Nevertheless, my friends, there is a second way of studying and trying to solve the problem of the inexistence of God. It consists of the examination of the existence of that God which all religions offer for our adoration.
Where would you find a single, reflective, sensible man who would admit this God who, we are told, could exist free of every mystery — as if nothing about Him would be unknown, as if we had received all of His secrets, as if His thoughts had been fully divined? Yet, they dare say of Him: “He did this; He did that. He said this, and He said that. For this reason He spoke; for that end He acted. These things He permits; those things He does not. These actions He will reward; those He will punish. That He did and this He wants because He is infinitely wise, infinitely just, infinitely powerful and infinitely good.”
Alas! Here is a God who makes Himself known. He leaves the Empire of inaccessibility, dispels the clouds which encircle Him, descends from the summits, converses with the mortals, confides His thoughts and His will and charges some with the propagation of His laws and His doctrines. Not only that: He asks them to represent Him down here and gives them full power of doing and undoing in heaven and on earth.
This God is not the God-Might, the God-Intelligence, the God-Will, the God-Energy who — like everything that is Will, Intelligence, Power and Energy — can be, from time to time and according to circumstances, indifferently good or bad, useful or harmful, just or iniquitous, merciful or cruel. Oh no! This is the God about whom all is perfection and whose existence is and can be compatible — since He is perfectly good, just, wise, powerful, merciful — only in a state of things of which He would be the author and by which His infinite Justice, Wisdom, Power, Goodness and Mercifulness would be affirmed. You all know this God. He is the one taught to the children through the catechism. He is the living and personal God to whom temples are erected, for whom prayers are given and in whose honor sacrifices are made, whom all the clergy and the priesthood of every religious denomination on earth pretend to represent.
He is not the mysterious Principle, the Unknown, nor is He enigmatic Might, impenetrable Power, incomprehensible Intelligence, inexplicable Energy, hypothesis to which the human mind resorts because it lacks the power of explaining! the “hows” and the “whys” of things. He is not the speculative God of metaphysicians but the God that has been profusely described and detailed to us by His representatives. He is, I shall repeat, the God of all religions. Since we are in France, I shall say that He is the God of that religion which has dominated our history for fifteen centuries: that is, the Christian religion. This God I deny, but I am willing to discuss the subject. If we are to derive some positive gains and get some practical results from this lecture, it is befitting to study and analyze the facts involved in the issue.
Who is this God?
Since His procurators on earth have been so polite as to depict Him to us with an abundance of details, let us treasure this gentility and let us examine Him at close range. Let us put Him through the microscope. To properly discuss the subject it is necessary to be well acquainted with it.
This is the God who, with a powerful. and fecund gesture, made everything from nothing, who called the emptiness into being, who, of His own will, substituted movement for inertia and universal life for universal death. He is the Creator!
This is the God who, having completed His gesture of creation — rather than re-entering His century-old inactivity and remaining indifferent to the thing created — is concerned with His own work, takes interest in it, administers and governs it. He is the Governor-Providence!
This is the God who, like a Supreme Tribunal, calls us unto Him after death and passes judgment according to our deeds, establishes the measurement of bad and good actions and then imposes, as a last resort and without appeal, the sentence which will make us for centuries to come the happiest or the most unfortunate of beings. He is the Justiciary-Judge!
It is obvious that this God possesses all the attributes and that He does not possess them to an exceptional degree; He possesses them all to an infinite degree. Therefore, He is not only just but infinite Justice; He is not only good but infinite Goodness; He is not only merciful but infinite Mercifulness; He is not only powerful but infinite Power; He is not only wise but infinite Wisdom.
Once more, this God I deny, and with twelve proofs — where one would suffice — I shall undertake to demonstrate the impossibility of His existence.