There is a quote by Voltaire which reads “All men were born with ten fingers and toes but no one was born with the knowledge of God.” This has a really good point to it, and if you could tell me what to say in defense to this.


This is simply a rhetorical statement by Voltaire.  If it is compelling to you, that is fine, but I do not find it compelling in the least, to be honest.  He is trying to dismiss belief in God as lacking any kind of empirical evidence by this nice little trick of a rhetorical argument.  What he misses in this is that the vast majority of all who have ever lived have concluded that there is a higher, supernatural reality.  Where did this come knowledge from?  Can he simply dismiss the evidence for design in nature?  As Isaac Newton also put it rhetorically, “Whence is it that Nature doth nothing in vain? And whence arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world?”  I find myself much more strongly attracted to the rhetoric of Newton than that of Voltaire, but I leave that to you, of course.  I also like what David said in Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Voltaire may be right that infants do not have knowledge of God imprinted on their brain at birth, or maybe he is wrong.  Philosophers have debated this question.  However, babies certainly do not know how to read or write when born, and they do not have understanding of mathematics, yet these things are real.  As I said, I do not find this rhetorical statement of Voltaire to be all that compelling, but I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

John Oakes

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