Religious criticism is the judgment or analysis of factors within a religion such as the concept of religion, validity of religion and the consequences of religion.
The earliest known form of criticism is by the Roman poet, Titus Lucretius Carus, in his magnum opus De Rerum Natura, wrote: "But 'tis that same religion oftener far \ Hath bred the foul impieties of men:"
Lucretius believed the world was composed solely of matter and that all phenomenon could be understood as resulting from purely natural causes. Lucretius, like Epicurus, felt that religion was born of fear and ignorance, and that understanding the natural world would free people of the limitations it brought.
Writing in 1776 of the ancient Romans, Edward Gibbon said: "The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful."
Niccolò Machiavelli, at the beginning of the sixteenth century said: "We Italians are irreligious and corrupt above others... because the church and her representatives have set us the worst example." To Machiavelli, religion was merely a tool, useful for a ruler wishing to manipulate public opinion.
- Titus Lucretius Carus. De Rerum Natura. Retrieved on 2008-06-14.
- Lucretius [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]. Retrieved on 2008-06-14.
- Online Library of Liberty - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, chp ii. Retrieved on 2008-06-14.
- S. G. C. Middlemore; Burckhardt, Jacob; Murray, Peter; Burke, Peter. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Penguin Classics). Penguin Classics. ISBN 014044534x.
- The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli. Retrieved on 2008-06-14.