d’Holbach on Theology

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 8, 2009 in Quotes

dholbach quote

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben September 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

That hardly makes any sense as though the laws of nature ever promised anyone to act in a particular way.  Irrational materialistic fideism.

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Nick September 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Taken alone, the preface to d’Holbach’s System of Nature is a powerful excoriation of theology as superstitious nonsense and a rousing praise for the virtues of reason.
 

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Nick September 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

…And, the shallow “drive-by-comment” of the person above–’Ben’–shows a contempt for the rigor of this blog and makes them look like a bully in light of the unusual quality of it.
Leave the drive-by, incendiary, pejorative epithets to the “Teabaggers/Birthers” at “Fox News”-sponsored rallies and respect Luke’s sophistication and effort here.

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Ben September 11, 2009 at 1:22 am

Hey Nick,
 
Um, I’m still here.  But what justification does d’Holbach, Luke, or anyone else have for merely asserting that whatever we think we know about the “laws” of nature exclude their violation from outside that system?  It’s like a video game character claiming there are no cheat codes.  d’Holbach may indeed have a lot of other things to say that I would readily agree with, but that doesn’t mean what his quote here makes much sense.  Maybe you think I’m a theist or something, but if I’m not mistaken, Luke appreciates positive and negative feedback even from people on his own team.  I try to give both as I see it.
 
Ben

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Lorkas September 12, 2009 at 9:43 am

Ben isn’t exactly a “drive-by” commenter on this blog. If you check other comment threads, you’re sure to see several of his other comments.

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MacGuy September 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm

We have the privilege of violating the law of gravity by lifting up a rock. But apparently God can’t do the same with His own Creation? Come on, if you’re gonna deal with Theology then I consider it best to understand the internal beliefs before criticizing it for invoking “magic” (or more accurately, the impossible). The laws of nature are simply descriptions of how the world operates; it is not a irrevocable process.

I’m not sure what he means by God violating reason, but this is absolutely not an intentional privilege provided by Theism. He probably means to say that most (if not all) forms of theism lead to internal contradictions. That’s a grand claim that would require much support but not impossible to do. I’ll add his book on my list of things to read.

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Jeff H September 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm

MacGuy: We have the privilege of violating the law of gravity by lifting up a rock. But apparently God can’t do the same with His own Creation?

Uhh, that’s not a violation of the law of gravity. That’s just introducing a competing force into the equation. If you picked up the rock and it slipped out of your hand and continued on into space, THAT would be a violation. But as it stands, gravity is very much still in effect (thank goodness).

Anyway, perhaps I’m misunderstanding the quote, but it seems like he’s trying to say that we cannot really “know” God in any meaningful sense if he operates in contradiction to the laws that he himself set up. However, I also don’t quite understand what he means when he says that God acts contrary to the laws of reason. Maybe the whole “can he make a rock so big he can’t lift it” thing? But that’s a debated point amongst theologians – whether or not God can do the logically impossible…

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VorJack September 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Jeff H:
However, I also don’t quite understand what he means when he says that God acts contrary to the laws of reason.

I’m guessing it refer to the usual argument that we cannot know why God would choose do this but not that. IOW, we cannot know His reasons for doing things, nor guess the logic behind His actions. It’s not for us puny mortals to understand the motivations of the divine, His thoughts are above our thoughts as heaven is above the earth, etc.

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