Human beings have created religions from early history. Religion is about what we value most highly, and then organizing beliefs, ceremonies, and rules around those values. Most religions, but not all, have a superhuman power or powers as part of the belief system, often a personal God. Religious belief is about what one believes is ultimate reality, worthy of reverence and commitment, and religious practice centers around honoring the worth of that reality. Religion tends to be a community experience, while religious experience can also be individual.
Evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, and by accepting — and embracing — the theory of evolution, Christians and conservatives strengthen their religion, their politics, and science itself. The conflict between science and religion is senseless. It is based on fears and misunderstandings rather than on facts and moral wisdom.
My religion is the best — my nation is the best — my language is the best — my skin color is the best — and so on. One may feel proud saying all these things, but that very pride ends up becoming the cause of all interhuman conflicts in the human society.
A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.
The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one’s own tradition with reverence for different traditions.
Our concern is not how to worship in the catacombs, but how to remain human in the skyscrapers
The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.
That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.
When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too is my relation to all life, my religion. And this is not so easy to talk about. Religious experience is highly intimate and, for me, ready words are not at hand.
It is the human condition to question one god after another, one appearance after another, or better, one apparition after another, always pursuing the truth of the imagination, which is not the same as the truth of appearance.
Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don’t grab
hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink. You
have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging and holding on. In other words, a person
who is fanatic in matters of religion and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe
becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go and
become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
The question “Why” in the human sphere is easy to answer: to create satisfaction for ourselves and for other people. In the extra-human sphere the question has no meaning. Also the belief in God is no way out for in this case you may ask “Why God”.
At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
Religion carries two sorts of people in two entirely opposite directions: the mild and gentle people it carries towards mercy and justice; the persecuting people it carries into fiendish sadistic cruelty. Mind you, though this may seem to justify the eighteenth-century Age of Reason in its contention that religion is nothing but an organized, gigantic fraud and a curse to the human race, nothing could be farther from the truth. It possesses these two aspects, the evil one of the two appealing to people capable of naïve hatred; but what is actually happening is that when you get natures stirred to their depths over questions which they feel to be overwhelmingly vital, you get the bad stirred up in them as well as the good; the mud as well as the water. It doesn’t seem to matter much which sect you have, for both types occur in all sects….
BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.
Kindness has no religion. Religions are like narrow tracks but kindness is like an open sky.
When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.
A successful woman preacher was once asked “what special obstacles have you met as a woman in the ministry?” “Not one,” she answered, “except the lack of a minister’s wife.”
When religion goes hi-tech, it’s lost what it should have remembered. And that’s the basics!
My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.
The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.
By no means does it follow that religions thereby have no functions, or no benign function. They can provide in a very significant way, and without any mystical trappings, ethical standards for adults, stories for children, social organizations for adolescents, ceremonials and rites of passage, history, literature, music, solace in time of bereavement, continuity with the past, and faith in the future.
In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
We all have a thirst for wonder. It’s a deeply human quality. Science and religion are both bound up with it. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to make stories up, you don’t have to exaggerate. There’s wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature’s a lot better at inventing wonders than we are.
National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.
Let us revere, let us worship, but erect and open-eyed, the highest, not the lowest; the future, not the past!
Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.
Bart Giamatti did not grow up (as he had dreamed) to play second base for the Red Sox. He became a professor at Yale, and then, in time . . . president of the National Baseball League. He never lost his love for the Boston Red Sox. It was as a Red Sox fan, he later realized that human beings are fallen, and that life is filled with disappointment. The path to comprehending Calvinism in modern America, he decided, begins at Fenway Park.