OK, so I'm not famous for the right reasons.
First, whenever a man talks loudly against religion, always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions, which have got the better of his creed. A bad life and a good belief are disagreeable and troublesome neighbors, and where they separate, depend upon it, 'Tis for no other cause but quietness sake.
I want nothing to do with any religion concerned with keeping the masses satisfied to live in hunger, filth, and ignorance. I want nothing to do with any order, religious or otherwise, which does not teach people that they are capable of becoming happier and more civilized, on this earth, capable of becoming true man, 'master of his fate and captain of his soul'.
We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.
I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.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, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them. 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. 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. I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/reason1.htm
Sometimes the gods have no taste at all. They allow sunrises and sunsets in ridiculous pink and blue hues that any professional artist would dismiss as the work of some enthsiastic amateur who'd never looked at a real sunset. This was one of those sunrises. It was the kind of sunrise a man looks at and says, 'No real sunrise could paint the sky Surgical Appliance Pink.'Nevertheless, it was beautiful.
A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle; ...they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; ...those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. It comes at last--the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them--and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence, ...a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.
Why will we struggle to attain, and strive, When all we gain is but an empty dream?--Better, unto my thinking, doth it seemTo end it all and let who will survive;To find at last all beauty is but dust;That love and sorrow are the very same;That joy is only suffering's sweeter name;And sense is but the synonym of lust.Far better, yea, to me it seems to die;To set glad lips against the lips of Death--The only thing God gives that comforteth,The only thing we do not find a lie.http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16535/16535-8.txt
Pale were your looks; and the rose in your tressesPaler of hue than the dreams we have lost;Who, then I said, is it sees or who guesses,Here in the hall, that I dance with a ghost?Gone! And the dance and the music are ended.Gone! And the rapture dies out of the skies.And, on my arm, in her elegance splendid,The woman of fashion smiles up in my eyes.Had I forgotten? and did you remember?You, who are dead, whom I cannot forget;You, for whose sake all my heart is an emberCovered with ashes of dreams and regret.