Création de l'ordre dans l'humanité/12

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Création de l'ordre dans l'humanité/12/11 Création de l'ordre dans l'humanité/12/13

[original French]

Longtemps il a été de mode d'attribuer cette conjuration aux prêtres et aux rois : rien n'est plus injuste.

29. La Religion, essayant à sa manière de rendre raison des choses, s'exprimant par figures et allégories, et secondée en cela par la vive imagination de sociétés jeunes, produisit dès l'origine de vastes épopées cosmogoniques, et tout un monde de fantêmes. Incapable d'observer et de définir, elle se réfugiait dans le symbolisme. Or qu'est-ce que le symbole? la matérialisation de l'idée, une sorte d'hiéroglyphe tenant lieu de formule. Que prouve-t-il? l'impuissance de généraliser et d'abstraire, l'oppression de l'esprit par le fait de la substance.

30.

Ce n'est plus la vapeur qui produit le tonnerre,
C'est Jupiter armé pour effrayer la terre,

a dit le poëte de la raison. Tous les faits naturels, psychologiques et sociaux, ont été taillés par la Religion sur le même moule. Ainsi, Les bouleversements du globe furent un déluge envoyé pour laver les crimes du genre humain.

L'origine du mal, — la pomme d'Eve et la boîte de Pandore. L'esprit de conquête, — des géants nés du commerce des anges et des femmes.

Les révolutions des empires, — la statue de Nabuchodonosor (1).

Les causes de la ruine d'un peuple, — le festin de Balthasar.

La légisiation, — les oracles du Sinaï, et les réponses de la nymphe Égérie.

La pudeur conjugale, — Junon sur le mont Ida, Marie vierge et mère tout ensemble.

Les trois règnes de la Nature, — Dieu en trois personnes.

La diversité des idiomes, — la tour de Babel.

La parole, — le Verbe, seconde personne de la Trinité.

La réforme sociale, — l'initiation par le bain.

La fraternité de tous les hommes, — l'eucharistie ou manducation de Dieu.

La théorie des délits et des peines, — les clefs de saint Pierre. La sanction des lois, — le Poul-Serrho, ou le jugement universel (2).


(1) C'est au chapitre II de Daniel, que Bossuet a pris le thème du Discours sur l'histoire universelle.

(2) J'ai dit, en définissant la Science, qu'elle est l'interprétation des symboles religieux. Les exemples cités dans le texte montrent quel est le sens de cette proposition. La science ne nie point les vérités prêt nées par

[English translation]

It has long been fashionable to attribute this conjuration to priests and kings: nothing is more unjust.

29. Religion, trying in its manner to render reason to things, explaining them by means of figures and allegories, and assisted in this by the living imagination of young societies, produced the origin of vast cosmogonic epics, and all a world of phantoms. Incapable of observing and defining, it takes refuge in symbolism. Now, what is the symbol? the materialization of the idea, a sort of hieroglyph taken in lieu of a formula. What does it prove? The inability to generalize and abstract, the oppression of the mind by the fact of substance.

30.

'Tis not a Cloud from whence swift Lightnings fly;
But Jupiter, that thunders from the Sky,<ref>Boileau, L'Art Poetique III.167-168 (trans. Sir William Soames).</ref>

the poet has said with reason. All natural, psychological, and social facts have been pressed by Religion into the same mold. Thus,

The upheavals of the globe were a deluge sent to wash away the crimes of the human species.

The origin of evil, – the apple of Eve and Pandora's box.

The spirit of conquest, – the giants born of the commerce of angels and women.

The revolutions of empires, — the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. (1) <ref>the statue of Nebuchadnezzar: as Proudhon notes, a reference to Daniel 2:31-45, in which the prophet Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a colossus:

Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.

This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
</ref>

The causes of the ruin of a people, — Belshazzar's feast.<ref>Belshazzar's feast: in Daniel 5:1-31, King Belshazzar holds a decadent feast, featuring idol-worship, interrupted by the dreadful apparition of a disembodied hand that writes a message of doom on the wall, which doom subsequently comes to pass.</ref>

Legislation, – the oracles of Sinai, and the responses of the nymph Egeria.<ref>the responses of the nymph Egeria: in Roman myth, Egeria was a water-nymph who rewarded ceremonial offerings with prophecies.</ref>

Conjugal modesty, — Juno on Mount Ida, Mary a virgin and mother in one.

The three kingdoms of Nature, — God in three persons.

The diversity of languages, — the tower of Babel.

Speech, — the Word, second person of the Trinity.

Social reform, — initiation through ritual immersion.

The brotherhood of all men, — the eucharist or manducation of God.

The theory of delights and pains, — the keys of Saint Peter.

The sanction of the laws — the Poul-Serrho,<ref>Poul-Serrho: an Islamic tradition referred to by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in a passage from Émile: "The Mahometans say ... that after the interrogation which will follow the general resurrection, all bodies will traverse a bridge called Poul-Serrho, which is thrown across the eternal fires, a bridge which may be called the third and last test of the great Judgment, because it is there that the good and bad will be separated ..."</ref> or universal judgment. (2)


(1) It is in chapter II of Daniel, which Bossuet has taken for the theme of the Discourse on Universal History.

(2) I have said, in defining Science, that it is the interpretation of religious symbols. The examples cited in the text show the meaning of this proposition. Science does not in the least negate established truths born from

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