Francis Bacon - 1620

"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church." - Ferdinand Magellan - 1615

"Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing." - Thomas Hobbes - 1650

"Believers are but triflers who, when they cannot explain a thing, run back to the will of god: this is, truly a ridiculous way of expressing ignorance." - Baruch Spinoza - 1673

"Religion, which should most distinguish us from beasts, and ought most peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts themselves." - John Locke - 1690

Baron de Montesquieu traveled through Europe and England, scoffing at religious miracles and becoming an advocate of human rights. Late in life he produced his masterpiece, The Spirit of Laws, a 1,086 page treatise supporting the radical concept of a democratic republic, with power separated into executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The book also treated religion as a social phenomenon, to be examined clinically. The book was banned by the pope. - 1750

"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." - Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
In a sense, Voltaire was the first civil rights activist. His demands for freedom of speech and of worship spread across the Atlantic and helped formulate America's budding democracy. - 1726

"Examine the religious principles which have, in fact, prevailed in the world, and you will scarcely be persauded that they are anything but sick men's dreams." - David Hume - 1770

"The Christian religion teaches us to imitate a god that is cruel, insidious, jealous, and implacable in his wrath." - Denis Diderot - 1784

Those are gems from some of the pages of biographical sketches of famous people who bravely refused to believe in the god of the times, suffering humiliation, torture, and death for their refusals.

book jacket


2000 Years of Disbelief - Famous people with the courage to doubt
James A. Haught
Prometheus Books - 1996
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst NY 14228-2197


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