Positive Atheism’s Big List of Quotations
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Today, the religion clauses of the First Amendment do not need to be fixed; they need to be followed.
The Queen of England is Defender of the Faith but the President of the United States is Defender of the Constitution, which defends all faiths.
Whatever his private beliefs and religious practice, a president must be the guardian of the laws which ensure America’s religious diversity.
It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.
It is not necessary for me to tell you how much all your countrymen — I speak of the great mass of the people — are interested in your welfare. They have not forgotten the history of their own Revolution and the difficult scenes through which they passed; nor do they review its several stages without reviving in their bosoms a due sensibility of the merits of those who served them in that great and arduous conflict. The crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I trust never will stain, our national character. You are considered by them as not only having rendered important services in our own Revolution, but as being on a more extensive scale the friend of human rights, and a distinguished and able defender of public liberty. To the welfare of Thomas Paine the Americans are not, nor can they be indifferent.
Gilman: Monroe Reticent On Beliefs
“He was extremely reticent in his religious sentiments, at least in all that he wrote. Allusions to his belief are rarely, if ever, to be met with in his correspondence.”
Steiner: Monroe Reticent On Beliefs
“A still later biography by George Morgan does not say even so much as this one by Gilman. The six volumes of his Writings confirm the fact of his reticence on religious subjects.”
“If a member of the Episcopal Church is supposed to be a communicant, Washington and William Henry Harrison were not Episcopalians; and there is no evidence Madison, Monroe, Taylor, Tyler and Arthur were. The lumping together of so many Presidents as Episcopalians is due to the fact that St John’s Church of that denomination, in Washington, is now located, as it was a hundred years ago, only 3,00 yards from the Whit House, on Lafayette Square. St John’s has always been an aristocratic exclusive church, and required certificates of social standing from those who applied for membership.”
Anonymous: Monroe Aids Infidel Paine
“[Thomas] Paine was imprisoned in the Luxembourg on December 28, 1793, and released on November 4, 1794. His liberation was secured by his old friend, James Monroe (afterwards President), who had succeeded his (Paine’s) relentless enemy, Gouvemeur Morris, as American Minister in Paris. He was found by Monroe more dead than alive from semi-starvation, cold, and an abscess contracted in prison, and taken to the Minister’s own residence. It was not supposed that he could survive, and he owed his life to the tender care of Mr and Mrs Monroe. It was while thus a prisoner in his room, with death still hovering over him, that Paine wrote Part Second of ‘The Age of Reason.’”
Wilson: Early Presidents Not Religious
“The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
The Good Book — one of the most remarkable euphamisms ever coined.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)
My reason is not framed to bend or stoop: my knees are.
Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm, and yet will make Gods by dozens.
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
Men of simple understanding, little inquisitive and little instructed, make good Christians.
[I]t is setting a high value upon our opinions, to roast men alive on account of them.
[I]t is far more probable that our senses should deceive us, than that an old woman should be carried up a chimney on a broom stick; and that it is far less astonishing that witnesses should lie, than that witches should perform the acts that were alleged.
How many things served us but yesterday as articles of faith, which today we deem but fables?
To honor him whom we have made is far from honoring him that hath made us.
— Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (attributed: source unknown)
Death pays all debts. (La mort nous acquitte de toutes nos obligations.)
Lecky: Montaigne Unclouded By Theism
“It has been justly remarked by Malebranche, that Montaigne is an example of a writer who had no pretensions to be a great reasoner, but who nevertheless exercised a most profound and general influence upon the opinions of mankind. It is not, I think, difficult to discover the explanation of the fact. In an age which was still spell-bound by the fascinations of the past, he applied to every question a judgment entirely unclouded by the imaginations of theologians, and unshackled by the dictates of authority. His originality consists, not so much in his definite opinions or in his arguments, as in the general tone and character of his mind. He was the first French author who had entirely emancipated himself from the retrospective habits of thought that had so long been universal; who ventured to judge all questions by a secular standard, by the light of common sense, by the measure of probability which is furnished by daily experience.... While Catholics, Protestants, and Deists were vying with each other in their adoration of the past; while the ambition of every scholar and of every theologian was to form around his mind an atmosphere of thought that bore no relation to the world that was about him; while knowledge was made the bond-slave of credulity, and those whose intellects were most shackled by prejudice were regarded as the wisest of mankind, it was the merit of Montaigne to rise, by the force of his masculine genius, into the clear world of reality; to judge the opinions of his age with an intellect that was invigorated but not enslaved by knowledge; and to contemplate the systems of the past, without being dazzled by the reverence that had surrounded them. He looked down upon the broad field of history, upon its clashing enthusiasms, its discordant systems, the ebb and flow of its ever-changing belief, and he drew from the contemplation a lesson widely different from his contemporaries.... [H]e ... obtained an intense and realised perception of the fallibility of the human intellect; a keen sense of the absurdity of an absolute deference to the past, and of the danger of punishing men with death on account of opinions concerning which we can have so little assurance. These things led him to suspect that witchcraft might be a delusion. The bent and character of his mind led him to believe that witchcraft was grossly improbable. He was the first great representative of the modem secular and rationalistic spirit.... This was not the happy guess of ignorance. It was the direct result of a mode of thought which he applied to all theological questions. Fifty years earlier, a book embodying such conceptions would have appeared entirely incomprehensible, and its author would perhaps have been burnt. At the close of the sixteenth century, the minds of men were prepared for its reception, and it flashed like a revelation upon France. From the publication of the essays of Montaigne, we may date the influence of that gifted and ever enlarging rationalistic school, who gradually effected the destruction of the belief in witchcraft, not by refuting or explaining its evidence, but simply by making men more and more sensible of its intrinsic absurdity.”
Religious liberty, sincere and equal for all, without privilege ... in a word the free church in a free nation, such has been the program which inspired my first efforts and which I have persevered, after thirty years of struggle, in considering just and reasonable.
No kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.
If triangles made a god, they would give him three sides.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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