A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature... There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle; nor can such a proof be destroyed, or the miracle rendered credible, but by an opposite proof, which is superior.
Given the universe, even a universe devoide of matter as such but provided with the actual laws of nature, everything that exists could, and I firmly believe did, develop from and in this without outside, divine, supernatural interference. But that universe, with its laws! For one thing there is nothing inevitable about the laws. It is a fact that masses attract each other, that gravity exists, but a universe in which masses repelled each other is also conceivable, and in it nothing could possibly be like what does exist, and so with all the laws of nature. They are necessary to the existence of things as they are, but from the abstract point of view there seems no real reason for them. The primoridal reality of the universe, the great Why of everything, is a great unified natural Law, of which hte various laws discovered by scientists are small interrelated parts. Science does not explain where that law came from, or why. A real explanation is (to me at least) inconceivable. It will never, never be explained. It is the one great and true goal in the search for knowledge, and it can never be reached.
Call that great Unknowable by any name you wish, call it X, or Yahweh, or God, or say that God created it. Applying the letters "g", "o", and "d" to it or what created it is no explanation and no consolation. It is a common failing, even more among scientists than among laymen, to think that naming a thing explains it, or that we know a thing because we can put a name to it. But to say that God created the universe means nothing whatever.
The subsequent course of nature, teaches, that God, indeed, gave motion to matter; but that, in the beginning, he so guided the various motion of the parts of it, as to contrive them into the world he design'd they should compose; and establish'd those rules of motion, and that order amongst things corporeal, which we call the laws of nature. Thus, the universe being once fram'd by God, and the laws of motion settled, and all upheld by his perpetual concourse, and general providence; the same philosophy teaches, that the phenomena of the world, are physically produced by the mechanical properties of the parts of matter; and, that they operate upon one another according to mechanical laws. 'Tis of this kind of corpuscular philosophy, that I speak.
Our modern understanding of the term "law of nature" is an issue philosophers argue at length, and it is a more subde question than one may at first think. For example, the philosopher John W. Carroll compared the statement "All gold spheres are less than a mile in diameter" to a statement like "All uranium-23 spheres are less than a mile in diameter." Our observations of the world tell us that there are no gold spheres larger than a mile wide, and we can be pretty confident there never will be. Still, we have no reason to believe that there couldn't be one, and so the statement is not considered a law. On the other hand, the statement "All uranium-235 spheres are less than a mile in diameter" could be thought of as a law of nature because, according to what we know about nuclear physics, once a sphere of uranium-235 grew to a diameter greater than about six inches, it would demolish itself in a nuclear explosion. Hence we can be sure that suet spheres do not exist. (Nor would it be a good idea to try to make one!) This distinction matters because it illustrates that not all generalizations we observe can be thought of as laws of nature. and that most laws of nature exist as part of a larger, interconnected system of laws.
In science, law is not a rule imposed from without, but an expression of an intrinsic process. The laws of the lawgiver are impotent beside the laws of human nature, as to his disillusion many a lawgiver has discovered.
As soon as your reasoning, sprung from that godlike mind, lifts up its voice to proclaim the nature of the universe, then the terrors of the mind take flight, the ramparts of the world roll apart, and I see the march of events throughout the whole of space. The majesty of the gods  is revealed and those quiet habitations, never shaken by storms or drenched by rain-clouds or defaced by white drifts of snow which a harsh frost congeals. A cloudless ether roofs them and laughs with radiance lavishly diffused. All their wants are supplied by nature, and nothing at any time cankers their peace of mind. But nowhere do I see the halls of Acheron,  though the earth is no barrier to my beholding all that passes underfoot in the space beneath. At this I am seized with a divine delight and a shuddering awe that by your power nature stands thus unveiled and made manifest in every part.
As children in blank darkness tremble and start at everything, so we in broad daylight are oppressed at times by fears as baseless as those horrors which children imagine coming upon them in the dark. This dread and darkness of the mind cannot be dispelled by the sunbeams, the shining shafts of day, but only by an understanding of the outward form and inner workings of nature.
The fact of our own existence is almost too surprising to bear. So is the fact that we are surrounded by a rich ecosystem of animals that more or less closely resemble us, by plants that resemble us a little less and on which we ultimately depend for our nourishment, and by bacteria that resemble our remoter ancestors and to which we shall all return in decay when our time is past. Darwin was way ahead of his time in understanding the magnitude of the problem of our existence, as well as in tumbling to its solution. He was ahead of his time, too, in appreciating the mutual dependencies of animals and plants and all other creatures, in relationships whose intricacy staggers the imagination. How is it that we find ourselves not merely existing but surrounded by such complexity, such elegance, such endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful?
The answer is this. It could not have been otherwise, given that we are capable of noticing our existence at all, and of asking questions about it. It is no accident, as cosmologists point out to us, that we see stars in our sky. There may be universes without stars in them, universes whose physical laws and constants leave the primordial hydrogen evenly spread and not concentrated into stars. But nobody is observing those universes, because entities capable of observing anything cannot evolve without stars. Not only does life need at least one star to provide energy. Stars are also the furnaces in which the majority of the chemical elements are forged, and you can't have life without a rich chemistry. We could go through the laws of physics, one by one, and say the same thing of all of them: it is no accident that we see . . .
The same is true of biology. It is no accident that we see green almost wherever we look. It is no accident that we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life; no accident that we are surrounded by millions of other species, eating, growing, rotting, swimming, walking, flying, burrowing, stalking, chasing, fleeing, outpacing, outwitting. Without green plants to outnumber us at least ten to one there would be no energy to power us. Without the ever-escalating arms races between predators and prey, parasites and hosts, without Darwin's 'war of nature', without his 'famine and death' there would be no nervous systems capable of seeing anything at all, let alone of appreciating and understanding it. We are surrounded by endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random natural selection - the only game in town, the greatest show on Earth.
An Act for establishing religious Freedom.
Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;
that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,
that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;
that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;
that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,
that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,
that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it;
that though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
and finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
[Schopenhauer] was also an atheist. He did not believe in a personal, omnipotent God.
Instead, Schopenhauer believed that the essence of the universe is Being: a blind, irrational, unquenchable thirst to exist he called Wille zum Leben, and that everything we perceive is a representation of this Will to Live.
Because we ourselves are products of Will, we spend most of our lives trapped in a cycle of striving and boredom.
We're constantly willing ourselves to attain our goals, and when we do attain them, we're disappointed and move on to something else, again and again, until the ultimate disappointment of death.
To Schopenhauer, free will and real choice were cruel illusions, and desire a prison.