"Unbelievers, one more effort ..."
This essay can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the heading "Texts". His title should not be misleading. This essay is not directly inspired by the famous “Frenchmen, one more effort” in which the Marquis de Sade called for a radical sexual revolution to come with the political revolution of 1789. It relates more specifically to the Age of Enlightenment contemporary of Sade. It really expresses the epidermal reaction aroused in a man fed with secular and republican milk by the omnipresent references to a monotheistic God and to the teachings of the Bible that some politicians, particularly American, display all the time as if these references were obvious and universally accepted. The shift of the centre of gravity of scientific, technical and economic achievements toward a Far East which has other traditions leads to a situation where this practice is no longer credible. Material progresses performed in recent centuries have led men of all countries to meet and build increasingly close relationships between continents, civilizations, religions. These necessary relationships should not be hindered by inconsistent religious beliefs or irrational fears. We must rather settle them on natural, rational, sustainable and accepted by all bases and they should refer to a common ethic. We cannot defend ourselves in this respect from a certain sense of urgency when we consider the need to maintain peace and preserve the physical balance of the planet.
The purpose of this essay is to make believers aware of the fragility of some of their best-rooted beliefs, or at least help them to understand the doubts that they can raise up in other minds. It is also to encourage all those who adhere to a naturalistic view of the world to show up, voice their opinions and offer their services. This debate that had been closed in France, at least until recently has a famous record. It stirred up, particularly during the classical ages, the best people. Among those people the one whose work has best withstood the wearing of time is Denis Diderot (1713-1784) because he is probably one of the deepest and brightest minds that earth ever bore. Diderot expressed his thoughts on religion in general and on Christianity in particular in a pamphlet taking the form of a dialogue entitled "Conversation of a philosopher with the wife of Maréchal of ***"
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This pamphlet (reproduced here in its entirety) has not aged. It deals with clarity and elegance of a subject which affects man in his depths as it is the fate of his “soul” after his death. The phenomenon of consciousness ("lay" equivalent of the soul) and the physics that underlies it will therefore be discussed in some length in this essay under the light of recent available scientific advances. The facts and ideas that are mentioned in this occasion will not fail to surprise some people. Resuming the approach of Diderot with the help of Alain’s thinking, another philosopher closer to us but sharing the same concerns, "Unbelievers, another effort ..." continues the text of Diderot with remarks that the general progress of knowledge, the broadening perspectives, the accumulated historical experience and the application of Darwin's theories may suggest. This essay is not necessarily a guide to atheism. It recognizes that the explanations provided by sciences suffer of shortcomings which will perhaps never be offset. It concludes with an inventory of critical problems that mankind urgently faces today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is emblematic in this regard. It finally suggests some ways to solve those problems. The honourable reader is invited to criticize these comments and proposals and to formulate his own. He will thus be led to wonder what he thinks truly about the physical, philosophical and political more fundamental matters. This activity can be for him, and without spending a penny, the equivalent of some kind of analysis.
This essay contains many references to websites that explain the meaning and context of the used concepts. Visiting these sites is not required on a first reading, but it may be useful for anyone who wants to comfort his thinking. Many of these sites belong to the open encyclopaedia Wikipedia of which we should welcome its convenience of use, broad scope and objectivity’s care, making it a particularly effective multilingual tool.