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John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
British philosopher-economist, who had a great impact on 19th-century British thought, not only in philosophy and economics but also in political science, logic, and ethics

John Stuart Mill (portrait: George Frederic Watts, 1873, National Portrait Gallery, London)God is a word to express, not our ideas, but the want of them.
-- John Stuart Mill, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The world would be astonished if it new how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete skeptics in religion.
-- John Stuart Mill, Autobiography Of John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II Moral Influences in Early Youth. My Father's Character and Opinions" (1873)

It can do truth no service to blind the fact, known to all who have the most ordinary acquaintance with literary history, that a large portion of the noblest and most valuable moral teaching has been the work not only of men who did not know, but of men who knew and rejected the Christian faith.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 313

Truth gains more even by errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.
-- John Stuart Mill (attributed: source unknown)

It is historically true that a large proportion of infidels in all ages have been persons of distinguished integrity and honor.
-- John Stuart Mill, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The majority, being satisfied with the ways of mankind as they now are (for it is they who make them what they are), cannot comprehend why those ways should not be good enough for everybody; and what is more, spontaneity forms no part of the ideal of the majority of moral and social reformers, but is rather looked on with jealousy, as a troublesome and perhaps rebellious obstruction to the general acceptance of what these reformers, in their own judgment, think would be best for mankind.
-- John Stuart Mill (attributed: source unknown)

What little recognition the idea of obligation to the public obtains in modern morality is derived from Greek and Roman sources, not from Christian; as, even in the morality of private life, whatever exists of magnanimity, high-mindeness, personal dignity, even the sense of honor, is derived from the purely human, not the religious part of our education, and never could have grown out of a standard of ethics in which the only worth, professedly recognized, is that of obedience.
-- John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty (1859)

There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life.
-- John Stuart Mill (attributed: source unknown)

On religion in particular, the time appears to me to have come, when it is a duty of all who, being qualified in point of knowledge, have, on mature consideration, satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false, but hurtful, to make their dissent known.
-- John Stuart Mill, Autobiography Of John Stuart Mill, "Chapter I Childhood and Early Education" (1873)

Christian morality (so called) has all the characters of a reaction; it is, in great part, a protest against Paganism. Its ideal is negative rather than positive; passive rather than action; innocence rather than Nobleness; Abstinence from Evil, rather than energetic Pursuit of Good: in its precepts (as has been well said) "thou shalt not" predominates unduly over "thou shalt."
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

Christian morality (so called) has all the characters of a reaction.... In its horror of sensuality, it made an idol of asceticism, which has been gradually compromised away into one of legality. It holds out the hope of heaven and the threat of hell, as the appointed and appropriate motives to a virtuous life -- in this falling far below the best of the ancients, and doing what lies in it to give to human morality an essentially selfish character.... It is essentially a doctrine of passive obedience; it inculcates submission to all authorities found established.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be booted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle.
-- John Stuart Mill, The Spirit Of The Age, thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, "The Degeneration of Belief"

The ne plus ultra of wickedness is embodied in what is commonly presented to mankind as the creed of Christianity.
-- John Stuart Mill, Autobiography Of John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II Moral Influences in Early Youth. My Father's Character and Opinions" (1873)

Is there any moral enormity which might not be justified by imitation of such a Deity?
-- John Stuart Mill, regarding John Calvin's teaching that God predetermined who would be tortured in the Hell that He created, in "The Utility of Religion"

I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a creature can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.
-- John Stuart Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

A being who can create a race of men devoid of real freedom and inevitably foredoomed to be sinners, and then punish them for being what he has made them, may be omnipotent and various other things, but he is not what the English language has always intended by the adjective holy.
-- John Stuart Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Miracles have no claim whatever to the character of historical facts and are wholly invalid as evidence of any revelation.
-- John Stuart Mill, Theism (1874), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

My father taught me that the question "Who made me?" cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question, "Who made God?
-- John Stuart Mill, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.
-- John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty (1859)

Every established fact which is too bad to admit of any other defence is always presented to us as an injunction of religion.
-- John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

Belief, thus, in the supernatural, great as are the services which it rendered in the early stages of human development, cannot be considered to be any longer required, either for enabling us to know what is right and wrong in social morality, or for supplying us with motives to do right and to abstain from wrong.
-- John Stuart Mill, -- Utility of Religion (1874), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

[Excerpt]
It is conceivable that religion may be morally useful without being intellectually sustainable.
-- John Stuart Mill, "The Utility of Religion," seen in Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion; seen in James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief; seen elsewhere

[Passage]
Neither, on the other hand, can the difficulties of the question be so promptly disposed of, as sceptical philosophers are sometimes inclined to believe. It is not enough to aver, in general terms, that there never can be any conflict between truth and utility; that if religion be false, nothing but good can be the consequence of rejecting it. For, though the knowledge of every positive truth is an useful acquisition, this doctrine cannot without reservation be applied to negative truth. When the only truth ascertainable is that nothing can be known, we do not, by this knowledge, gain any new fact by which to guide ourselves; we are, at best, only disabused of our trust in some former guide-mark, which, though itself fallacious, may have pointed in the same direction with the best indications we have, and if it happens to be more conspicuous and legible, may have kept us right when they might have been overlooked. It is, in short, perfectly conceivable that religion may be morally useful without being intellectually sustainable: and it would be a proof of great prejudice in any unbeliever to deny, that there have been ages, and that there are still both nations and individuals, with regard to whom this is actually the case. Whether it is the case generally, and with reference to the future, it is the object of this paper to examine. We propose to inquire whether the belief in religion, considered as a mere persuasion, apart from the question of its truth, is really indispensable to the temporal welfare of mankind; whether the usefulness of the belief is intrinsic and universal, or local, temporary, and, in some sense, accidental; and whether the benefits which it yields might not be obtained otherwise, without the very large alloy of evil, by which, even in the best form of the belief, those benefits are qualified.
-- John Stuart Mill, "The Utility of Religion," as seen in Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion; as seen in James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief; as seen elsewhere

John Stuart MillSilencing the expression of an opinion is ... robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
-- John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty, 1859 (p. 79), quoted in Richard Robinson, An Atheist's Values (p. 206)

A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes -- will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish.
-- John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty (1859)

He must be able to hear them [the counter arguments] from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of; else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty.
-- John Stuart Mill (attributed: source unknown)

Let us suppose ... that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion, than when in opposition to it. If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
-- John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty (1859), quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"

[Excerpt]
So natural to mankind is intolerance ... that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), seen in Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom; seen in James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief; seen elsewhere

[Passage]
It is accordingly on this battlefield [religious belief], almost solely, that the rights of the individual against society have been asserted on broad grounds of principle, and the claim of society to exercise authority over dissentients openly controverted. The great writers to whom the world owes what religious liberty it possesses, have mostly asserted freedom of conscience as an indefeasible right, and denied absolutely that a human being is accountable to others for his religious belief. Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale. In the minds of almost all religious persons, even in the most tolerant countries, the duty of toleration is admitted with tacit reserves. One person will bear with dissent in matters of church government, but not of dogma; another can tolerate everybody, short of a Papist or an Unitarian; another, every one who believes in revealed religion; a few extend their charity a little further, but stop at the belief in a God and in a future state. Wherever the sentiment of the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have abated little of its claim to be obeyed.
-- John Stuart Mill, "Chapter I: Introductory," On Liberty (1859), quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"

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