"How prone we are to come to the consideration of every question with heads and hearts pre-occupied! How prone to shrink from any opinion, however reasonable, if it be opposed to any, however unreasonable, of our own! How disposed are we to judge, in anger, those who call upon us to think, and encourage us to enquire! To question our prejudices seems nothing less than sacrilege; to break the chains of our ignorance, nothing short of impiety!"
"... 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."
"All that I say is, examine, inquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the grounds of your opinions, the for and against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you."
"Knowledge signifies things known. Where there are no things known, there is no knowledge. Where there are no things to be known, there can be no knowledge. We have observed that every science, that is, every branch of knowledge, is compounded of certain facts, of which our sensations furnish the evidence. Where no such evidence is supplied, we are without data; we are without first premises; and when, without these, we attempt to build up a science, we do as those who raise edifices without foundations. And what do such builders construct? Castles in the air."
"If we bring not the good courage of minds covetous of truth, and truth only, prepared to hear all things, and decide upon all things, according to evidence, we should do more wisely to sit down contented in ignorance, than to bestir ourselves only to reap disappointment."
"The man possessed of a dollar, feels himself to be not merely one hundred cents richer, but also one hundred cents better, than the man who is penniless; so on through all the gradations of earthly possessions--the estimate of our own moral and political importance swelling always in a ratio exactly proportionate to the growth of our purse."
"Let us enquire. Who, then, shall challenge the words? Why are they challenged. And by whom? By those who call themselves the guardians of morality, and who are the constituted guardians of religion. Enquiry, it seems, suits not them. They have drawn the line, beyond which human reason shall not pass--above which human virtue shall not aspire! All that is without their faith or above their rule, is immorality, is atheism, is--I know not what."