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Percy Bysshe Shelley
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The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.
A God made by man undoubtedly has need of man to make himself known to man.
... as belief is a passion of the mind, no degree of criminality is attachable to disbelief; ...
Had this author [Sir W Drummond Academical Questions, chap. iii.], instead of inveighing against the guilt and absurdity of atheism, demonstrated its falsehood, his conduct would have, been more suited to the modesty of the skeptic and the toleration of the philosopher.
It is easier to suppose that the universe has existed for all eternity than to conceive a being beyond its limits capable of creating it.
The Galilean is not a favourite of mine. So far from owing him any thanks for his favour, I cannot avoid confessing that I owe a secret grudge to his carpentership.
Here I swear, and as I break my oath may ... eternity blast me, here I swear that never will I forgive Christianity! It is the only point on which I allow myself to encourage revenge.... Oh, how I wish I were the Antichrist, that it were mine to crush the Demon; to hurl him to his native Hell never to rise again -- I expect to gratify some of this insatiable feeling in Poetry.
'O Spirit! centuries have set their seal
And priests dare babble of a God of peace,
... and obedience,
It is thus that the generality of mankind, whose lot is ignorance, attributes to the Divinity, not only the unusual effects which strike them, but moreover the most simple events, of which the causes are the most simple to understand by whomever is able to study them. In a word, man has always respected unknown causes, surprising effects that his ignorance kept him from unraveling. It was on this debris of nature that man raised the imaginary colossus of the Divinity.
It is only by hearsay (by word of mouth passed down from generation to generation) that whole peoples adore the God of their fathers and of their priests: authority, confidence, submission and custom with them take the place of conviction or of proofs: they prostrate themselves and pray, because their fathers taught them to prostrate themselves and pray: but why did their fathers fall on their knees?
In fighting for his God everyone, in fact, fights only for the interests of his own vanity, which, of all the passions produced by the mal-organization of society, is the quickest to take offense, and the most capable of committing the greatest follies.
If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE HAS SPOKEN, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest.
All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil.
Whatever may be his true and final destination, there is a spirit within him at enmity with nothingness and dissolution. This is the character of all life and being.
The body is placed under the earth, and after a certain period there remains no vestige even of its form. This is that contemplation of inexhaustible melancholy, whose shadow eclipses the brightness of the world. The common observer is struck with dejection of the spectacle. He contends in vain against the persuasion of the grave, that the dead indeed cease to be. The corpse at his feet is prophetic of his own destiny. Those who have preceded him, and whose voice was delightful to his ear; whose touch met his like sweet and subtle fire: whose aspect spread a visionary light upon his path -- these he cannot meet again.
When you can discover where the fresh colors of the faded flower abide, or the music of the broken lyre, seek life among the dead. Such are the anxious and fearful contemplations of the common observer, though the popular religion often prevents him from confessing them even to himself.
This is the pivot upon which all religions turn; they all assume that it is in our power to believe or not to believe: whereas the mind can only believe that which it thinks true. A human being can only be supposed accountable for those actions which are influenced by his will. But belief is utterly distinct from and unconnected with volition it is the apprehension of the agreement or disagreement of the ideas that compose any proposition. Belief is a passion or involuntary operation of the mind, and, like other passions, its intensity is precisely proportionate to the degree of excitement. Volition is essential to merit or demerit. But the Christian religion attaches the highest possible degree of merit and demerit to that which is worthy of neither, and which is totally unconnected with the peculiar faculty of the mind whose presence is essential to their being.
A book is put into our hands when children, called the Bible, the purport of whose history is briefly this: That God made the earth in six days and there planted a delightful garden, in which He placed the first pair of human beings. In the midst of the garden He planted a tree, whose fruit, although within their reach, they were forbidden to touch. That the Devil, in the shape of a snake, persuaded them to eat of this fruit; in consequence of which God condemned both of them and their posterity yet unborn to satisfy His justice by their eternal misery. That, 4000 years after these events (the human race in the meantime having gone unredeemed to perdition), God engendered with the betrothed wife of a carpenter in Judaea (whose virginity was nevertheless uninjured), and begat a son, whose name was Jesus Christ; and who was crucified and died in order that no more men might be devoted to hell-fire.... The book states, in addition, that the soul of whoever disbelieves this sacrifice will be burned with everlasting fire.
... What are numbers knit
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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