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Baron d'Holbach, Paul-Henri Thiry (1723–1789) was a French author, philosopher and encyclopedist. He was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, Germany. He is most famous as being one of the first self-described atheists in Europe.
- We are all just cogs in a machine, doing what we were always meant to do, with no actual volition.
- It is thus superstition infatuates man from his infancy, fills him with vanity, and enslaves him with fanaticism.
- If the ignorance of nature gave birth to such a variety of gods, the knowledge of this nature is calculated to destroy them.
- When we examine the opinions of men, we find that nothing is more uncommon, than common sense; or, in other words, they lack judgment to discover plain truths, or to reject absurdities, and palpable contradictions.
- Savage and furious nations, perpetually at war, adore, under diverse names, some God, conformable to their ideas, that is to say, cruel, carnivorous, selfish, blood-thirsty.
- ibid., preface
- All children are born Atheists; they have no idea of God.
- ibid., chap. 30
- Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them.
- ibid., chap. 206
- Suns are extinguished or become corrupted, planets perish and scatter across the wastes of the sky; other suns are kindled, new planets formed to make their revolutions or describe new orbits, and man, an infinitely minute part of a globe which itself is only an imperceptible point in the immense whole, believes that the universe is made for himself.
- La Système de la nature; quoted by Norman Hampson, The Enlightenment p. 220 (paperback edition)
- Now, if the ignorance of nature gave birth to Gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.
- La Système de la nature; quoted in The Law of Reason, published by J. Thompson, p. 40.
Quotes about d'Holbach
- Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. What is most repellent in the System of Nature — after the recipe for making eels from flour — is the audacity with which it decides that there is no God, without even having tried the impossibility. If God did not exist, he would have to be invented. But all nature cries aloud that he does exist: that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence on it.
- Voltaire, in his Letter to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (28 November 1770)
- It is very strange that men should deny a Creator and yet attribute to themselves the power of creating eels.
- Voltaire, Philosophic Dictionary