"It was not reason that besieged Troy; it was not reason that sent forth the Saracen from the desert to conquer the world; that inspired the crusades; that instituted the monastic orders; it was not reason that produced the Jesuits; above all, it was not reason that created the French Revolution. Man is only great when he acts from the passions; never irresistible but when he appeals to the imagination."
"Perhaps you can tell me why in this country nobody ever does anything. Nobody ever writes any music or starts any revolutions or falls in love. All anybody ever does is to get drunk and tell smutty stories."
"Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers but dress in their small wardrobe of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess together, feeding out of the common store according to their appetite."
"Whenever you pray, make sure you do it at school assemblies and football games, like the demonstrative creatures who pray before large television audiences. That is the real goal of the thing. But do not, I urge you, pray all alone in your home where no one can see. That does not get you ratings."
"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."