Fragments concerning Freemasonry – B (1865)


[Summer-Fall 1865]


Catechism of Freemasonry

I. Theology

Leaving aside the transcendent question, probably insoluble for man, of the Absolute and the existence or non-existence of an otherworldly and extra-human God; –

Considering at the same time that as soon as man posits the truth and justice, the principle regulator of his acts, outside of his being, outside of his reason and conscience, he declares himself at that moment incapable of justice and truth, and posits the necessity of a revelation, and consequently the necessity of an absolute authority, which, in the form of the Church and the State, subjects him to a yoke, contrary to his reasons, his conscience and his liberty; – that the Church and State, necessarily represented by men, who, either through the effects of a fanatical illusion, or through guile, arrogate to themselves the mission and the impious right to speak, to act and to command their fellows in the name of this God, unknown to all the world; – that this exorbitant, impious privilege, which by the very force of things becomes hereditary, must necessarily and, as all history proves to us, has never failed to produce in human society the hierarchy of castes and classes, divinely privileged and exclusively governing by the grace of God; that all exclusivism and all privilege being, through the effect of a fundamental law inherent in humanity, an infallible source of intellectual and moral impoverishment, stupefaction, exhaustion and corruption, – these classes and these castes, in degrading through the very effects of their privilege, have never failed to substitute their individual interests for the interests of all, the arbitrariness of their selfishness and greed for the eternal laws of justice, to exploit, in a word, the goods of their earn for their own profit, condemning the peoples to a life of misery and slavery on the earth, and leaving them for their only consolation the fallacious promises of a happiness beyond the grave;

Considering that every Being, being determined and consequently limited by its own nature, cannot escape it without ceasing to exist or, what amounts to the same things, without ceasing to be itself; that, consequently, by even supposing the existence of a supernatural, superhuman, otherworldly supreme being, man would only recognize it humanly, not as it is in itself, but only as it can be reflected and manifested in the human being, without destroying it, – that is to say in the conditions and in the very forms of humanity – that consequently all theology is necessarily anthropomorphism, – and that all the historical revelations of God and of Gods, from the brutal divinities of fetishism to Christian Trinitarianism and even to the one God of the rationalist metaphysics, – have been nothing but successive manifestations of humanity itself, of the truth and justice immanent in man, but that by a historically necessary illusion he had first transported outside himself into a fictive heaven, in order to worship them like foreign to himself, like his masters, thus making himself the slave of his human essence and of the very sources of his liberty; –

Considering that all historical progress consist first of all in that successive creation of Gods by man, in the development and in the explanation of the essence and eternal foundations of humanity in the heavens, so that man can contemplate there, as if in a mirror, his own truth, his own justice and his whole destiny; – then in the act—no less solemn, religious and above all necessary—of taking back from heaven what belongs to the earth, of rendering to man what he had created himself, and making God, truth and justice return into him, in order to finally make him master of his destiny, and to proclaim him adult, free and capable finally of fulfilling his mission on earth;

Considering finally that in this way justice, truth, everything that in the historical religions has been called God, are immanent in man – that it is the proper essence of humanity – that consequently in order to recognize it, we have no need of revelation, as in order to accomplish them we have not need of external, supernatural assistance; that by drawing only on ourselves we will inevitably find both their explanation and the strength to realize them –

Considering, on the contrary, that as long as we have sought them outside ourselves, on high, by a fatal law of intellectual and moral optics, we have obtained for the Earth only the inversion of everything we adore in Heaven: – that by transporting truth, Justice, liberty and God to that heaven, – we have necessarily and constantly delivered the earth to lies, to iniquity, to slavery and to the Devil – we send those back to heaven, to the world of the privileged, – and we take back as our own, on this earth, God, truth, justice and our dear and holy liberty. –

So without entering into the philosophical debate on the existence or nonexistence of a supernatural and otherworldly God—which we consider practically useless, to say the least—abandoning that question to the individual conscience of each, we affirm:

1. That every that on the earth, in human society, in the world of history, we have called God and divine revelations, has been nothing but the creation, the development and a series of successive manifestations of the universal genius of humanity –

2. That if an otherworldly God exists, no man has ever seen him, nor could he hear his voice, nor consequently express his thought, nor manifest his will. – That the great men of history, the legislators, the prophets, the thinkers, the poets, have only been able to draw their inspirations from the depths of the human being;

3. That no man has had, has, or will ever have the possibility or the right of speaking and commanding his fellows in the name of God –

4. That the whole mission of man as a collective and individual being is to understand and to realize, not thoughts, wills and laws that would be external to him and would come to him through superhuman and supernatural revelations from on high, but the laws fundamental to and inherent in his own human nature –

5. – That consequently the active intervention of the idea of God in human affairs, far from being a necessary condition of morals and of the organization of order in society, would be, on the contrary, as both logic and history demonstrate to us, an impediment and an absolute ruin for both, – and would become, as in the past, an infallible source in lies, iniquity and anarchy slavery on earth –

Rejecting every revelation and all authority, divine and human, we affirm: Human reason, collective and individual, as the sole criterion of truth: the human conscience as the basis of justice and individual and collective liberty as source and unique foundation of order in humanity. –


[Section crossed-out in original]

II. Humanity

1. By abandoning the cult and service of the Divinity to religion, Freemasonry devotes itself exclusively to the service and cult of Humanity.

2. Freemasonry, while revering them, does not deify nature or humanity.

A. What we call Nature is the Totality of all existing, living beings, – a totality in which nothing is found isolated, and of which solidarity is the fundamental and supreme law. All that lives, everything that exists, large and small things, the simplest and the most compound, the farthest away like the nearest, all the forces, the least atoms, exercise and suffer, either directly or by transmission, and most often in an imperceptible manner, an incessant mutual influence and dependence; and that eternal action and reaction of the Whole on each Point and of each Point on the Whole, constitutes the life, the harmony, the common and supreme law of that Totality of Worlds which is at once always producer and product. Always creative and active, that universal solidarity has formed our terrestrial planet and given to each of its part, in geological and climatological relations, their conditions of being and their different physiognomies. It is that solidarity that has given and gives birth to the vegetable and animal life….

[Fragment ends; working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur.]

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.