Monday, October 8, 2012

Godless Communists

When you're not religious, it's sometimes very hard to understand all the fuss people make over God.  Although I'm sure religious people have the same problem understanding my atheism, I cannot help but think of Christianity and other forms of monotheism as childish fantasies or absurd tall tales.  I know that's not very broad-minded or tolerant of me, and I know plenty of extraordinarily intelligent men and women have readily accepted the reality of God's presence in the world.  These wise men and women believe in the God, and embrace the biblical explanations of his myriad interventions on planet Earth.  While I reject the idea of God, I acknowledge that God must have a strong if personally unfathomable appeal to good and intelligent people.

My initial disbelief in the Godhead may have been influenced by some form of immature, teen rebellion against the suburban social norms.  But almost three decades later, the disbelief remains, undiluted.  My certainty that God does not exist is seemingly as unshakable as any Christian's faith that He does in fact occupy a celestial throne.  If anything, I'm more devout than a Christian:  after all, a Christian risks nothing by believing in the promise of an everlasting life in heaven, while an atheist risks everything by disbelieving in that same premise.  Although I'm a fervent freethinker, I remain perplexed by faith.  It troubles me.  How is that so many people--the vast majority of my countrymen--are so convinced that a deity exists and directly intervenes in our lives?  I see no evidence of the deity, let alone his or her interest in my neighbors' daily lives, and yet almost everybody else in this nation believes the opposite.  

For my religious leaders, allow me to explain my perplexity by way of a parallel myth.  Imagine you wake up one morning and everybody you know is telling you that the Easter Bunny really exists, and not only exists, but has a special plan for their entire lives that makes all other of life's considerations pale in comparison.  Over time, you might start to go crazy:  as much as you may want to bear witness to this miracle, you don't see that Wonderful Rabbit, and all logic, feeling, and experience preclude the possibility of his existence.  It's not that you don't want the Magical Animal to be real, it's just that He never seems to be around when you're awake.  

The metaphor would need to be dramatically extended to help religious folks understand the true scope of the problem this Rabbit poses for you in your everyday life.  In fact, the Easter Bunny would eventually need to start acting malevolently to give you the full picture.  Just as most religious texts are filled with immorality disguised as God's instructions to humankind, so too would the Easter Bunny need to receive praise from your friends and family while committing acts of prejudice, bigotry, and even violence, to give you the full sense of confusion religious inspiration can cause the unwitting atheist.

This then helps to explain why I have some sympathy with the Bolshevik Revolutions attempt to do away with religion altogether.  To Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and the rest of the gang, the religious impulse simply made no sense.  Worse than that, religion helped to fortify class exploitation and undergird political absolutism in Russia.  Worse than the Easter Bunny, whose principal activity of was helping children overcome a potential fear of the dentists, Christ was wondering around Russia confusing people about the real source of their poverty, illiteracy, and general backwardness and subservience.  Ally of corrupt tsar, the atavistic aristocracy, and greedy bourgeoisie, the Russian Christ worked assiduously against the interests of ordinary workers and peasants.  Paul Froese's book, The Plot to Kill God, explains the Bolshevik theory of religion, which shares some of the same assumptions of modern atheists, but takes them to their natural, or unnatural, extremes.

It's impossible to overstate the viciousness of the Bolshevik beef with religion.  In the end, the Soviet response to the problem of religion was worse than the sickness, even by an atheist's standards.  It depended on brutal force, assiduous propaganda, and totalitarian surveillance and terror.  It cruelly assumed that people could no longer even be given the option to believe in Easter Bunnies.

No comments:

Post a Comment