Monday Meslier: 63 – All Religion Inspires But A Cowardly And Inordinate Fear Of The Divinity

Many people make a subtle distinction between true religion and superstition; they tell us that the latter is but a cowardly  and inordinate fear of  Divinity, that the truly  religious man has confidence in  his God,

Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier Portrait

and loves  Him sincerely; while the superstitious man sees in Him but an enemy, has no confidence in Him, and represents Him as a suspicious and cruel tyrant, avaricious of His benefactions and prodigal of His chastisements. But does not all religion in reality give us these same ideas of God? While we are told that God is infinitely good, is it not constantly repeated to us that He is very easily offended, that He bestows His favors but upon a few, that He chastises with fury those to whom He has not been pleased to grant them?


Meslier is fond of approaching god’s cruelty and capriciousness from multiple angles. I picture him writing this stuff, wanting to grab and shake his “flock” until they wake up and realize they’ve been trapped. But, he can’t – it’s more of god’s cruelty and capriciousness that he himself is forced to pay lip-service to a questionable divinity. The church in Meslier’s time didn’t have a notion of “sermons” in which the abbe’ would lecture the collected flock from a selected piece of the bible. If they did, I imagine Meslier’s sermons would have been complicated with a great deal of inner skepticism.

Meslier is completely right, of course: the idea we should love god is contradicted by all our feelings and god’s alleged behavior.