Monday Meslier: 59 – In Vain Does Theology Exert Itself to Acquit God of Man’s Defects

Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier

Either This God Is Not Free or He Is More Wicked Than Good.

The world, it will be said, has all the perfection of which it was susceptible; by the very reason that the world was not the God who made it, it was necessary that it should have great qualities and great defects. But we will answer, that the world necessarily having great defects, it would have been better suited to the nature of a good God not to create a world which He could not render completely happy. If God, who was, according to you, supremely happy before the world was created, had continued to be supremely happy in the created world, why did He not remain in peace? Why must man suffer? Why must man exist What is his existence to God? Nothing or something. If his existence is not useful or necessary to God, why did He not leave him in nothingness? If man’s existence is necessary to His glory, He then needed man, He lacked something before this man existed!

We can forgive an unskillful workman for doing imperfect work, because he must work, well or ill, or starve; this workman is excusable; but your God is not. According to you, He is self-sufficient; in this case, why does He create men? He has, according to you, all that is necessary to render man happy; why, then, does He not do it? You must conclude that your God has more malice than goodness, or you must admit that God was compelled to do what He has done, without being able to do otherwise. However, you assure us that your God is free; you say also that He is immutable, although beginning in time and ceasing in time to
exercise His power, like all the inconstant beings of this world. Oh, theologians! you have made vain efforts to acquit your God of all the defects of man; there is always visible in this God so perfect, “a tip of the [human] ear.”


Here Meslier is offering his own reformulation of Epicurus. With an added challenge to the question of whether god has free will. I’m surprised that Meslier didn’t dig into the notion that god has to do certain things under some christian doctrines – like kill himself in order to forgive himself for fucking up how he made man, or something ineffable like that.


  1. Owlmirror says

    One of the theololgical paradoxes I’ve been noodling about for a while runs something like this:

    According to theists, God is both the creator of all things, including humans, and is also morally perfect. But humans are, also according to theology, morally imperfect; capable of sin. So morally imperfect beings were created by the morally perfect God.

    Therefore, it is moral perfection to create an entity that is less morally perfect than oneself, just like morally perfect God created morally imperfect humans.

    Therefore, it is closer to moral perfection for humans to create utterly sociopathic machine intelligences and androids.

    Skynet is sacrament.

    Theists complain about scientists “playing God”, but God is morally perfect. Why shouldn’t humans strive to be closer to morally perfect than they are?

  2. Brian English says

    Somewhere along the line, someone will present a theodicy in which it’s necessary for god to create an imperfect world because free will. We need to be free to choose god or reject him. That apparently excuses all the suffering in the world.
    Q: Why do we need to choose god?
    A: He has a plan.
    Q: So, god created humans with an end in mind?
    A: Yes, the universe exists in part for you.
    Q: Isn’t that immoral, to use humans to an end?
    A: Look! A distraction!

  3. says

    Brian English@#2:
    A: Look! A distraction!

    I think the next move there would be a William Lane Craig-style appeal to divine perfection: “If god doesn’t it, it can’t be immoral.”

  4. Brian English says

    “If god doesn’t it, it can’t be immoral.”

    I’m going to assume that’s “If god does it,…” which is Divine command theory, AKA might makes right.