Spirituality of 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 12-14

Scanned by Aaron Gulyas, February, 1998.

METAPHYSTCS teach us, that God is a pure spirit. But, herein is modern theology superior to that of the savages? The savages acknowledge a great spirit, for the master of the world. The savages, like all ignorant people, attribute to spirits all the effects, of which their experience cannot discover the true causes. Ask a savage, what moves your watch ? He will answer you, it is a spirit. Ask our divines, what moves the universe? They answer, it is a spirit.

The savage, when he speaks of a spirit, affixes, at least, some idea to the word; he means thereby an agent, like the air, the breeze, the breath, that invisibly produces discernible effects. By subtilizing everything, the modern theologian becomes as unintelligible to himself as to others. Ask him what he understands by a spirit? He will answer you, that it is an unknown substance, perfectly simple, that has no extension, that has nothing common with matter. Indeed, is there any one, who can form the least idea of such a substance? What then is a spirit, to speak in the language of modern theology, but the absence of an idea? The idea of spirituality is yet an idea without model.

Is it not more natural and intelligible to draw universal existence from the bosom of matter, whose existence is demonstrated by all the senses, and whose effects we experience every moment, which we see act, move, communicate motion, and incessantly generate, to attribute the formation of things to an unknown power, to a spiritual being, who cannot derive from his nature what he has not himself, and who, by spiritual essence, can create neither matter nor motion? Nothing is more evident; than that the idea they endeavor to give us, of the action of mind upon matter, represents no object, or is aii idea without model.

The material Jupiter of the ancients could move, compose, destroy, aud create beings, similar to himself; but the God of modern theology is a sterile being. He can neither occupy any place in space, nor move matter, nor form a visible world, nor create men or gods. The metaphysical God is a worker without hands, fit only to produce confusion, reveries, follies and disputes.

Since a God was indispensibly requisite to men, why did they not worship the Sun, that visible God, adored by so many nations? What being had greater claim to the homage of men, than the day-star, who enlightens, warms, and vivifies all beings; whose presence enlivens and regenerates nature, whose absence seems to cast her into gloom and languor? If any being announced to mankind, power, activity, beneficence, and duration, it was certainly the Sun, whom they ought to have regarded as the parent of nature, as the soul of the world, as the divinity. At least, they could not without folly, dispute his existence, or refuse to acknowledge his influence and his blessings.

The theologian exclaims to us, that God wants neither hands nor arms to act; that he acts by his will. But pray, who or what is that God, who has a will, and what can be the subject of his divine will? Are the stories of witches, sylphs, ghosts, wizards, hobgoblins, &c., more absurd and difficult to believe believe than the magical or impossible action of mind upon matter? When we admit such a God, fables and reveries may claim belief. Theologians treat men as children, whose simplicity makes them believe all the stories they hear.

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