"Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."
— Captain Kirk, Star Trek: The Original Series, "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable.
Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don't have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizenâ€”or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
Christianity will doubtless still survive in the earth ten centuries hence—stuffed and in a museum.
— Mark Twain, Notebook
Bruce: Is this in the old days, when people still put ice in their drinks and believed in someone named God?
Mark: [laughs] Yes. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there was a time when people were so stupid they believed in a man called God.
Bruce: It's hard to imagine people actually being that stupid.
Mark: Oh, they must have been incredibly stupid! [laughs]
I am for that thing in your genome that demands it. I am for that thing which keeps you animals alive. I am, at most, a slice of monkey suspended within the stuff of universal intelligence. You are a monkey in nice clothes.
In the harsh environment you refer to as a habitable planet, group behaviors are required to survive long enough to procreate. Since you are stupid monkeys, you have no natural affinity for group altruism.
And so you have evolved a genetic pump that delivers pleasant chemicals to your monkey brains. One that is triggered by awe and fear of an anthropomorphism of your environment. Earth mothers. Sky gods. Bits of bush that catch fire. Interesting-looking rocks. An oddly-shaped branch. You’re not fussy.
When your brain does this idiot work, you stop in front of that bump or stick and consider it fiercely. Other monkeys will, like as not, stop next to you and emulate you. You genetic pump delivers morphine for you souls. You have your fellow monkeys join in. Perhaps so they can feel it too. Perhaps because you feel it might please the stick god to have more monkeys gaze at it in narcotic awe.
The group must be defended. Because as many monkeys as possible must please the stick god, and you can continue to get your fix off praying to it.
You draw up rules to organize and protect the group. Two hundred thousand years later, you put Adolf Hitler into power. Because you are, after all, just monkeys.
— Morrigan Lugus, Supergod #3
"One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker."
— attributed to Voltaire
"Ever hear the phrase 'there's no atheists in a foxhole'? I've been in a lot of foxholes."
"Everyone has the right to believe what they want. Says so on the Alliance charter... only in fancier words."
— possible responses to Ashley Williams' asking Commander Shepard if being religious bothers him/her, Mass Effect
"Religion is poison."
— attributed to Mao Zedong
[...] the idea that religion is hooey is found in practically any science fiction book that touches the subject: I will mention Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber, Sixth Column by Heinlein, Foundation by Asimov (especially the section called ‘The Traders’), Players of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt; Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (and its hentai knock-off Priest-Kings of Gor by John Norman); Nightside the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe; The City of the Chasch by Jack Vance — all of these stories and many more concern gullible or ignorant worshippers bowing to aliens or to machines or to alien machines as gods. The gods in an SF book usually have a natural rather than a supernatural explanation, and the preferred explaination is the deceptions of priestcraft. As in Scooby-Doo cartoons, the ghost turns out to be Mr. McGreedy from the Haunted Museum in a rubber mask.