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Preface. Shrouded in the cloak of philosophy, the question of the existence of God continues to attract attention, and, I may add, to command more respect than it deserves. For it is only by a subterfuge that it assumes the rank of philosophy. "God" enters into philosophy only when it is beginning to lose caste in its proper home, and then in its new environment it undergoes such a transformation as to contain very little likeness to its former,... more...

When we examine the opinions of men, we find that nothing is more uncommon, than common sense; or, in other words, they lack judgment to discover plain truths, or to reject absurdities, and palpable contradictions. We have an example of this in Theology, a system revered in all countries by a great number of men; an object regarded by them as most important, and indispensable to happiness. An examination of the principles upon which this... more...

PREFACE Plain speaking is necessary in any discussion of religion, for if the freethinker attacks the religious dogmas with hesitation, the orthodox believer assumes that it is with regret that the freethinker would remove the crutch that supports the orthodox. And all religious beliefs are "crutches" hindering the free locomotive efforts of an advancing humanity. There are no problems related to human progress and happiness in this age which... more...

LECTURE I. OUR IDEA OF GOD. (At Geneva, 17th Nov. 1863.—At Lausanne, 11th Jan. 1864.) Gentlemen, Some five-and-twenty or thirty years ago, a German writer published a piece of verse which began in this way: "Our hearts are oppressed with the emotions of a pious sadness, at the thought of the ancient Jehovah who is preparing to die." The verses were a dirge upon the death of the living God; and the author, like a well educated son of the... more...

SUPERSTITION UNVEILED. Religion has an important bearing on all the relations and conditions of life. The connexion between religious faith and political practice is, in truth, far closer than is generally thought. Public opinion has not yet ripened into a knowledge that religious error is the intangible but real substratum of all political injustice. Though the 'Schoolmaster' has done much, there still remain among us, many honest and energetic... more...


I.—APOLOGUE. There is a vast empire governed by a monarch, whose conduct does but confound the minds of his subjects. He desires to be known, loved, respected, and obeyed, but he never shows himself; everything tends to make uncertain the notions which we are able to form about him. The people subjected to his power have only such ideas of the character and the laws of their invisible sovereign as his ministers give them; these suit,... more...

INTRODUCTION. A Treatise on the Being and Perfections of God, as the Creator and Governor of the world, can scarcely be adapted to the exigencies of modern society, unless it be framed with express reference to the existing forms of unbelief, and the prevailing tendencies both of philosophical thought and of popular opinion. It is quite possible, indeed, to construct a scheme of evidence on this subject out of the ample materials which the... more...

HUMANITY'S GAIN FROM UNBELIEF. As an unbeliever, I ask leave to plead that humanity has been real gainer from scepticism, and that the gradual and growing rejection of Christianity—like the rejection of the faiths which preceded it—has in fact added, and will add, to man's happiness and well being. I maintain that in physics science is the outcome of scepticism, and that general progress is impossible without scepticism on matters of... more...

ATHEISM AMONG THE PEOPLE. I. I have often asked myself, “Why am I a Republican?—Why am I the partizan of equitable Democracy, organized and established as a good and strong Government?—Why have I a real love of the People—a love always serious, and sometimes even tender?—What has the People done for me? I was not born in the ranks of the People. I was born between the high Aristocracy and what was then called the... more...

ADVERTISEMENT. The Editor of this publication has more in object to answer Dr. Priestley than to deliver his own sentiments upon Natural Religion, which however he has no inclination to disguise: but he does not mean to be answerable for them farther, than as by reason and nature he is at present instructed. The question here handled is not so much, whether a Deity and his attributed excellences exist, as whether there is any Natural or Moral... more...