What would we say or a father who, we are assured, watches without relaxation over the welfare of his feeble and unforeseeing children, and who, however, would leave them at liberty to go astray in the midst of rocks, precipices, and waters; who would prevent them but rarely from following their disordered appetites; who would permit them to handle, without precaution, deadly arms, at the risk of wounding themselves severely?
What would we think of this same father, if, instead of blaming himself for the harm which would have happened to his poor children, he should punish them for their faults in the most cruel way? We would say, with reason, that this father is a fool, who joins injustice to foolishness. A God who punishes the faults which He could have prevented, is a being who lacks wisdom, goodness, and equity. A God of foresight would prevent evil, and in this way would be saved the trouble of punishing it. A good God would not punish weaknesses which He knows to be inherent in human nature. A just God, if He has made man,would not punish him for not being strong enough to resist his desires.To punish weakness, is the most unjust tyranny. Is it not calumniating a just God, to say that He punishes men for their faults, even in the present life? How would He punish beings whom He alone could correct,and who, as long as they had not received grace, can not act otherwise than they do?
According to the principles of theologians themselves, man, in his actual state of corruption, can do nothing but evil, for without Divine grace he has not the strength to do good. Moreover, if man’s nature,abandoned to itself, of destitute of Divine help, inclines him necessarily to evil, or renders him incapable of doing good, what becomes of his free will? According to such principles, man can merit neither reward nor punishment; in rewarding man for the good he does, God would but recompense Himself; in punishing man for the evil he does, God punishes him for not having been given the grace, without which it was impossible for him to do better.
This is a typical Meslier attack: he makes a good point and then proceeds to bury it in a great big pile-on of other points that aren’t quite as strong.
A God of foresight would prevent evil, and in this way would be saved the trouble of punishing it.
Root cause analysis right there – we don’t need to worry about all the other hypotheticals such as whether god punishes mortals for being unable to lift a stone that god designed to be unliftable. The whole situation is avoidable, yet god chose it not to be avoided.