The following essay was written by Francis Bacon in his book “Meditations Sacrae”. Bacon is accredited for introducing the scientific method into natural philosophy. The last paragraph of the article makes it worth reading.
“The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”
First, it is to be noted, that the Scripture saith, “The fool hath said in his heart, and not thought in his heart;” that is to say, he doth not so fully think it in judgment, as he hath a good will to be of that belief; for seeing it makes not for him that there should be a God, he doth seek by all means accordingly to persuade and resolve himself, and studies to affirm, prove, and verify it to himself as some theme or position: all which labour, notwithstanding that sparkle of our creation light, whereby men acknowledge a Deity burneth still within; and in vain doth he strive utterly to alienate it or put it out, so that it is out of the corruption of his heart and will, and not out of the natural apprehension of his brain and conceit, that he doth set down his opinion, as the comical poet saith, “Then came my mind to be of mine opinion,” as if himself and his mind had been two divers things; therefore the atheist hath rather said, and held it in his heart, than thought or believed in his heart that there is no God; secondly, it is to be observed, that he hath said in his heart, and not spoken it with his mouth. But again you shall note, that this smothering of this persuasion within the heart cometh to pass for fear of government and of speech amongst men; for, as he saith, “To deny God in a public argument were much, but in a familiar conference were current enough:” for if this bridle were removed, there is no heresy which would contend more to spread and multiply, and disseminate itself abroad, than atheism: neither shall you see those men which are drenched in this frenzy of mind to breathe almost any thing else, or to inculcate even without occasion any thing more than speech tending to atheism, as may appear in Lucrecius the epicure, who makes of his invectives against religion as it were a burden or verse of return to all his other discourses; the reason seems to be, for that the atheist not relying sufficiently upon himself, floating in mind and unsatisfied, and enduring within many faintings, and as it were fails of his opinion, desires by other men’s opinions agreeing with his, to be recovered and brought again; for it is a true saying, “Whoso laboureth earnestly to prove an opinion to another, himself distrusts it:” thirdly, it is a fool that hath so said in his heart, which is most true; not only in respect that he hath no taste in those things which are supernatural and divine; but in respect of human and civil wisdom: for first of all, if you mark the wits and dispositions which are inclined to atheism, you shall find them light, scoffing, impudent, and vain; briefly of such a constitution as is most contrary to wisdom and moral gravity.
Secondly, amongst statesmen and politics, those which have been of greatest depths and compass, and of largest and most universal understanding, have not only in cunning made their profit in seeming religious to the people, but in truth have been touched with an inward sense of the knowledge of Deity, as they which you shall evermore note to have attributed much to fortune and providence.
Contrariwise, those who ascribed all things to their own cunning and practices, and to the immediate, and apparent causes, and as the prophet saith, “Have sacrificed to their own nets,” have been always but petty counterfeit statesman, and not capable of the greatest actions.
Lastly, this I dare affirm in knowledge of nature, that a little natural philosophy, and the first entrance into it, doth dispose the opinion to atheism; but on the other side, much natural philosophy and wading deep into it, will bring about men’s minds to religion; wherefore atheism every way seems to be combined with folly and ignorance, seeing nothing can can be more justly allotted to be the saying of fools than this, “There is no God”