Baron d'Holbach

Many men without morals have attacked religion because it was contrary to their inclinations. Many wise men have despised it because it seemed to them ridiculous. Many persons have regarded it with indifference, because they have never felt its true disadvantages. But it is as a citizen that I attack it, because it seems to me harmful to the happiness of the state, hostile to the march of the mind of man, and contrary to sound morality, from which the interests of state policy can never be separated.

Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of religion, that we shall discover truth, morality and reason. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from these remedies which nature advocates, far from curing; it only aggravates, perpetuates and multiplies them.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. What is most repellent in the System of Nature – after the recipe for making eels from flour – is the audacity with which it decides that there is no God, without even having tried the impossibility. If God did not exist, he would have to be invented.” But all nature cries aloud that he does exist: that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence on it.

It is thus religion infatuates man from his infancy, fills him with vanity and fanaticism: if he has a heated imagination it drives him on to fury; if he has activity, it makes him a madman, who is frequently as cruel to himself, as he is dangerous and incommodious to others: if, on the contrary, he be phlegmatic or of a slothful habit, he becomes melancholy and is useless to society.

God, we are told, is willing to render himself inconsistent and ridiculous, to confound the curiosity of those whom, we are at the same time informed, he desires to enlighten by his special grace. What must we think of a revelation which, far from teaching us any thing, is calculated to darken and puzzle the clearest ideas?

Men always fool themselves when they give up experience for systems born of the imagination. Man is the work of nature, he exists in nature, he is subject to its laws, he can not break free, he can not leave even in thought; it is in vain that his spirit wants to soar beyond the bounds of the visible world, he is always forced to return.

In Nature nothing; is mean or contemptible, and it is only pride, originating in a false idea of our superiority, which causes our contempt for some of her productions. In the eyes of Nature, however, the oyster that vegetates at the bottom of the sea is as dear and perfect as the proud biped who devours it.

If experience be consulted, it will be found there is no action, however abominable, that has not received the applause of some people. Parricide – the sacrifice of children – robbery – usurpation – cruelty – intolerance – prostitution, have all in their turn been licensed actions, and have been deemed laudable and meritorious deeds with some nations of the earth. Above all, Religion has consecrated the most unreasonable, the most revolting customs.