The Wonders of Nature Do Not Teach the Existance of a God

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Baron D'Holbach,
Good Sense: or, Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural; being a Translation from a Work Called "Le Bon Sens"
corrected and carefully revised by H. D. Robinson

(Boston: J. P. Mendum, 1856) Pages 20-22

Scanned by Aaron Gulyas, February, 1998.

IT is observed, that the wonders of nature are sufficient to lead us to the existence of a God, and fully to convince us of this important truth. But how many are there in the world who have the time, capacity, or disposition, necessary to contemplate Nature, and meditate her progress? Men for the most part, pay no regard to it. The peasant is not struck with the beauty of the sun, which he sees every day. The sailor is not surprised at the regular motion of the ocean, he will never draw from it theological conclusions. The phenomena of nature prove the existence of a God only to some prejudiced men, who have been early taught to behold the finger of God in everything whose mechanism could embarrass them. In the wonders of nature, the unprejudiced philosopher sees nothing but the power of nature, the permanent and various laws, the necessary effects of different combinations of matter infinitely diversified.

Is there anything more surprising than the logic of these divines, who, instead of confessing their ignorance of natural causes, seek beyond nature, in imaginary regions, a cause much more unknown than that nature, of which they can form at least some idea? To say, that God is the author of the phenomena of nature, is it not to attribute them to an occult cause? What is God? What is a spirit? They are causes of which we have no idea. 0 wise divines! Study nature and her laws; and since you can there discover the action of natural causes, go not to those that are supernatural, which, far from enlightening, will only darken your ideas, and make it utterly impossible that you should understand yourselves.

Nature, you say, is totally inexplicable without a God. That is to say, to explain what you understand very little, you have need of a cause which you understand not at all. You think to elucidate what is obscure, by doubling the obscurity: to solve difficulties, by doubling them. 0 enthusiastic philosophers! To prove the existence of a God, write complete treatises of botany; enter into a minute detail of the parts of the human body; launch forth into the sky, to contemplate the revolution of the stars; then return to the earth to admire the course of waters; behold with transport the butterflies, the insccts, the polypi, and the organized atoms, in which you think you discern the greatness of your God. All these things will not prove the existence of that God; they will prove only, that you have not just ideas of the immense variety of matter, and of the effects, producible by its infinitely diversified combinations, that constitute the universe. They will prove only your ignorance of nature; that you have no idea of her powers, when you judge her incapable of producing a multitude of forms and beings, of which your eyes, even with the assistance of microscopes, never discern but the smallest part. In a word, they will prove, that, for want of knowing sensible agents, or those possible to know, you find it shorter to have recourse to a word, expressing an inconceivable agent.

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