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Atheism Among The People by Alphonse de Lamartine

II. |And what is there in common,| you will say to meà

|And what is there in common,| you will say to me, |between your belief in God and your love for the People?| I answer: My belief in God is not that vague, confused, indefinite, shadowy sentiment which compels one to suppose a principle because he sees consequences, -- a cause where he contemplates effects, a source where he sees the rush of the inexhaustible river of life, of forms, of substances, absorbed for ever in the ocean, and renewed unceasingly from creation. The belief in God, which is thus perceived and conceived, is, so to speak, only a mechanical sensation of the interior eye, -- an instinct of intelligence, in some sort forced and brutal, -- an evidence, not reasonable, not religious, not perfect, not meritorious; but like the material evidence of light, which enters our eyes when we open them to the day; like the evidence of sound which we hear when we listen to any noise; like the evidence of touch when we plunge our limbs in the waves of the sea, and shiver at the contact. This elementary, gross, instinctive, involuntary belief in God, is not the living, intelligent, active, and legislative faith of humanity. It is almost animal. I am persuaded that if the brutes even, -- if the dog, the horse, the ox, the elephant, the bird, could speak, they would confess, that, at the bottom of their nature, their instincts, their sensations, their obtuse intelligence, assisted by organs less perfect than ours, there is a clouded, secret sentiment of this existence of a superior and primordial Being, from whom all emanates, and to whom all returns, -- a shadow of the divinity upon their being, a distant approach to the conception of that idea, which fills the worlds, and for which alone the worlds have been made, -- the idea of God!

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This may be a bold, but it is not an impious supposition. For God, having made all things for himself alone, must have placed, upon all that he made, an impress of himself; more or less clear, more or less luminous, more or less profound, a presentiment or a remembrance of a Creator. But this faith, when it stops here, is not worthy of the name. It is a species of Pantheism, that is to say, a confused |visibility,| a physical working together into indissoluble union of something impersonal, something blind, something fatal, and something divine, which, in the elements composing the universe, we may call GOD. But this |visibility| can give to man no moral decision, -- can give to God no worship. The Pantheism of which I am accused as a philosopher and poet, that Pantheism which I have always scorned as a contradiction and as a blasphemy, resembles entirely the reasoning of the man who should say, |I see an innumerable multitude of rays, therefore there is no sun.|

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