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|John Adams||The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.... And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.|
|John Adams||We think ourselves possessed, or, at least, we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects, and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact! There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny or doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not better; even in our own Massachusetts, which I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemers upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any argument for investigating into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Dupuis? But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution, and it is also true that some few persons are hardy enough to venture to depart from them. But as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed. The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu.|
|John Adams||Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.|
|Walter Bagehot||So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it is unwise and their conscience tells them it is wrong.|
|Clive Bell||Only reason can convince us of those three fundamental truths without a recognition of which there can be no effective liberty: that what we believe is not necessarily true; that what we like is not necessarily good; and that all questions are open.|
|Ambrose Bierce||Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.|
|Ambrose Bierce||Heathen, n. A benighten creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel.|
|Dr. Paul F. Brandwein||Every child who believes in God is mentally ill.|
|Justice William J. Brennan||All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance – unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion, have the full protection of the guarantees [of the First Amendment].|
|Jacob Bronowski||There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility.|
|Lenny Bruce||Anyone who does anything for pleasure to indulge his selfish soul will surely burn in Hell.|
|Gaius Julius Caesar||Men willingly believe what they wish.|
|Gilbert Keith Chesterton||A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.|
|Dr. G. Brock Chisolm||To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men, their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism and religious dogmas.|
|Noam Chomsky||If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.|
|Frank Clark||There is nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitor.|
|W. K. Clifford||It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.|
|Justice William O. Douglas||Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.|
|William O. Douglas||Heresy trials are foreign to our Constitution. Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.|
|Theodore M. Drange||Some methodological atheists formulate the principle by saying that the burden of proof is always on any person making an existence claim, since, from a logical point of view, existence claims are only capable of proof, not disproof. No one has ever proven the nonexistence of Santa Claus, or elves, or unicorns, or anything else, simply because the very logic of an unrestricted existential proposition prohibits its disproof. It is impossible to go all over the universe and show that, for example, there are no elves anywhere. For this reason, rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of all those things which have never been shown to exist. That is why we all regard it rational to deny the existence of Santa Claus, elves, unicorns, etc. And since God is in that same category, having never been shown to exist, it follows that rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of God.|
|John J. Dunphy||The concept of a Supreme Being who childishly demands to be constantly|
placated by prayers and sacrifice and dispenses justice like some corrupt
petty judge whose decisions may be swayed by a bit of well-timed flattery
should be relegated to the trash bin of history, along with the belief in a
flat earth and the notion that diseases are caused by demonic possession.
Ironically, the case for the involuntary retirement of God may have been
best stated by one Saul or Paul of Tarsus, a first-century tentmaker and
Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin, who wrote, 'When I was a child, I spake
as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became
a man, I put away childish things' (I Corinthians 13:11). Those words are
no less relevant today than they were two thousand years ago.
|John J. Dunphy||I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future|
must be waged and won in the public school classroom
by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith:
a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark
of what theologians call divinity in every human being...
The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new --
the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery,
and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world
in which the never-realized Christian ideal of 'love thy neighbor' will finally be achieved.
|John J. Dunphy||I steadfastly maintain that only with the complete, irrevocable|
rejection of God and the supernatural will humankind truly begin to live.
Rather than producing a feeling of despair, the decision to embrace atheism
should result in an exhilarating, almost intoxicating sense of freedom,
something akin to the experience of those American slaves who rejoiced upon
hearing news of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Only the atheist is
|John J. Dunphy||The history of Christianity has been largely written in blood, the|
blood of those whom it has sought to proselytize as well as that of those
Christians who did not share the theology or ambitions of the male clerical
oligarchy that has always wielded power in Christendom. This ignoble
distinction is not nor has it ever been the exclusive prerogative of any
particular denomination or sect; it is a living legacy of horror that is
tragically common to the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox
bodies of Christian churches.
|John J. Dunphy||If the previous paragraphs [of 'A Religion For A New Age'] prove|
anything, it is that the Bible is not merely another book, an outmoded and
archaic book, or even an extremely influential book; it has been and remains
an incredibly dangerous book. It and the various Christian churches which
are parasitic upon it have been directly responsible for most of the wars,
persecutions and outrages which humankind has perpetrated upon itself over
the past two thousand years.
|Albert Einstein||My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.|
|Albert Einstein||To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light, but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.|
|Graham Greene||Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.|
|Peter Hoagland||Fundamental, Bible believing people do not have the right to indoctrinate their children in their religious beliefs because we, the state, are preparing them for the year 2000, when America will be part of a one-world global society and their children will not fit in.|
|Elbert Hubbard||Truth, in its struggles for recognition, passes through four distinct stages. First, we say it is damnable, dangerous, disorderly, and will surely disrupt society. Second, we declare it is heretical, infidelic and contrary to the Bible. Third, we say it is really a matter of no importance either one way or the other. Fourth, we aver that we have always upheld it and believed it.|
|Humanist Curriculum||It's OK to lie. It's OK to steal. It's OK to have premarital sex. It's OK to cheat or to kill if these things are part of your value system, and you clarified these values for yourself. The important thing is not what values you choose, but that you have chosen them for yourself and without coercion of parents, spouse, priest, friends, ministers or social pressure of any kind.|
|Aldous Huxley||Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.|
|Thomas Henry Huxley||What are the moral convictions most fondly held by barbarous and semi-barbarous people? They are the convictions that authority is the soundest basis of belief; that merit attaches to readiness to believe; that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and skepticism is a sin.|
|Robert G. Ingersoll||If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.|
|Justice Robert H. Jackson||If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.|
|Justice Robert H. Jackson||The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion.|
|Justice Robert H. Jackson||In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds -- that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.|
|Thomas Jefferson||Reason and free inquiry are the only effective agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error and error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruption of Christianity could not have been purged away.|
|Thomas Jefferson||Question with boldness even the existence of a God;|
because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason,
than that of blind-folded fear...
Do not be frightened from this inquiry
from any fear of its consequences.
If it ends in the belief that there is no God,
you will find incitements to virtue
in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise...
|Thomas Jefferson||Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely|
between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for
his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government
reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign
reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that
their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus
building a wall of separation between church and State.
|Thomas Jefferson||The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.|
|Thomas Jefferson||Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our god alone. I enquire after no man's and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life to know whether yours or mine, our friend's or our foe's, are exactly the right.|
|Thomas Jefferson||The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated Reformer of human errors.|
|Thomas Jefferson||It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.|
|Thomas Jefferson||I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.|
|Harold J. Laski||No citizen enjoys genuine freedom of religious conviction until the state is indifferent to every form of religious outlook from Atheism to Zoroastrianism.|
|Gotthold Ephraim Lessing||A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes.|
|John Lilly||In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.|
|Dmitri Manuilsky||We will offer the Christian world unheard of peace overtures, and these nations, stupid and decadent, will leap at the chance to be our friends; they will willingly cooperate in their own destruction. Then, when their guard is down, and they have gone to sleep, we will smash them with our clenched fist.|
|Karl Marx||My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.|
|Karl Marx||Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.|
|Peter McWilliams||That the religious right completely took over the word Christian is a given. At one time, phrases such as Christian charity and Christian tolerance were used to denote kindness and compassion. To perform a "Christian" act meant an act of giving, of acceptance, of toleration. Now, Christian is invariably linked to right-wing conservative political thought -- Christian nation, Christian morality, Christian values, Christian family.|
|H. L. Mencken||Once [William Jennings Bryan] had one leg in the White House and the nation trembled under his roars. Now he is a tinpot pope in the Coca-Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor halfwits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards.|
|H. L. Mencken||The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking. Not by accident does Genesis 3 make the father of knowledge a serpent -- slimy, sneaking and abominable. Since the earliest days the church as an organization has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was the apologist for the divine right of kings.|
|H. L. Mencken||We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.|
|H. L. Mencken||The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.|
|H. L. Mencken||There is, in fact, no reason to believe that any given natural phenomenon, however marvelous it may seem today, will remain forever inexplicable. Soon or late the laws governing the production of life itself will be discovered in the laboratory, and man may set up business as a creator on his own account. The thing, indeed, is not only conceivable; it is even highly probable.|
|H. L. Mencken||Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable.|
|Giovanni Miegge||Religious liberty is primarily a man’s liberty to profess a faith different from that of the dominant religion, and to unite in public worship with those who share his faith.|
|Arthur Miller||The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom. The witch-hunt was not, however, a mere repression. It was also, and as importantly, a long overdue opportunity for everyone so inclined to express publicly his guilt and sins, under the cover of accusations against the victims.|
|Ashley Montague||Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.|
|John Viscount Morley||When it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.|
|Lance Morrow||Zealotry of either kind -- the puritan's need to regiment others or the victim's passion for blaming everyone except himself -- tends to produce a depressing civic stupidity. Each trait has about it the immobility of addiction. Victims become addicted to being victims: they derive identity, innocence and a kind of devious power from sheer, defaulting helplessness. On the other side, the candlesnuffers of behavioral and political correctness enact their paradox, accomplishing intolerance in the name of tolerance, regimentation in the name of betterment.|