robert g. ingersoll Quotes

Robert G. Ingersoll Quotes

Birth Date: 1833-08-11 (Sunday, August 11th, 1833)
Date of Death: 1899-07-21 (Friday, July 21st, 1899)

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Quotes

    • An honest God is the noblest work of man.
    • Day by day, religious conceptions grow less and less intense. Day by day, the old spirit dies out of book and creed. The burning enthusiasm, the quenchless zeal of the early church have gone, never, never to return. The ceremonies remain, but the ancient faith is fading out of the human heart. The worn-out arguments fail to convince, and denunciations that once blanched the faces of a race, excite in us only derision and disgust. As time rolls on, the miracles grow mean and small, and the evidences our fathers thought conclusive utterly fail to satisfy us.
    • While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.
    • Reason, Observation and Experience - the Holy Trinity of Science - have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of, nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. Until then, let us stand erect.
    • Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen forehead of every traitor to his country and every maligner of his fair reputation.
    • The Declaration of Independence is the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by the representatives of a people. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom.
    • Such things had occasionally been said by some political enthusiast in the olden time, but, for the first time in the history of the world, the representatives of a nation, the representatives of a real, living, breathing, hoping people, declared that all men are created equal. With one blow, with one stroke of the pen, they struck down all the cruel, heartless barriers that aristocracy, that priestcraft, that king-craft had raised between man and man. They struck down with one immortal blow that infamous spirit of caste that makes a God almost a beast, and a beast almost a god. With one word, with one blow, they wiped away and utterly destroyed, all that had been done by centuries of war - centuries of hypocrisy - centuries of injustice.
    • The rights of all are equal: justice, poised and balanced in eternal calm, will shake from the golden scales in which are weighed the acts of men, the very dust of prejudice and caste: No race, no color, no previous condition, can change the rights of men.
    • They say the religion of your fathers is good enough. Why should a father object to your inventing a better plow than he had? They say to me, do you know more than all the theologians dead? Being a perfectly modest man I say I think I do. Now we have come to the conclusion that every man has a right to think. Would God give a bird wings and make it a crime to fly? Would he give me brains and make it a crime to think? Any God that would damn one of his children for the expression of his honest thought wouldn't make a decent thief. When I read a book and don't believe it, I ought to say so. I will do so and take the consequences like a man.
    • Churches are becoming political organizations... It probably will not be long until the churches will divide as sharply upon political, as upon theological questions; and when that day comes, if there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of power, this Government will be destroyed. The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave. All laws for the purpose of making man worship God, are born of the same spirit that kindled the fires of the auto da fe, and lovingly built the dungeons of the Inquisition. All laws defining and punishing blasphemy - making it a crime to give your honest ideas about the Bible, or to laugh at the ignorance of the ancient Jews, or to enjoy yourself on the Sabbath, or to give your opinion of Jehovah, were passed by impudent bigots, and should be at once repealed by honest men. An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. Certainly he ought not so to act that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the threat of fine and imprisonment. It strikes me that God might write a book that would not necessarily excite the laughter of his children. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that a real God could produce a work that would excite the admiration of mankind. Surely politicians could be better employed than in passing laws to protect the literary reputation of the Jewish God.
    • Love is the only bow on Life's dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the mother of art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart - builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody - for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to Joy, and makes royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.
    • I suppose it can be truthfully said that Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity.
    • There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments - there are only consequences. The life of Christ is worth its example, its moral force, its heroism of benevolence.
    • For the most part we inherit our opinions. We are the heirs of habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the fashion of our garments, depend on where we were born. We are molded and fashioned by our surroundings.
    • Few rich men own their own property. The property owns them.
    • The present is the necessary product of all the past, the necessary cause of all the future.
    • Good-by, gentlemen! I am not asking to be Governor of Illinois ... I have in my composition that which I have declared to the world as my views upon religion. My position I would not, under any circumstances, not even for my life, seem to renounce. I would rather refuse to be President of the United States than to do so. My religious belief is my own. It belongs to me, not to the State of Illinois. I would not smother one sentiment of my heart to be the Emperor of the round world.
    • I do not believe in forgiveness as it is preached by the church. We do not need the forgiveness of God, but of each other and of ourselves. If I rob Mr. Smith and God forgives me, how does that help Smith? If I, by slander, cover some poor girl with the leprosy of some imputed crime, and she withers away like a blighted flower and afterward I get the forgiveness of God, how does that help her? If there is another world, we have got to settle with the people we have wronged in this. No bankrupt court there. Every cent must be paid...
    • I cannot believe that there is any being in this universe who has created a human soul for eternal pain. I would rather that every god would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to eternal chaos, to black and starless night, than that just one soul should suffer eternal agony.
    • I have made up my mind that if there is a God, he will be merciful to the merciful. Upon that rock I stand. That he will not torture the forgiving. Upon that rock I stand. That every man should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in which honesty is a crime. Upon that rock I stand. The honest man, the good woman, the happy child, have nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come. Upon that rock I stand.
    • 'Oh,' they say to me, 'but you take away immortality.' I do not. If we are immortal it is a fact in nature, and we are not indebted to priests for it, nor to bibles for it, and it cannot be destroyed by unbelief.
    • I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample under foot. Men are not superior by reason of the accidents of race or color. They are superior who have the best heart - the best brain.
    • The superior man is the providence of the inferior. He is eyes for the blind, strength for the weak, and a shield for the defenseless. He stands erect by bending above the fallen. He rises by lifting others.
    • Whoever has an opinion of his own, and honestly expresses it, will be guilty of heresy. Heresy is what the minority believe; it is the name given by the powerful to the doctrine of the weak.
    • It is claimed that God wrote a book called the Bible, and it is generally admitted that this book is somewhat difficult to understand. As long as the church had all the copies of this book, and the people were not allowed to read it, there was comparatively little heresy in the world; but when it was printed and read, people began honestly to differ as to its meaning. A few were independent and brave enough to give the world their real thoughts, and for the extermination of these men the church used all her power. Protestants and Catholics vied with each other in the work of enslaving the human mind. For ages they were rivals in the infamous effort to rid the earth of honest people.
    • Give any orthodox church the power, and to-day they would punish heresy with whip, and chain, and fire. As long as a church deems a certain belief essential to salvation, just so long it will kill and burn if it has the power.
    • Every church pretends that it has a revelation from God, and that this revelation must be given to the people through the church; that the church acts through its priests, and that ordinary mortals must be content with a revelation - not from God - but from the church. Had the people submitted to this preposterous claim, of course there could have been but one church, and that church never could have advanced. It might have retrograded, because it is not necessary to think or investigate in order to forget. Without heresy there could have been no progress.
    • According to the theologians, God, the Father of us all, wrote a letter to his children. The children have always differed somewhat as to the meaning of this letter. In consequence of these honest differences, these brothers began to cut out each other's hearts. In every land, where this letter from God has been read, the children to whom and for whom it was written have been filled with hatred and malice. They have imprisoned and murdered each other, and the wives and children of each other. In the name of God every possible crime has been committed, every conceivable outrage has been perpetrated. Brave men, tender and loving women, beautiful girls, and prattling babes have been exterminated in the name of Jesus Christ.
    • I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their creeds. In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous promptings of the human heart. They have been true to their convictions, and, with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned every danger. And yet, notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest error was a crime. They knew that the Bible so declared, and they believed that all unbelievers would be eternally lost. They believed that religion was of God, and all heresy of the devil. They killed heretics in defence of their own souls and the souls of their children. They killed them because, according to their idea, they were the enemies of God, and because the Bible teaches that the blood of the unbeliever is a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven.
    • Nature never prompted a loving mother to throw her child into the Ganges. Nature never prompted men to exterminate each other for a difference of opinion concerning the baptism of infants. These crimes have been produced by religions filled with all that is illogical, cruel and hideous. These religions were produced for the most part by ignorance, tyranny and hypocrisy. Under the impression that the infinite ruler and creator of the universe had commanded the destruction of heretics and infidels, the church perpetrated all these crimes: Men and women have been burned for thinking there is but one God; that there was none; that the Holy Ghost is younger than God; that God was somewhat older than his son; for insisting that good works will save a man without faith; that faith will do without good works; for declaring that a sweet babe will not be burned eternally, because its parents failed to have its head wet by a priest; for speaking of God as though he had a nose; for denying that Christ was his own father; for contending that three persons, rightly added together, make more than one; for believing in purgatory; for denying the reality of hell; for pretending that priests can forgive sins; for preaching that God is an essence; for denying that witches rode through the air on sticks; for doubting the total depravity of the human heart; for laughing at irresistible grace, predestination and particular redemption; for denying that good bread could be made of the body of a dead man; for pretending that the pope was not managing this world for God, and in the place of God; for disputing the efficacy of a vicarious atonement; for thinking the Virgin Mary was born like other people; for thinking that a man's rib was hardly sufficient to make a good-sized woman; for denying that God used his finger for a pen; for asserting that prayers are not answered, that diseases are not sent to punish unbelief; for denying the authority of the Bible; for having a Bible in their possession; for attending mass, and for refusing to attend; for wearing a surplice; for carrying a cross, and for refusing; for being a Catholic, and for being a Protestant; for being an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and for being a Quaker. In short, every virtue has been a crime, and every crime a virtue. The church has burned honesty and rewarded hypocrisy. And all this, because it was commanded by a book - a book that men had been taught implicitly to believe, long before they knew one word that was in it. They had been taught that to doubt the truth of this book - to examine it, even - was a crime of such enormity that it could not be forgiven, either in this world or in the next.
    • How long, O how long will mankind worship a book? How long will they grovel in the dust before the ignorant legends of the barbaric past? How long, O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness deeper than death?
    • The heretics have not thought and suffered and died in vain. Every heretic has been, and is, a ray of light.
    • Heresy is the eternal dawn, the morning star, the glittering herald of the day. Heresy is the last and best thought. It is the perpetual New World, the unknown sea, toward which the brave all sail. It is the eternal horizon of progress. Heresy extends the hospitalities of the brain to a new thought. Heresy is a cradle; orthodoxy, a coffin.
    • Why should man be afraid to think, and why should he fear to express his thoughts? Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that a man should investigate the phenomena by which he is surrounded? Is it possible that a god delights in threatening and terrifying men? What glory, what honor and renown a god must win on such a field! The ocean raving at a drop; a star envious of a candle; the sun jealous of a fire-fly.
    • By this time the whole world should know that the real Bible has not yet been written, but is being written, and that it will never be finished until the race begins its downward march, or ceases to exist. The real Bible is not the work of inspired men, nor prophets, nor apostles, nor evangelists, nor of Christs. Every man who finds a fact, adds, as it were, a word to this great book. It is not attested by prophecy, by miracles or signs. It makes no appeal to faith, to ignorance, to credulity or fear. It has no punishment for unbelief, and no reward for hypocrisy. It appeals to man in the name of demonstration. It has nothing to conceal. It has no fear of being read, of being contradicted, of being investigated and understood. It does not pretend to be holy, or sacred; it simply claims to be true. It challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores every reader to verify every line for himself. It is incapable of being blasphemed. This book appeals to all the surroundings of man. Each thing that exists testifies of its perfection. The earth, with its heart of fire and crowns of snow; with its forests and plains, its rocks and seas; with its every wave and cloud; with its every leaf and bud and flower, confirms its every word, and the solemn stars, shining in the infinite abysses, are the eternal witnesses of its truth.
    • There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence. The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced.
    • Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man. In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes. Every science has been an outcast. All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward march of the human race. The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul.
    • Only a few years ago there was a great awakening of the human mind. Men began to inquire by what right a crowned robber made them work for him? The man who asked this question was called a traitor. Others asked by what right does a robed hypocrite rule my thought? Such men were called infidels. The priest said, and the king said, where is this spirit of investigation to stop? They said then and they say now, that it is dangerous for man to be free. I deny it. Out on the intellectual sea there is room enough for every sail. In the intellectual air there is space enough for every wing. The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men.
    • Standing in the presence of the Unknown, all have the same right to think, and all are equally interested in the great questions of origin and destiny. All I claim, all I plead for, is liberty of thought and expression. That is all. I do not pretend to tell what is absolutely true, but what I think is true. I do not pretend to tell all the truth. I do not claim that I have floated level with the heights of thought, or that I have descended to the very depths of things. I simply claim that what ideas I have, I have a right to express; and that any man who denies that right to me is an intellectual thief and robber. That is all.
    • The good men, the good women, are tired of the whip and lash in the realm of thought. They remember the chain and fagot with a shudder. They are free, and they give liberty to others; whoever claims any right that he is unwilling to accord to his fellow-men is dishonest and infamous.
    • You cannot change the conclusion of the brain by torture; nor by social ostracism. But I will tell you what you can do by these, and what you have done. You can make hypocrites by the million. You can make a man say that he has changed his mind; but he remains of the same opinion still. Put fetters all over him; crush his feet in iron boots; stretch him to the last gasp upon the holy rack; burn him, if you please, but his ashes will be of the same opinion still.
    • In the old times of which I have spoken, they desired to make all men think exactly alike. All the mechanical ingenuity of the world cannot make two clocks run exactly alike, and how are you going to make hundreds of millions of people, differing in brain and disposition, in education and aspiration, in conditions and surroundings, each clad in a living robe of passionate flesh - how are you going to make them think and feel alike? If there is an infinite god, one who made us, and wishes us to think alike, why did he give a spoonful of brains to one, and a magnificent intellectual development to another? Why is it that we have all degrees of intelligence, from orthodoxy to genius, if it was intended that all should think and feel alike?
    • There has never been upon the earth a generation of free men and women. It is not yet time to write a creed. Wait until the chains are broken - until dungeons are not regarded as temples. Wait until solemnity is not mistaken for wisdom - until mental cowardice ceases to be known as reverence. Wait until the living are considered the equals of the dead - until the cradle takes precedence of the coffin. Wait until what we know can be spoken without regard to what others may believe. Wait until teachers take the place of preachers - until followers become investigators. Wait until the world is free before you write a creed. In this creed there will be but one word - Liberty.
    • I know not what discoveries, what inventions, what thoughts may leap from the brain of the world. I know not what garments of glory may be woven by the years to come. I cannot dream of the victories to be won upon the fields of thought; but I do know, that coming from the infinite sea of the future, there will never touch this 'bank and shoal of time' a richer gift, a rarer blessing than liberty for man, for woman, and for child.
    • I do not believe that the tendency is to make men and women brave and glorious when you tell them that there are certain ideas upon certain subjects that they must never express; that they must go through life with a pretence as a shield; that their neighbors will think much more of them if they will only keep still; and that above all is a God who despises one who honestly expresses what he believes. For my part, I believe men will be nearer honest in business, in politics, grander in art - in everything that is good and grand and beautiful, if they are taught from the cradle to the coffin to tell their honest opinion.
    • It is incredible that only idiots are absolutely sure of salvation. It is incredible that the more brain you have the less your chance is. There can be no danger in honest thought, and if the world ever advances beyond what it is to-day, it must be led by men who express their real opinions.
    • In the estimation of good orthodox Christians I am a criminal, because I am trying to take from loving mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and lovers the consolations naturally arising from a belief in an eternity of grief and pain. I want to tear, break, and scatter to the winds the God that priests erected in the fields of innocent pleasure - a God made of sticks called creeds, and of old clothes called myths. I shall endeavor to take from the coffin its horror, from the cradle its curse, and put out the fires of revenge kindled by an infinite fiend. Is it necessary that Heaven should borrow its light from the glare of Hell? Infinite punishment is infinite cruelty, endless injustice, immortal meanness. To worship an eternal gaoler hardens, debases, and pollutes even the vilest soul. While there is one sad and breaking heart in the universe, no good being can be perfectly happy.
    • The God of Hell should be held in loathing, contempt and scorn. A God who threatens eternal pain should be hated, not loved - cursed, not worshiped. A heaven presided over by such a God must be below the lowest hell. I want no part in any heaven in which the saved, the ransomed and redeemed will drown with shouts of joy the cries and sobs of hell - in which happiness will forget misery, where the tears of the lost only increase laughter and double bliss.
    • The idea of hell was born of ignorance, brutality, fear, cowardice, and revenge. This idea testifies that our remote ancestors were the lowest beasts. Only from dens, lairs, and caves, only from mouths filled with cruel fangs, only from hearts of fear and hatred, only from the conscience of hunger and lust, only from the lowest and most debased could come this most cruel, heartless and bestial of all dogmas.
    • Whoever attacks a custom or a creed, will be confronted with a list of the names of the dead who upheld the custom, or believed the creed. He is asked in a very triumphant and sneering way, if he knows more than all the great and honored of the past. Every defender of a creed has graven upon his memory the names of all 'great' men whose actions or words can be tortured into evidence for his doctrine
    • The truth is, that in favor of almost every sect, the names of some great men can he pronounced.
    • The fact is, very few men are right in everything.
    • Great virtues may draw attention from defects, they cannot sanctify them. A pebble surrounded by diamonds remains a common stone, and a diamond surrounded by pebbles is still a gem. No one should attempt to refute an argument by pronouncing the name of some man, unless he is willing to adopt all the ideas and beliefs of that man. It is better to give reasons and facts than names. An argument should not depend for its force upon the name of its author. Facts need no pedigree logic has no heraldry, and the living should not awed by the mistakes of the dead.
    • The greatest men the world has produced have known but little. They had a few facts, mingled with mistakes without number. In some departments they towered above their fellows, while in others they fell below the common level of mankind.
    • Volumes might be written upon the follies and imbecilities of great men. A full rounded man - a man of sterling sense and natural logic - is just as rare as a great painter, poet, or sculptor. If you tell your friend that he is not a painter, that he has no genius for poetry, he will probably admit the truth of what you say, without feeling that he has been insulted in the least. But if you tell him that he is not a logician, that he has but little idea of the value of a fact, that he has no real conception of what evidence is, and that he never had an original thought in his life, he will cut your acquaintance.
    • Most men are followers, and implicitly rely upon the judgment of others. They mistake solemnity for wisdom, and regard a grave countenance as the title page and Preface to a most learned volume. So they are easily imposed upon by forms, strange garments, and solemn ceremonies. And when the teaching of parents, the customs of neighbors, and the general tongue approve and justify a belief or creed, no matter how absurd, it is hard even for the strongest to hold the citadel of his soul. In each country, in defence of each religion, the same arguments would be urged.
    • All the martyrs in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the correctness of an opinion. Martyrdom, as a rule, establishes the sincerity of the martyr, - never the correctness of his thought. Things are true or false in themselves. Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed, established, or affected by martyrdom. An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth.
    • The murderer upon the scaffold, with a priest on either side, smilingly exhorts the multitude to meet him in heaven. The man who has succeeded in making his home a hell, meets death without a quiver, provided he has never expressed any doubt as to the divinity of Christ, or the eternal 'procession' of the Holy Ghost. The king who has waged cruel and useless war, who has filled countries with widows and fatherless children, with the maimed and diseased, and who has succeeded in offering to the Moloch of ambition the best and bravest of his subjects, dies like a saint.
    • The Emperor Constantine, who lifted Christianity into power, murdered his wife Fausta, and his eldest son Crispus, the same year that he convened the Council of Nice to decide whether Jesus Christ was a man or the Son of God. The council decided that Christ was consubstantial with the father. This was in the year 325. We are thus indebted to a wife-murderer for settling the vexed question of the divinity of the Savior.
    • The night of the Middle Ages lasted for a thousand years. The first star that enriched the horizon of this universal gloom was Giordano Bruno. He was the herald of the dawn.
    • Had it not been for Thomas Paine I could not deliver this lecture here to-night. It is still fashionable to calumniate this man - and yet Channing, Theodore Parker, Longfellow, Emerson, and in fact all the liberal Unitarians and Universalists of the world have adopted the opinions of Thomas Paine.
    • Let us be honest. Did all the priests of Rome increase the mental wealth of man as much as Bruno? Did all the priests of France do as great a work for the civilization of the world as Diderot and Voltaire? Did all the ministers of Scotland add as much to the sum of human knowledge as David Hume? Have all the clergymen, monks, friars, ministers, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes, from the day of Pentecost to the last election, done as much for human liberty as Thomas Paine? - as much for science as Charles Darwin?
    • The infidels have been the brave and thoughtful men; the flower of all the world; the pioneers and heralds of the blessed day of liberty and love; the generous spirits of the unworthy past; the seers and prophets of our race; the great chivalric souls, proud victors on the battlefields of thought, the creditors of all the years to be.
    • I know how vain it is to gild a grief with words, and yet I wish to take from every grave its fear. Here in this world, where life and death are equal things, all should be brave enough to meet what all the dead have met. The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted by the heartless past.
    • Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell, we do not know, which is the greater blessing - life or death. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life, or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else at dawn. Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate - the child dying in its mother's arms, before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who journeys all the length of life's uneven road, painfully taking the last slow steps with staff and crutch.
    • Every cradle asks us, 'Whence?' and every coffin, 'Whither?' The poor barbarian, weeping above his dead, can answer these questions as intelligently as the robed priest of the most authentic creed.
    • No man, standing where the horizon of a life has touched a grave, has any right to prophesy a future filled with pain and tears. It may be that death gives all there is of worth to life. If those we press and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. Maybe this common fate treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness and hate, and I had rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not.
    • The dead do not suffer. And if they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear. We are all children of the same mother, and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion, and it is this: Help for the living, hope for the dead.
    • For thousands of years people have been trying to force other people to think their way. Did they succeed? No. Will they succeed? No. Why? Because brute force is not an argument.
    • No orthodox church ever had power that it did not endeavor to make people think its way by force and flame.
    • It seems to me that if there is some infinite being who wants us to think alike he would have made us alike.
    • How has the church in every age, when in authority, defended itself? Always by a statute against blasphemy, against argument, against free speech. And there never was such a statute that did not stain the book that it was in and that did not certify to the savagery of the men who passed it.
    • Now, gentlemen, what is blasphemy? Of course nobody knows what it is, unless he takes into consideration where he is. What is blasphemy in one country would be a religious exhortation in another.
    • These heroes are dead. They died for liberty-they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or storm, each in the windowless palace of rest. Earth may run red with other wars-they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.
    • Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud-and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word. But in the night of Death Hope sees a star and listening Love can hear the rustling of a wing.
    • Is there beyond the silent night An endless day? Is death a door that leads to light? We cannot say.
    • A crime against god is a demonstrated impossibility.
    • A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie.
    • A good deed is the best prayer.
    • A man is not moral because he is obedient through fear or ignorance. Morality lives in the realm of perceived obligation.
    • A man looks at the sea, and the sea says something to him. It makes an impression on his mind. It awakens his memory, and this impression depends upon his experience - upon his intellectual capacity. Another looks upon the same sea. He has a different brain; he has a different experience. The sea may speak to him of joy, to the other of grief and tears. The sea cannot tell the same thing to any two human beings, because no two human beings have had the same experience.
    • A true marriage is a natural concord and agreement of souls, a harmony in which discord is not even imagined; it is a mingling so perfect that only one seems to exist; all other considerations are lost; the present seems to be eternal. In this supreme moment there is no shadow - or the shadow is as luminous as light. And when two beings thus love, thus unite, this is the true marriage of soul and soul. That which is said before the altar, or minister, or magistrate, or in the presence of witnesses, is only the outward evidence of that which has already happened within; it simply testifies to a union that has already taken place - to the uniting of two mornings of hope to reach the night together.
    • Above all creeds, above all religions, after all, is that divine thing, - Humanity.
    • Above the natural, man cannot rise. There can be deformed ideas; as there are deformed persons. There may be religions monstrous and misshapen, but they were naturally produced. The world is to each man according to each man. It takes the world as it really is and that man to make that man's world.
    • Age after age, the strong have trampled upon the weak; the crafty and heartless have ensnared and enslaved the simple and innocent, and nowhere, in all the annals of mankind, has any god succored the oppressed.
    • All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward march of the human race. The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul.
    • All the forces of civilization are in favor of morality and temperance. Little can be accomplished by law, because law, for the most part, about such things, is a destruction of personal liberty. Liberty cannot be sacrificed for the sake of temperance, for the sake of morality, or for the sake of anything. It is of more value than everything else. Yet some people would destroy the sun to prevent the growth of weeds. Liberty sustains the same relation to all the virtues that the sun does to life. The world had better go back to barbarism, to the dens, the caves and lairs of savagery; better lose all art, all inventions, than to lose liberty. Liberty is the breath of progress; it is the seed and soil, the heat and rain of love and joy.
    • Away, forever away with the creeds and books and forms and laws and religions that take from the soul liberty and reason. Down with the idea that thought is dangerous! Perish the infamous doctrine that man can have property in man. Let us resent with indignation every effort to put a chain upon our minds. If there is no God, certainly we should not bow and cringe and crawl. If there is a God, there should be no slaves.
    • Belief is not a voluntary thing. A man believes or disbelieves in spite of himself. They tell us that to believe is the safe way; but I say, the safe way is to be honest.
    • Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense.
    • Call me infidel, call me atheist, call me what you will, I intend so to treat my children, that they can come to my grave and truthfully say: 'He who sleeps here never gave us a moment of pain. From his lips, now dust, never came to us an unkind word.'
    • Celibacy is the essence of vulgarity.
    • Certainly marriages by Justices of the Peace cannot cause the mental, moral and financial decay of a State.
    • Colleges are places where pebbles are polished and diamonds are dimmed.
    • Courage without conscience is a wild beast.
    • Crowned force has governed ignorance through fear. Hypocrisy and tyranny - two vultures - have fed upon the liberties of man. From all these there has been, and is, but one means of escape - intellectual development. Upon the back industry has been the whip. Upon the brain have been the fetters of superstition. Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man. In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes.
    • Do not, I pray you, pluck from the heart the sweet flower of pity and trample it in the bloody dust of superstition.
    • Does belief depend upon evidence? I think it does somewhat in some cases. How is it when a jury is sworn to try a case, hearing all the evidence, hearing both sides, hearing the charge of the judge, hearing the law, are upon their oaths equally divided, six for the plaintiff and six for the defendant? Evidence does not have the same effect upon all people. Why? Our brains are not alike. They are not the same shape. We have not the same intelligence, or the same experience, the same sense. And yet I am held accountable for my belief. I must believe in the Trinity - three times one is one, once one is three, and my soul is to be eternally damned for failing to guess an arithmetical conundrum. That is the poison part of Christianity - that salvation depends upon belief. That is the accursed part, and until that dogma is discarded Christianity will be nothing but superstition.
    • Each is entitled to the honest opinion of all.
    • Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own.
    • Each soul is crowned. Each soul wears the purple and the tiara; and only those are good citizens of the intellectual world who give to every other human being every right that they claim for themselves, and only those are traitors in the great realm of thought who abandon reason and appeal to force.
    • Every brain is a field where Nature sows the seeds of thought, and the crop depends upon the soil.
    • Every child should be taught to doubt, to inquire, to demand reasons. Every soul should defend itself - should be on its guard against falsehood, deceit, and mistake, and should beware of all kinds of confidence men, including those of the pulpit.
    • Every library is an arsenal.
    • Every man is dishonest who lives upon the labor of others, no matter if he occupies a throne.
    • Every man should be mentally honest. He should preserve as his most precious jewel the perfect veracity of his soul. He should examine all questions presented to his mind, without prejudice, - unbiased by hatred or love - by desire or fear. His object and his only object should be to find the truth. He knows, if he listens to reason, that truth is not dangerous and that error is. He should weigh the evidence, the arguments, in honest scales - scales that passion or interest cannot change. He should care nothing for authority - nothing for names, customs or creeds - nothing for anything that his reason does not say is true.
    • Everything in nature tells a different story to all eyes that see and to all ears that hear. So, when we look upon a flower, a painting, a statue, a star, or a violet, the more we know, the more we have experienced, the more we have thought, the more we remember, the more the statue, the star, the painting, the violet has to tell. Nature says to me all that I am capable of understanding - gives all that I can receive. As with star, or flower, or sea, so with a book. A thoughtful man reads Shakespeare. What does he get? All that he has the mind to understand. Let another read him, who knows nothing of the drama, nothing of the impersonations of passion, and what does he get? Almost nothing. Shakespeare has a different story for each reader. He is a world in which each recognizes his acquaintances.
    • Facts need no pedigree; logic has no heraldry, and the living should not be awed by the mistakes of the dead.
    • Few people have an adequate idea of the sufferings of women and children, of the number of wives who tremble when they hear the footsteps of a returning husband, of the number of children who hide when they hear the voice of a father. Few people know the number of blows that fall on the flesh of the helpless every day, and few know the nights of terror passed by mothers who hold babes to their breasts. Compared with these, all the hardships of poverty borne by those who love each other are as nothing. Men and women truly married bear the sufferings and misfortunes of poverty together. They console each other. In the darkest night they see the radiance of a star, and their affection gives to the heart of each perpetual sunshine.
    • For the most part, colleges are places where pebbles are polished and diamonds are dimmed.
    • Force has no place in the world of love. It is impossible to control likes and dislikes by law. No one ever did and no one ever can love on compulsion. Courts can not obtain jurisdiction of the heart.
    • From the aspersions of, the pulpit, from the slanders of the church, I seek to rescue the reputation of the Deity.
    • Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.
    • Give your sons and daughters every advantage within your power. In the air of kindness they will grow about you like flowers. They will fill your homes with sunshine and all your years with joy. Do not try to rule by force. A blow from a parent leaves a scar on the soul.
    • God cannot hate anybody who is capable of loving anybody.
    • Happiness is not a reward - it is a consequence. Suffering is not a punishment - it is a result.
    • He who puts chains upon the body of another shackles his own soul.
    • Heresy is what the minority believe; it is the name given by the powerful to the doctrines of the weak.
    • How any human being ever has had the impudence to speak against the right to speak, is beyond the power of my imagination. Here is a man who speaks - who exercises a right that he, by his speech, denies. Can liberty go further than that? Is there any toleration possible beyond the liberty to speak against liberty - the real believer in free speech allowing others to speak against the right to speak? Is there any limitation beyond that?
    • Humanity is the grand religion, and no God can put a man in hell in another world, who has made a little heaven in this. God cannot make a man miserable if that man has made somebody else happy. God cannot hate anybody who is capable of loving anybody. Humanity - that word embraces all there is.
    • I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the star-less night, blown and flared by passion's storm, and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.
    • I am now speaking of the phenomena of nature. I believe, as much as I believe that I live, that the reason a thing is right is because it tends to the happiness of mankind. I believe, as much as I believe that I live, that on the average the good man is not only the happier man, but that no man is happy who is not good.
    • I am simply in favor of intellectual hospitality - that is all. You come to me with a new idea. I invite you into the house. Let us see what you have. Let us talk it over. If I do not like your thought, I will bid it a polite 'good day.' If I do like it, I will say: 'Sit down; stay with me, and become a part of the intellectual wealth of my world.' That is all.
    • I believe in the fireside. I believe in the democracy of home. I believe in the republicanism of the family. I believe in liberty, equality and love.
    • I believe in the religion of reason - the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to feed and clothe the world.
    • I despise a stingy man. I do not see how it is possible for a man to die worth fifty million of dollars, or ten million of dollars, in a city full of want, when he meets almost every day the withered hand of beggary and the white lips of famine. How a man can withstand all that, and hold in the clutch of his greed twenty or thirty million of dollars, is past my comprehension. I do not see how he can do it.
    • I do not believe in the government of the lash. If any one of you ever expects to whip your children again, I want you to have a photograph taken of yourself when you are in the act, with your face red with vulgar anger, and the face of the little child, with eyes swimming in tears and the little chin dimpled with fear, like a piece of water struck by a sudden cold wind. Have the picture taken. If that little child should die, I cannot think of a sweeter way to spend an autumn afternoon than to go out to the cemetery, when the maples are clad in tender gold, and little scarlet runners are coming, like poems of regret, from the sad heart of the earth - and sit down upon the grave and look at your photograph, and think of the flesh now dust that you beat. I tell you it is wrong; it is no way to raise children!
    • I do not claim that I have floated level with the heights of thought, or that I have descended to the very depths of things. I simply claim that what ideas I have, I have a right to express; and that any man who denies that right to me is an intellectual thief and robber. That is all.
    • I had a dream, in which I debated a question with a friend. I thought to myself: 'This is a dream, and yet I cannot tell what my opponent is going to say. Yet, if it is a dream, I am doing the thinking for both sides, and therefore ought to know in advance what my friend will urge.' But, in a dream, there is someone who seems to talk to us. Our own brain tells us news, and presents an unexpected thought. Is it not possible that each brain is a field where all the senses sow the seeds of thought? Some of these fields are mostly barren, poor, and hard, producing only worthless weeds; and some grow sturdy oaks and stately palms; and some are like the tropic world, where plants and trees and vines seem royal children of the soil and sun.
    • I had rather be a beggar and spend my last dollar like a king, than be a king and spend my money like a beggar! If it has got to go, let it go!
    • I hate above all things a cross man. What right has he to murder the sunshine of a day? What right has he to assassinate the joy of life?
    • I have said before, and I say again, the brain thinks in spite of me, and I am not responsible for my thoughts. I cannot control the beating of my heart. I cannot stop the blood that flows through the rivers of my veins. And yet I am held responsible for my belief. Then why does not God give me the evidence? They say he has. In what? In an inspired book. But I do not understand it as they do. Must I be false to my understanding? They say: 'When you come to die you will be sorry if you do not.' Will I be sorry when I come to die that I did not live a hypocrite? Will I be sorry that I did not say I was a Christian when I was not? Will the fact that I was honest put a thorn in the pillow of death? Cannot God forgive me for being honest? They say that when he was in Jerusalem he forgave his murderers, but now he will not forgive an honest man for differing from him on the subject of the Trinity.
    • I have the same right to express my thought to the whole world, that the whole world has to express its thought to me.
    • I have the same right to give you my opinion that you have to give me yours. I have no right to compel you to hear, if you do not want to. I have no right to compel you to speak if you do not want to. If you do not wish to know my thought, I have no right to force it upon you.
    • I know of no crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form or other. The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new truth, last of all, and only when denial has become useless.
    • I never have denied the immortality of the soul. I have simply been honest. I have said: 'I do not know.'
    • I tell you God cannot afford to damn a man in the next world who has made a happy family in this. God cannot afford to cast over the battlements of heaven the man who has a happy home upon this earth. God cannot afford to be unpitying to a human heart capable of pity. God cannot clothe with fire the man who has clothed the naked here; and God cannot send to eternal pain a man who has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-men.
    • I tell you the children have the same rights that we have, and we ought to treat them as though they were human beings. They should be reared with love, with kindness, with tenderness, and not with brutality. That is my idea of children.
    • I think it is better to love your children than to love God, a thousand times better, because you can help them, and I am inclined to think that God can get along without you. Certainly we cannot help a being without body, parts, or passions!
    • I want no heaven for which I must give my reason; no happiness in exchange for my liberty, and no immortality that demands the surrender of my individuality.
    • I will never desert the one I love for the promise of any god.
    • I would not know a god if I should see one.
    • If a man really believes that God once upheld slavery; that he commanded soldiers to kill women and babes; that he believed in polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion's sake; that he will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad. This belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This belief made the Puritan murder the Quaker.
    • If I had my way I'd make health catching instead of disease.
    • If the book the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same Infinite God, whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?
    • If the love of earth is not the love of heaven, if those we love here are to be separated from us there, then I want eternal sleep.
    • If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.
    • In the presence of death I affirm and reaffirm the truth of all that I have said against the superstitions of the world. I would say that much on the subject with my last breath.
    • In the republic of mediocrity genius is dangerous.
    • Intellectual liberty is the air of the soul, the sunshine of the mind, and without it, the world is a prison, the universe is a dungeon.
    • Is it possible to conceive of anything more immoral than for a husband to insist on living with a wife who has no love for him? Is not this a perpetual crime? Is the wife to lose her personality? Has she no right of choice? Is her modesty the property of another? Is the man she hates the lord of her desire? Has she no right to guard the jewels of her soul? Is there a depth below this? And is this the foundation of morality? this the cornerstone of society? this the arch that supports the dome of civilization? Is this pathetic sacrifice on the one hand, this sacrilege on the other, pleasing in the sight of heaven?
    • It is a splendid thing to think that the woman you really love will never grow old to you. Through the wrinkles of time, through the mask of years, if you really love her, you will always see the face you loved and won. And a woman who really loves a man does not see that he grows old; he is not decrepit to her; he does not tremble; he is not old; she always sees the same gallant gentleman who won her hand and heart. I like to think of it in that way; I like to think that love is eternal. And to love in that way and then go down the hill of life together, and as you go down, hear, perhaps, the laughter of grandchildren, while the birds of joy and love sing once more in the leafless branches of the tree of age.
    • It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education, than education without the sense. Boys and girls should be educated to help themselves. They should be taught that it is disgraceful to be idle, and dishonorable to be useless.
    • It is an old habit with theologians to beat the living with the bones of the dead.
    • It is far more important to build a home than to erect a church. The holiest temple beneath the stars is a home that love has built.
    • It is far more important to love your wife than to love God, and I will tell you why. You cannot help him, but you can help her. You can fill her life with the perfume of perpetual joy.
    • It is impossible for a man to be respectable enough to make a mistake respectable.
    • It is not necessary to be great to be happy; it is not necessary to be rich to be just and generous and to have a heart filled with divine affection.
    • Kindness is the sunshine in which the virtues grow.
    • Liberty of thought, this liberty of expression, is of more value than any other thing beneath the stars. Of more value than any religion, of more value than any government, of more value than all the constitutions that man has written and all the laws that he has passed, is this liberty - the absolute liberty of the human mind. Take away that word from language, and all other words become meaningless sounds, and there is then no reason for a man being and living upon the earth.
    • Love is a revelation, a creation. From love the world borrows its beauty and the heavens their glory. Justice, self-denial, charity and pity are the children of love. Lover, wife, mother, husband, father, child, home - these words shed light - they are the gems of human speech. Without love all glory fades, the noble falls from life, art dies, music loses meaning and becomes mere motions of air, and virtue ceases to exist.
    • Love is natural. Back of all ceremony burns and will forever burn the sacred flame. There has been no time in the world's history when that torch was extinguished. In all ages, in all climes, among all people, there has been true, pure, and unselfish love. Long before a ceremony was thought of, long before a priest existed, there were true and perfect marriages. Back of public opinion is natural modesty, the affections of the heart; and in spite of all law, there is and forever will be the realm of choice. Wherever love is, it is pure; and everywhere, and at all times, the ceremony of marriage testifies to that which has happened within the temple of the human heart.
    • Love is not a crime ... men and women should be proudly natural; they need not grovel on the earth and cover their faces for shame.
    • Man has found that he must give liberty to others in order to have it himself.
    • Marriages are made by men and women; not by society; not by the state; not by the church; not by supernatural beings.
    • Mental slavery is mental death, and every man who has given up his intellectual freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul.
    • My liberty ends where yours begin.
    • No man can control his belief. If I hear certain evidence I will believe a certain thing. If I fail to hear it I may never believe it. If it is adapted to my mind I may accept it; if it is not, I reject it. And what am I to go by? My brain. That is the only light I have from Nature, and if there be a God it is the only torch that this God has given me to find my way through the darkness and night called life. I do not depend upon hearsay for that. I do not have to take the word of any other man nor get upon my knees before a book. Here in the temple of the mind I consult the God, that is to say my reason, and the oracle speaks to me and I obey the oracle. What should I obey? Another man's oracle? Shall I take another man's word - not what he thinks but what he says some God has said to him?
    • No man can open his mouth against the freedom of speech without denying every argument he may put forward. Why? He is exercising the right that he denies. How did he get it? Suppose there is one man on an island. You will all admit now that he would have the right to do his own thinking. You will all admit that he has the right to express his thought. Now, will somebody tell me how many men would have to emigrate to that island before the original settler would lose his right to think and his right to express himself?
    • No man in the hour of death ever regretted having been honest. No man when the shadows of the last day were gathering about the pillow of death, ever regretted that he had given to his fellow-man his honest thought. No man, in the presence of eternity, ever wished that he had been a hypocrite. No man ever then regretted that he did not throw away his reason. It certainly cannot be necessary to throw away your reason to save your soul, because after that, your soul is not worth saving. The soul has a right to defend itself. My brain is my castle; and when I waive the right to defend it, I become an intellectual serf and slave.
    • Nothing but falsehood needs the assistance of fame and place, of robes and mitres, of tiaras and crowns.
    • Now and then somebody examines, and in spite of all keeps his manhood, and has the courage to follow where his reason leads. Then the pious get together and repeat wise saws, and exchange knowing nods and most prophetic winks. The stupidly wise sit owl-like on the dead limbs of the tree of knowledge, and solemnly hoot. Wealth sneers, and fashion laughs, and respectability passes by on the other side, and scorn points with all her skinny fingers, and all the snakes of superstition writhe and hiss, and slander lends her tongue, and infamy her brand, and perjury her oath, and the law its power, and bigotry tortures, and the church kills.
    • One good schoolteacher is worth more than 100 priests.
    • One laugh of a child will make the holiest day more sacred still.
    • Only a few years ago there was a great awakening of the human mind. Men began to inquire by what right a crowned robber made them work for him? The man who asked this question was called a traitor. Others asked by what right does a robed hypocrite rule my thought? Such men were called infidels. The priest said, and the king said, where is this spirit of investigation to stop? They said then and they say now, that it is dangerous for man to be free. I deny it. Out on the intellectual sea there is room enough for every sail. In the intellectual air there is space enough for every wing.
    • Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.
    • People justify all kinds of tyranny toward children upon the ground that they are totally depraved. At the bottom of ages of cruelty lies this infamous doctrine of total depravity. Religion contemplates a child as a living crime - heir to an infinite curse - doomed to eternal fire.
    • Personally, I care nothing about names. It makes no difference to me what the supposed great men of the past have said, except as what they have said contains an argument; and that argument is worth to me the force it naturally has upon my mind. Christians forget that in the realm of reason there are no serfs and no monarchs.
    • Prayer is of no avail. The lightning falls on the just and the unjust in accordance with natural laws.
    • Prejudice, egotism, hatred, contempt, disdain, are the enemies of truth and progress.
    • Reason, Observation, and Experience - the Holy Trinity of Science.
    • Right here, it may be well enough to remark, that all the monuments and festivals in the world are not sufficient to establish an impossible event. No amount of monumental testimony, no amount of living evidence, can substantiate a miracle. The monument only proves the belief of the builders.
    • So far as I am concerned, I think more of reasons than of reputations, more of principles than of persons, more of nature than of names, more of facts, than of faiths.
    • Standing in the presence of the Unknown, all have the same right to think, and all are equally interested in the great question of origin and destiny. All I claim, all I plead for, is liberty of thought and expression. That is all.
    • Suppose I read the book called the Bible, and when I get through I make up my mind that it was written by men. A minister asks me, 'Did you read the Bible?' I answer, that I did. 'Do you think it divinely inspired?' What should I reply? Should I say to myself, 'If I deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, the people will never clothe me with power.' What ought I to answer? Ought I not to say like a man: 'I have read it; I do not believe it.' Should I not give the real transcript of my mind? Or should I turn hypocrite and pretend what I do not feel, and hate myself forever after for being a cringing coward. For my part I would rather a man would tell me what he honestly thinks. I would rather he would preserve his manhood. I had a thousand times rather be a manly unbeliever than an unmanly believer. And if there is a judgment day, a time when all will stand before some supreme being, I believe I will stand higher, and stand a better chance of getting my case decided in my favor, than any man sneaking through life pretending to believe what he does not.
    • Take love from the world, and there is nothing left worth living for. The church has treated this great, this sublime, this unspeakably holy passion, as though it polluted the heart. They have placed the love of God above the love of woman, above the love of man. Human love is generous and noble. The love of God is selfish, because man does not love God for God's sake, but for his own.
    • Temptations are as thick as the leaves of the forest, and no one can be out of the reach of temptation unless he is dead. The great thing is to make people intelligent enough and strong enough, not to keep away from temptation, but to resist it.
    • That which must be, has the right to be.
    • The Christians say, that among the ancient Jews, if you committed a crime you had to kill a sheep. Now they say 'charge it.' 'Put it on the slate.' The Savior will pay it. In this way, rascality is sold on credit, and the credit system in morals, as in business, breeds extravagance.
    • The church cries now 'whom God hath joined together let not man put asunder;' but when the people are really civilized the state will say: 'whom Nature hath put asunder let not man bind and manacle together.'
    • The closer I'm bound in love to you, the closer I am to free.
    • The combined wisdom and genius of all mankind cannot possibly conceive of an argument against liberty of thought.
    • The good men, the good women are tired of the whip and lash in the realm of thought. They remember the chain and fagot with a shudder. They are free and they give liberty to others. Whoever claims any right that he is unwilling to accord to his fellow-men is dishonest and infamous.
    • The goodness, the sympathy, the self-denial of the nun, of the monk, all come from the mother-instinct, the father-instinct - all were produced by human affection, by the love of man for woman, of woman for man. Love is a transfiguration. It ennobles, purifies and glorifies.
    • The grandest ambition that any man can possibly have, is to so live, and so improve himself in heart and brain, as to be worthy of the love of some splendid woman; and the grandest ambition of any girl is to make herself worthy of the love and adoration of some magnificent man.
    • The great question is not, who died right, but who lived right? There is infinitely more responsibility in living than in dying. The moment of death is the most unimportant moment of life. Nothing can be done then. It is a moment when life ceases to be of value. While living, while you have health and strength, you can augment the happiness of your fellow-men; and the man who has made others happy need not be afraid to die.
    • The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.
    • The hands that help are far better than the lips that pray.
    • The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it.
    • The law of the church has created neither the purity nor the peace of domestic life. Back of all churches is human affection. Back of all theologies is the love of the human heart. Back of all your priests and creeds is the adoration of the one woman by the one man, and of the one man by the one woman. Back of your faith is the fireside; back of your folly is the family; and back of all your holy mistakes and your sacred absurdities is the love of husband and wife, of parent and child.
    • The man who accepts opinions because they have been entertained by distinguished people, is a mental snob.
    • The man who cannot raise children without whipping them ought not to have them. The man who would mar the flesh of a boy or girl is unfit to have the control of a human being. The father who keeps a rod in his house keeps a relic of barbarism in his heart. There is nothing reformatory in punishment; nothing reformatory in fear. Kindness, guided by intelligence, is the only reforming force. An appeal to brute force is an abandonment of love and reason, and puts father and child upon a savage equality; the savageness in the heart of the father prompting the use of the rod or club, produces a like savageness in the victim. The old idea that a child's spirit must be broken is infamous.
    • The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and his fellow men.
    • The man who invented the telescope found out more about heaven than the closed eyes of prayer ever discovered.
    • The meanest hut with love in it is a palace fit for the gods, and a palace without love is a den only fit for wild beasts. That is my doctrine! You cannot be so poor that you cannot help somebody. Good nature is the cheapest commodity in the world; and love is the only thing that will pay ten percent to borrower and lender both.
    • The more false we destroy the more room there will be for the true.
    • The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called 'faith.'
    • The old doctrine that God wanted man to do something for him, and that he kept a watchful eye upon all the children of men; that he rewarded the virtuous and punished the wicked, is gradually fading from the mind. We know that some of the worst men have what the world calls success. We know that some of the best men lie upon the straw of failure. We know that honesty goes hungry, while larceny sits at the banquet. We know that the vicious have every physical comfort, while the virtuous are often clad in rags.
    • The one thing in this world that is constant, the one peak that rises above all clouds, the one window in which the light forever burns, the one star that darkness cannot quench, is woman's love. It rises to the greatest heights, it sinks to the lowest depths, it forgives the most cruel injuries. It is perennial of life, and grows in every climate. Neither coldness nor neglect, harshness nor cruelty, can extinguish it. A woman's love is the perfume of the heart.
    • The real marriage - the uniting of hearts, the lighting of the sacred flame in each - is the work of Nature, and it is the best work that nature does. The ceremony of marriage gives notice to the world that the real marriage has taken place.
    • The real marriage is based on mutual affection - the ceremony is but the outward evidence of the inward flame. To this contract there are but two parties. The church is an impudent intruder.
    • The real searcher after truth will not receive the old because it is old, or reject the new because it is new. He will not believe men because they are dead, or contradict them because they are alive. With him an utterance is worth the truth, the reason it contains, without the slightest regard to the author. He may have been a king or serf - a philosopher or servant, - but the utterance neither gains nor loses in truth or reason. Its value is absolutely independent of the fame or station of the man who gave it to the world.
    • The tides and currents of the soul care nothing for the creeds. People who make rules for the conduct of others generally break them themselves. It is so easy to bear with fortitude the misfortunes of others.
    • The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.
    • The truth is, that no one can justly be held responsible for his thoughts. The brain thinks without asking our consent. We believe, or we disbelieve, without an effort of the will. Belief is a result. It is the effect of evidence upon the mind. The scales turn in spite of him who watches. There is no opportunity of being honest or dishonest in the formation of an opinion. The conclusion is entirely independent of desire. We must believe, or we must doubt, in spite of what we wish.
    • There are no Gods, no angels, no devils, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the hearts and enslaves minds.
    • There is no authority in churches or priests - no authority in numbers or majorities. The only authority is Nature - the facts we know. Facts are the masters, the enemies of the ignorant, the servants and friends of the intelligent.
    • There will never be a generation of great men until there has been a generation of free women - of free mothers.
    • They say that God says to me, 'Forgive your enemies.' I say, 'I do'; but he says, 'I will damn mine.' God should be consistent. If he wants me to forgive my enemies he should forgive his. I am asked to forgive enemies who can hurt me. God is only asked to forgive enemies who cannot hurt him. He certainly ought to be as generous as he asks us to be. And I want no God to forgive me unless I am willing to forgive others, and unless I do forgive others. All I ask, if that be true, is that this God should act according to his own doctrine. If I am to forgive my enemies, I ask him to forgive his. I do not believe in the religion of faith, but of kindness, of good deeds. The idea that man is responsible for his belief is at the bottom of religious intolerance and persecution.
    • Thought and speech must be free. The man or men who would put a chain upon the brain or a padlock on the tongue are heirs of the Inquisition, the enemies of society, the foes of human progress.
    • To me, the most obscene word in the language is celibacy.
    • To me, the tenderest word in our language, the most pathetic fact within our knowledge, is maternity. Around this sacred word cluster the joys and sorrows, the agonies and ecstasies, of the human race. The mother walks in the shadow of death that she may give another life. Upon the altar of love she puts her own life in pawn. When the world is civilized, no wife will become a mother against her will. Man will then know that to enslave another is to imprison himself.
    • Victory makes forgiveness easy.
    • We shall no longer listen to priests who regard celibacy as a higher state than marriage, nor to those statesmen who look upon a barbarous code as the foundation of all law.
    • What do I mean by liberty? By physical liberty I mean the right to do anything which does not interfere with the happiness of another. By intellectual liberty I mean the right to think right and the right to think wrong. Thought is the means by which we endeavor to arrive at truth. If we know the truth already, we need not think. All that can be required is honesty of purpose. You ask my opinion about anything; I examine it honestly, and when my mind is made up, what should I tell you? Should I tell you my real thought? What should I do? There is a book put in my hands. I am told this is the Koran; it was written by inspiration. I read it, and when I get through, suppose that I think in my heart and in my brain, that it is utterly untrue, and you then ask me, what do you think? Now, admitting that I live in Turkey, and have no chance to get any office unless I am on the side of the Koran, what should I say? Should I make a clean breast and say, that upon my honor I do not believe it? What would you think then of my fellow citizens if they said: 'That man is dangerous, he is dishonest.'
    • What light is to the eyes - what air is to the lungs - what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man. Without liberty, the brain is a dungeon, where the chained thoughts die with their pinions pressed against the hingeless doors.
    • When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free - free to think, to express my thoughts - free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself. . . I was free!
    • When one of your children tells a lie, be honest with him; tell him that you have told hundreds of them yourself. Tell him it is not the best way; that you have tried it. Tell him as the man did in Maine when his boy left home: 'John, honesty is the best policy; I have tried both.' Be honest with him. Suppose a man as much larger than you as you are larger than a child five years old, should come at you with a liberty pole in his hand, and in a voice of thunder shout, 'Who broke that plate?' There is not a solitary one of you who would not swear you never saw it, or that it was cracked when you got it. Why not be honest with these children? Just imagine a man who deals in stocks whipping his boy for putting false rumors afloat! Think of a lawyer beating his own flesh and blood for evading the truth when he makes half of his own living that way! Think of a minister punishing his child for not telling all he thinks! Just think of it!
    • When your child commits a wrong, take it in your arms; let it feel your heart beat against its heart; let the child know that you really and truly and sincerely love it.
    • When your little child tells a lie, do not rush at him as though the world were about to go into bankruptcy. Be honest with him. A tyrant father will have liars for his children; do you know that? A lie is born of tyranny upon the one hand and weakness upon the other, and when you rush at a poor little boy with a club in your hand, of course he lies.
    • Where is the soul? . . . I refuse to believe anything of that kind without proof. The idea that, as soon as a man's breath leaves his body, the soul flops out like a chicken's head and flies off into space to find a lodgment where there [are] harps and haloes. Too much for me.
    • Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.
    • Why should we desire the destruction of human passions? Take passions from human beings and what is left? The great object should be not to destroy passions, but to make them obedient to the intellect. To indulge passion to the utmost is one form of intemperance - to destroy passion is another. The reasonable gratification of passion under the domination of the intellect is true wisdom and perfect virtue.
    • With every drop of my blood I hate and execrate every form of tyranny, every form of slavery. I hate dictation. I love liberty.
    • Women are far more intelligent - some of them are no longer the slaves either of husbands, or priests. They are beginning to think for themselves. They can see no good reason why they should sacrifice their lives to please Popes or Gods. They are no longer deceived by theological prophecies. They are not willing to suffer here, with the hope of being happy beyond the clouds - they want their happiness now.
    • You had better be the emperor of one loving and tender heart, and she the empress of yours, than to be king of the world. The man who has really won the love of one good woman in this world, I do not care if he dies in the ditch a beggar, his life has been a success.
    • I've just come to my room, Livy darling, I guess this was the memorable night of my life. By George, I never was so stirred since I was born. I heard four speeches which I can never forget... one by that splendid old soul, Col. Bob Ingersoll, - oh, it was just the supremest combination of English words that was ever put together since the world began. My soul, how handsome he looked, as he stood on that table, in the midst of those 500 shouting men, and poured the molten silver from his lips! Lord, what an organ is human speech when it is played by a master! All these speeches may look dull in print, but how the lightning glared around them when they were uttered, and how the crowd roared in response! It was a great night, a memorable night.
    • robert g. ingersoll

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