'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him'
Already in the 18th century, Voltaire was negatively portrayed as a free-thinker, atheist undermining the religious faith and society's morals. By the end of the 19th century, this myth was firmly established in the public mind. For instance, the article Voltaire as Leader and Simbol of French Disbelief describes the thinker as follows:
Voltaire really was the great supporter and propagator of rationalism in modern Europe. He was the evil genius of the past century on which he left the deep imprint of his thoughts, at the same time, he had all the flaws and vices of the time, under the weight of which his good intentions (that were not unusual for him) were crushed.
Voltaire, as a true son of his age, was born and raised in an environment that, from the very first moments of his consciousness awakening, had drugged his soul with the poison of frivolity, skepticism and immorality1.
"This morning I had fun writing an epistle against the book of the three impostors. I have just finished it. I will send it to you. I believe atheism is as pernicious as superstition.
In a letter to the Marquise du Deffant, to whom he sent also a copy of the Epistle, the thinker notes,
"Here is a little essay against atheism, part of which is edifying, the other is somewhat playful".
In 1773, Voltaire repeats this aphorism, which asserts the necessity of the existence of God and faith in him, in the Speech by Me. Belleguier (1773):
The astronomer who whatches the motions of stars, established according to the laws of the most profound mathematics, must adore the Eternal Geometer. The physicist who investigates a grain of wheat or an animal body must recognize the Eternal Craftsman. The moral man who seeks a support point in virtue must admit the existence of a Being as fair as He is supreme. So God is necessary to the world in every way, and we can say together with the author of the Epistle to the scribbler of a vulgar book on the Three Impostors, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him".