How we cite our quotes:
Believe me, religions are on the wrong track the moment they moralize and fulminate commandments. God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves (5.14).
And yet, divine power is linked to judgment in The Fall. Jean-Baptiste himself, by acting the role of judge-penitent, takes on what he admits is a God-like stature.
What of it? Well, God’s sole usefulness would be to guarantee innocence, and I am inclined to see religion rather as a huge laundering venture – as it was once but briefly, for exactly three years, and it wasn’t called religion. Since then, soap has been lacking, our faces are dirty, and we wipe one another’s noses. All dunces, all punished, let’s all spit on one another and – hurry! to the little-ease! Each tries to spit first, that’s all. I’ll tell you a big secret, mon cher. Don’t wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day (5.15).
In this passage, Jean-Baptiste identifies the sole purpose of religion as guaranteeing innocence. But, at other times, he has cited God’s usefulness as a master, someone to satisfy our need for slavery. According to Jean-Baptiste’s logic, these are opposite things. To be imprisoned in servitude is to be forever guilty. So how can we reconcile these two thoughts?
But today – set your mind at rest – their Lord is neither in the attic nor in the cellar. They have hoisted him onto a judge’s bench, in the secret of their hearts, and they smite, they judge above all, they judge in his name (5.20).
Jean-Baptiste notes the hypocrisy in religion. Men claim to be acting in God’s name, he says, but actually act against His wishes.