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All the earliest external evidences points to the conclusion that thy synoptic gospels are non-apostolic digesis of spoken and written apostolic tradition, and that the arrangement of the earlier material
in orderly form took place only gradually and by many essays.
Dr. Lardner says: "Even so late as the middle of the sixth century, the canon of the New Testament had not been settled by any authority that was decisive and universally acknowledged, but Christian
people were at liberty to judge for themselves concerning the genuineness of writings proposed to them as apostolical, and to determine according to evidences."
Dr. Hooykaas, speaking of the four "Gospels," and "Acts," says of them: "Not one of these five books was written by the person whose name it bears, and they are all of more
recent date than the heading would lead us to suppose."
Though Irenaeus, in the second century, is the first who mentions the evangelists, and Origen, in the third century, is the first who gives us a catalogue of the books contained in the New Testament,
Mosheim's admission still stands before us. We have no grounds of assurance that the mere mention of the names of the evangelists by Irenaeus, or the arbitrary drawing up of a particular catalogue by Origen, were of any authority. It is still unknown
by whom, or where, or when, the canon of the New Testament was settled. But in this absence of positive evidence we have abundance of negative proof. We know when it was not settled. We know it was not settled in the time of Emperor Justinian, nor in
the time of Cassiodorus; that is, not at any time before the middle of the sixth century, "by any authority that was decisive and universally acknowledged; but Christian people were at liberty to judge for themselves concerning the genuineness of
writings proposed to them as apostolical."
Bacchus was called the "Lawgiver," and his laws were written on two tablets of stone. This feature in the Hebrew legend was evidently copied from that related of Bacchus, but the idea of Moses
receiving the commandments from the Lord on a mountain was obviously taken from the Persian legend related of Zoroaster. Prof. Max Muller has said: "What applies to the religion of Moses applied to that of Zoroaster. It is placed before us as a complete
system from the first, revealed by Ahuramazda (Ormuzd), proclaimed by Zoroaster."
The biographers of Jesus, although they have placed him in a position the most humiliating in his infancy, and although they have given him poor and humble parents, have notwithstanding made him to
be of royal descent. The reasons for doing this were twofold. First, because, according to the Old Testament, the expected Messiah was to be of the seed of Abraham, and second, because the Angel-Messiahs who had previously been on earth to redeem and
save mankind had been of royal descent, therefore Christ Jesus must be so.
If Jesus were all that he's cracked up to be, then we wouldn't need Jesus.
Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.
The Onion: Is there
Science may have come a long way, but as far as religion is concerned, we are first
cousins to the !Kung tribesmen of the Kalahari Desert. Except for the garments, their deep religious trances might just as well be happening at a revival meeting or in the congregation of a fundamentalist TV preacher.... As we move further from the life
of ignorance and superstition in which religion has its roots, we seem to need it more and more.... Why has religion become a force just when we'd have thought it would be losing ground to secularism?
The God-loving people who fashioned the soaring vaults and delicate windows of Chartres had murder on their minds. Some of the workers may well have been veterans of the First Crusade, an expedition
to save the Holy Land from the Muslims that was part religious frenzy, part military adventure and part social fad. On that excursion, begun four years after work on Chartres began, the Crusaders slaughtered thousands of noncombatants, leveled whole communities,
and finally 'saved' the holy city of Jerusalem by massacring all its inhabitants -- men, women, children, Muslims, Jews: everybody.... We can pray one minute and kill the next.... We like to think that our erratic behavior is a thing of the past, that
we've outgrown the excesses of the Crusades. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are people in Belfast today who will repeat the catechism, then go toss a bomb into a crowded pub....
Nonbelievers are protected by the religion clauses of the Constitution not because secular
humanism is a religion, which it is not, but because when the government acts on the basis of religion it discriminates against those who do not "believe" in the governmentally favored manner.
Zealous groups threaten to infringe civil liberties when they seek government support to impose their own religious views on nonadherents. This has taken many forms, including attempts to introduce
organized prayer in public schools, to outlaw birth control and abortion, and to use public tax revenues to finance religious schools.
We in the United States are pluralistic respecting ultimate beliefs. Profound values exist apart from a devotion to a god. Indeed, those who discriminate against nonbelievers flout the principle of
religious tolerance that they often profess.
So long as man remains free, he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully
as to find someone to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but to find something
that all would believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship,
they've slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another, "Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!" And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear
from the earth; they will fall down before idols just the same.
Tell me straight out, I call on you -- answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest
at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifoce on the foundation of her unrequited tears -- would you agree to be the architect
on such conditions? Tell me the truth.
Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.
I've long stopped worrying about who invented whom -- God man or man God.
Beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity.
The Golden Age is the most implausible of all dreams. But for it men have given up their life and strength; for the sake of it prophets have died and been slain; without it the people will not live
and cannot die.
Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
I particularly request that no Christian mummeries or tomfooleries be performed at my grave, but that I be buried as an agnostic.
Life should be lived so vividly and so intensely that thoughts of another
life, or of a longer life, are not necessary.
of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air -- however slight --
lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
The Free Exercise Clause protects the individual from any coercive measure that encourages him toward one faith or creed, discourages him from another, or makes it prudent or desirable for him to select
one and embrace it.
Christianity has sufficient inner strength to survive and flourish on its own. It does not need state subsidies, nor state privileges, nor state prestige. The more it obtains state support, the greater
it curtails human freedom.
Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. Supineness and dogmatism take the place of inquiry. A problem can no
longer be pursued to its edges ... discussion often leaves off where it should begin.
There is no superior person by constitutional standards. [An applicant] who is white is entitled to no advantage by reason of that fact, nor is he subject to any disability,
no matter what his race or color. Whatever his race, [an applicant] has a constitutional right to have his application considered on its individual merits.
The religious freedom which the First Amendment protects has many facets:
-- William O Douglas, The Right of the People, 1958, pp. 91-92, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors.... For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! Welcome atheism! Welcome
anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by these Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine,
Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done!
Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful
roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply
justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us.... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief
with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall
also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... Your interference is doing him positive injury.
It isn't true that the laws of nature have been capriciously disturbed; that
snakes have talked; that women have been turned into salt; that rods have brought water out of rocks.
Dogmas of every kind put assertion in the place of reason and give rise to more contention, bitterness, and want of charity than any other influence in human affairs.
I never guess. It is a shocking habit -- destructive to the logical faculty.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.
A divine revelation must necessarily be intolerant of contradiction; it must repudiate all improvement in itself, and view with disdain that arising from the progressive intellectual development of
The history of science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression
arising from traditionary faith and human interest on the other.
We must bear in mind that the majority of men are imperfectly educated, and hence we must not needlessly offend the religious ideas of our age. It is enough for us ourselves to know that, though there
is a Supreme Power, there is no Supreme Being. There is an invisible principle, but not a personal God, to whom it would be not so much blasphemy as absurdity to impute the form, the sentiments, the passions of man. All revelation is, necessarily, a mere
fiction. That which men call chance is only the effect of an unknown cause. Even of chances there is a law. There is no such thing as Providence, for Nature proceeds under irresistible laws, and in this respect the universe is only a vast automatic engine.
The vital force which pervades the world is what the illiterate call God. The modifications through which all things are running take place in an irresistible way, and hence it may be said that the progress of the world is, under Destiny, like a seed,
it can evolve only in a predetermined mode.
In Christendom, the greater part of this long period was consumed in disputes respecting the nature of God, and in struggles for ecclesiastical power. The authority of the Fathers, and the prevailing belief that the Scriptures contain
the sum of all knowledge, discouraged any investigation of Nature. If by chance a passing interest was taken in some astronomical question, it was at once settled by a reference to such authorities as the writings of Augustine or Lactantius, not by an
appeal to the phenomena of the heavens. So great was the preference given to sacred over profane learning that Christianity had been in existence fifteen hundred years, and had not produced a single astronomer.
How is it that the Church produced no geometer in her autocratic reign of twelve hundred years?
In England [Giordano Bruno] had given lectures on the plurality of worlds, and in that country had written, in Italian, his most important works. It added not a little to the exasperation against him,
that he was perpetually declaiming against the insincerity, the impostures, of his persecutors -- that wherever he went he found skepticism varnished over and concealed by hypocrisy; and that it was not against the belief of men, but against
their pretended belief, that he was fighting; that he was struggling with an orthodoxy that had neither morality nor faith.
Antiquity was often delighted to cast a halo of mythical glory around its illustrious names. The immortal works of this great philosopher [Plato] seemed to entitle him to more than mortal honors. A legend into the authenticity of which
we will abstain from inquiring, asserted that his mother, Perictione, a pure virgin, suffered an immaculate conception through the influence of Apollo. The god declared to Ariston, to whom she was about to be married, the parentage of the child.
That natural reality is assumed rather than explained, is not proof for the existence
of a creator. Introducing god as an explanatory notion only shifts the locus of the question: why would such a god exist? And, it is possible that the universe just happens to exist, without explanation.
Assure a man that he has a soul and then frighten him with old wives' tales as to what
is to become of him afterward, and you have hooked a fish, a mental slave.
If I were personally to define religion, I would say that it is a bandage that man has invented to protect a soul made bloody by circumstance.
All forms of dogmatic religion should go. The world did without them in the past and can do so again.
Sincerity is all that counts. Its a widespread modern heresy. Think again. Bolsheviks are sincere. Fascists are sincere. Lunatics are sincere. People who believe the earth is flat are sincere.
They cant all be right. Better make certain that youve got something to be sincere about and with.
the Christian churches of New York are trying to ruin the free public schools in order to replace them by religious dogma.
The severest charge that can be brought against the Christian education of the Negro in the South during the last thirty years is the reckless way in which sap-headed young fellows, without ability,
and, in some cases, without character, have been urged and pushed into the ministry.
The kind of sermon which is preached in most colored churches is not today attractive to even fairly intelligent men.
The theology of the average colored church is basing itself far too much upon "hell and damnation." ... We are still trained to believe a good deal that is simply childish in theology....
Our present method of periodic revival [involves] the hiring of professional and loud-mouthed evangelists and reducing people to a state of frenzy or unconsciousness.
The god is born about December 25th, without sexual intercourse, for the sun, entering the winter solstice, emerges in the sign of Virgo, the heavenly Virgin. His mother remains ever-virgin, since the
rays of the sun, passing through the zodiacal sign, leave it intact. His infancy is begirt with dangers, because the new-born Sun is feeble in the midst of the winter's fogs and mists, which threaten to devour him; his life is one of toil and peril, culminating
at the spring equinox in a final struggle with the powers of darkness. At that period the day and night are equal, and both fight for the mastery. Though the night veil the urn and he seems dead; though he has descended out of sight, below the earth,
yet he rises again triumphant, and he rises in the sign of the Lamb, and is thus the Lamb of God, carrying away the darkness and death of the winter months. Henceforth he triumphs, growing ever stronger and more brilliant. He ascends into the zenith,
and there he glows, on the right hand of God, himself God, the very substance of the Father, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by his lifegiving power.
Man became free when he recognized that he was subject to law.
I learned how valuable our Constitution is and how valuable the separation of church and state is.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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