“God could be only the fruit of our anemia”

The Devil Reassured

Why is God so dull, so feeble, so inadequately picturesque? Why does He lack interest, vigor, actuality and resemble us so little? Is there any image less anthropomorphic and more gratuitously remote? How could we have projected into Him lights so dim and powers so unsteady? Where have our energies leaked away to, where have our desires run out? Who then has absorbed our overflow of vital insolence?

Shall we turn to the Devil? But we cannot address our prayers to him: to worship him would be to pray introspectively, to pray to ourselves. . . . We have placed in our double all our attributes, and, in order to afford him a semblance of solemnity, we have dressed him in black: our vices and our virtues in mourning. By endowing him with wickedness and perseverance, our dominant qualities, we have exhausted ourselves to make him as lively as possible; our powers have been used up in creating his image, in making him agile, frisky, intelligent, ironic, and above all petty. The reserves of energy we still had  left to produce God were reduced to nothing. Then we resorted to the imagination and to what little blood we had left: God could be only the fruit of our anemia: a tottering and rachitic image. He is mild, good, sublime, just. But who recognizes himself in that mixture redolent of rose water, relegated to transcendence? A Being without duplicity lacks depth, lacks mystery; He hides nothing. Only impurity is a sign of reality. And if the saints are not completely stripped of interest, it is because their sublimity is tinged with the novelistic, their eternity lends itself to biography; their lives indicate that they have left the world for a genre capable of captivating us from time to time. . . .

Because he overflows with life, the Devil has no altar: man recognizes himself too readily in him to worship him; he detests him for good reason; he repudiates himself, and maintains the indigent attributes of God. But the Devil never complains and never aspires to found a religion: are we not here to safeguard him from inanition and oblivion?

— E. M. Cioran, A Short History of Decay