Translated: for marxists. This, the most famous of them, was done by Voltaire. Jean Meslier, priest of Etripigny and of But in the Champagne region, a native of the village of Mazerni, a dependency of the Duchy of Mazarin, was the son of a worker in serge. Raised in the countryside, he nevertheless pursued his studies and arrived at the priesthood. His morality was irreproachable, and he often gave alms.
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He began learning Latin from a neighborhood priest in and eventually joined the seminary. One public disagreement with a local nobleman aside, Meslier was to all appearances generally unremarkable, and he performed his office without complaint or problem for 40 years. When Meslier died, there were found in his house three copies of a page octavo manuscript in which the village curate denounces religion as "but a castle in the air", and theology as "but ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system".
Thought[ edit ] In his Testament, Meslier repudiated not only the God of conventional Christianity , but even the generic God of the natural religion of the deists. Although the earliest Christians had been exemplary in sharing their goods, Christianity had long since degenerated into encouraging the acceptance of suffering and submission to tyranny as practiced by the kings of France and injustice was explained away as being the will of an all-wise Being.
In Chapter V, the priest writes, "If God is incomprehensible to man, it would seem rational never to think of Him at all". Meslier does think of him, however, for several hundred pages more, in which he calls God "a chimera" and argues that the supposition of God is not prerequisite to morality. In fact, he concludes that "[w]hether there exists a God or not [ Various edited abstracts of the Testament were printed, condensing the multi-volume original manuscript and sometimes adding material not written by Meslier.
Voltaire published his own version in expurgated form as Extraits des sentiments de Jean Meslier The Testament of Meslier had never been published in English translation before , when Prometheus Books re-issued it in English. He professed it, demonstrated it, arguing and quoting, sharing his reading and his reflections, and seeking confirmation from his own observations of the everyday world.
The book appeared in , after his death. Meslier had spent the greater part of his life working on it. The history of true atheism had begun. However, Onfray decides that Ferriera was not such a good candidate as Meslier, since Ferriera converted to Zen Buddhism. Of course, this utterly ignores many ancient forms of atheism, such as those that existed in India. Onfray completely forgot, for example, Arab philosopher Al-Rawandi  — CE , who apostatized from Islam and became a critic of religion.
Moreover, there were atheists in Greece and Rome before Christianity, though this has largely been ignored or overlooked until recently.
Life[ edit ] Jean Meslier was born in Mazerny in the Ardennes. One public disagreement with a local nobleman aside, Meslier was to all appearances generally unremarkable, and he performed his office without complaint or problem for 40 years. He lived like a pauper, and every penny left over was donated to the poor. Thought[ edit ] In his Testament, Meslier repudiated not only the God of conventional Christianity, but even the generic God of the natural religion of the deists.