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Quotes on religion

Quotes on religion

These quotes will kick-start your exploration of knowledge and religion, and help you reflect on your own understanding of this optional theme of TOK.

Which quotes do you find the most and least insightful? Do the quotes challenge or support your understanding of religion? What do the quotes reveal about how religion interlinks with the areas of knowledge, the core theme, and the other optional themes?

Quotes on the nature and scope of religion

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 1 (What is technology, and how essential is an understanding of it?), the first of our BQ units
  • They also link to the nature and scope of religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, but a state of mind.
John Burroughs

Where knowledge ends, religion begins.
Benjamin Disraeli

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
G.K. Chesterton

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
Francis Bacon

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.
Joseph Campbell

Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.
Karl Marx

Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.
Mahatma Gandhi

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Albert Einstein

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
Gautama Buddha

Lived religion is a very different thing from strict textual analysis. Very few people of any faith live their lives as literalist interpretations of scripture.
Mohsin Hamid

The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life’s wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.
Herman Hesse

If faith is lost, there is no security and there is no life for him who does not adhere to religion.
Muhammad Iqbal

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
Galileo Galilei

Religion is love; in no case is it logic.
Beatrice Potter Webb

Quotes on the relationship between religion and values

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 2 (How does our knowledge about the world inform our values?), the second of our BQ units
  • They also link to religion and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Religion without humanity is a poor human stuff.
Sojourner Truth

No religion can be built on force.
George Sand

God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.
Friedrich Nietzsche

The true meaning of religion is thus, not simply morality, but morality touched by emotion.
Matthew Arnold

I ask you to pray for me, for once age has overtaken us, we find consolation only in religion.
Paul Cezanne

If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.
H. P. Lovecraft

I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with morality.
Mahatma Gandhi

Every dictator uses religion as a prop to keep himself in power.
Benazir Bhutto

It’s simply untrue that religion provides the only framework for a universal morality.
Sam Harris

There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave.
Louis Kronenberger

We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
Jonathan Swift

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
George Washington

But in terms of how people live together, how we minimize the prospects of conflict and maximize the prospects of peace, the place of religion in our society today is essential.
Tony Blair

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Religion creates community, community creates altruism and altruism turns us away from self and towards the common good… There is something about the tenor of relationships within a religious community that makes it the best tutorial in citizenship and good neighborliness.
Jonathan Sacks

Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power, religion gives man wisdom which is control.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The difference between a saint and a hypocrite is that one lies for his religion, the other by it.
Minna Atrim

Quotes on the communication of ideas in religion

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 3 (How is our understanding influenced by the way knowledge is communicated?), the third of our BQ units
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices related to religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Religious discourse was not intended to be understood literally because it was only possible to speak about a reality that transcended language in symbolic terms. The story of the lost paradise was a myth, not a factual account of a historical event.
Karen Armstrong

For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.
Alexandre Dumas

God knows our hearts. There is no need for an idle formula or an intermediary. No need for language either: God is beyond translation.
Hilary Mantel (as Thomas Cromwell)

Wonder is the basis of worship.
Thomas Carlyle

Religion is the opium of the masses.
Karl Marx

In the world of language, or in other words in the world of art and liberal education, religion necessarily appears as mythology or as Bible.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

Teach a child what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what is wise and beautiful, that is religion!
Thomas Huxley

Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.
Arthur Schopenhauer

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

Meditation is the language of the soul.
Patricia T. Holland

Quotes on religion shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 4 (How do our perspectives and biases shape our knowledge?), the fourth of our BQ units
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Religion is everywhere. There are no human societies without it, whether they acknowledge it as a religion or not.
Octavia E. Butler

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Seneca

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.
Richard Burton

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
Søren Kirkegaard

Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.
Pope John Paul II

He who possesses art and science has religion; he who does not possess them, needs religion.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero-sum. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.
Sam Harris

Quotes on the creation of new ideas in religion

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 5 (How is new knowledge about the world created?), the fifth of our BQ units
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices related to religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.
Edgar Allan Poe 

Did God invent us, or did we invent God?
Eddie Izzard

The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.
David Hume

Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
Bertrand Russell

I think students should know something about religion as a historical phenomenon, in the same way that they should know something about socialism and humanism and the other great ideas that have shaped political philosophies and therefore the course of human events.
Steven Pinker

Religion is part of the human make-up. It’s also part of our cultural and intellectual history. Religion was our first attempt at literature, the texts, our first attempt at cosmology, making sense of where we are in the universe, our first attempt at health care, believing in faith healing, our first attempt at philosophy.
Christopher Hitchens

Any time scientists disagree, it’s because we have insufficient data. Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem. Either I’m right, or you’re right, or we’re both wrong. And we move on. That kind of conflict resolution does not exist in politics or religion.
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Quotes on becoming a discerning knower about religion

  • These quotes on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 6 (How do we become discerning knowers?), the final BQ unit
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices related to religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the link to each thinker as a starting point to find out more about their ideas

Anti-religious sneers are a hallmark of perpetual adolescents.
Camille Paglia

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.
Anaïs Nin

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama) 

I am a deeply religious nonbeliever – this is a somewhat new kind of religion.
Albert Einstein

Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.
Isaac Bashevis Singer

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.
Henry Ward Beecher

The enemies of the Christian religion and the Law of God confuse law with faith.
Randall Terry

To speak the plain truth, all religions seem alike to me, one mass of absurdities and lies. I know that there is a God, but I know no more of him; and I believe that all those are liars who pretend to know more than I do.
Mary Martha Sherwood

Happiness is a mystery, like religion, and should never be rationalised.
G.K. Chesterton

There is nothing in our book, the Koran, that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent.
Malcolm X

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason.
Voltaire

The faith religious believers have in God is small compared to the faith people put in politicians, knowing how many times they have been disappointed in the past but still insisting that this time it will be different.
Jonathan Sacks

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.
Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

Link these quotes to the exhibition

Our TOK exhibition prompt decoder helps you to understand each of the 35 IA prompts, link them to the core and optional themes, and the 12 key TOK concepts, and explore them via quotes, questions, TED talks, and media sources. Access the decoder here.

Explore the quotes in more depth

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