People often ask me what is the meaning of the quote:
…any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.
(Les Philosophes: The Philosophers Of The Enlightenment And Modern Democracy Translation By Norman Lewis Torrey, Capricorn Books, 1961, P. 277) source
Another English translation of this popular quote is:
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
The original line in French by Voltaire is:
…qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste.
(Œuvres Complètes De Voltaire, Tome Premier, Paris: Aug Ozanne, Libraire-Editeur, 1838, Sur Les Miracles, Onziéme Lettre, Ecrite Le Propofant À M.Covelle, P. 96) source
(The quote in French is also found in: Œuvres Complètes De Voltaire Voir, Mélanges IV, Garnier Frères, 1879, Douzième Lettre. Du Proposant à M. Covelle, P. 412) source
Meaning Any One Who Has The Power To Make You Believe Absurdities
If you read this quote in isolation, it simply means the person who is able of getting you to believe in ridiculous or wildly unreasonable things, then this person can also easily get you to commit wrongdoing.
Actually this quote is from Voltaire’s 1765 book “Questions sur les Miracles“, also known as “Lettres sur les Miracles” (Questions/Letters on miracles).
It is a series of imagined letters by various people.
This particular quote is from the Eleventh Letter (Onzième Lettre) is actually criticizing religion in society.
Voltaire or his real name François-Marie Arouet is notorious for attacking blind faith and organized religion, particularly Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole.
He argued that if people can make you believe in religion (which according to him, religion is absurd), then these people are capable of even getting you to commit atrocities, like killing in the name of God!
By the way, we know a religion is just a belief. It’s not science.
If you believe the existence of the Almighty, then, you are a believer of Him. That’s it.
When it comes to the matter of religion, it is always talking about believers and non-believers.
Whether there is God or not, is not the issue here.
It is whether you BELIEVE His existence or not. If you do, then there is God.
If love to learn more about his views on religion, check out my selection of authentic Voltaire quotations.