"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."
"It's incongruous that the older we get, the more likely we are to turn in the direction of religion. Less vivid and intense ourselves, closer to the grave, we begin to conceive of ourselves as immortal."
"And I profess still, that whatsoever the church of England (the church, I say, not every doctor) shall forbid me to say in matter of faith, I shall abstain from saying it, excepting this point, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for my sins. As for other doctrines, I think it unlawful, if the church define them, for any member of the church to contradict them."
"And consequently when wee Believe that the Scriptures are the word of God, having no immediate revelation from God himself, our Belief, Faith, and Trust is in the Church; whose words we take, and acquiesce therein."
"The Scripture was written to shew unto men the kingdom of God; and to prepare their minds to become his obedient subjects; leaving the world, and the Philosophy thereof, to the disputation of men, for the exercising of their natural Reason."
"If the religious spirit be ever mentioned in any historical narration, we are sure to meet afterwards with a detail of the miseries which attend it. And no period of time can be happier or more prosperous, than those in which it is never regarded or heard of."