There are two ways of studying and trying to solve the problem of the inexistence of God. One way is that of eliminating the hypothesis God from the field of plausible and necessary conjectures by a clear precise explanation through the exposition of a positive system of the universe, its origin, its successive evolutions and its final scope. But such an exposition would make the idea of God useless and would destroy beforehand the whole metaphysical edifice upon which it has been placed by spiritual philosophers and theologians.
However, taking in consideration the present status of human knowledge and duly confining ourselves to that which is demonstrable and has been demonstrated, verifiable and has been verified, we have to admit that there is neither such an explanation nor such a system of the universe.
Of course, there are certain ingenious hypotheses not at all unreasonable; there are various systems, more or less plausible, based on a quantity of facts and observations which give them a very impressing character of probability. Frankly, these systems and suppositions could face the arguments of the theists with some advantage. But, in truth, on this point we have only hypotheses which lack the value of scientific certainties. And, finally, since each being is free to accord his preference for this or that system, the solution of the problem — for the present, at least — thus viewed, appears to be held in reserve.
The adepts of all religions are so sure of the advantage they derive from examining the problem thus presented that they constantly try to bring it back to this very point. If they do not get the honors of the fight on this ground — the only one on which they can yet stand fairly well — it is still possible for them to keep the doubt in the minds of their religious brothers. The doubt! A capital point for the co-religionists.
In this hand to hand scuffle where the two opposing theses belabor each other, the theists receive some blows and also deliver some. Poorly or well, they defend themselves. Although the results of the debate are somehow uncertain, the mob, the believers — even if they have been put with their shoulders to the wall — could still claim victory. This is a thing which they do not fail to do with an impudence that has always been peculiar to them. And this comedy succeeds in maintaining the immense majority of the flock under the staff of the shepherd. That is all these “bad shepherds” wish to do.