philosophical prose

  « This being, the Eternal, the Uncreated, the Perfect, the Powerful, the Immanent, the Permanent, the Absolute, he is old with a white beard, he is young with a nimbus; he is father, he is son, he is man, he is animal; ox in some, lamb in others, elsewhere dove, elsewhere elephant. This being is irritable, he is passionate, he is jealous, he takes revenge, he gets tired, he rests, he needs his Sunday, he lives in a place, he is here and not there. It has a form; they carve it, paint it, gild it, enrich it with diamonds. Every cult puts it in a book; forbids him to be elsewhere. The Talmud is its sheath, the Zend-Avesta is its case, the Koran is its scabbard, the Bible is its box. It has clasps. The priests keep it in an envelope.

 From time to time they take it in their hands and show it. That's where the unlimited is. All religions, ancient or current, strive to contain God.

 For what ?

 Because a finite God is a convenient God. Radiating it in all directions is not easy to handle. So put the sun in a monstrance.

 The infinite having a self, that is not a small thing to imagine. The World-Soul, go make this prodigious abstraction understood by the big ignorant and ignorant crowd usefully for you. A marble Jupiter or a bronze Sabaoth, it shows. But we only believe what we see. (False truth which is both the starting point of idolatry and the starting point of atheism.) Make any statue, then; once the statue has been made an idol, once the pedestal has been made an altar, give the example, prostrate yourself; there remains only one job for you to perform and one progress to accomplish, and that is to persuade this honest mass of men that this stone or this copper is the Eternal and the Infinite. Small business. To persuade the crowd, it suffices to startle it; a miracle or two do the job.

 We are quick to say: it's childish. This is not serious. What is childish is to imagine that by blindfolding oneself in front of the Unknown, one suppresses the Unknown. What is not serious is the sneering science of infinity. Positivism has come to want to see everything and feel everything, like idolatry. Admitting only the palpable and the visible is considered observation; it's elimination, and nothing else. »