Baron d'Holbach QuotesPaul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (8 December 1723 – 21 January 1789), was a French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist and prominent figure in the French Enlightenment. He was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, near Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate, but lived and worked mainly in Paris, where he kept a salon.
If experience be consulted, it will be found there is no action, however abominable, that has not received the applause of some people. Parricide – the sacrifice of children – robbery – usurpation – cruelty – intolerance – prostitution, have all in their turn been licensed actions, and have been deemed laudable and meritorious deeds with some nations of the earth. Above all, Religion has consecrated the most unreasonable, the most revolting customs.
The inward persuasion that we are free to do, or not to do a thing, is but a mere illusion. If we trace the true principle of our actions, we shall find, that they are always necessary consequences of our volitions and desires, which are never in our power. You think yourself free, because you do what you will; but are you free to will, or not to will; to desire, or not to desire? Are not your volitions and desires necessarily excited by objects or qualities totally independent of you?
People have suffered and become insane for centuries by the thought of eternal punishment after death. Wouldn’t it be better to depend on blind matter… than a god who puts out traps for people, invites them to sin, and allows them to sin and commit crimes he could prevent. Only to finally get the barbarian pleasure to punish them in an excessive way, of no use for himself, without them changing their ways and without their example preventing others from committing crimes.
Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of religion, that we shall discover truth, morality and reason. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from these remedies which nature advocates, far from curing; it only aggravates, perpetuates and multiplies them.
Men always fool themselves when they give up experience for systems born of the imagination. Man is the work of nature, he exists in nature, he is subject to its laws, he can not break free, he can not leave even in thought; it is in vain that his spirit wants to soar beyond the bounds of the visible world, he is always forced to return.
Many men without morals have attacked religion because it was contrary to their inclinations. Many wise men have despised it because it seemed to them ridiculous. Many persons have regarded it with indifference, because they have never felt its true disadvantages. But it is as a citizen that I attack it, because it seems to me harmful to the happiness of the state, hostile to the march of the mind of man, and contrary to sound morality, from which the interests of state policy can never be separated.