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In fact, even were it not inhuman to trouble another man’s conscience, even were there none of the bad effects that spring up by the thousands, one would have to be deranged to engage in such a purpose. He who tries to make me change my religion only does so, presumably, because he would never change his own, even were someone to try to force him to do so; so how can he find it strange that I should refuse to do something that he himself would not do, even perhaps were he offered the world as his empire?

[Car, enfin, quand il n’y auroit pas de l’inhumanité à affliger la conscience des autres, quand il n’en résulteroit aucun des mauvais effets qui en germent à milliers, il faudroit être fou pour s’en aviser. Celui qui veut me faire changer de religion ne le fait sans doute que parce qu’il ne changeroit pas la sienne, quand on voudroit l’y forcer : il trouve donc étrange que je ne fasse pas une chose qu’il ne feroit pas lui-même, peut-être pour l’empire du monde.]

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
Persian Letters [Lettres Persanes], Letter 86, Usbek to Mirza (1721) [tr. Mauldon (2008), # 83]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

For, in short, though there was nothing of inhumanity in forcing the consciences of others; though it occasioned none of those ill effects which spring up from it by thousands; a man must be a fool to offer at it. He that would have me change my religion, does it, no doubt, because he would not change his own if he were to be forced to it: so that he wonders I will not do a thing, which perhaps he would not do himself for the empire of the universe.
[tr. Ozell (1760 ed.)]

For indeed, if there was nothing of inhumanity in forcing the conscience of another, though there did not arise from it any of those bad effects which spring from it by thousands, it would be folly to advise it. He who would have me change my religion, no doubt, desires me to do so, because he would not change his own if he were forced to do it: he yet thinks it strange, that I will not do a thing which he himself would not do, perhaps, for the empire of the world.
[tr. Floyd (1762), # 85]

In conclusion, even if there were no inhumanity in distressing the consciences of others, even if there did not result from such a course any of the evil effects which do spring from it in thousands, it would still be foolish to advise it. He who would have me change my religion is led to that, without doubt, because he would not change his own although force were employed; and yet he finds it strange that I will not do a thing which he himself would not do, perhaps for the empire of the world.
[tr. Davidson (1891)]

For, in fine, even if the attempt to trouble the conscience of our neighbor was not in itself inhuman, if the manifold evil effects which spring from it had no existence, the mere contemplation of such a course would be an evidence of mental unsoundness.
The man who would have me change my religion does so doubtless because he would never change his own, no matter what force was brought to bear upon him: yet he thinks it strange that I should refuse to do a thing he would not himself do for the empire of the whole world!
[tr. Betts (1897)]

Finally, even if it were not inhumane to afflict another’s conscience, and even if there did not result from such an act those bad effects which spring up by the thousands, it would still be foolish to advise it. Whoever would have me change my religion doubtlessly acts as he does because he would not change his, however he was forced; yet he finds it strange that I will not do something which he would not do himself, perhaps for the entire world.
[tr. Healy (1964), # 85]

Finally, even if it were inhumane to make such an assault on the consciences of others, with its thousands of self-replicating evil consequences, one would have to be mad to advise it. The man who wants me to change my religion does so only because he would never change his, no matter how much he was forced. And thus he thinks it strange that I will not do a thing he would not do for all the kingdoms of the world.
[tr. MacKenzie (2014), # 85]

 
Added on 8-Apr-24 | Last updated 8-Apr-24
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I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life. In particular, I could no longer explain how there can be a good and all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things. For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.

Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman (b. 1955) American Biblical scholar, author
God’s Problem, ch. 1 (2008)
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Added on 28-Mar-24 | Last updated 28-Mar-24
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The fiercest fanatics are often selfish people who were forced, by innate shortcomings or external circumstances, to lose faith in their own selves. They separate the excellent instrument of their selfishness from their ineffectual selves and attach it to the service of some holy cause. And though it be a faith of love and humility they adopt, they can be neither loving nor humble.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Part 2, ch. 7, § 38 (1951)
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Added on 27-Feb-24 | Last updated 27-Feb-24
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Make love your aim, not biblical inerrancy, nor purity nor obedience to holiness codes. Make love your aim, for

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels” — musicians, poets, preachers, you are being addressed.
“and though I … understand all mysteries, and all knowledge” — professors, your turn,
“and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor” — radicals take note;
“and though I give my body to be burned” — the very stuff of heroism;
“and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3 KJV).

I doubt if any other scriptures of the world there is a more radical statement of ethics. If we fail in love, we fail in all things else.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924-2006) American minister, social activist
Credo, “Faith, Hope, Love” (2004)
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Added on 13-Feb-24 | Last updated 11-Mar-24
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For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith, and trimm’d its fire,
Show’d me the high white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze, and there aspire;
Even now their whispers pierce the gloom:
What doest thou in this living tomb?

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse,” st. 12, Fraser’s Magazine (1855-04)
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On his tour of a seventeenth-century monastery in Grenoble, in the French Alps, the headquarters of the Carthusian order of Catholic monks .
 
Added on 28-Nov-23 | Last updated 28-Nov-23
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There are few things more dangerous than inbred religious certainty.

Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman (b. 1955) American Biblical scholar, author
God’s Problem, ch. 8 (2008)
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Added on 11-Oct-23 | Last updated 11-Oct-23
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Nothing enlarges more the Gulf of Atheism, than that Μέγα Χάσμα, wide passage, which lies between the Faith and Lives of Men pretending to be Christians.

Edward Stillingfleet
Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699) British Christian theologian, polemicist, preacher, prelate
Origines Sacræ, “The Epistle Dedicatory” (1663)
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Added on 3-Oct-23 | Last updated 3-Oct-23
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Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Snuff [Miss Beedle] (2011)
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Added on 7-Apr-23 | Last updated 7-Apr-23
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One of the great but less famous heroes of World War Two was Andre Trocme, the Protestant pastor of the village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in France, which sheltered and saved the lives of five thousand Jews under the noses of the Gestapo. Forty years later Pierre Sauvage, one of the Jews who was saved, recorded the story of the village in a magnificent documentary film with the title, “Weapons of the Spirit”. The villagers proved that civil disobedience and passive resistance could be effective weapons, even against Hitler. Their religion gave them the courage and the discipline to stand firm. Progress in religion means that, as time goes on, religion more and more takes the side of the victims against the oppressors.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” Templeton Prize acceptance speech, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
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Added on 28-Nov-22 | Last updated 28-Nov-22
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Unreason is now ascendant in the United States — in our schools, in our courts, and in each branch of the federal government. Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan. Ignorance in this degree, concentrated in both the head and belly of a lumbering superpower, is now a problem for the entire world.

Sam Harris (b. 1967) American author, philosopher, neuroscientist
“The Politics of Ignorance,” Huffington Post (2 Aug 2005)
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Added on 15-Nov-22 | Last updated 14-Nov-22
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That is why I think we are unfinished, and in our quest for Truth discover sooner or later that the greatest Truth can never be revealed to us through our intellect. We cannot pierce the silence that screens us from a mysterious conception, and are not content to believe that “now we see through a glass darkly: but then face to face.” There is nothing more perplexing in life than to know at what point you should surrender your intellect to your faith.

Margot Asquith
Margot Asquith (1864-1945) British socialite, author, wit [Emma Margaret Asquith, Countess Oxford and Asquith; Margot Oxford; née Tennant]
More or Less about Myself, ch. 11 (1934)
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Added on 3-Oct-22 | Last updated 3-Oct-22
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Civilization is a fiction which becomes a fact only as long as everyone can believe in it. It is the cynic, rather than the rebel, who pulls down the whole flimsy structure periodically throughout history.

Helen McCloy
Helen McCloy (1904-1994) American writer [pseud. Helen Clarkson]
A Question of Time, ch. 6 (1971)
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See Clark.
 
Added on 10-Aug-22 | Last updated 24-Aug-22
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Were I to be the founder of a new sect, I would call them Apriarians, and after the example of the bee, advise them to extract the honey of every sect. My fundamental principle would be the reverse of Calvin’s, that we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Thomas B. Parker (15 May 1819)
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Added on 8-Aug-22 | Last updated 8-Aug-22
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No trust is safe.

[Nusquam tuta fides.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 373 (4.373) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Bartsch (2021)]
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Dido chiding Aeneas (and the gods) for Aeneas' desertion.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

True faith is lost.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Faithless is earth, and faithless are the skies!
Justice is fled, and Truth is now no more!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Firm faith no where subsists.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

No faith on earth, in heaven no trust.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Faith lives no more.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

Nowhere is trust safe.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

All faith is gone!
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Faithless is earth, and false is Heaven above.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 48, l. 426]

No trusting heart is safe
in all this world.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Nowhere is faith secure.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Faith has no haven anywhere in the world.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Nowhere is it safe to be trustful.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Nowhere is certain trust.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 509]

Faith can never be secure.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 514]

Is there nothing we can trust in this life?
[tr. West (1990)]

Nowhere is truth safe.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Good faith is found nowhere.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

There’s no faith left on earth!
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

 
Added on 3-Aug-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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I love to see a Man zealous in a good Matter, and especially when his Zeal shews it self for advancing Morality, and promoting the Happiness of Mankind: But when I find the Instruments he works with are Racks and Gibbets, Gallies and Dungeons; when he imprisons Mens Persons, confiscates their Estates, ruins their Families, and burns the Body to save the Soul, I cannot stick to pronounce of such a one, that (whatever he may think of his Faith and Religion) his Faith is vain, and his Religion unprofitable.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, #185 (2 Oct 1711)
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Added on 15-Jun-22 | Last updated 15-Jun-22
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“Faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

There is a deeper meaning in this text than we at first see. Of “these three,” two concern ourselves; the third concerns others. When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action. We must speculate no more on our duty, but simply do it. When we have done it, however blindly, perhaps Heaven will show us the reason why.

Dinah Craik
Dinah Craik (1826-1887) English novelist and poet [b. Dinah Maria Mulock]
Christian’s Mistake, ch. 2 (1865)
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A reference to the Bible, 1 Cor. 13:13, the "Three Theological Virtues."
 
Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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I do so dearly believe that no half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
Letter to Edith Bratt (1913)
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Bratt was Tolkien's fiancee, who was apprehensive about the personal and social ramifications of converting to Catholicism. Tolkien's mother's conversion had been similarly difficult.
 
Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 17-Mar-22
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If I had been on the hills of Bethlehem in the year one, I do not think I should have heard angels singing because I do not hear them now, & there is no reason to suppose that they have stopped.

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) Canadian literary critic and literary theorist
Notebooks and Lectures on the Bible and Other Religious Texts, Notebook 11f, entry 5 (2003) [ed. Robert D. Denham]
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One of the things he deplored about the loss of religion, it meant that people elevated politics into a religious faith and that was dangerous.

P. D. James (1920-2014) British mystery writer [Phyllis Dorothy James White]
“Mortal Consequences,” A Taste for Death (1986)
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BECKET: Beauty is one of the few things which don’t shake one’s faith in God.

[Le beauté est une des rares choses qui ne font pas douter de Dieu.]

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) French dramatist
Becket, Act 1 (1959) [tr. Hill (1960)]
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The official English translation approved by Anouilh. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Beauty is one of the very few things that don't shake one's faith in God.
[tr. Raphael and Raphael (2004)]

Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God.
[Frequently found translation, but source unknown]

 
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I felt fairly sure that the Almighty, whatever name tag He had on at the moment, could handle a few questions from people sincerely looking for answers. Hell, He might even like it.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Changes, ch. 14 (2010)
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Added on 20-Jan-22 | Last updated 20-Jan-22
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Faith is a fine invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
Poems: Second Series, #30 (1891)
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A faith is dead when no one can think of a heresy.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 40 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 26-Oct-21 | Last updated 26-Oct-21
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I know that the Bible is a special kind of book, but I find it as seductive as any other. If I am not careful, I can begin to mistake the words on the page for the realities they describe. I can begin to love the dried ink marks on the page more than I love the encounters that gave rise to them. If I am not careful, I can decide that I am really much happier reading my Bible than I am entering into what God is doing in my own time and place, since shutting the book to go outside will involve the very great risk of taking part in stories that are still taking shape. Neither I nor anyone else knows how these stories will turn out, since at this point they involve more blood than ink. The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God’s sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, Part 1 (2006)
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Added on 22-Oct-21 | Last updated 22-Oct-21
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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) English poet
Sonnets from the Portuguese, #43 (1850)
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Added on 3-Aug-21 | Last updated 3-Aug-21
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One can only blaspheme if one believes.

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) Anglo-American poet [Wystan Hugh Auden]
“Concerning the Unpredictable,” Forewords and Afterwords (1973)
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Added on 14-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jul-21
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FAUSTUS: Blasphemy and prayer are one. Both assert the existence of a superior power. The first, however, with conviction.

David Mamet (b. 1947) American writer, playwright, director
Faustus (2004)
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Added on 7-Jul-21 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
“I create gods all the time — now I think one might exist,” Daily Mail (21 Jun 2008)
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Added on 29-Jun-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-21
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From time immemorial the wise and practical have denounced every heroic spirit. Yet it has not been they who have influenced our lives. The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardour and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) Lithuanian-American anarchist, activist
Living My Life, Part 2, ch. 39 (1931)
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The final mode is misplaced faith. It involves the sort of self-deifying claims the president made when he said that “I alone can solve it” or “I am your voice.” When faith descends from heaven to earth in this way, no room remains for the small truths of our individual discernment and experience. What terrified Klemperer was the way that this transition seemed permanent. Once truth had become oracular rather than factual, evidence was irrelevant. At the end of the war a worker told Klemperer that “understanding is useless, you have to have faith. I believe in the Führer.”

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)
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This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason.

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) English intellectual, polemicist, socio-political critic
“David Mamet’s Right-Wing Conversion,” New York Times (17 Jun 2011)
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Reviewing David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge.
 
Added on 12-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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From the simple observation that mental illness is marked by odd behavior flows a host of problems. For nothing seems clearer than that we are responsible for our behavior; from there, it seems only a small step to the conclusion that a disease characterized by strange behavior must be a disease under our control. And so we appeal to willpower in the devout belief that we can think our way to mental health. We advise the victim of depression to look on the bright side; we tell the person in the midst of a sky-high manic episode to take a deep breath and calm down. When it comes to mental illness, we are all Christian Scientists.

Edward Dolnick (b. 1952) American writer
Madness on the Couch, ch. 18 (1998)
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You must have three essentials for the investigation of Chan [Zen]. The first is that you must have the foundation of great faith. The second is that you must have a zealous determination. The third is that you must have the feeling of great doubt. If you omit one of these it is like breaking off the leg of a tripod, which ends up becoming a useless vessel.

高峰云、叅禪須具三要 一有大信根
二有大憤志 三有大疑情 苟闕其一
如折足之鼎 終成廢器。

Hyujeong (1520-1604) Korean Seon (Sŏn, Zen) Master [Sosan Taesa, Seosan Daesa, Dae Seonsa]
Mirror of Zen [Samga Gwigam; Samga Kwigom; Seonga Gwigam], ch. 14 [tr. Jorgensen (2012)]
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Alternate translations:

For the study of Seon, there are three requirements: (1) having the great root of faith; (2) having great determination, and (3) having great doubt. If you lack one of these, it is like a broken like on a tripod sacrificial vessel. In the end you will discard it.
[tr. Miller (2017)]

There are three essentials to Sŏn meditation. First of all, you must be rooted in Great Faith and Great Confidence. Secondly, one must have Great Anger -- a strong, inwardly-directed, ardent determination to practice. Thirdly, one must have Great Doubt. If one of these is missing, it is like a tripod vessel with one leg cut off -- in the end, it will be of no use.
[Source]

It is well known that Ganhwaseon practitioners must have three things of essential importance: The first is a Foundation of Great Faith (大信根) for the practice which is possible; the second is Great Zealous Determination (大憤志) of practice to attain enlightenment; the third is a Great Feeling of Doubt (大疑情) on the Hwadu. If one of these is lacking, then it is like a tripod pot with a broken foot and is useless.
[Source]

 
Added on 22-Mar-21 | Last updated 22-Mar-21
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The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.

Sam Harris (b. 1967) American author, philosopher, neuroscientist
The End of Faith (2004)
 
Added on 8-Mar-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-21
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Bigotry and science can have no communication with each other, for science begins where bigotry and absolute certainty end. The scientist believes in proof without certainty, the bigot in certainty without proof. Let us never forget that tyranny most often springs from a fanatical faith in the absoluteness of one’s beliefs.

Ashley Montagu (1905-1999) British-American anthropologist and humanist [b. Israel Ehrenberg, a/k/a Montague Francis Ashley-Montagu]
Science and Creationism, Introduction (1984)

The second sentence is frequently (mis)quoted:
  • "Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof."
  • "Religion gives us certainty without proof; science gives us proof without certainty."
 
Added on 22-Feb-21 | Last updated 22-Feb-21
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Once a faith is shattered, it takes a long time to grow again — for its soil is experience — and to become effective again.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, ch. 6 “The Public Household” (1976)
 
Added on 22-Feb-21 | Last updated 22-Feb-21
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Religious believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate the simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists, but you have no right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists of the world with contempt. You owe them a deep debt of gratitude, for not only have they shed much light on a naturally dark world but they have very probably helped civilize your own specific religion.

Steve Allen (1922-2000) American composer, entertainer, and wit.
Vulgarians at the Gate (2001)
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Added on 5-Feb-21 | Last updated 5-Feb-21
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Errors and mistakes, however gross, in matters of opinion, if they are sincere, are to be pitied, but not punished nor laughed at. The blindness of the understanding is as much to be pitied as the blindness of the eye, and there is neither jest nor guilt in a man’s losing his way in either case. Charity bids us set him right if we can, by arguments and persuasions; but charity, at the same time, forbids, either to punish or ridicule his misfortune.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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On religious tolerance.
 
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Every man’s reason is, and must be, his guide; and I may as well expect that every man should be of my size and complexion, as that he should reason just as I do. Every man seeks for truth; but God only knows who has found it. It is, therefore, as unjust to persecute as it is absurd to ridicule people for those several opinions which they cannot help entertaining upon the conviction of their reason.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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Speaking of religious beliefs.
 
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In religions which have lost their creative spark, the gods eventually become no more than poetic motifs or ornaments for decorating human solitude and walls.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
Zorba the Greek, ch. 12 (1946)
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The position which believers and unbelievers occupy with regard to their various forms of faith is very much the same all over the world. The difficulties which trouble us, have troubled the hearts and minds of men as far back as we can trace the beginnings of religious life. The great problems touching the relation of the Finite to the Infinite, of the human mind as the recipient, and of the Divine Spirit as the source of truth, are old problems indeed; and while watching their appearance in different countries, and their treatment under varying circumstances, we shall be able, I believe, to profit ourselves, both by the errors which others committed before us, and by the truth which they discovered. We shall know the rocks that threaten every religion in this changing and shifting world of ours, and having watched many a storm of religious controversy and many a shipwreck in distant seas, we shall face with greater calmness and prudence the troubled waters at home.

Max Müller (1823-1900) German-British philologist, Orientalist, religious studies founder
Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. 1, Preface (1866)
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He must be a man of little faith, who would fear to subject his own religion to the same critical tests to which the historian subjects all other religions. We need not surely crave a tender or merciful treatment for that faith which we hold to be the only true one. We should rather challenge it for the severest tests and trials, as the sailor would for the good ship to which he trusts his own life, and the lives of those who are dear to him. In the Science of Religion, we can decline no comparisons, nor claim any immunities for Christianity, as little as the missionary can, when wrestling with the subtle Brahmin, or the fanatical Mussulman, or the plain speaking Zulu.

Max Müller (1823-1900) German-British philologist, Orientalist, religious studies founder
Chips from a German Workshop, vol. 1, Preface (1866)
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It is better to go skiing and think of God, than to go to church and think of sport.

Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian
(Attributed)
 
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If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask?

Graham Greene (1904-1991) English novelist [Henry Graham Greene]
The Comedians [Dr. Magiot] (1966)
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I think vital Religion has always suffer’d, when Orthodoxy is more regarded than Virtue. And the Scripture assures me, that at the last Day, we shall not be examin’d what we thought, but what we did; and our Recommendation will not be that we said Lord, Lord, but that we did GOOD to our Fellow Creatures.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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His parents. Franklin cites Matt. 26 in the letter, but it should be Matt. 25:31-46.
 
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Faith, in the Gospels, does not mean believing something: it is an inherent quality in the mind. It is a kind of courage; an attitude which favours adventure and is not afraid to run risks. Its opposite is not intellectual scepticism, but worry, cowardice, or despair. It can remove mountains — not literal mountains, but the obstacles which sloth and cowardice have put in our path.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
Assessments and Anticipations, ch. 7 “Faith” (1929)
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Protestant theology has restricted the meaning of Faith too much — explaining it as subjective assurance or trust. It has sometimes been assumed that this attitude of throwing oneself into the arms of Divine grace may dispense us from the duty of forming rational convictions, and of directing our lives in accordance with them. Faith and fact come to be divorced. Either they are supposed to be directed to different objects, or we are told that the same proposition may be true for faith and false for science — in which case we are on a quicksand, and are driven to play fast and loose with veracity.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
Assessments and Anticipations, ch. 7 “Faith” (1929)
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Dearer is love than life, and fame than gold;
But dearer than them both, your faith once plighted hold.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Canto 11, st. 63 (1589-96)
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The most dangerous heresy of our time, it bears repeating, is the belief that belief in itself is a good thing, regardless of its content; for faith that is attached to an unworthy or inadequate object makes people less than they are, not more.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
“Strictly Personal” column (8 Apr 1955)
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Reprinted in Leaving the Surface (1968).
 
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It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
“The Usurpations of Reason,” Sermon, Oxford, England (11 Dec 1831)
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I probably differ from most people, who believe in Belief, and are only sorry they cannot swallow even more than they do. My law-givers are Erasmus and Montaigne, not Moses and St. Paul.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Think not the faith by which the just shall live
Is a dead creed, a map correct of heaven,
Far less a feeling fond and fugitive,
A thoughtless gift, withdrawn as soon as given.
It is an affirmation and an act
That bids eternal truth be present fact.

Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849) English poet, biographer, essayist, teacher
“The Just Shall Live By Faith”
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Faith is, on the practical side, just the resolution to stand or fall by the noblest hypothesis; and, on the intellectual side, it is a progressive initiation, by experiment which ends in experience, into the unity of the good, the true, and the beautiful, founded on the inner assurance that these three attributes of the divine nature have one source and conduct to one goal.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Roman Catholic Modernism” (1909), Outspoken Essays: First Series (1911)
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When the heavy-handed dogmatist requires a categorical assent to the literal truth of the miraculous, in exactly the same sense in which physical facts are true, a tension between faith and reason cannot be avoided.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Bishop Gore and the Church of England” (1908), Outspoken Essays: First Series (1911)
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The humanist has four leading characteristics — curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“George and Gide” Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
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Added on 15-Apr-20 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
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