Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809) was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and Father of the American Revolution. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
Quotations from Thomas Paine
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
Man did not enter society to be worse off, or to have fewer rights, but rather to have those rights better secured
…for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.
Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of humans; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.
I believe in one god and no more; My country is the world; and my religion to do good. All mankind are my brethren, [On a plaque at his death site in Greenwich Village, New York.]
That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.
It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.
Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.
We can only reason from what is; we can reason on actualities, but not on possibilities.
Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe.
Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.
It is the direction and not the magnitude which is to be taken into consideration.
Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title.
There never did, there never will, and there never can exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the “end of time”, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations, by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it…Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.
It is not because a part of the government is elective, that makes it less a despotism, if the persons so elected possess afterwards, as a parliament, unlimited powers. Election, in this case, becomes separated from representation, and the candidates are candidates for despotism.
The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.
These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also, Government is for the living, and not for the dead; it is the living only that has any right in it.
He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
These people are either too superstitiously religious, or too cowardly for arms; they either can not or dare not defend ; their property is open to anyone who has the courage to attack them… The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like law, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.
It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.
Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
When it shall be said in any country in the world my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, there may that country boast its Constitution and its Government
Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.
Rights of Man brotherhood-of-man
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.
Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.
The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself – that is my doctrine.
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
Character is much easier kept than recovered.
Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.
The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
Nothing can appear more contradictory than the principles on which the old governments began, and the condition to which society, civilization and commerce are capable of carrying mankind. Government, one the old system, is an assumption of power, for the aggrandizement of itself; on the new, a delegation of power for the common benefit of society. The former supports itself by keeping up a system of war; the later promotes a system of peace, as the true means of enriching a nation. The one encourages national prejudices; the other promotes universal society, as the means of universal commerce. The one measures its prosperity, by the quantity of revenue it extorts; the other proves its excellence, by the small quantity of taxes it requires.
What are the present governments of Europe, but a scene of iniquity and oppression? What is that of England? Do not its own inhabitants say, It is a market where every man has his price, and where corruption is common traffic, at the expense of a deluded people? No wonder, then, that the French Revolution is traduced.
But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and band, the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
It was needless, after this, to say that all was vanity and vexation of spirit; for it is impossible to derive happiness from the company of those whom we deprive of happiness.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying of a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling; of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is
‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.
The Almighty Lecturer, by displaying the principles of science in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation. It is as if He has said to the inhabitants of this globe that we call ours, “I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, and learn from my munificence to all to be kind to each other.
Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but
the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression.
Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa,
have long expelled her.?Europe regards her like a stranger, and England
hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in
time an asylum for mankind.
But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain.
In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.
The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind.
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.
A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.
I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
The greatest remedy for anger is delay.
Let them call me a rebel and welcome. I feel no concern from it. But should I suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul.
We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.
If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and that is all that it proves.
The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad.
From the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom,
…taxes are not raised to carry on wars, but that wars are raised to carry on taxes
For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others forever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them.
Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.
I do not choose to be a common person. It is my right to be uncommon– if I can. I seek opportunity–not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the State look after me. I want to take the calculated risk–to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole; I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid, to think and to act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, This, with God’s help, I have done. All this is what it means to be an Entrepreneur!
If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up as it is of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged. Industry is not mortified by the splendid extravagance of a court rioting at its expense. Their taxes are few, because their government is just: and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.
Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but “show your faith by your works,” that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.
Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.
Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king and there ought to be no other.
That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.
Could the peaceable principle of the Quakers be universally established, arms and the art of war would be wholly extirpated: But we live not in a world of angels…I am thus far a Quaker, that I would gladly agree with all the world to lay aside the use of arms, and settle matters by negotiation: but unless the whole will, the matter ends, and I take up my musket and thank Heaven He has put it in my power.
To believe that God created a plurality of worlds, at least as numerous as what we call stars, renders the Christian faith at once little and ridiculous; and scatters it in the mind like feathers in the air.
To reason with governments, as they have existed for ages, is to argue with brutes. It is only from the nations themselves that reforms can be expected
If men will permit themselves to think, as rational beings ought to think, nothing can appear more ridiculous and absurd, exclusive of all moral reflections, than to be at the expense of building navies, filling them with men, and then hauling them into the ocean, to try which can sink each other fastest. Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infinitely more advantage than any victory with all its expense. But this, though it best answers the purpose of Nations, does not that of Court Governments, whose habited policy is pretense for taxation, places, and offices.
Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
It is important that we should never lose sight of this distinction. We must not confuse the peoples with their governments…
Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ’tis time to part.
To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says, No, to this question, is an independent, for independency means no more than this, whether we shall make our own law, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us there shall be no laws but such as I like.
We still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.
I love the man that smiles at trouble: that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.
Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.
An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. Neither the Channel nor the Rhine will arrest its progress. It will march on the horizon of the world and it will conquer.
There exists in man a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition,to the grave.
Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on.
It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer…
But any war is harvest to such Governments, however ruinous it may be to a nation. It serves to keep up deceitful expectations, which prevent a people looking into the defects and abuses of Government. It is the “lo here!” and the “lo there!” that amuses and cheats the multitude.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
It requires but a very small glance of thought to perceive, that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet that they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed; and the non repealing passes for consent.
And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favor of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.
Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.
But the resurrection of a dead person from the grave, and his ascension through the air, is a thing very different, as to the evidence it admits of, to the invisible conception of a child in the womb. The resurrection and ascension, supposing them to have taken place, admitted of public and ocular demonstration, like that of the ascension of a balloon, or the sun at noon day, to all Jerusalem at least. A thing which everybody is required to believe, requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all, and universal; and as the public visibility of this last related act was the only evidence that could give sanction to the former part, the whole of it falls to the ground, because that evidence never was given. Instead of this, a small number of persons, not more than eight or nine, are introduced as proxies for the whole world, to say they saw it, and all the rest of the world are called upon to believe it. But it appears that Thomas did not believe the resurrection; and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I; and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.
That government is best which governs least.
My country is the world, my religion – to do good.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
My mind is my own church.
As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. All anti-monarchical parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries which have their governments yet to form. “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s” is the scripture doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchical government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.
He prays dictatorially. When it is sunshine,
he prays for rain, and when it is rain, he prays for sunshine. He
follows the same idea in everything that he prays for; for what is the
amount of all his prayers, but an attempt to make the Almighty change
his mind, and act otherwise than he does? It is as if he were to say—-
thou knowest not so well as I.
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
It is only in the CREATION that all the ideas and concepts of the word of God can come together. The Creation speaks a universal language that does not depend on any human speech or language. It is an eternal ‘original copy’ that all men can read. It cannot be faked or counterfeited. It cannot be lost or changed. It cannot be kept secret. It does not depend on man deciding whether to publish it or not. It publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all the nations, and all the worlds. This natural word of God reveals to us all that man needs to know of God.
I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist of doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
It is only by the exercise of reason, that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.
Hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have.
A hereditary monarch is as absurd a position as a hereditary doctor or mathematician.
He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.
The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
Virtues are acquired through endeavor, Which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues Can but encourage one’s own efforts.
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child,cannot be true.
But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not
present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation
prepared to receive us the instant we are born —a world furnished to
our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun; that pour
down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or
wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things,
and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to, us? Can our gross
feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is
the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it
but a sacrifice of the Creator?
Revelation when applied to religion, means something communicated
immediately from God to man. It is revelation to the first person
only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged
to believe it. It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation
that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation
is necessarily limited to the first communication.
Those three means are Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy. The first two are incompatible with true religion, and the third ought always to be suspected.
As mystery answered all general purposes, miracle followed as an occasional auxiliary. The former served to bewilder the mind, the latter to puzzle the senses. The one was the lingo, the other the legerdemain.
As Mystery and Miracle took charge of the past and the present, Prophecy took charge of the future, and rounded the tenses of faith.
It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself. Nature has been kinder to Mr. Burke than he is to her. He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.
In stating these matters, I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgusting. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
COMMENTS on the Quotations from Thomas Paine
These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. What a wonderful statement! Whenever we are having a personal problem, a moment reading it will give us a boost toward greater effort, and to revere our opportunities for personal freedom to pursue what we hold worth our time and effort.
Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good. Thomas Paine spent many a day in jail, and once was within a few days of being executed, when Robespierre, the great French tyrant was executed, and Paine went free.
The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. This is a sad state of affairs, and living within a powerful state with laws that are enforced gives us some respite from this horror. And yet it still exists even within a legal state and everyone must be willing to use the power provided by the laws of the state to defend themselves, for if they don’t they will be preyed upon, as indeed we constantly are being watched by predators for weakness.
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. I have commonly encountered this attitude with ordinary people. They will believe the most fantastic things seen in the media, and yet will not believe observations made with their own senses, if it conflicts with authority or even raises a suspicion.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. This is an overly cute metaphor, but it is memorable and makes it easy to identify people with whom one need not converse further on particular subjects.
Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us. The current joke circulating in the news media: upon breaking in the door a policeman yells, “We are the government and we are here to help you.”
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. In a series of posts named Philosophy Squared, meaning ready to take an intellectual position and defend it with reason, this becomes an excellent quote.
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