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It is the peculiar merit and glory of this American people that they were the first, and as yet the only one, among the nations to embody the principle of Religious Liberty in the fundamental law. Not toleration, but equality, puts all religions in the same relation to the law, under which there can be no preferences one before another. The only relation between the church and the state is that of mutual respect.
I took the repeal of the Corn Laws as light amusement compared with the difficult task of inducing the priests of all denominations to agree to suffer the people to be educated.
The evaporation of 4 million [people] who believe in this crap [the Christian "rapture of the saints"] would leave the world a better place.
[T]he defenders of godism are now shrieking against the growing number of Atheists, and there is a call to the religious world to enter upon a crusade against Atheism. The stage in which heresy meant little more than all exchange of one god for another has passed. It has become a case of acceptance or rejection of the idea of God, and the growth is with those who reject.
All my life I have made it a rule never to permit a religious man or women to take for granted that his or her religious beliefs deserved more consideration than non-religious or anti-religious ones. I never agree with that foolish statement that I ought to respect the views of others when I believe them to be wrong.
If one believes in a god, then one is a Theist. If one does not believe in a god, then one is an A-theist -- he is without that belief. The distinction between atheism and theism is entirely, exclusively, that of whether one has or has not a belief in God.
I have hitherto followed the lines marked out by the Theist in his attempt to prove that there exists a "mind" behind natural phenomena, and that the universe as we have it is, at least generally, an evidence of a plan designed by this "mind." I have also pointed out that the only datum for such a conclusion is the universe we know. We must take that as a starting point. We can get neither behind it nor beyond it. We cannot start with God and deduce the universe from his existence; we must start with the world as we know it, and deduce God from the world.
To warrant a logical belief in design, in nature, three things are essential. First, one must assume that God exists. Second, one must take it for granted that one has a knowledge of the intention in the mind of the deity before the alleged design is brought into existence. Finally, one must be able to compare the result with the intention and demonstrate their agreement. But the impossibility of knowing the first two is apparent. And without the first two the third is of no value whatever, for we have no means of reaching the first except through the third. And until we get to the first we cannot make use of the third. We are thus in a hopeless impasse. No examination of nature can lead back to God because we lack the necessary starting point. All the volumes that have been written and all the sermons that have been preached depicting the wisdom of organic structures are so much waste of time and breath. They prove nothing, and can prove nothing. They assume at the beginning all they require at the end. Their God is not something reached by way of inference, it is something assumed at the very outset.
But there are still many who continue to marvel at the wisdom of God in so planning the universe that big rivers run by great towns, and that death comes at the end of life instead of in the middle of it. Divest [the Theist's] pleas ... of their semi-philosophic jargon, reduce his illustrations to homely similes, and he is marvelling at the wisdom of God who so planned things that the two extremities of a piece of wood should come at the ends instead of in the middle.
Prominent among these primitive misunderstandings is the belief that man is surrounded by hosts of mysterious ghostly agencies that are afterwards given human form. These ghostly beings form the raw material from which the gods of the various religions are made, and they flourish best where knowledge is least. Of this there can be no question....
While the Bible does not explicitly say that independent thinking is a cardinal sin -- to do so would give the game away -- it is the crux of any biblically authentic definition of sin, one incompatible with doing the devotional program.
Christian love is biblically defined as Holy Spirit-aided self-discipline in internalizing Christian doctrine and performing the devotional program. As manifested in and by the believer, Christian love has hardly anything to do with passion or affection.
The supposed renewal of the mind so that it thinks only godly thoughts, the fatuous peace and tepid joy of the person exhibiting euphoric calm, the apparent absence of friction with other people, these are side effects of a dissociated state of mind.
The content of the teaching, as well as the form of social relations, is set up so as to dig a psychological moat around the believers.
[The New Testament authors] deliberately contrived the portentous New Testament statements about horrors in the afterlife to be the worst eventualities of which the mind -- or at least the ordinary minds of those who would be rank-and-file believers -- could conceive.
The predominant emphasis on the motive of rear for the enforcement of absolute commands has made religious morality develop the most intense cruelty that the human heart has known.
The religious right has many people crippled and blinded.... They're cowering when there's no need to cower. The government's job is not to suggest, promote or choose religious thoughts to be recommended to the people.
He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.
Not one man in a thousand has either strength of mind or goodness of heart to be an Atheist. I repeat it. Not one man in a thousand has either strength of mind or goodness of heart to be an Atheist.
Whenever philosophy has taken into its plan religion, it has ended in skepticism; and whenever religion excludes philosophy, or the spirit of free inquiry, it leads to willful blindness and superstition.
Clergymen who publish pious frauds in the interest of the church are the orthodox liars of God.
Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place
Look through the whole histories of countries professing the Romish religion and you will uniformly find the leaven of this besetting and accursed principle of action -- that the end will sanction any means.
The annals of the French Revolution prove that the knowledge of the few cannot counteract the ignorance of the many.... The light of philosophy, when it is confined to a small minority, points out the possessors as the victims rather than the illuminators of the multitude.
A people are free in proportion as they form their own opinions.
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, that itself will need reforming.
I've steered clear of God. He was an incredible sadist.
By free-thinking I mean the use of the understanding in endeavoring to find out the meaning of any proposition whatsoever, in considering the nature of the evidence for or against it, and in judging of it according to the seeming force or weakness of the evidence.
[W]e have a right to know or may lawfully know any truth. And a right to know any truth whatsoever implies a right to think freely.
Believe it, my good friend, to love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in the world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues; and if I mistake not, you have as much of it as I ever met with in anybody.
Apologys for self-evident Truths can never have any effect on those who have so little Sense as to deny them. They are the Foundation of all Reasoning, and the only just Bottom on which Men can proceed in convincing one another of the Truth: and by consequence whoever is capable of denying them, is not in a condition to be informed.
David Bergman: Proved God's Non-Existence
"[It is] highly probable [that Collins] was, in fact, a strong-minded atheist, with a proof for the non-existence of God."
The Protestant religion, in all its different creeds, is a mild mixture compared to what it was seventy years ago. And perhaps for the reason that its hideousness is so nicely covered, there is more need that Liberals be on the alert. Christianity is the more dangerous when it gives its attention to this life. Christianity demands entire subordination to its edicts, no matter that it keeps out of sight the damnation of infants in another world, if it subjugates all children to its decrees by teaching them, not only in Sunday-schools but in public schools supported by the public at large, the doctrines taught in the Bible. Until the majority of the people are emancipated from authority over their minds, we are not safe.
A religion that has a personal God, outside of humanity, to worship and to please, is quite apt to get appointed an official to regulate the people, and particularly to execute punishment adequate to the offense committed against an Infinite Ruler of the universe. Humanity so likes authority, it seems sometimes as if it gloated upon the sufferings of its fellows.
Once engage in the dirty work of injuring one who does not believe in your creed, and the work grows apace; and worse than all else, such persons come to think they are really doing God a service for which they shall merit and obtain a high seat in heaven.
If your Bible is a bundle of rods, or a license for adultery, the loss of it will be a blessing.
I do not know which is the more dangerous to liberty -- Romanism or Protestantism. Either is fatal if it predominates. Parochial schools are a menace, and the Bible in schools is an insult. Our Sunday-schools are very mischievous. Which is most to be feared I cannot tell. We need to use great diligence as Freethinkers lest we find ourselves imprisoned or even executed for expression of opinion.
I wish to be just to all, but the Christian church, with its religion, seems to me a blot upon civilization.
My life has been a busy one, and I am tired through and through. I hoped my public work was done, but ...these arrests, one of them of my own sex, have so stirred the dying embers into life that by the force of their heat I am impelled again into the field in opposition to tyranny in this new form...
Mr. Lincoln was not himself with this colored woman; he had no funny story for her, he called her aunty, as he would his washerwoman, and when she complimented him as the first Antislavery President, he said, "I'm not an Abolitionist; I wouldn't free the slaves if I could save the Union in any other way -- I'm obliged to do it."
Charles C Moore
"For years hers was a familiar face and figure at each of the Freethought conventions, no matter where held, or the distance that had to be traveled. Like a Queen she came, proud of her position and happy in her thought, contented in her association with kindred hearts and minds. Liberty was her one watch-word, whether of body or mind, and her only prayer was the spring of human love... In the course of time, by actual experience, aided by reading and study, Mrs. Colman became a radical Freethinker. She was a faithful and constant attendant at each and all Freethought conventions, whereat the writer of this sketch first met her and became acquainted with her. She became equally opposed to white slavery as to black slavery, and above all to mental slavery. She became interested in every living movement for progress, reform and human advancement. She became an ardent advocate of the rights of both men and women. She has mingled with the world, ever and always presenting a character as spotless and as stainless as the polar snows. She met and mingled with the greatest men and women of the Nation, and took part in each and every movement for reform."
Precisely in proportion to our own intellectual weakness will be our credulity as to those mysterious powers assumed by others.
We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed.
Religion has treated knowledge sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as a hostage; often as a captive and more often as a child.
Some reputed saints that have been canonized ought to have been cannonaded.
In politics as in religion, it so happens that we have less charity for those who believe the half of our creed, than for those who deny the whole of it.
There are only two things in which the false professors of all religions have agreed: to persecute all other sects and to plunder their own.
Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it, anything but -- live for it.
Sir Richard Steele has observed, that there is this difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England: the one professes to be infallible, the other to be never in the wrong.
There is one passage in the Scriptures to which all the potentates of Europe seem to have given their unanimous assent and approbation...."There went out a decree in the days of Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed."
We are not more ingenious in searching out bad motives for good actions when performed by others, than good motives for bad actions when performed by ourselves.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
He that dies a martyr proves that he was not a knave, but by no means that he was not a fool.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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