Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer.
I have sometimes asked myself how a gynecologist could manage to have sexual intercourse; by the same token, one could ask how a New Testament scholar could be a Christian
The proof that in the numinous we have to deal with purely a priori cognitive elements is to be reached by introspection and a critical examination of reason such as Kant instituted. We find, that is, involved in the numinous experience, beliefs and feelings qualitatively different from anything that ‘natural’ sense-perception is capable of giving us. They are themselves not perceptions at all, but peculiar interpretations and valuations, at first of perceptual data, and then—at a higher level—of posited objects and entities, which themselves no longer belong to the perceptual world, but are thought of as supplementing and transcending it… The facts of the numinous consciousness point therefore—as likewise do also the ‘pure concepts of the understanding’ of Kant and the ideas and value-judgements of ethics or aesthetics—to a hidden substantive source, from which the religious ideas and feelings are formed, which lies in the mind independently of sense-experience; a ‘pure reason’ in the profoundest sense, which because of the ‘surpassingness’ of its content, must be distinguished from both the pure theoretical and pure practical reason of Kant, as something yet higher or deeper than they.
The surest way of governing, both in a private family and a kingdom, is for a husband and a prince sometimes to drop their prerogative.
The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.
When the clergy addressed General Washington on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However [Dr. Rush] observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion. I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets and believed himself to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.
All this [Paul's writing] is nothing better than the jargon of a conjurer who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous people who come to have their fortune told.
Is it popular to pay our debts, to do justice, to defend the injured and insulted country, to protect the aged and the infant, and give top liberty a land to live in? Then must taxation, as the means by which these things are done, be popular likewi
The New Testament, compared with the Old, is like a farce of one act.
What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
What more does man want to know than that the hand or power that made these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this with the force it is impossible to repel, if he permits his reason to act, and his rule of moral life will follow of course.