"Never for a moment have I had one doubt about my religious beliefs. There are people who believe only so far as they can understand--that seems to me presumptuous and sets their understanding as the standard of the universe."
"Not every religion has to have St. Augustine's attitude to sex. Why even in our culture marriages are celebrated in a church, everyone present knows what is going to happen that night, but that doesn't prevent it being a religious ceremony."
"... we have broken down the self-respecting spirit of man with nursery tales and priestly threats, and we dare to assert, that in proportion as we have prostrated our understanding and degraded our nature, we have exhibited virtue, wisdom, and happiness, in our words, our actions, and our lives!"
"... the yearly expenses of the existing religious system ... exceed in these United States twenty millions of dollars. Twenty millions! For teaching what? Things unseen and causes unknown!... Twenty millions would more than suffice to make us wise; and alas! do they not more than suffice to make us foolish?"
"... so far from entrenching human conduct within the gentle barriers of peace and love, religion has ever been, and now is, the deepest source of contentions, wars, persecutions for conscience sake, angry words, angry feelings, backbitings, slanders, suspicions, false judgments, evil interpretations, unwise, unjust, injurious, inconsistent actions."
"... your spiritual teachers caution you against enquiry--tell you not to read certain books; not to listen to certain people; to beware of profane learning; to submit your reason, and to receive their doctrines for truths. Such advice renders them suspicious counsellors."
"But mortals suppose that the gods are born (as they themselves are), and that they wear men's clothing and have human voice and body. But if cattle or lions had hands, so as to paint with their hands and produce works of art as men do, they would paint their gods and give them bodies in form like their own--horses like horses, cattle like cattle."
"I would that our farmers when they cut down a forest felt some of that awe which the old Romans did when they came to thin, or let in the light to, a consecrated grove (lucum conlucare), that is, would believe that it is sacred to some god. The Roman made an expiatory offering, and prayed, Whatever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is sacred, be propitious to me, my family, and children, etc."
"Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of a meaning of our life."
"The distinction between the truth of faith and the truth of science leads to a warning, directed to theologians, not to use recent scientific discoveries to confirm the truth of faith. Microphysics have undercut some scientific hypotheses concerning the calculability of the universe. The theory of quantum and the principle of indeterminacy have had this effect. Immediately religious writers use these insights for the confirmation of their own ideas of human freedom, divine creativity, and miracles. But there is no justification for such a procedure at all, neither from the point of view of physics nor from the point of view of religion. The physical theories referred to have no direct relation to the infinitely complex phenomenon of human freedom, and the emission of power in quantums has direct relation to the meaning of miracles.... The truth of faith cannot be confirmed by latest physical or biological or psychological discoveries--as it cannot be denied by them."
"I am so far from thinking the maxims of Confucius and Jesus Christ to differ, that I think the plain and simple maxims of the former, will help to illustrate the more obscure ones of the latter, accommodated to the then way of speaking."
"Nationalism ... is the worship of the collective power of a local human community. Unlike the faith in progress through science, nationalism is not a new religion; it is a revival of an old one. This was the religion of the city-states of the pre-Christian Greco-Roman world. It was resuscitated in the West at the Renaissance, and this resuscitation of the Greco-Roman political religion has been far more effective than the resuscitation of the Greco-Roman style of literature, visual art, and architecture. Modern Western nationalism, inspired by Greco-Roman political ideals and institutions, has inherited the dynamism and fanaticism of Christianity. Translated into practice in the American and French Revolutions, it proved to be highly infectious. Today, fanatical nationalism is perhaps 90 percent of the religion of perhaps 90 percent of mankind."
"This was a great point gained; the archdeacon would certainly not come to morning service at Westminster Abbey, even though he were in London; and here the warden could rest quietly, and, when the time came, duly say his prayers."
"I never saw any people who appeared to live so much without amusement as the Cincinnatians.... Were it not for the churches,... I think there might be a general bonfire of best bonnets, for I never could discover any other use for them."