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.
more John Adams quotes
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 I wish they were repealed.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.
more John Adams quotes
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.
more John Adams quotes
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.
more Walter Bagehot quotes
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.
more Clive Bell quotes
Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
more Ambrose Bierce quotes
Heathen, n. A benighten creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel.
more Ambrose Bierce quotes
Every child who believes in God is mentally ill.
more Dr. Paul F. Brandwein quotes
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].
more Justice William J. Brennan quotes
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.
more Jacob Bronowski quotes
Anyone who does anything for pleasure to indulge his selfish soul will surely burn in Hell.
more Lenny Bruce quotes
Men willingly believe what they wish.
more Gaius Julius Caesar quotes
A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.
more Gilbert Keith Chesterton quotes
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.
more Dr. G. Brock Chisolm quotes
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
more Noam Chomsky quotes
There is nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitor.
more Frank Clark quotes
It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
more W. K. Clifford quotes
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.
more Justice William O. Douglas quotes
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.
more William O. Douglas quotes
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.
more Theodore M. Drange quotes
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.
more John J. Dunphy quotes
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.
more John J. Dunphy quotes
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 truly free.
more John J. Dunphy quotes
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.
more John J. Dunphy quotes
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.
more John J. Dunphy quotes
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.
more Albert Einstein quotes
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.
more Albert Einstein quotes
Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.
more Graham Greene quotes
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.
more Peter Hoagland quotes
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.
more Elbert Hubbard quotes
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.
more Humanist Curriculum quotes
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.
more Aldous Huxley quotes
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.
more Thomas Henry Huxley quotes
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.
more Robert G. Ingersoll quotes
The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion.
more Justice Robert H. Jackson quotes
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.
more Justice Robert H. Jackson quotes
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.
more Justice Robert H. Jackson quotes
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...
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
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.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
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.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
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.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
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.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
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.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
No citizen enjoys genuine freedom of religious conviction until the state is indifferent to every form of religious outlook from Atheism to Zoroastrianism.
more Harold J. Laski quotes
A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes.
more Gotthold Ephraim Lessing quotes
In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.
more John Lilly quotes
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.
more Dmitri Manuilsky quotes
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.
more Karl Marx quotes
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