The deist exclaims, “Be careful not to worship the ferocious and strange God of theology; mine is much wiser and better; He is the Father of men; He is the mildest of Sovereigns; it is He who fills the universe with His benefactions!” But I will tell him, do you not see that everything in this world contradicts the good qualities which you attribute to your God? In the numerous family of this mild Father I see but unfortunate ones. Under the empire of this just Sovereign I see crime victorious and virtue in distress. Among these benefactions, which you boast of, and which your enthusiasm alone sees, I see a multitude of evils of all kinds, upon which you obstinately close your eyes.
Compelled to acknowledge that your good God, in contradiction with Himself, distributes with the same hand good and evil, you will find yourself obliged, in order to justify Him, to send me, as the priests would, to the other life. Invent, then, another God than the one of theology, because your God is as contradictory as its God is. A good God who does evil or who permits it to be done, a God full of equity and in an empire where innocence is so often oppressed; a perfect God who produces but imperfect and wretched works; such a God and His conduct, are they not as great mysteries as that of the incarnation? You blush, you say, for your fellow beings who are persuaded that the God of the universe could change Himself into a man and die upon a cross in a corner of Asia. You consider the ineffable mystery of the Trinity very absurd Nothing appears more ridiculous to you than a God who changes Himself into bread and who is eaten every day in a thousand different places.
Well! are all these mysteries any more shocking to reason than a God who punishes and rewards men’s actions? Man, according to your views, is he free or not? In either case your God, if He has the shadow of justice, can neither punish him nor reward him. If man is free, it is God who made him free to act or not to act; it is God, then, who is the primitive cause of all his actions; in punishing man for his faults, He would punish him for having done that which He gave him the liberty to do. If man is not free to act otherwise than he does, would not God be the most unjust of beings to punish him for the faults which he could not help committing? Many persons are struck with the detail of absurdities with which all religions of the world are filled; but they have not the courage to seek for the source whence these absurdities necessarily sprung. They do not see that a God full of contradictions, of oddities, of incompatible qualities, either inflaming or nursing the imagination of men, could create but a long line of idle fancies.