Monday Meslier: 4 – Of the Falsity of the Christian Religion


Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier

Let us proceed to the pretended visions and Divine Revelations, upon which our Christ-worshipers establish the truth and the certainty of their religion.

In order to give a just idea of it, I believe it is best to say in general, that they are such, that if any one should dare now to boast of similar ones, or wish to make them valued, he would certainly be regarded as a fool or a fanatic.

Here is what the pretended Visions and Divine Revelations are:

God, as these pretended Holy Books claim, having appeared for the first time to Abraham, said to him: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, into a land that I will show thee.” Abraham, having gone there, God, says the Bible, appeared the second time to him, and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land,” and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. After the death of Isaac, his son, Jacob going one day to Mesopotamia to look for a wife that would suit him, having walked all the day, and being tired from the long distance, desired to rest toward evening; lying upon the ground, with his head resting upon a few stones, he fell asleep, and during his sleep he saw a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven; and beheld the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it, and said: “I am the Lord, God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the north and to the south and in thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land: for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” And he was afraid, and said: “How dreadful is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.” And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it, and made at the same time a vow to God, that if he should return safe and sound, he would give Him a tithe of all he might possess.

Here is yet another vision. Watching the flocks of his father-in-law, Laban, who had promised him that all the speckled lambs produced by his sheep should be his recompense, he dreamed one night that he saw all the males leap upon the females, and all the lambs they brought forth were speckled. In this beautiful dream, God appeared to him, and said: “Lift up now thine eyes and see that the rams which leap upon the cattle are ring-streaked, speckled, and grizzled; for I have seen all that Laban does unto thee. Now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” As he was returning with his whole family, and with all he obtained from his father-in-law, he had, says the Bible, a wrestle with an unknown man during the whole night, until the breaking of the day, and as this man had not been able to subdue him, He asked him who he was. Jacob told Him his name; and He said: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

This is a specimen of the first of these pretended Visions and Divine Revelations. We can judge of the others by these. Now, what appearance of Divinity is there in dreams so gross and illusions so vain? As if some foreigners, Germans, for instance, should come into our France, and, after seeing all the beautiful provinces of our kingdom, should claim that God had appeared to them in their country, that He had told them to go into France, and that He would give to them and to their posterity all the beautiful lands, domains, and provinces of this kingdom which extend from the rivers Rhine and Rhone, even to the sea; that He would make an everlasting alliance with them, that He would multiply their race, that He would make their posterity as numerous as the stars of Heaven and as the sands of the sea, etc., who would not laugh at such folly, and consider these strangers as insane fools!

Now there is no reason to think otherwise of all that has been said by these pretended Holy Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in regard to the Divine Revelations which they claim to have had. As to the institution of bloody sacrifices, the Holy Scriptures attribute it to God. As it would be too wearisome to go into the disgusting details of this kind of sacrifices, I refer the reader to Exodus. [See chapters xxv., xxvii., xxyiii., and xxix.]

Were not men insane and blind to believe they were honoring God by tearing into pieces, butchering, and burning His own creatures, under the pretext of offering them as sacrifices to Him? And even now, how is it that our Christ-worshipers are so extravagant as to expect to please God the Father, by offering up to Him the sacrifice of His Divine Son, in remembrance of His being shamefully nailed to a cross upon which He died? Certainly this can spring only from an obstinate blindness of mind.

In regard to the detail of the sacrifices of animals, it consists but in colored clothing, blood, plucks, livers, birds’ crops, kidneys, claws, skins, in the dung, smoke, cakes, certain measures of oil and wine, the whole being offered and infected by dirty ceremonies as filthy and contemptible as the most extravagant performances of magic. What is most horrible of all this is, that the law of this detestable Jewish people commanded that even men should be offered up as sacrifices. The barbarians, whoever they were, who introduced this horrible law, commanded to put to death any man who had been consecrated to the God of the Jews, whom they called Adonai: and it is according to this execrable precept that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter, and that Saul wanted to sacrifice his son.

But here is yet another proof of the falsity of these revelations of which we have spoken. It is the lack of the fulfillment of the great and magnificent promises by which they were accompanied, for it is evident that these promises never have been fulfilled.

The proof of this consists in three principal points:

Firstly. Their posterity was to be more numerous than all the other nations of the world.

Secondly. The people who should spring from their race were to be the happiest, the holiest, and the most victorious of all the people of the earth.

Thirdly. His covenant was to be everlasting, and they should possess forever the country He should give them. Now it is plain that these promises-never were fulfilled.

Firstly. It is certain that the Jewish people, or the people of Israel–which is the only one that can be regarded as having descended from the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the only ones to whom these promises should have been fulfilled–have never been so numerous that it could be compared with the other nations of the earth, much less with the sands of the sea, etc., for we see that in the very time when it was the most numerous and the most flourishing, it never occupied more than the little sterile provinces of Palestine and its environs, which are almost nothing in comparison with the vast extent of a multitude of flourishing kingdoms which are on all sides of the earth.

Secondly. They have never been fulfilled concerning the great blessings with which they were to be favored; for, although they won a few small victories over some poor nations whom they plundered, this did not prevent them from being conquered and reduced to servitude; their kingdom destroyed as well as their nation, by the Roman army; and even now the remainder of this unfortunate nation is looked upon as the vilest and most contemptible of all the earth, having no country, no dominion, no superiority.

Finally, these promises have not been fulfilled in respect to this everlasting covenant, which God ought to have fulfilled to them; because we do not see now, and we have never seen, any evidence of this covenant; and, on the contrary, they have been for many centuries excluded from the possession of the small country they pretended God had promised that they should enjoy forever. Thus, since these pretended promises were never fulfilled, it is certain evidence of their falsity; which proves, plainly, that these pretended Holy Books which contain them were not of Divine inspiration. Therefore it is useless for our Christ-worshipers to pretend to make use of them as infallible testimony to prove the truth of their religion.

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Meslier thrusts his finger into one of the great open wounds of christianity: its derivation from judaism. It is kind of embarrassing: the christians say the jews are wrong, but they’re still an intellectual offshoot of that wrongness.

As if some foreigners, Germans, for instance, should come into our France, and, after seeing all the beautiful provinces of our kingdom, should claim that God had appeared to them in their country, that He had told them to go into France, and that He would give to them and to their posterity all the beautiful lands, domains, and provinces of this kingdom which extend from the rivers Rhine and Rhone, even to the sea; that He would make an everlasting alliance with them, that He would multiply their race, that He would make their posterity as numerous as the stars of Heaven and as the sands of the sea, etc., who would not laugh at such folly, and consider these strangers as insane fools!

I love that bit, and it makes me wonder what Meslier would have to say about zionism and the foundation of Israel.

Even as a child I was always amazed that anyone could believe the foundational fables of any religion. They are so obviously silly, and so obviously an attempt to control people’s political actions and behavior. It was with tremendous relief that I read Nietzsche’s “On the Geneology of Morality” (when you’re a kid, his style of argumentation works – thank goodness I was too busy reading Nietzsche to read Ayn Rand!) and suddenly it was easy to interpret all the various stuff of religion as nothing more than a technique for political control. Oh, sure: get the rubes to believe there’s a divine imprimatur, and it saves a whole lot of questions in the form of, “But why…”?

Comments

  1. Brian English says

    There’s a certain amount of costly signalling involved in announcing to the world that you believe something preposterous. It shows to your fellow believers that you can be relied upon. If you’re prepared to be laughed at for your beliefs, a cost, perhaps even endure a worse cost, you’re Kosher (pun intended).

  2. benedic says

    Some 2000 plus years ago, in Greece ,Plato’s ancestor Critias wrote that a wise man invented the God’s so that the people could be controlled by the leaders of the communities.

  3. says

    Brian English@#1:
    There’s a certain amount of costly signalling involved in announcing to the world that you believe something preposterous. It shows to your fellow believers that you can be relied upon. If you’re prepared to be laughed at for your beliefs, a cost, perhaps even endure a worse cost, you’re Kosher

    That’s an interesting idea – you mean religion is sort of like a “virtue potlach” or the elaborate plumes on a peacock? “Look how fit I am! I am so fit I can drag around all this nonsense with me and still be functional!”

  4. says

    benedic@#2:
    Some 2000 plus years ago, in Greece ,Plato’s ancestor Critias wrote that a wise man invented the God’s so that the people could be controlled by the leaders of the communities.

    Yes, that’s an old idea. Seneca also nailed it: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”

  5. Brian English says

    Marcus, I’ll have to look up potlach, not in my vocab right now. But I guess I mean, ‘I hold these things to be true, inspite of their apparent foolishness, and the attacks of the infidels, I’m to be trusted. I’m one of you’.

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