"Poetry has this much, at least, in common with religion, that its standards were fixed long ago, by certain inspired writers, whose authority it is no longer lawful to call in question; and that many profess to be entirely devoted to it, who have no good works to produce in support of their pretensions. The catholic poetical church, too, has worked but few miracles since the first ages of its establishment; and has been more prolific, for a long time, of doctors than of saints: It has had its corruptions, and reformation also, and has given birth to an infinite variety of heresies and errors, the followers of which have hated and persecuted each other as cordially as other bigots."
"I told him that Goldsmith had said,... "As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the taylor, so I take my religion from the priest." I regretted this loose way of talking. JOHNSON. Sir, he knows nothing; he has made up his mind about nothing."
"The conflict between science and religion is in reality a misunderstanding of both. Scientific materialism has merely introduced a new hypostasis, and that is an intellectual sin. It has given another name to the supreme principle of reality and has assumed that this created a new thing and destroyed an old thing. Whether you call the principle of existence "God," "matter," "energy," or anything else you like, you have created nothing; you have merely changed a symbol. The materialist is a metaphysician malgré lui. Faith, on the other hand, tries to retain a primitive mental condition on merely sentimental grounds. It is unwilling to give up the primitive, childlike relationship to mind-created and hypostatized figures; it wants to go on enjoying the security and confidence of a world still presided over by powerful, responsible, and kindly parents."
"Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god."
"Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony."
"We were created in order to live in Paradise, and Paradise was ordained to serve us. What was ordained for us has been changed; it is not said that this has also happened with what was ordained for Paradise."
"I was brought up a rigid Presbyterian, to which I have always adhered. Our excellent Constitution guarantees to everyone freedom of religion, and charity tells us--and you know charity is the real basis of all true religion--and charity says "judge the tree by its fruit." All who profess Christianity believe in a Savior and that by and through him we must be saved. We ought therefore to consider all good Christians whose walks correspond with their professions, be they Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist, or Roman Catholic. Let it be always remembered ... that no established religion can exist under [our] glorious Constitution."
"Nearly a million species of animals are already known. Of these, only a few thousand are endowed with anything which can be called intelligence, only a few tens with high intelligence, and only one with conceptual thought. In the same way, there are hundreds of known religions; it had better be left to more orthodox writers than myself to enumerate those which can be called high religions. Animal evolution witnesses to a central upward trend of biological progress; it also shows us the retention of low types along with high, the throwing out of blind-alley side branches of specialisation at every level, and sometimes even degeneration. Religious evolution also shows a central progress--but equally the production of bizarre side-branches, the permanent confining of the religious spirit in low-level embodiments, its projection into every conceivable cul-de-sac, its too frequent bending over from upward to downward growth."
"You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion.... Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough."
"Every disastrous accident alarms us, and sets us on enquiries concerning the principles whence it arose: Apprehensions spring up with regard to futurity: And the mind, sunk into diffidence, terror, and melancholy, has recourse to every method of appeasing those secret intelligent powers, on whom our fortune is supposed entirely to depend."
"All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organisation. For the latter makes use of violence, the former--of the corruption of the will."