Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.
Editorial: If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Voltaire wrote this famous (and largely misunderstood) aphorism in 1768 in an epistle denouncing a group of atheists. Taken out of context it seems weirdly pragmatic and even cynical, and at odds with Voltaire’s faith in the sublime (in his words, the bridle to the wicked) and in a shared order in society (created by a heavenly architect). For those of us with less confidence than Voltaire, the question is not whether you might believe God actually exists, but rather whether the act of believing in a god is a right and good thing.
Addendum: A little anthropology will help with any confusion lurking out there. Anthropology maintains that religious beliefs and the gods they create are extensions of old magic. Therefore the human product of religion necessarily flows from economics, politics, relationships of power, and other such human idiosyncrasies. As such you might even say that God is dead.