Can we imagine ourselves sincerely convinced of the existence of a being, whose nature we know not: who is inaccessible to all our senses; whose attributes, we are we are assured every moment are incomprehensible to us? To presuade me that a being exists or can exist I must be first told what that being is. To induce me to believe the existence or the possibility of such a being, it is necessary to tell me things concerning him that are not contradictory and do not destroy one another. In short, fully to convince me of the existance of that being, it is necessary to tell me things that I can understand, and to prove to me that that it is impossible thta such a being should not exist.
A thing is impossible, when it includes two ideas that mutually destroy one another, and which can neither be conceived nor united in thought. Conviction can be founded only upon the constant testimony of our senses, which alone give birth to our ideas, and enable us to judge of their agreement or disagreement. That, which exists necessarily, is that, whose non-existence implies a coutradiction. These principles,universally acknowledged, become erroneous, when applied to the existence of a God. Whatever has been hitherto said upon the subject, is either unintelligible, or perfect contradiction, and must therefore appear absurd to every rational man.
All human knowledge is more or less clear and perfeet. By what strange fatality have we never been able to elucidate the science of God? The most
civilized nations, and among them the most profound
thinkers, are in this respect no more enlightened than
the most savage tribes and ignorant peasants; and,
examining the subject closely, we shall find, that, by
the idle speculations and subtle refinements of men,
the divine science has been only more and more obscured. Every religion has hitherto been founded only
upon what is called, in logic, begginh the question;
it takes things for granted, and then proves, by suppositions, instead of principles.