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It was 1716...

...and the Enlightenment was just about in full effect. Philosophes all across Europe were flipping the institution and the Old Regime the bird. Nothing was sacred, except Reason.

Anonymity was key for many authors, especially for those who challenged such institutions as the church. The author of The Treatise of the Three Imposters did just that. Who are these three imposters, you might ask? Ah, the Pope, the King, and the Bishop(s)? No. Perhaps a handful of local priests? Negatory my good buddy.

Mohammed and Jesus and Moses, oh my!

Yes, it's true. The author of this piercing treatise sought to channel reason into the deepest depths of his peers and challenge the most basic of their religious instincts.

The crazy thing is, the author claims the majority of the body of the text was written in the year 1230 A.D. The author claims he has just rewritten the original claims and modernized the arguments to parallel the reason of the day. Here is a chapter listing:

Whoever wrote the text blames the "silly ideas of God" on the mass confusion and panic of the day. He states that "the rage of false prophets and selfish souls" brings about false ideas and misunderstanding. The author reveals himself as a hard materialist and, of course, a skeptic. The author proposes that man created God as an explanation for the unknown, for it is the nature of man to answer questions regardless of the truth of the answer. Privations will fill themselves, even if it is just filler. To the author, if God is anything, it is all things. However, he says that Christian view of God is a kingly one who wears a crown and resembles a man. He says this is unfounded and simply a projection of man on the universe. Borrowing from Hobbes, the author states that "fear which created Gods, made also Religion." He states that in an effort to form a society, humans used these Gods as a pillar for the commonwealth, knowing nothing better around which to rally.

He says of Moses,
"The ambitious, who have always been grand masters of the art of trickery, have always followed this method in expounding their laws, and to oblige the people to submit to them they have persuaded them that they had received them either from a God or a Goddess." The author rejects Moses as an imposter and magician.

He says of Jesus,
"Considering that Moses was renowned because he commanded an ignorant people, he undertook to build on a similar foundation, and his followers were only some idiots whom he persuaded that the Holy Spirit was his Father, and his Mother a Virgin. After several years, his services being of no value to the Egyptians, he returned to his own country, where, quite proud of the miracles he knew how to perform, he proclaimed himself God." According to the author, these policies "were the skillful and witty evasions of the destroyer of the ancient law and the founder of the new."

He says of Mohammed,
"Moses threw himself into an abyss by an excess of ambition to cause himself to be believed immortal." The author said Mohammed knew how to control a crowd and tell the people what they wanted to hear.

Here is a chapter listing:

  1. OF GOD
  2. REASONS WHICH HAVE CAUSED MANKIND TO CREATE FOR THEMSELVES AN INVISIBLE BEING WHICH HAS BEEN COMMONLY CALLED GOD - (What a classy title for a chapter.)
  3. WHAT GOD IS
  4. WHAT THE WORD RELIGION SIGNIFIES, AND HOW AND WHY SUCH A GREAT NUMBER HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE WORLD
  5. OF MOSES
  6. OF NUMA POMPILIUS
  7. OF JESUS CHRIST
  8. OF THE POLICY OF JESUS CHRIST
  9. OF THE MORALS OF JESUS CHRIST
  10. OF THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST
  11. OF MAHOMET
  12. SENSIBLE AND OBVIOUS TRUTHS
  13. OF THE SOUL
  14. OF SPIRITS WHICH ARE CALLED DEMONS

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