The disciples of Pythagoras had an implicit faith in their Master’s doctrine: “HE HAS SAID IT!” was for them the solution of all problems.
The majority of men act with as little reason. A curate, a priest, an ignorant monk, will become in the matter of religion the master of one’s thoughts. Faith relieves the weakness of the human mind, for whom application is commonly a very painful work; it is much easier to rely upon others than to examine for one’s self; examination being slow and difficult, it is usually unpleasant to ignorant and stupid minds as well as to very ardent ones; this is, no doubt, why faith finds so many partisans.
The less enlightenment and reason men possess, the more zeal they exhibit for their religion. In all the religious factions, women, aroused by their directors, exhibit very great zeal in opinions of which it is evident they have not the least idea. In theological quarrels people rush like a ferocious beast upon all those against whom their priest wishes to excite them. Profound ignorance, unlimited credulity, a very weak head, an irritated imagination, these are the materials of which devotees, zealots, fanatics, and saints are made. How can we make those people understand reason who allow themselves to be guided without examining anything? The devotees and common people are, in the hands of their guides, only automatons which they move at their fancy.
In the past, I have referred to religious people as “stupid” or “religiots.” Since then, I’ve recognized that’s an ableist attitude and it’s inappropriate.
Meslier shows us the way: they’re not stupid – they’re intellectually lazy. There is a tremendous wealth of information – philosophy, including science, which is sufficient to convince anyone who sincerely studies that there is no god, or (at best) a vanishingly irrelevant god. There is enough philosophy out there to convince anyone that authoritarianism is unfounded – ignorance is a choice and ought not be respected.