Absurdities and Atrocities - The Full Quote

I would think that, at some point or other in our arcs toward or in atheism, a good number of us have seen the following quote:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
-- Voltaire

That quote was on my mind this morning, to the point where I Googled it and found via Wikiquote that it was part of a larger statement made by Voltaire.  While the brief quote above is a powerful and disturbing statement, it is like many things taken out of a larger context in that it loses some of the impact from that context.  Indeed, I find that the larger statement adds nuance and detail and even more power to what is already a potent assemblage of words.

That said, permit me to present the full text of Voltaire's statement, as it appears in Wikiquote:

Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.


'Nuff said.

Views: 140

Tags: Voltaire, Wikiquote, absurdities, atrocities

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Comment by Joan Denoo on January 3, 2014 at 8:01pm

That says it for me. 

Comment by Ted Foureagles on January 2, 2014 at 10:36pm

Christianity is almost an excuse for atrocity when it offers a "get out of jail free" instant salvation card.  How many in prisons have taken them up on that sales pitch?  Some real atrocities have occurred, such as Christianizing or purging my native American kin and similar actions abroad.  And then there are the little everyday things.  Dear Wife bought a car from her Baptist pastor who had bought it new and provided "full documents" of everything done to it.  It turned out that the car had been seriously damaged in an undisclosed crash and half-ass fixed off the books.  Anyone willing to lie to themselves about the nature of reality will likely lie to you too.  And that's why I don't trust Christians in business or anything else.

Comment by Idaho Spud on December 29, 2013 at 6:56pm

I like that Loren.  It appears like a good quote to give my mormon family members when they ask me how mormonism does more harm than good. 

They are all kind, nice people that wouldn't dream of committing atrocities, and they think mormonism teaches them that principle.  

I would give them that quote after I pointed-out the well documented history of atrocities committed by mormons with the encouragement or orders of their leaders.  The most impressive one being that Brigham Young told the mormons to kill ~300 people in a wagon train passing through (Utah territory?), and bring their goods to him.  

He was constantly preaching hatred for the people of the state the wagon train came from because of the persecution of mormons by the people of that state.  Persecution that was sparked by the stated desire of Joseph Smith to convert everyone to mormonism or kill them, and some actions taken in that direction.

Comment by Grinning Cat on December 28, 2013 at 5:28pm

Tonya, I also don't want to be googleable by my real name.

Here's a setting that should help:

Go to Settings (upper right, under "sign out", "inbox", "alerts", etc.),
choose My Page (upper left, under "My Settings"),
change the last part of your Address (the web address of your profile here) to something better,
then hit Save.

Comment by Loren Miller on December 28, 2013 at 5:10pm

I haven't the slightest idea, Tonya ... though why you're commenting about that HERE is beyond me!

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