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Three people can keep a secret as long as two of them are dead.
The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliche. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed.
My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.
It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.
The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.
Nelson: Same Opinion as Ingersoll
"In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same opinion as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out, he remained an unbeliever. Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book, in which he endeavored to prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."
The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail.
Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.
In the crowd, herd or gang, it is a mass-mind that operates -- which is to say, a mind without subtlety, a mind without compassion, a mind, finally, uncivilized.
Mass Man, the universal psychopath, is born when the individual ego is weakened to the point at which it loses separate identity and is forced, for security, to merge with the mass.
Conformity, humility, acceptance -- with these coins we are to pay our fares to paradise.
How protean are the devices available to human intelligence when it lends itself to the persistence of the conformist error.
[Schools are] vast factories for the manufacture of robots.
When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.
Where all think alike,
none thinks very much.
The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble across a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it representative of a whole class.
This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement -- that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it -- that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.
It is not the idea as such which the censor attacks, whether it be heresy or radicalism or obscenity. He attacks the circulation of the idea among the classes which in his judgment are not to be trusted with the idea.
Just as force ought to play no part in inspiring and directing religious belief, so religious belief ought to play no part in inspiring and directing the use of force.
By means of the Lockean and Baptist connections, the single most important and determinative contribution [Roger] Williams made to the articulation of the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state in late eighteenth-century America was his doctrine of the free conscience, and the web of beliefs surrounding that doctrine.
It needs to be remembered that for both Madison and Jefferson the conscience is the "nerve-center," so to speak, of moral knowledge and deliberation, and, as such, constitutes the core of self-identity of each human being. Conscience and personal consciousness are deeply intertwined. This condition, of course, establishes the "equal rights of conscience." Any attempt to seize control over the operations of another's conscience, to decide for that person what is right and wrong, or what constitutes that person's spiritual destiny, is to subvert that other person by robbing it of its moral center. Thus, were the rights of conscience "inalienable." To tolerate the transfer or "alienation" of one's conscience into someone else's hands is tantamount to self-destruction. Applying that idea to the relations between citizen and magistrate, Jefferson asserted that "our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit."
So that, in effect, religion, which should most distinguish us from beasts, and ought most peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men most often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts themselves. Credo, quia impossibile est: I believe, because it is impossible, might, in a good man, pass for a sally of zeal; but would prove a very ill rule for men to choose their opinions or religion by.
Faith is the assent to any proposition not made out by the deduction of reason but upon the credit of the proposer.
The Church which taught men not to keep faith with heretics, had no claim to toleration.
I find every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, it is a matter of faith, and above reason.
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
As the magistrate has no power to impose by his laws the use of any rites and ceremonies in any church, so neither has he any power to forbid the use of such rites and ceremonies as are already received, approved, and practised by any church; because if he did so, he would destroy the church itself; the end of whose institution is only to worship God with freedom, after its own manner.
The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate.
We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.
The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.
I am a hopeless materialist. I see the soul as nothing else than the sim of activities of the organism plus personal habits -- plus inherited habits, memories, experiences, of the organism. I believe that when I am dead, I am dead. I believe that with my death I am just as much obliterated as the last mosquito you and I squashed.
Biographies by preachers are of no value. If they admire a man they always make him a saint, while if they dislike one, they always make him a demon.
Education is about the only thing lying around loose in the world, and it's about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he's willing to haul away.
Because a fellow has failed once or twice, or a dozen times, you don't want to set him down as a failure till he's dead or loses his courage - and that's the same thing.
By day, theists half disbelieve in God.
It is easy to remove the mind from harping on the lost illusion of immortality. The disciplined intellect fears nothing and craves no sugar-plum at the day's end, but is content to accept life and serve society as best it may. Personally I would not care for immortality in the least. There is nothing better than oblivion, since in oblivion there is no wish unfulfilled. We had it before we were born, yet did not complain. Shall we whine because we know it will return? It is Elysium enough for me, at any rate.
We all know that any emotional bias -- irrespective of truth or falsity -- can be implanted by suggestion in the emotions of the young, hence the inherited traditions of an orthodox community are absolutely without evidential value.... 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. With such an honest and inflexible openness to evidence, they could not fail to receive any real truth which might be manifesting itself around them. The fact that religionists do not follow this honourable course, but cheat at their game by invoking juvenile quasi-hypnosis, is enough to destroy their pretensions in my eyes even if their absurdity were not manifest in every other direction.
I know that a creed is the shell of a lie.
Time! Joyless emblem of the greed
"She was upon the surface of things a Lowell, a New Englander and a spinster. But inside everything was molten like the core of the earth.... Given one more gram of emotion, Amy Lowell would have burst into flame and been consumed to cinders."
From the days of ancient Egypt until now the interlocking of church and state has been one of the most prolific sources of mankind's ills. Both church and state have suffered immeasurably from this relationship, but the people themselves have been the principal victims.
Freedom is the only law which genius knows.
It seems to me that the bane of our country is a profession of faith either with no basis of real belief, or with no proper examination of the grounds on which the creed is supposed to rest.
Where Church and State are habitually associated, it is natural that minds, even of a high order, should unconsciously come to regard religion as only a subtler mode of police.
They talk about their Pilgrim blood,
It is mediocrity which makes laws and sets mantraps and spring-guns in the realm of free song, saying thus far shalt thou go and no further.
Men in earnest have no time to waste
The true ideal is not opposed to the real but lies in it; and blessed are the eyes that find it.
There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
The only hope I can see for the future depends on a wiser and braver use of the reason, not a panic flight from it.
Titus Lucretius Carus (BCE 94?-55?)
Nature does all things spontaneously, by herself, without the meddling of the gods.
The nature of the universe has by no means been made through divine power, seeing how great are the faults that mar it.
Poor humanity, to saddle the gods with such a responsibility and throw in a vindictive temper. What griefs they hatch for themselves, what festering sores for us, what tears for our prosperity! This is not piety, this oft-repeated show of bowing a veiled head before a graven image; this bustling to every altar; this kow-towing and prostration on the ground with palms outspread before the shrines of the gods; this deluging of vow on vow. True piety lies rather in the power to contemplate the universe with a quiet mind.
If anyone decided to call the sea Neptune, and corn Ceres, and to misapply the name of Bacchus rather than to give liquor its right name, so be it; and let him dub the round world "Mother of the Gods" so long as he is careful not really to infest his mind with base superstitions.
Too often in time past, religion has brought forth criminal and shameful actions.... How many evils has religion caused?
When the supreme violence of a furious wind upon the sea sweeps over the waters the chief admiral of a fleet along with his mighty legions, does he not crave the gods' peace with vows and in his panic seek with prayers the peace of the winds and favouring breezes. Nonetheless, he is caught up in the furious hurricane and driven upon the shoals of death.
Assuredly whatsoever things are fabled to exist in deep Acheron [Hades], these all exist in this life. There is no wretched Tantalus, fearing the great rock that hangs over him in the air and frozen with vain terror. Rather, it is in this life that fear of the gods oppresses mortals without cause, and the rock they fear is any that chance may bring.
Certainly it was no design of the atoms to place themselves in a particular order, nor did they decide what motions each should have. But atoms were struck with blows in many ways and carried along by their own weight from infinite times up to the present. They have been accustomed to move and to meet in all manner of ways. For this reason, it came to pass that being spread abroad through a vast time and trying every sort of combination and motion, at length those come together that produce great things, like earth and sea and sky and the generation of living creatures.
Forbear to spew out reason from your mind, but rather ponder everything with keen judgment; and if it seems true, own yourself vanquished, but, if it is false, gird up your loins to fight.
There is so much wrong with the world. (tanta stat praedita culpa)
Since you must admit that there is nothing outside the universe, it can have no limit and is accordingly without end or measure. It makes no odds in which part of it you may take your stand; whatever spot anyone may occupy, the universe stretches away from him just the same in all directions without limit.
The generations of living things pass in a short time, and like runners hand on the torch of life.
The mind like a sick body can be healed and changed by medicine.
Fear is the mother of all gods.
Rest, brother, rest. Have you done ill or well
Human life lay foul before men's eyes, crushed to the dust beneath religion's weight.
So much wrong could religion induce.
Long time men lay oppress'd with slavish fear
All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.
Those things that are in the light we behold from darkness.
What is food to one man is bitter poison to others.
And life is given to none freehold, but it is leasehold for all.
Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
Please Feel Free
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