An Evaluation of Marxist Humanism (Part 2 of 2)

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An Evaluation of Marxist Humanism, Neo-Marxism, and Cultural Marxism

Part 2 of 2

by Norman L. Geisler

and

Christopher T. Haun

 


Copyright 2017 – Norman L. Geisler –  All rights reserved


This essay is an early draft of a chapter from Norm’s forthcoming book Is Man the Measure: An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism and Transhumanism (Bastion Books: 2017). Chapter 5 of the first edition of the book was written between 1982-1983 and this was written as a postscript to that chapter.


A SPECTRE is haunting Europe — the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre. … Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.

Marx and Engels

The Communist Manifesto

 

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also it will be with this evil generation.

Jesus of Nazareth

Matthew 12:43-45

 

 

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the time that Marx’s ‘spectre’ possessed the Bolsheviks to bring bloody revolution to Russia. That same spirit proceeded to haunt most of Asia, much of Africa, and some of the Americas. Revolutionary Marxism still holds the record for having deceived, enslaved, terrorized, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered more millions of people than any other ideology. The Leninist and Maoist interpreters of Karl Marx sacrificed over 160 million civilians on the altar of global equality. And that’s the conservative estimate. But the Marxist attempts to create their vision of heaven on a godless earth produced such unsustainable conditions that every large experiment in Marxism collapsed toward the end of the 20th century. Contrary to the popular assumption, however, Marx’s spectre was never truly exorcised from the world. Borrowing one of Jesus’ analogies, if it departed at all, it did so only to return soon after to its old haunts with seven other spirits like it. Or, to use a more modern colloquialism, Marx’s spirit never died; it just went to Hell to regroup.

 

The Failures of “Eastern” Implementations of Marx

 

It is true that the hardline forms of Marxism in the East proved to be abject failures. They failed economically and morally. Throughout the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping made the reforms in China that allowed it to become an economic giant. He encouraged the practices that were anathema to Marx, Lenin, and Mao—foreign investment, global market capitalism, and private competition. When he said, “It doesn’t matter if the cat is white or black so long as it catches the mouse,” he was implying that China would embrace more capitalistic-styled freedoms if doing so would end the starvation and deprivation fostered by the Marx-inspired policies of his predecessor, Chairman Mao.

As soon as it was clear that Gorbachev was not going to enforce the terrible Brezhnev doctrine, Poland, Hungary, and Romania sloughed off their miserable Marxist yokes without hesitation. They set up free elections in 1989. Between 1990 and 1991 a dozen other Eastern European countries did the same. The Germans tore down the nasty Berlin Wall. In 1992 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dissolved and Russia turned away from their Marxist-Leninist Communism. All the big experiments in socio-politico-economic Marxism had failed. The smaller experiments in Marxism also failed. Every single one of the kibbutzim of Israel became at least partially privatized by 2012.[2]

Now that we can look back at a century of empirical testing among many people groups in many nations, it is clear that the Marx-inspired systems never ultimately delivered upon their promises of equality, justice, and better conditions for “the people.” When prosperity did occasionally flow to some it was either at the expense of thousands—sometimes millions—of others or it was when Marxist constrictions were relaxed. Lenin himself was forced by circumstances to return Russia to a limited form of capitalism in 1922. He also had to accept several tons of wheat from the USA to prevent mass starvation. Lenin tightened and loosened the economic tourniquet as needed. Stalin tightened it. Khrushchev loosened it and Brezhnev tightened it. Gorbachev loosened it until it untied itself.

The Marxist penchant for moral bankruptcy was even more terrible than their penchant for economic bankruptcy. They proved more oppressive to “the people” than the yokes of oppression they had “liberated” the people from. The toll in bloodshed finds no close parallels in all of human history. The number of victims murdered and purposefully starved in the Soviet Union by its Marxist-Leninist leaders is estimated to be over sixty million. They killed ten million Ukrainians in the year 1933 alone. The Marxist victim tally in Mao’s China is over eighty million people. Cambodian Marxists sacrificed ten million victims on the altar of Utopia. Marxism in Vietnam, North Korea, and Yugoslavia has put over four million people to death. These figures do not include the hundreds of thousands put to death in the other countries that had the misfortune of becoming victims to hardline Marxist revolutions,[3] the bloodshed in the nations where revolutions were attempted but failed,[4] the hardships experienced by the countries that dabbled with Marxism for years before rejecting it, the lives of soldiers spent by the freer nations to defend against the Marxist plans for world domination, or the millions of infants aborted by Marxist policies in the last 100 years.[5]

It is difficult to find other disasters and atrocities in human history that compare with the slaughters perpetrated by Marx’s interpreters. The bubonic plague that swept through Asia, Europe, and Africa in the 14th century ended the lives of an estimated 50 million humans. Genghis Khan’s soldiers slaughtered an estimated forty million people during the expansion of the Mongol empire of the 12th century. Four centuries of ugly European Colonialism cost the world an estimated 50 million lives. World War I killed nine million and wounded twenty-three million. World War II killed twenty-five million soldiers and thirty-five million civilians. As tragic as each of these empire expansions, wars, and plagues were, they still somehow pale in comparison to the billion or so lives that were ended in connection with the spectres unleashed by Marx. The implementation of Marx’s ideas and spirit has killed more people than the bubonic plague, the imperialism of Genghis Khan, European colonialism, and both world wars combined.

In hindsight, Marx was a misguided Messiah, a perjured prophet, an inhumane humanist, a pseudo-scientist, a revolutionary religionist, and a saboteur—not a savior. Not surprisingly then there are few leaders, intellectuals, and academics today who openly admit to being disciples of Marx. The university professors who are intoxicated by Marx’s vision and who repackage Marx for their students admit that Marx must have been wrong on at least one point. They may even argue that Lenin, Mao, Stalin, etc., were not faithful interpreters and consistent implementers of true Marxism. So when we define Marxism as a rigid economic theory that only applies to the long-gone age of the Industrial Revolution, it is true in a technical sense that Marxism is dead and that there are no real Marxists today. But when we consider Marxism as a family of several other “-isms” that were inspired by and heavily influenced by Marx’s writings, Marxism arguably remains the most dominant clan of philosophies at work in the world today. In no way does the death of Dictator Fidel Castro[6] in 2016 does not then mark the end of Marx’s progeny. Many of Marx’s followers in the Western nations—many of whom gave glowing eulogies for Castro—have come to occupy positions of prominence in the fields of education, entertainment, journalism, and government in the countries that blend socialism and capitalism in various ratios. While they may speak and act more mildly than their eastern brethren did, they too are still seeking a revolution that will replace the fabric of society. And they are at war with the faith and practice of the Christian churches that refuse to modernize.

 

 

The “Western” Marxist Approaches to Revolution

 

Marx was the sort of impatient fellow who much preferred the idea of bloody revolutions to bloodless reforms. But when faced with the challenge of the freedom-loving nations in the industrialized West, Marx and Engels made provision for a gradual strategy of reforms that lead to revolution:

 

The first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class … Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production. … These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless in the most advanced countries the following will be pretty generally applicable. . . [7]

 

They realized that the despotic measures of revolution that would be effective later in the war-torn, pre-industrialized countries (Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan, etc.) would not be likely to work out as well in the “most advanced countries”—the countries that had already industrialized and were enjoying the prosperity that came from it. Professor Ebenstein suggested that Marx “occasionally referred to England and the United States as two possible exceptions to the principle of social change through communist revolution and dictatorship.”[8] Here it becomes helpful to divide Marxism roughly into eastern and western interpretations. For the “advanced countries” in the West, Marx-Engels recommends ten planks for revolutionaries to use as waypoints in a gradual revolution. The steps include the abolition of property, a heavy income tax, abolition of all right of inheritance, confiscation of the property, centralization of credit in a centralized bank, centralization of the means of communication and transport, factories and instruments of production to become owned by the State, equal liability of all to labor, forced labor, and free education (indoctrination) for all children in public schools.

 

The Reformed Marxism of Karl Kautsky

 

The first gradualist approach to Marxism was developed by Karl Kautsy. Kautsky met personally with Marx and Engels more than once and was one of their most ardent followers. On some matters he diverged from them and became the leading theoretician of what would later be called “evolutionary democratic socialism.” Lenin lambasted Kautsky for his rejection of some of Marxism’s nastier features—impatient and bloody revolution, unwillingness to compromise, and the dictatorship of the industrial working class.[9] Kautsky’s socialism has since influenced or dominated the policy of the majority of nations around the world. Whereas the countries that became victims of Leninist and Maoist implementations of Marxism have been hobbling away from Marxism, the nations of Western Europe, North America, and South America have become increasingly influenced by Marxism through this “third way” that synthesizes elements of capitalism, socialism, freedom, and controls together.

 

 

The Reformed Marxism of the Fabian Society

 

Soon after Marx died, another western interpretation of Marxism began to flourish in England and New England. The Fabian Society named themselves after Fabius Maximus, a Roman General whom military historians recognize as the father of guerilla warfare. In the Second Punic War, General Fabius prudently refused to send his soldiers to meet the Hannibal’s superior forces on the open battlefield in direct conflict. Instead, he practiced a patient and cautious strategy of hit-and-run warfare, ambushes, constant harassment, and a war of attrition. Inspired by this form of warfare, the motto of the Fabian Socialists was,

 

For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the right moment comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.[10]

 

The historian Plutarch wrote that Fabius’ “tactics were slow, silent, and yet relentless in their steady pressure, [Hannibal’s] strength was gradually and imperceptibly undermined and drained away.”[11]

Although the Fabian Marxists remained revolutionaries in the spirit of Marx, they differed from Marx on at least three important points. First, they differed on the matter of by whom and to whom. Whereas Marx forecasted the proletariat (largely the factory workers) would and should be the class that should lead the revolt, the Fabians realized that revolution would only have a chance of success when led by a highly-educated class. George Bernard Shaw, one of the better-known Fabians, wrote,

 

Marx’s Kapital is not a treatise on socialism; it is a gerrymand against the bourgeoisie. It was supposed to be written for the working class, but the working man respects the bourgeoisie and wants to be a bourgeoisie. Marx never got a hold of him for a moment. It was the revolting sons of the bourgeoisie itself, like myself, that painted the flag red. The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society. The proletariat is the conservative element.[12]

 

Shaw makes an interesting point: Neither Marx nor Engels were products of the working classes. Marx was the son of a lawyer. Engels’ father owned considerable amounts of property. Lenin came from a wealthy family. The working class rarely produces the intellectuals and poets whose pens are mighty enough to inflame hearts and unsheathe swords. Shaw was also prescient: it would be young and gullible students—boys and girls who never had to work with their hands to feed their families—who would be the most susceptible to believing revolutionary propaganda.

While the Fabians further developed the idea of a gradual revolution they added a dimension of deep deceptiveness to it. Whereas Marx and Engels stated that Communists are very transparent about what they want to take, who they want to take it from, and how they plan to take it,[13] the Fabian Marxists, knowing all too well that Marx was wrong about the revolutions happening naturally as if by scientific law, knew the revolutions had to be forced to occur artificially. They also knew that their agents of change could not succeed if they were honest and transparent about their ends and means. The Fabian strategy for the Western nations was, as the name Fabius implies, quite fabian—gradual, cautious, guerilla, covert, sneaky, unconventional, deceptive, indirect, and asymmetrical.

The Fabians would focus on university professors and students rather than factory workers. They would indoctrinate their agents of change through schooling and scholarship. In the words of one of its founders, the Fabian Society was “founded in 1884 as an educational and propagandist centre. . . It furnishes lecturers in considerable number to all meetings where Socialism, in any guise whatsoever, can possibly be introduced. . .”[14] As of 1885 their motto was, “EDUCATE, AGITATE, ORGANIZE.”[15] By starting with an intellectual revolution in the minds of academics the revolution would naturally bleed into all other arenas of public policy and public opinion. Unable at first to infiltrate the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Fabians established the London School of Economics. They would also create the Labor Party in the United Kingdom, publish journals, and established beachheads in several influential American universities. Meanwhile some of its foremost members also continued to spread propaganda in favor of the Marxist-Leninist State in the 1930s.[16]

 

 

 

Reformed Marxism in the Humanist Manifestos

 

There are strong echoes of Kautskian-Fabian variants of Marxism in the manifestos and declarations produced by humanists. The pendulum tends to shift more towards the communist side of the Marxist spectrum in the early manifestos and then as the economic failure of communism becomes more undeniable, the later manifestos seek to balance their socialism with a little capitalism.

John Dewey, the co-author of the first Humanist Manifesto and reformer of the American public school system, was a member of several Marxist front organizations. He was also one of the leaders of the American branch of the Fabian Society. The fourteenth affirmation of his Humanist Manifesto I (1933) is unabashedly Marxist. It has nothing but condemnation for the “acquisitive and profit-motivated society.” Its insistence on the need for “radical change” and its hope of establishing a “socialized and cooperative economic order” that would forcibly distribute “the means of life” equitably are all hallmarks of economic Marxism. Western intellectuals still had the luxury of imagining that Marxism might work out well.

By the end of the twentieth century, however, the leading secular humanists in the West could see the need to steer away from the inhumane means and tragic ends of the Soviet Union, China, and the Warsaw Pact countries. They toned the Marxist jargon down in subsequent manifestos and redrew their vision of controlling all people as something that could somehow coexist with liberty for all people. Writing in 1999, Paul Kurtz, the framer of Humanist Manifesto II, explained:

 

Humanist Manifesto II was released in 1973 to deal with the issues that had emerged on the world scene since [1933]: the rise of fascism and its defeat in the Second World War, the growth in influence and power of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism, the Cold War … Many Marxist humanists in Eastern Europe had attacked totalitarian statism and welcomed a defense of democracy and human rights. Humanist Manifesto II no longer defended a planned economy, but left the question open to alternative economic systems. Thus, it was endorsed by both liberals and economic libertarians, who defended a free market, as well as by social democrats and democratic socialists, who believed that the government should have a substantial role to play in a welfare society. It sought to democratize economic systems and test them by whether or not they increased economic well-being for all individuals and groups.[17]

 

Kurtz then shows their Marxist stripes when he advocates the forcible redistribution of wealth through an irresistible global government:

 

We recommend an international system of taxation in order to assist the underdeveloped sectors of the human family and to fulfill social needs not fulfilled by market forces. We would begin with a tax levied on the Gross National Product (GNP) of all nations, the proceeds to be used for economic and social assistance and development. This would not be a voluntary contribution but an actual tax. … Extreme disparities between the affluent and the underdeveloped sectors of the planet can be overcome by encouraging self-help, but also by harnessing the wealth of the world to provide capital, technical aid, and educational assistance for economic and social development.[18]

 

The third humanist manifesto, titled Humanism and Its Aspirations, was adopted in 2003 by the American Humanist Association and supersedes the first two manifestos. It attempts to put some distance between itself and the classic economic Marxism. The Marxist jargon (“cooperatively,” “interdependence,” “global community,” “minimize the inequities,” “just distribution of resources”) was toned down such that Marxists would have no problem recognizing it and kind-hearted non-Marxists might also find its phrasing attractive. The Amsterdam Declaration of 1952, which was updated in 2002 and adopted by the World Humanist Congress, somewhat vaguely tries to recommend a balance between personal liberty and social responsibility. The Secular Humanist Declaration (1980) similarly seems to recommend a synthesis of Marxism and Capitalism where it says:

 

a free society should also encourage some measure of economic freedom, subject only to such restrictions as are necessary in the public interest. This means that individuals and groups should be able to compete in the marketplace, organize free trade unions, and carry on their occupations and careers without undue interference by centralized political control.[19]

 

 

 

The Cultural Marxism of Antonio Gramsci

 

By perceiving one of its greatest obstacles to adoption and devising strategies to overcome it, Antonio Gramsci may be the greatest interpreter of Marx. A member of the Italian Socialist Party in 1913 and founder of the Italian Communist Party in 1921, Gramsci fled to Lenin’s Soviet Socialist Republic under threat of the rise of Italian Fascism. Experiencing life in Russia made it obvious to him that the revolution Marx had predicted still hadn’t occurred naturally. Life there also made it clear to him that their “workers’ paradise” was maintained by propaganda, lies, secret police, and fear.

While he never became disillusioned with Marx’s vision of revolution of the workers followed by the rise of a utopia from the ashes, he became disillusioned with all the artificial attempts to create the revolution in Russia, China, and elsewhere. Afraid of the insanity and cruelty Stalin had a reputation for, Gramsci returned to Italy to take his chances among the less frightening Fascists. During nine years in an Italian prison he managed to cobble together nine volumes of writings that could help achieve a Marxist world. Roman Catholic historian Malachi Martin summarizes:

 

Gramsci—intellectually a product of the Roman Catholic society of Italy—was far more advanced than either Hegel or Marx in his understanding of Christian metaphysics in general, of Thomism in particular, and of the richness of the Roman Catholic heritage.  … What was essential, insisted Gramsci, was to Marxise the inner man. Only when that was done could you successfully dangle the utopia of the “Workers’ Paradise” before his eyes, to be accepted in a peaceful and humanly agreeable manner, without revolution or violence or bloodshed. … What Marx and Lenin had got wrong, Gramsci said, was the part about an immediate proletarian revolution. His Italian socialist brothers could see as well as he did that, in a country such as Italy—and in Spain or France or Belgium or Austria or Latin America, for that matter—the national tradition of all the classes was virtually consubstantial with Roman Catholicism. The idea of proletarian revolution in such a climate was impractical at best, and could be counterproductive at worst. … Gramsci had a better way. A subtler blueprint for Marxist victory. … Use Lenin’s geopolitical structure not to conquer streets and cities, argued Gramsci. Use it to conquer the mind of civil society. Use it to acquire a Marxist hegemony over the minds of the populations that must be won. … they must join in whatever liberating causes might come to the fore. . . Marxist must join with women, with the poor, with those who find certain civil laws oppressive. … they must enter into every civil, cultural, and political activity in every nation, patiently leavening them as thoroughly as yeast leavens bread. If there was any true superstructure that had to be eliminated, it was the Christianity that had created and still pervaded Western Culture in all its forms, activities, and expressions. … Marxist action must be unitary against what he saw to be the failing remnant of Christianity. And by a unitary attack, Gramsci meant that Marxists must change the residually Christian mind. He needed to alter that mind—to turn it into its opposite in all its details—so that it would become not merely a non-Christian mind but an anti-Christian mind. … everything must be done in the name of man’s dignity and rights, and in the name of his autonomy and freedom from outside constraint. From the claims and constraints of Christianity, above all else. Accomplish that, said Gramsci, and you will have established a true and freely adopted hegemony over the … thinking of every formerly Christian country. Do that, he promised, and in essence you will have Marxized the West. The final step—the Marxization of the politics of life itself—will then follow.[20]

 

Other Marxists were saying similar things. Christian Rakovsky, a leader in Trotsky’s blend of global Marxism, for example, reportedly said:

 

Communism cannot be the victor if it will not have suppressed the still living Christianity. … In reality Christianity is our only real enemy, since all the political and economic phenomena in the bourgeois States are only its consequences. Christianity, controlling the individual, is capable of annulling the revolutionary projection of the neutral Soviet or atheistic State by choking it and, as we see it in Russia, things have reached the point of the creation of that spiritual nihilism which is dominant in the ruling masses, which have, nevertheless, remained Christian: this obstacle has not yet been removed during twenty years of Marxism.[21]

 

 

The Cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School

 

In the 1930s, a group of professors at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany (“the Frankfurt School” for short) developed their own unique strains of Western Marxism. While they preferred to call their theory “the critical theory of society” their work has become more commonly known as “Cultural Marxism.”

They were keenly aware of the fact that the German workers did not revolt as Marx had predicted. But the fact that Marxism had failed its first and biggest test wasn’t enough to make them abandon Marx. They remained Marxist at the core and sought to salvage Marx’s vision for the dissolution of the evil “capitalist” systems that dominated Europe and the United States and plagued the world. Max Horkheimer defined their critical theory of society as (1) “a theory dominated at every turn by a concern for reasonable conditions of life,” (2) a theory which condemns existing social institutions and practices as “inhuman,” and (3) a theory which contemplates the need for “alteration of society as a whole.”[22] In harmony with Marx, the Frankfurt School theorists taught that everything in Western society is so evil that every facet of it needs to be ruthlessly criticized, weakened, and destroyed.

The rise of Nazi movement in Germany forced these professors to flee their German homeland. The National Socialists were competing with Marxist Socialists and the Frankfurt theorists were definitely recognizable as Marxists. They were also all Jewish. So in 1935 they fled Germany and made Columbia University of New York their base of operations.[23] They did not flee to Stalin’s Moscow because they were critical of his dystopian implementation of Marx. They enjoyed the safety, liberty, opportunities, wealth, and honor the United States offered them during World War II. After WWII ended, some of the Frankfurt Professors returned to Germany. But others stayed to indoctrinate university students with their ideas about cultural revolution and criticism. The USA had emerged from WWII as the most powerful nation in history. In taking Germany’s place, they inherited the ire of those who target and harass the powerful.

Although sympathetic to Marx’s war on inequality among socio-economic classes, these “cultural Marxists” instead focused on other cultural areas where people groups encounter inequality. They saw power inequalities in the clash of cultures (particularly where traditional “Western culture” dominated non-western cultures), of races (European races having dominated non-European races), or religions (where peoples practicing various forms of Christianity have subjugated and oppressed people of other religions), of family (parents often dominate their children and adults oppress the youth), of gender (men often dominate women), and sexual orientation (heterosexual communities oppress people in LGBTIQ[24] categories). Why didn’t the workers of Europe unite and revolt as Marx had predicted? This was one of the main problems these Neo-Marxist theorists were also trying to solve. Perhaps Marx had been right about most everything but had underestimated the grip that the European cultural heritage (chiefly from the Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Reformation influences) had upon the hearts and minds. If these cultural barriers to Marxism could be eroded away, the revolution could proceed.

The chief weapon in their ideological arsenal was criticism.  The Frankfurt School made it academically fashionable to subject every old truth claim to “new criticism” or “critical theory.” Quite in harmony with Marx, every established authority and every established belief must be questioned, challenged, critiqued, doubted, ridiculed, marginalized, weakened, subverted, destroyed, and replaced. Beginning with criticism Marx’s spectre can proceed to liberate all the peoples of the world from the oppression of Classical civilization and Judeo-Christian culture.

Herbert Marcuse was one of the most influential and best known theorists of the Frankfurt School. He taught his brand of cultural Marxism into the 1970s at Columbia University, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California, San Diego. He is now widely regarded as the father of the New Left movement, the most influential “radical philosopher” of the 1960s, and a major inspiration for the Hippie Movement, the student movement, and the civil rights movement. Rather than fomenting discontent among the working class he focused on turning the youth against their heritages and the civilization they were born into. While critiquing both capitalism and communism, he recommended a “cultural revolution in the sense that the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of the existing society.”[25] He also called for:

 

radical change, revolution in and against a highly developed, technically advanced industrial society.  This historic novelty demands a reexamination of one our most cherished concepts. . . . First, the notion of the seizure of power. Here [in the United States], the old model [of Marxist revolution] wouldn’t do anymore. That, for example, in a country like the United States, under the leadership of a centralized and authoritarian party, large masses concentrate on Washington, occupy the Pentagon, and set up a new government. Seems to be a slightly too unrealistic and utopian picture. We will see that what we have to envisage is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.[26]

 

Like their Fabian forbearers, Cultural Marxists infiltrate and undermine the western cultures from the inside—from the universities in particular. In harmony with Marx’s dictum that, “Communism abolishes eternal truth, it abolishes all religion, and all morality,”[27] Frankfurt professors Marcuse and Reich commissioned their disciples to destroy Western concepts of morality. This is also reminiscent of the threat made by Communist Willi Munzenberg: “We will make the West so corrupt that it stinks.” Gramsci challenged his students to take the revolution into every educational institution and into newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, journalism, and other forms of mass media. Gramsci and Lukacs encouraged the destruction of the traditional family unit, the basic building block of every tribe and civilization. Lukacs encouraged criticism of literature. Adorno and Shoenberg even sought to try to overturn western ideals for music. The Frankfurt Neo-Marxists also encouraged their students to take over the government gradually from the inside. When trying to understand how American culture began to change so radically after 1950, one must consider cultural Marxism as a major catalyst.

 

 

The Revolutionary Means and Ends of Saul Alinsky

 

Western Marxists sometimes lost patience with the slow pace of “progress.” During the 1960s, several revolutionaries in the “New Left” movement began to drift away from the gradual strains of Marxism and towards the more overtly violent (Maoist) end of the Marxist spectrum. Some leftist radicals began calling for armed conflict with police in city streets to create “liberated zones.” Others organized riots. Some even called for students to kill their parents. Saul Alinsky challenged this drift.

Alinsky was an effective worker’s union organizer, a talented community organizer, a radical political leftist, a Communist sympathizer, and a Marx-inspired revolutionary. He helped turn the tide of the New Left away from the violent approach back to a gradualist approach. It was not their ends that he disapproved of—he too fantasized about the destruction and overthrow of the USA. It was rather their means that he criticized:

 

They [the New Left radicals] also urge violence and cry ‘Burn the system down!’ They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world. It is to this point that I have written this book.[28]

 

When he rebuked the calls for violence by the New Left it was not because he held that such violence would have been morally unjustifiable; he rebuked them because they were doomed to fail. He was just being pragmatic about it. A few thousand citizens armed with pipe bombs and pistols had no chance of successfully bringing down the most powerful nation in the world from the inside. That just couldn’t work. But a gradual acquisition of power could succeed if a more patient, subtle, deceptive, and effective strategy were used.

 

What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Notes on how to take it away. [29]

 

He encourages organization and agitation for helping revolutionaries use what little power they had to gain more power. His famous thirteen rules for radicals have been used for many different causes, but ultimately the overall thrust is towards one end: gaining power. By listening to people who really want something (the “have-nots”) that the powerful (the “haves”) are withholding from them, by further agitating them and organizing them into communities committed to social change, teaching them to provoke[30] the powers that be to overreact against them, and taking advantage of public sympathy, they can gradually take what they want. His methodology of organizing the powerless and agitating the powerful helped shift the balance of power in the United States. When you cannot be a wrench in the gears of the machine, be sand in it. Eventually the sand will bring the machine to a halt. Meanwhile don’t telegraph your plans to your enemy.

 

 

The Prevalence of Marxism Today

 

Despite having allowed some non-Marxist freedoms in, Communist Marxism remains the official and dominant political-economic force in China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam today. There are also governments in other countries—such as the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa—who do not self-identify to the public as either Marxist or Communist but who historically had strong ties with the Soviet Union, have had many Communists in the highest echelons of their leadership, and exhibit strong Leninist tendencies today. Between 1998 and 2015 there was a resurgence of popular hope in Marxist principles in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. This so-called “pink tide” ended with a popular rejection of most of the Marxist leaders and policies.

Despite the fact that it sits above the largest oil deposit in the entire world and the second largest natural gas deposit in the Americas, Venezuela is presently collapsing in every way. It should be one of the most prosperous nations in the world. But with rampant violence, empty food stores, and collapse, its cities have become one of the most politically, socially, and economically uninhabitable places on earth to live. And why is this? One of the main reasons is that they have over the last fifteen years slid deeper and deeper into Castro-styled Marxism under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. Before he took power, when journalists asked Chavez if he was a Communist, he would answer, “I’m a humanist.” This was the exact same answer his mentor Fidel Castro used decades earlier when asked if he was a Communist. Their dodge is deceptive because humanist sounds far less dangerous than communist. Meanwhile most contemporary humanists tend to register on the Marxist end of the spectrum. Later, after coming to power, Chavez admitted that he was actually “a convinced follower of Marxist-Leninist ideology.” He and Nicolas Madura, his successor, led Venezuela into severe hyperinflation, deep economic recession, terrible food shortages, an elimination of the middle-class, a greater number of poor, and some of the highest crime and murder rates on earth as they progressively implemented Marx’s ten planks.

While the Marxist countries have been forced to sacrifice some of their control for freedoms, the freer countries have sacrificed some of their freedoms for Marxist controls. The “Western Marxists” sometimes compete with and at other times cooperated with the “Eastern Marxists.” Likewise the Eastern Marxists sometimes competed with and at other times cooperated with the Western Marxists. Blurring the lines further, many of the families who made their fortunes as capitalists provided funding for Communist front organizations. Carrol Quigley, professor of history at Georgetown University was a mentor to Bill Clinton long before he became the 42nd President of the United States. In his Tragedy and Hope, Quigley posits an international network of bankers who operate in fabian ways, work towards Western Marxist goals of global control, and were not averse to fund and cooperate with Eastern Marxist organizations:

 

There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act.  In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Group has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, of any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records.  … Since 1925 there have been substantial contributions from wealthy individuals and from foundations and firms associated with the international banking fraternity. … The chief backbone of this organization grew up along the already existing financial cooperation running from the Morgan Bank in New York to a group of international financiers in London …  there grew up in the twentieth century a power structure between London and New York which penetrated deeply into university life, the press, and the practice of foreign policy. … It was this group of people, whose wealth and influence so exceeded their experience and understanding, who provided much of the frame-work of influence which the Communist sympathizers and fellow travelers [Soviet sympathizers] took over in the United States in the 1930’s.[31]

 

 

A Few Prominent Marxists Today

 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, has denied allegations of being a socialist and a Marxist. But his views do fit well in the socialist spectrum and he has been very strongly influenced by Marx and Alinsky. He also has a very strong Marxist background, ties, and orientation. His legal father, Barack Obama, Sr., was a socialist with communist leanings. His ideological father, Frank Marshall Davis, was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party with a passionate desire to destroy the American system. His mother, Anne Dunham, was a radical leftist, a devotee of the Frankfurt School’s “critical theory,” and a Communist as well. Another one of his mentors, Jeremiah Wright, a revolutionary Marxist and Muslim turned pseudo-Christian preacher, gained some fame for preaching a sermon insistent upon the need for God to damn the USA rather than bless it. Wright is also a fount of Black Liberation Theology.[32]

Barack Obama attended Columbia University, one of the chief fountains of both Fabian and Frankfurt strains of Marxism,[33] and, as a political science major there, he learned the nuances of the Cloward-Piven strategy—a plan to increase the burden of the public welfare system to create an overwhelming crisis in the evil capitalistic system and cause the rise of a Marx-inspired government that would end poverty by the forceful redistribution of wealth.

Obama got his start in politics as a community organizer under the auspices of two organizations Saul Alinsky founded. He became a trainer in Alinsky’s methods and used some of the Alinsky methods to help his presidential campaign succeed. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991—a time when many of the professors were still optimistic about Soviet Communism. Also many of them were pundits of “critical legal studies,” a NeoMarxist revolution against American jurisprudence that assumes law is about power rather than justice. Roberto Unger, one of Obama’s professors during his years at Harvard Law, is not ashamed to admit that he is Marxist revolutionary in the Frankfurt School tradition. Obama also studied the Marx-inspired “critical race theory” (CRT) under Derrick Bell at Harvard and went on to teach it as a lecturer at the University of Chicago. As President, Obama appointed one self-described Maoist Communist to an important role in his cabinet. While enjoying upper-class wealth, Obama’s deleterious attempt to socialize health care, his refusal to speak out against the violence associated with various movements under the MoveOn.org umbrella, and his promotion of several other global governance agendas are indicative of a generally Marxist orientation. Now that his second term as President has ended, Obama plans continue to lend his talents for organizing and agitating to the insurgency movement.

Bill Ayers, the co-founder of the Weather Underground, a communist organization that openly called for guerrilla warfare and the overthrow of the US government, was also one of Obama’s mentors in Chicago. In acts of terrorism, and largely in protest of the military involvement in Vietnam, Ayers’ group planted bombs at the New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. Ayers served no prison time for his terrorism.[34] He went on to become a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Although he officially denied any significant association with Barack Obama, Ayers later claimed to have written Obama’s autobiography Dreams of my Father (1995) prior to Obama’s bid for the presidency.

In 2017, Bill Ayers, along with Carl Dix, a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, recently helped create the RefuseFacism.org movement.[35] This movement seeks to organize and agitate with “massive protest and resistance from tens of millions of ordinary people” to oppose the inauguration of the 45th President, to create “a crisis of rule,” to “have the effect of figuratively stopping society in its tracks,” create “a political eruption from below,”  “bring DC to a halt,” foster “non-violent direct action disrupting business as usual, occupying public spaces … strikes … in cities around the country.”[36] This echoes Marx’s writings, resembles some of the propaganda and strategies used by Lenin, and is textbook Alinsky. While the Refuse Fascism organization calls for non-violent protest out of one side of their mouth, they also are calling for militant fighting out of the other:

 

In short, should we hold back now it will almost certainly become immeasurably more difficult to fight back once Trump-Pence are in power and using the vast state power at their disposal to implement their program. The path of holding back, of waiting and seeing, of calculating odds is littered with corpses.  Far better to fight as hard as we can now, however difficult the circumstances, fostering an ethos and framework of resistance as we go for victory and going all out in a telescoped period of time for what is indeed our best shot. There are, of course, no guarantees of victory for people who have right on their side.  The only guarantee that has ever existed is that if you don’t fight for justice you will certainly not get it. Let us fight.[37]

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton has served the US as a Senator and as the Secretary of State. When including the votes of three million illegal aliens and questionable results from several districts in five states, Hillary won the popular vote for the election of the 45th President of the United States. But she failed to earn the electoral vote. While she is certainly not a consistent Marxist, she was converted to a Marxist viewpoint in her college days. The 92-page thesis she wrote as a political science major was titled “There is Only the Fight: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.” Although she did offer some criticisms of his work, she clearly defended Alinsky’s means and, in agreeing that there is ultimately one fight, she agreed with his ends. That fight is at heart of the Marxist worldview; it is the lens through which everything must be viewed to be understood properly. She looked up to Alinsky at one time as a model and mentor. She interviewed him in person and kept a personal correspondence going with him. While her views on “the fight” have matured over the decades, Mrs. Clinton remains a leftist radical and an Alinsky-inspired revolutionary.

Jorge Bergoglio, better known now as Pope Francis, the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, is one of the most influential people in the world today. At least a billion people are listening to him. Officially he supports neither Capitalism, Marxism, nor Marxist Liberation Theology. Bergoglio preaches that the main problem of the world needs to be “radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality.” He sounded so much like a Marxist so often that many began to ask whether he was in fact a Marxist.  Bergoglio answered, “Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” Bergoglio set the locus of his social doctrine in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) rather than in Marx. But Francis is not talking about the old RCC and its old traditions; he is talking about the new RCC created by the Second Vatican Council. Prior to that council, the RCC and Marxist-Leninism were bitter enemies and irreconcilable competitors. After the council ended (1965), the enmity cooled and the RCC began to move in Marxist directions. According to RCC historian and former Jesuit professor Malachi Martin:

 

Within five years of the end of Vatican II, by the dawn of the 1970s, the whole of Latin America was being flooded with a new theology—Liberation Theology—in which basic Marxism was smartly decked out in traditional Christian vocabulary and retooled Christian concepts. Books written mainly by co-opted Catholic priests, together with political and revolutionary action manuals, saturated the volatile area of Latin America … Liberation Theology was a perfectly faithful exercise of Gramsci’s principles. It could be launched with the corruption of a relatively few well-placed Judas goats. Yet it could be aimed at the culture and the mentality of the masses. It stripped both of any attachment to the Christian transcendent. It locked both the individual and his culture in the close embrace of a goal that was totally immanent: the class struggle for socio-political liberation. Swiftly, the linchpins of Vatican and papal control were replaced by the action-oriented demands of the Roman Church—Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, Maryknollers—all committed themselves to Liberation Theology.[38]

 

Interestingly, Bergoglio is the first Jesuit in history to ever become a Pope. His words resonate with the stream of NeoMarxist thought that has been infiltrating the Jesuit order since the 1950s through the work of Jesuit-Marxist thinkers like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (also considered to be the founder of the New Age Movement), Karl Rahner, and a cadre of Liberation Theologians.[39] After having their own revolution the Jesuits in turn caused a revolution in the RCC during and after the Second Vatican Council.

Quoting Francis frequently, the Vatican recently started pushing the agenda of creating a global government (“create a world political authority,” “the creation of a public Authority with universal jurisdiction,” “creating a world political Authority,” “arrive at global Government” [40]) that controls “peace and security; disarmament and arms control; promotion and protection of fundamental human rights; management of the economy and development policies; management of migratory flows and food security; and protection of the environment.” This system of control would of course include a “central world bank that regulates the flow and system of monetary exchanges.” This world government is to be “geared to the universal common good,” “aimed at achieving the common good on the local, regional and world levels,” is about “global social justice,” and “aimed at achieving free and stable markets and a fair distribution of world wealth.” There is nothing here that cannot be found in the writings of Eastern and Western interpreters of Marx. Nor is there anything here that can be achieved without the authoritarian and totalitarian power.

Ironically, while the Pope and the new RCC Church talk in increasingly Marxist tones about the plight of the poor, the evils of greedy capitalism, and the need for other people’s investments to be controlled, they continue to take in billions of dollars every year from their 1.2 billion subjects. Vatican City, which has a population of just 800 people, receives no less than 300 million dollars’ worth of wool per year from its flock. Although no one knows how much wealth the RCC really has, it is known that they manage 6 billion euros worth of assets, have 700 million euros of equity, and keep over 20 million dollars in gold in the vaults of the US Federal Reserve. One also can wonder why they haven’t started auctioning the many priceless treasures (gold, ivories, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, mosaics, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, frescoes, etc.) kept in the Vatican. It is a piquant irony that the Apostle Peter was able to say, “I have no silver or gold…” (Acts 3:6) but the church that he supposedly founded is worth countless billions—or perhaps even trillions—of dollars and euros.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dali Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, is another religious leader with considerable influence around the globe. Given the Maoist invasion and oppression of Tibet, we might expect the Dali Lama to be very critical of Marxism. However, while addressing an American audience in 2011, he explained, “I consider myself a Marxist . . . but not a Leninist.” Also, in a 2015 lecture entitled “A Human Approach to World Peace,” Tenzin went on record as saying, “As far as socioeconomic theory, I am a Marxist. … In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution.” Tenzin is right in saying some of the best-known Marxist countries (China) are practicing capitalism now. But he fails to mention the fact that all of the “capitalist countries” have in the last 100 years become a mixture of capitalist, socialist, Marxist, and Keynesian[41] economic practices. He seems to have missed the fact that the gulf between “the 1%” and “the 99%” was felt more acutely in the extreme Marxist experiments. Eastern Marxism purged the upper-class, created a new upper-class, eliminated the middle-class, and enlarged the lower-class. The gulf between rich and poor in Western countries grows proportionately to the adoption of Western Marxist theory.

 

 

Reasons to Reject All Forms of Marxism

 

The Heart of Marxism is Conflict

 

While the impulse to rebel and revolt and quarrel has been with mankind since the beginning, Marx may have been the first to make it the kernel of a philosophical worldview. With its emphasis on equality and justice for all, Marxism sounds quite appealing in the abstract. But in the real world terror, slavery, misery, mass murder, injustice, inequality, and even genocide are inevitable. It’s built into the system. While posing as the system of cooperation and the antidote to the system of competition, Marxism is founded on the assumption that history can only properly be understood as a competition, a fight, a conflict, a war. Just as never-ending competition between species in the Darwinian model of evolution supposedly produces biological progress, so too does social progress supposedly happen through conflict between people groups.[42] The revolutionaries seek to help the weaker people groups cooperate to revolt against the stronger group.

 

Marxism is anti-Christian

 

Marx’s antipathy for religion in general (“the opiate of the masses”) and for Christianity in particular (considered to be nothing more than a tool of oppression) is not in dispute. In the Warsaw Pact countries, church leaders that complied with the revolutions were rewarded while church leaders that opposed the revolution were removed. The satanic, anti-Christian roots start with Marx, who after abandoning the Christian faith, wrote, “I wish to avenge myself against the One [God] who rules above,”[43] “I shall howl gigantic curses upon mankind,”[44] and, “With disdain I will throw my gauntlet full in the face of the world and see the collapse of this pygmy giant … then I will wander godlike and victorious through the ruins of this world. … I will feel equal to the Creator.”[45] When writing in positive tones about the bloody revolutions in 19th century France and the overturning of their progress by Napoleon, Marx seems to have concluded that “in the name of the people … ‘All that exists deserves to perish.’”[46]

By age eighteen Marx had rejected Christianity and embarked upon an anti-Christian and pro-Luciferian path. One of his early poems tells of how “that enthroned Lord,” “the Almighty,” has “snatched from me my all” and how “nothing but revenge is left to me,” “revenge I’ll proudly wreak on that being,” and “I shall build my throne high overhead. … defiant.”[47] One of Marx’s former early partners, Mikhail Bakunin, wrote in ways which harmonize well with the spirit and words of Marx:

 

The Evil one is the satanic revolt against divine authority, revolt in which we see the fecund germ of human emancipations, the revolution. Socialists recognize each other by the words, ‘In the name of the one to whom a great wrong has been done.’… In this revolution we will have to awaken the Devil in the people, to stir up the basests passions. Our mission is to destroy, not to edify. The passion of destruction is a creative passion.[48]

 

The “one to whom a great wrong has been done” refers to Lucifer, the great cherub who attempted to depose God and was in turn cast out by God. Luciferians (i.e., Satanists) see Lucifer as the victim—the righteous rebel—and God as the unjust King who needs to be overthrown. Both the ends and the means of the purer forms of Marxism (and the revolutionary ideologies that preceded it and fed into it) are ultimately satanic. They originate from men who were in rebellion against the God of their parents. They also fit the Bible’s descriptions of Satan as a deceiver who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), a thief who “comes to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), and an adversary who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), and the ultimate rebel. Alinsky essentially dedicated his book Rules for Radicals to Satan with these words:

 

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins—or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.[49]

 

 

 

The Question of Compatibility

 

It could be argued that most of the people who hunger, thirst, and work for a more equitable and just world prefer to avoid the bloodshed, terrorism, and other evils that tend to go along with Marx’s spectre. They’re interested in a soft revolution, constructive reforms, an effective but unoppressive yoke, and a milder, sanitized, reformed, kautskian version of Marxism. Indeed, many western Marxists work with sincere and noble aspirations in peaceful ways towards constructive reforms of highly imperfect systems.[50] And it may have been the criticism and work of moderate western Marxists that helped temper some of the abuses that western governments would otherwise have continued to wallow in. Perhaps if Christians in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries had been more sensitive to and vocal about unjust labor practices, imperialism, colonization, slavery, consumerism, unjust wars, racism, persecution, inequalities, predatory lending, greed, and the ubiquitous Old Testament themes of justice and righteousness for the powerless, the vacuum that secular Marxism filled wouldn’t have been empty. Secular Marxist humanists are following a desupernaturalized version of the Judeo-Christian vision of justice that both Israel and the Church lost.

Pressing the point further, perhaps many modern Christians have already proved that the Christianesque aspects of Marxism can be adopted while the materialistic, violent, and antichristian elements are filtered out. Marx’s vision of justice may partially be inspired by and harmonious with the many Old Testament passages on justice, Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount (“blessed are the poor” and therefore “condemned are the wealthy/powerful”), writings about controlling greed found in the Talmud and other rabbinic writings, and some of the writings of the Anabaptist Christian radicals who were persecuted and murdered by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. Perhaps Isaiah and Jesus were the first embryonic Marxists and as society evolved Marx was offering an evolved application of true Christian principles. Marx may have been influenced heavily by Isaiah:

 

I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people.  – Isaiah 58:6–7 (NET)

Class conflict is real and perhaps lies at the heart of the social gospel of how we need to build the kingdom of God on earth. Perhaps Marxism provides a helpful way to break with misguided Greco-Roman interpretations—the Western Captivity—of the Bible that occurred after “the Constantianian Shift.” Perhaps Marx offers an important part of the Reformation that Luther and Calvin didn’t get around to. A large percentage of the Christian Churches in the West are already heavily influenced by Marxism and contribute to Marxist causes.

There are many admixtures of Christianity and Marxism in various ratios. Surely some blends are better than others. But should they be blended at all? While the Marxist critiques of the wealthy and powerful often show areas where improvement is needed, the Marxist vision is ultimately neither constructive nor reformative. In so far as they are possessed by Marx’s spectre, the leaders of the new Marxisms will content themselves with gradual and peaceful reform only as a means to weaken and replace the incumbent powers. When the system is sufficiently weakened, the reforms end and the attempt the revolution begins. As thousands of kind-hearted socialists discovered during the early days of the Russian Revolution, their work as mild revolutionaries helped the more heartless revolutionaries accomplish the Revolution—the very bloody, nasty, evil revolution. Those who hunger and thirst for Marxist righteousness are working towards that same end. They may do so in ignorance and in good conscience, but eventually it leads towards large quantities of blood and many tears. Although it is denied, it seems that following the money trail of the World Council of Churches[51] (WCC), the National Council of Churches (NCC), the United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church, and other Marx-intoxicated Christian groups shows millions of dollars sent to finance propaganda, weapons, ammunition, and pay for several Marxist “liberation armies” on at least two continents. If this is true, it offers a poignant example of the work of the nonviolent Marxist revolutionaries being something that can be untangled from violent revolutionaries.

While encouraging efforts towards truly constructive and peaceful reforms, we must discourage any support of all destructive and revolutionary movements.[52] In so far as Marxism is directly or indirectly revolutionary, it has no continuity with the Scriptures. The expectation of support for the established government runs through all the books of the Old and New Testaments. Members of the Tribes of Israel and members of the global Church were both encouraged to not revolt against the established authorities—even when those authorities were very abusive. When their slavery was unbearable and when their baby boys were being murdered, Moses and the Israelites did not rise up in armed revolution against Pharaoh and Egypt. They endured suffering, they groaned, and they left when Pharaoh asked them to. When Moses became the leader of the Israelites, he carried a shepherd’s staff—not a spear, sword or bow. But the Israelites themselves never killed or harassed their Egyptian oppressors.[53] David refused to oppose King Saul even though Saul had gone insane, was trying to murder David, and deserved no such mercy. Even though his people had been slaughtered, kidnapped, and held against their will, Daniel faithfully served and blessed the kings of the Babylonian and Persian Empires—despite the fact that they were guilty of many injustices.

Unlike most of the Jews of their day, Jesus and his Apostles never raised their voices or their ink quills—much less the sword—against either Caesar or the Roman Empire. They were supportive of the Roman Empire despite the fact that it was a kingdom that they knew would “devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces” (Daniel 7:23). Contrary to the liberation theology perspective, while Jesus and most of his apostles were executed by Roman order, they had not acted as subversives or revolutionaries. When Jesus told his eleven remaining followers to purchase swords and heard that they had a total of two, he said, “It is enough” (Luke 22:35-38). Two swords among eleven men is no way to start of a revolution. As Jesus was being arrested, when Peter asked if he should “strike with the sword” Jesus answered in the negative and did damage control (Luke 22:49-51). Jesus chided the armed mob by asking, “Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me” (Luke 22:52-53).[54] Jesus was the greatest revolutionary in world history. But he was not a destructive or violent revolutionary in the Marxist tradition. He sent his disciples out as “sheep among wolves” who were to be “as wise as serpents but at harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16). While on trial with the regional Roman authority Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting [to prevent my arrest but] my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). His judge had no concerns about him as a threat to Rome and said, “I find no guilt in him” (18:38).

The Roman Tribune who rescued the Apostle Paul from death at the hands of a violent mob asked whether Paul was “the Egyptian … who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness” (Acts 21:27-39). His question is comical. In his mission as an Apostle, Paul had no blood on his hands. The revolutionary message that Paul was propagating was preaching was that God was adopting non-Jews into his family without any need for rites like circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic Law. This aroused the anger and violent responses from many Jews but the violence was only directed at Paul and other Christians. The first and second generations of Christ’s followers were victims of—but not wielders of—violence.

James, the half-brother of Jesus and an important leader in the church of Jerusalem, wrote a sobering warning to the class of people who are characterized by monetary wealth, fraud, power, and oppression of the workers they employed:

 

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 5:1-6)

 

Written 1,800 years before Marx, James’ warning sounds almost like something Marx could have written. It is likely that Marx drew some of his inspiration from the Jewish and Christian traditions that James was a part of. They’re talking about similar problems—problems that still plague our societies today. But note how the response to the problem that James encourages is diametrically opposed on every point to the response the Marxists encourage. James urges patience and faith:

 

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-11)

 

While Marxist criticism may occasionally serve to show professing Christians where they need improvement, the blending of Marxism and Christianity will invariably produce doctrines that are contrary to the knowledge of God. For example, Marxist Christians tend to replace a theistic view of a transcendent and infinite God with an immanent and finite view of God. God becomes little more than the march of history, the outworking of class conflict in history, or an algebraic variable for the desire for social change. Non-Marxist Christians believe that while Christ’s kingdom is not of this world in this present age, someday Christ himself will return and create his own geopolitical kingdom on earth. Marxist Christians invariably replace that hope with an emphasis on an earthly kingdom that we must create ourselves. The gospel of salvation by grace, through faith, not by works, but for good works (Eph. 2:8-10) gets replaced by a social gospel of salvation through revolutionary works—either the sand-in-the-machine works of Alinsky or the bullet-to-the-head works of Mao. It is not those who are “poor in spirit” whom God blesses but those who are poor in material goods. The hope of eternal life and resurrection of the body are minimized at best and eventually lost.

The ideological evolution of John de Gruchy, Professor Emeritus of Christian Studies at the University of Cape Town, may serve as an unfortunate example of how Marxism transmogrifies a Christian’s faith. In his book Confessions of a Christian Humanist de Gruchy outlines his journey away from a God-centered Christianity to a Marx-intoxicated Christianity. He describes the “evangelical-fundamentalism” of his younger days as supporting the status quo of an ethically inhumane apartheid in South Africa, of supporting misguided sexual guilt, patriarchy, and “saving souls.” He rejoices over his conversion to what he believes to be a superior theology—one that integrates darwinism, feminism (NeoMarxist), liberation theology (NeoMarxist), black theology (NeoMarxist), commonalities with Hinduism, and the Eastern Orthodox Christian notion of “divinization.” He credits Dietrich Bonhoeffer, several semi-Christian Marxists (Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, Desmond Tutu), and even the Hindu philosopher Savrepalli Radhakrishnan as helping him on his journey to become a proper Christian Humanist. DeGruchy explains:

 

Being a Christian humanist implies that one is committed to human dignity, rights and freedom, and has some real hope for humanity; and being a Christian humanist suggests that these commitments and this hope are inseparable from one’s faith in Jesus Christ.[55]

 

But when answering the question about the real hope that is within him, de Gruchy believes that the traditional view of eternal life and resurrection has been misunderstood by orthodox Christians for two thousand years. He reinterprets them as follows:

 

… ‘eternal life’ . . . refers to a quality of life rather than to endless quantity; it is life lived under the reign of God, in the ‘kingdom of heaven’ here and now. Part of what we are saying in proclaiming the ‘resurrection of the body’ is that we are part of a web of human life, for Christians, ‘the body of Christ’, that has been raised to newness of life. . . the ‘resurrection of the body’ suggests something organic, it has to do with the interconnectedness of life of which death is an inevitable and indispensable part. This might not give much comfort to those who wonder about the whereabouts of their loved ones who have died, or about their own destiny, but it may well provide a fresh perspective from which we can look at the reality of death and ‘the life everlasting’. The ‘resurrection of the body’ is not to be understood in a crude, literal sense; it refers to the reconstitution of our personhood in relation to others in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine.[56]

 

It should be obvious that de Gruchy has parted company with Jesus and his Apostles on this crucial doctrine. Or, to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, he has “shipwrecked his faith” (1st Tim. 1:19) on the reef of Marxism. He is also blowing the faith of his students and readers towards the same reefs with the winds of his teaching. Ironically, while de Gruchy self-identifies as a theologian in the Reformed-Evangelical tradition, none of the Protestant Reformers would have had any tolerance for his secularized view of eternal life or his purely this-worldly social gospel. He has completed the process of becoming a secular humanist who self-identifies as a Christian but who may very possibly not be identified as a Christian by Jesus Christ himself.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Regardless of whether Marx’s original spectre has departed the world scene or not, there are several other Neo-Marxist spectres around to take its place. They have achieved prominence in many of the fields that shape peoples’ worldviews and attitudes. The implications are far reaching in individual, regional, and global scopes and in political, economic, cultural, moral, and ideological arenas. Morally it tends to lead toward rebellion against every imperative in the word of God.

Even the push for social justice tends to end in social unrest. The means and ends of Marxism tend towards bloodshed and tragedy. For example, in this day when the Pope, billionaires like George Soros,[57] and many of the most powerful political leaders of the day are sending hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle-East into Europe and North America, it is done ostensibly in the name of compassion for the dispossessed, global equality for the oppressed, and multiculturalism. Painted as a “love your neighbor as yourself” it sounds like something Christ might have said. But in the Marxist matrix, the current migrant crisis[58] is a method of pitting one group against another group, of creating shifts in power and class conflicts, and of course for creating economic, social, cultural, and moral crisis, and fostering conditions that are ripe for “the Revolution.”

Marxism is not simply a philosophy of overthrowing governments and controlling the machinery, the workers, and the economies of the world. Eastern-styled Marxism starts with worldly warfare (guerilla warfare and revolution) and then, once established, leads to ideological slavery in opposition to the knowledge of God. Western-styled Marxism engages in ideological and cultural warfare first and then leads to worldly warfare second.  If the factors of theft, rebellion, constant conflict, and totalitarian controls are not enough to compel the defenders of the Christian faith to declare war against it, Marxism has always been a humanistic philosophy that “suppresses the truth … about God” (Rom. 1:18-19). It wages war against the knowledge of God and therefore it deserves an apologetic response. When the Apostle Paul described his earthly mission he did so in militant terms:

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to Christ… (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

 

For our earthly mission to have continuity with the apostolic mission, we should not participate in the bloody wars waged with bombs, bullets, and blades; we should instead be militant, strategic, tactical warfighters in the ideological war for the knowledge of God our Lord and Christ.

Christianity—in all of its pre-Marxist forms—are Marxism’s chief enemies. The fact that both Marx and Engels both went through strong Christian phases in their earlier days (before biblical criticism turned them against the God of the Bible, against Christian churches, and even against Western Civilization itself) is part of what makes Marxism extra deceptive and dangerous. It has a knack for replacing Christianity as a purely secular counterfeit. It also has a knack for infiltrating Christian worldviews, hybridizing with them, retooling and secularizing them. Marxism invariably drips the acid of criticism onto everything it touches. That’s part of the bargain.

We may be seeing some signs that one of Marx’s spectres has begun to haunt the evangelical Christian academy. The current era is one where several esteemed evangelical scholars will, for example, praise and defend a book with a subtitle of “A New Historiographical Approach”[59] despite the fact that New Historicism is a school of thought which is rooted in some of the theories of Karl Marx (as filtered through Michael Foucault, Lynn Hunt, and Stephen Greenblatt) and despite the fact that the book criticizes pieces of the historical gospel narrative. When other evangelical scholars criticize this type of criticism they become criticized and ridiculed for having been critical. This too seems to resonate with the spirit of Marx and the Frankfurt theorists. This may also show which direction the compass needle is pointing. Instead of heading in the “Christian Humanist” direction that Professor de Gruchy took, let us instead learn how the guerillas wage their ideological wars and then proceed to destroy the arguments and lofty opinions they have raised against the knowledge of God.

 

End Notes

[2] These farming communities in Israel were among the first pioneers of primitive and hardline strains of Marx-inspired Communism. Until recently some Marxists would argue that they proved that Marxism was succeeding in the micro level and therefore could theoretically still be made to work on the macro level.

[3] Aden, Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Ethiopia, Hungary, Laos, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Somalia, South Yemen, Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia.

[4] The Paris Commune (1871), Finnish Civil War (1918), German Revolution (1918), Hungarian Soviet Republic (1919), Mongolian Revolution (1921), Salvadoran peasant uprising (1932), Spanish Revolution (1936), Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

[5] In 1917 the Bolsheviks legalized abortion in Russia. There were an estimated 6-7 million abortions per year in the USSR. That adds 300 million unborn victims to the tally. There are more than 13 million abortions per year in China. China reported 336 million abortions in the last 40 years. In the US, the secular humanists (with Neo-Darwinian and Neo-Marxist leanings) legalized abortion in 1973, and approximately 60 million unborn Americans were sacrificed. Between China, the USSR, and the USA, there were close to a billion children that were not permitted to set foot on the earth.

[6] Marxism in Cuba under the brutal leadership of the Castro brothers has so far led to the directly execution of an estimated 140,000 Cuban citizens (not including the thousands who were starved), caused 78,000 more Cubans to die at sea as they tried to escape, and caused 1.5 million desperate Cubans to emigrate to the USA as political refugees.

[7] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977), 44-45. Italics added.

[8] William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present, 3rd edition. (NY: Hold, Rinehard, and Winston, 1964), 747.

[9] At the beginning of the Russian Revolution, Kautsky could not imagine that his former associates would allow atrocities to occur. He wrote, “They know that terror can never uproot ideas.” War Minister Trotsky replied, “Mr. Kautsky, you do not know what terror we will apply.” Cited by Richard Wurmbrand in Christ in the Communist Prisons (NY: Coward-McCann, 1968), 83.

[10] Edward R. Pease, The History of Fabian Socialism (NY: E.P. Dutton & Company Publishers, 1916),19. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13715/13715-h.htm. Also William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: From Plato to the Present. 3rd edition. Hold, Rinehard, and Winston. 1964. 752.

[11] Martin Cowen, Fabian Libertarianism: 100 Years to Freedom (XLibris, 2016), Kindle location 274.

[12] George Bernard Shaw. Who I Am and What I Think: Sixteen Self Sketches. (Constable, 1949). Shaw cofounded the London School of Economics, won a Nobel Prize for literature, and wrote sixty plays which helped popularize socialist views and values on education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class conflict. In the preface to the Communist Manifesto, Engels seems to address the Fabian variant:

Yet, when it was written, we could not have called it a Socialist Manifesto. By Socialists, in 1847, … professed to redress, without any danger to capital and profit, all sorts of social grievances, in both cases men outside the working class movement, and looking rather to the “educated” classes for support. Whatever portion of the working class had become convinced of the insufficiency of mere political revolutions, and had proclaimed the necessity of a total social change, that portion, then, called itself Communist. … Thus, Socialism was, in 1847, a middle-class movement, Communism a working class movement. Socialism was, on the Continent at least, “respectable”; Communism was the very opposite. And as our notion, from the very beginning, was that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself there could be no doubt as to which of the two names we must take. Moreover, we have, ever since, been far from repudiating it.

[13] In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels famously wrote, “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” The Fabians who helped fund the Russian Revolution preferred to conceal their aims. Lenin would later admit, “We have to use any ruse, dodge, trick, cunning, unlawful method, concealment, and veiling of the truth. The basic rule is to exploit the conflicting interests of the capitalist states.”

[14] Sidney Webb, Socialism in England (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co, 1889), 26-27. George Bernard Shaw also wrote, “The Fabian Society was warlike in its origin. … in 1885 … we denounced the capitalists as thieves…, talked of revolution, anarchism, … and all the rest of it, no the tacit assumption that the object of our campaign, with its watchwords, ‘EDUCATE, AGITATE, ORGANIZE’ was to bring about a tremendous smash-up of existing society, to be succeeded by complete Socialism.” The Fabian Society: Its Early History (The Fabian Society, 1892).

[15] Pease, 26.

[16] Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? (NY: Scribner’s Sons, 1936).

[17] Paul Kurtz. Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999), 2.

[18] Ibid, 20.

[19] A Secular Humanist Declaration (The Council for Secular Humanism, 1980). http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/11. Accessed January 14th, 2017.

[20] Malachi Martin. The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Domination between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West. (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 247-251.

[21] J. Landowsky, The Red Symphony (Christian Book Club of America: 2002).

[22] Max Horkheimer, “Traditional and Critical Theory.” Cited in Marcuse, Feenberg, and Leiss, The Essential Marcuse: Selected Writings of Philosopher and Social Critic Herbert Marcuse (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007).

[23] Columbia University was also where Fabian Marxist John Dewey was training thousands of teachers in “progressive education.” Interestingly, the USSR eagerly translated Dewey’s pro-collectivist books and used them in their own educational systems.

[24] Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Questioning.

[25] Herbert Marcuse. “Reflections on the French Revolution.” Quoted in Michael Walsh, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West (NY: Encounter Books ,2015), 46.

[26] Herbert Marcuse, “On the New Left.” Cited by Walsh, 46.

[27] Communist Manifesto, 44

[28] Saul Alinsky. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (NY: Random House, 1971), xiii.

[29] Ibid, 3.

[30] While preferring nonviolent approaches over violent approaches to socio-political change, Alinsky’s methods are nevertheless hardly commendable. He agrees with Mao that power comes from the barrel of a gun but realizes that those who do not have ‘the guns’ must exploit other means of gaining power over those who hold the guns. Once the Alinskyites gain enough power there is no reason in their system to continue with a nonviolent and gradual approach to social change. Once they begin to believe they can get away with it, they will be free to revolt like Maoists.

[31] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. (NY: MacMillan, 1966), 950-955.

[32] Liberation Theology is invariably Marxist in orientation and, if the Communist defector Ion Pacepa is correct, was originally created as a disinformation campaign by the Russian and Romanian KGB agencies during the 1960s. It would reword Marxism in Christian vocabulary in order to help spread the revolutionary memes through the minds of Latin Americans in particular. Variations were made for other people groups.

[33] Attending Columbia University is not necessarily a guarantee of Marxist indoctrination. The famous economist Milton Friedman, for example, studied statistics at Columbia in the 1930s and became one of the greatest critics of Keynesianism, Socialism, and Marxism. Similarly, economist F.A. Hayek, who is famous for dialogues with Keynes and for his anti-socialism book The Road to Serfdom, spent most of his career on the faculty of the London School of Economics—the same school that was started by the Fabian Society. Columbia was rife with Marxism in the 1980s however.

[34] Officially no people were actually killed by the bombs. Ayers has since publicly condemned all forms of terrorism—including Obama’s extensive use of drone aircraft attacks in other nations.

[35] https://refusefascism.org/about-contact/initiators/. Accessed January 9th, 2017.

[36] These are all direct quotes from https://refusefascism.org/faqs-on-stopping-trump-pence/. Accessed on January 9th, 2017. Similar militant language (“Hundreds of thousands of people will be storming the streets across the US,” “we need massive resistance in the streets,” and “Let’s fight for the revolution we really need”) is used by the J20Resist movement at http://www.workers.org/j20/. J20 refers to January 20th, 2017, the date of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The Mayor of the District of Columbia encouraged rioters to protest peacefully and to stop destroying the city.

[37] Ibid. Italics added.

[38] Keys of this Blood, 260-261.

[39] Malachi Martin, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church (NY: Touchstone, 1987).

[40] The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. “Towards Reforming the International and Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.”  http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/ documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20111024_nota_en.html. Accessed January 9th, 2017.

[41] John Maynard Keynes, a member of the Fabian Society, is often portrayed as the savior of capitalism or the synthesizer of capitalism and socialism. Since his solution requires increases in government spending and intervention it arguably fits more on the Leftist end of the spectrum.

[42] In a letter to Ferdinand Lassale in 1861, Marx wrote, “Darwin’s book [Origin of the Species] is very important and serves me as a basis in the natural sciences for the historical class struggle.”

[43] Richard Wurmbrand, Marx and Satan (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1986), 5.

[44] Ibid, 7. See also Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1988), chapter 3.

[45] Ibid, 18. A slightly different translation can be seen in Early Works of Karl Marx: Book of Verse at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1837-pre/verse/verse20.htm. Accessed January 1st, 2017.

[46] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1346/pg1346.txt. Accessed Jan.1st, 2017.

[47] Early Works of Karl Marx: Book of Verse. “Invocation of One in Despair.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1837-pre/verse/verse11.htm

[48] Marx and Satan, 16.

[49] Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (Random House: 1971). This nod to Lucifer is found on the page prior to the table of contents. It is not clear whether he regards Lucifer as a real being whom he admires or whether he takes Lucifer as a great symbol of rebellion. For the complete text see https://archive.org/stream/RulesForRadicals/ RulesForRadicals_djvu.txt.

[50] The non-Marxist and less-Marxist systems are highly imperfect too. New Left historian and former Boston University professor Howard Zinn wrote A People’s History of the United States (http://www.historyisaweapon.com/ zinnapeopleshistory.html) to portray the American story through a Marxist lens as one of exploitation and oppression of the weak by the strong. Despite valid complaints by other historians about its lack of objectivity, the book cannot be dismissed simply as a work of fiction. Real injustices and inequalities fuel Marxist aspirations. Zinn’s book became a best seller and is used as a textbook in many colleges and high schools. According to files released by the FBI in 2010, Zinn had been a very active member of the Communist Party USA and a member of several Communist front groups. While recommending Zinn’s book only as an example of effective Communist propaganda, many of his complaints about the abuses of power are not wholly without merit.

[51] From the WCC’s website: “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour … The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. … There are now 348 member churches.” https://www.oikoumene.org/en/about-us/about-us/. Accessed January 12th, 2017.

[52] See Norman Geisler, Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, 3rd edition (IL: Baker Academic, 2010), 252-259.

[53] The one recorded exception to this serves to reinforce my point. In Exodus 2:11-12, Moses, as a young man, did kill an Egyptian whom he had seen beating a Hebrew slave. The question of “who made you a prince and judge [rescuer] over us?” (2:15) suggests that his act of vigilante justice could have been seen as an attempt to start a revolution of some type. If that was the beginning of Moses’ short career as a revolutionary it was also the end of it.

[54] C.f., Matt 26 and Mark 14. The older English translations translate λῃστής as having revolutionary or insurrectionist connotations. Translators of some of the newer translations see this usage as developing later and prefer to translate it more along the lines of a robber. Luke, for example, uses the same word for the highwaymen who attack travelers in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30). With the older translation, it is simply clear that Jesus was obviously not a revolutionary while those arresting him thought he might be. If we go with the newer translation the idea that Jesus was a revolutionary was so far from the truth that it never even entered the minds of his adversaries.

[55] John W. de Gruchy, Confessions of a Christian Humanist (MN: Fortress Press, 2006), 30.

[56] Ibid, 208.

[57] George Soros graduated from the London School of Economics, became the 27th most wealthy person in the world, is chairman of the Open Society Foundation (which has given several billion dollars to left-wing groups), is a major funder of MoveOn.org, and was a major contributor to the Obama and Clinton campaigns. Since communism and socialism have been “thoroughly discredited” he now devotes his fortune toward working against the threat of “global capitalism.” In the process of advancing his “open societies” he has funded organizations that champion social justice—and sometimes clash with police and riot in the streets of cities like Ferguson (2014), Baltimore (2015), Charlotte (2016), Chicago, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. (2017).

[58] Since 2015 hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Albania, Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia and several other countries have poured into Germany, Hungary, France, Sweden, the UK, and other European countries. This is enabled by adoption of the “open borders” doctrine and fueled by the invasion of Syria and Iraq by the jihadis of Islamic State. The Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have had support from some Leftist groups in the West.

[59] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2010).

 

An Evaluation of Marxist Humanism (Part 1 of 2)

An Evaluation of Marxist Humanism

Part 1 of 2

by Norman L. Geisler


Judged by the standard of political influence, Marxism is the most widespread form of humanism in the world. Its founder, Karl Marx, was born in 1818 to a German Jewish family which was converted to Lutheranism when he was six. As a university student he was influenced heavily by Georg Hegel’s idealism and he adopted Ludwig Feuerbach’s atheism. After some radical political activity, which resulted in expulsion from France in 1845, he teamed up with Friedrich Engels to produce the Communist Manifesto (1848). With the economic support of Engels’s prosperous textile business Marx spent years of research in the British Museum and produced his famous Das Kapital (1867). These and succeeding Marxist writings have bequeathed a form of humanistic thought that is politically dominant in much of the world.

The Marxist View of God and Religion

Even as a college student Marx was a militant atheist who believed that the “criticism of religion is the foundation of all criticism.” For this criticism Marx drew heavily on the radical young Hegelian, Ludwig Feuerbach. Engels admitted that Feuerbach influenced them more than did any other post-Hegelian philosopher. [1] He triumphantly spoke of Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity which “with one blow . . . pulverized [religion] . . . in that without circumlocution it placed materialism on the throne again.”[2]

There were three basic premises Marx learned from Feuerbach. First, “the teaching that man is the highest essence for man”[3] was accepted. This means that there is a categorical imperative to over-throw anything—especially religion—which debases man. Secondly, Marx accepted the premise of Feuerbach that “man makes religion, religion does not make man.”[4] In other words, religion is the self-consciousness of man who has lost himself and then found himself again as “God.” Thirdly, Marx also accepted the Feuerbachian belief that “all religion … is nothing but the fantastic reflection in men’s minds of those external forces which control their daily life, a reflection in which the terrestrial forces assume the form of supernatural forces.”[5] In brief, God is nothing but a projection of human imagination. God did not make man in His image; man has made “God” in his image.

Marx’s atheism, however, went well beyond Feuerbach. Marx agreed with the materialists that “matter is not a product of mind, but mind itself is merely the highest product of matter.”[6] That is, he agreed with Feuerbach that man in seeking his origin must look backward to pure matter. Marx, however, objected that Feuerbach did not go forward in the social domain. For Feuerbach by no means wished to abolish religion; he wanted to perfect it.[7] Feuerbach, reasoned Marx, did not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product.[8] Hence “he [did] not grasp the significance of ‘revolutionary’ of ‘practical-critical,’ activity.”[9] Feuerbach did not realize, in the words of Marxism’s famous slogan, that “religion is the opium of the people.”[10] Man needs to take the drug of religion because this world is not adequate to assure him of his complete and integrated development. So he compensates himself with the image of another, more perfect world.[11]

In going beyond Feuerbach, Marx argued that “nowadays, in our evolutionary conception of the universe, there is absolutely no room for either a Creator or a Ruler; and to talk of a Supreme Being shut out from the whole existing world [as deism does] implies a contra-diction in terms.”[12] Hence, concluded Marx, “the only service that can be rendered to God today is to declare atheism a compulsory article of faith and … [to prohibit] religion generally.”[13]

Marx had no illusions that religion would immediately cease to exist when socialism was adopted. Since religion is but a reflex of the real world, religion will not vanish until the practical relations of everyday life offer to man perfect relations with regard to his fellow men and to nature[14]—that is, until the communist utopia is realized.

 The Marxist View of Man

Basically Marxism holds a materialistic view of man’s origin and nature. This, of course, entails an evolutionary concept of man’s origin.

The Origin of Man

Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859. Marx’s Das Kapital came out only eight years later (in 1867). Evolution for Marx was a helpful addition to his materialistic understanding of the origin of man.[15] “Mind is the product of matter,” he wrote; that is, mind has evolved from material stuff. The nonliving matter has always been; it has produced the living, and finally, the nonintelligent has produced the intelligent (man).

Marx had written his doctoral thesis (at the University of Jena, 1841) on the materialistic philosophies of two early Greek philosophers, Epicurus and Democritus. Then with the subsequent support of Darwinian evolution he could explain the origin of human life as the product of evolutionary processes in a material world—there was no longer any need to speak of God.

The Nature of Man

Marx was not interested in pure philosophy, which he dismissed as mere speculation and quite useless when compared to the vital task of changing the world.[16] Hence he was not particularly interested in philosophical materialism. His being designated a materialist, however, does not mean that he denied mind altogether (as he denied life after death). Rather he believed that everything about man, including his mind, is determined by his material conditions. “For us,” said Marx, “mind is a mode of energy, a function of brain; all we know is that the material world is governed by immutable laws, and so forth.”[17] This view would fit with what philosophers call epiphenomenalism, according to which consciousness is nonmaterial but dependent on material things for its existence.

Karl Marx was more interested in man in the concrete, in man as a social being. He believed that “the real nature of man is the total of social nature.”[18] Apart from the obvious biological facts such as man’s need for food, Marx tended to downplay individual human existence. He believed that what is true of one man at one time in one society is also true of all men at all times in all places.[19] Thus it is not [that] the consciousness of men . . . determines their being, but . . . their social being determines their consciousness.”[20] In short, psychology is reducible to sociology, but sociology is not reducible to psychology.

One important generalization Marx makes about human nature is that man is a socially active being who distinguishes himself from other animals in that he produces his means of subsistence.[21] That is, it is natural for men to work for their living. Thus, Marx concludes, it is right for men to have a life of productive activity, to be workers.

The Alienation of Man

Men who do not find fulfillment in industrial labor will experience alienation. This alienation will be eliminated when private property is done away with.[22] Private property, however, is not the cause but a consequence of alienation.[23] The alienation itself consists in the fact that the work is not part of the worker’s nature. He is not fulfilled in work because it is forced on him so that someone else may be fulfilled Even the objects he produces are alien to him because they are owned by another. The cure for this ill will be the future communist society in which everyone can cultivate his talent by working for the good of the whole commune of mankind.[24] It is in this sense that Marxism is appropriately called a humanism.

The Marxist View of the World and History

 The Dialectic of History

 As has been noted already, Marx’s overall view of the world is materialistic. He uses the term historical materialism to designate that view of the course of history which seeks the ultimate cause and the great moving power of all important historic events in the economic development of society.[25] Further, Marx can be classified as a dialectical materialist, following in the tradition of the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.[26] History is unfolding according to a universal dialectical law the outworking of which can be predicted the way an astronomer predicts an eclipse. In the preface to Das Kapital Marx compares his method to that of a physicist: “The ultimate aim of this work is to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society” He also speaks of the natural laws of capitalistic production as “working with iron necessity toward inevitable results.”[27]

The dialectic of modern history is that the thesis of capitalism is opposed by the antithesis of socialism, which will unavoidably give way to the ultimate synthesis of communism. History is predetermined like the course of the stars, except that the laws governing history are not mechanical but economic in nature. Man is economically determined. That is, “the mode of production of material life determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life.”[28] This, of course, does not mean that man is determined solely by economic factors. Marx means only that the economic is the primary or dominant influence on man’s social character. Engels emphatically proclaimed, “More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.”[29]

The Future of Capitalism

 On the basis of his assumption that the dialectic of history is carried out by means of economic determinism, Marx confidently predicted that capitalism would become increasingly unstable and that the class struggle between the bourgeoisie (ruling class) and the proletariat (working class) would intensify. The poor would become larger and poorer until, by a major social revolution, they would seize power and institute the new communist phase of history.[30]

The fact that these predictions did not come to pass remains an embarrassment to Marxist theory. It casts doubt on the scientific and predictive value of orthodox Marxism.

The Future Communistic Utopia

According to Marx, capitalism has internal problems which will eventually lead to a communistic economic system. For as the masses become more numerous and the capitalists fewer, the latter will control great concentrations of productive equipment which they will throttle for their own gain. But the masses will then sweep aside the capitalists as a hindrance to production and seize an industrial economy which has been carried to the edge of perfection by self-liquidating capitalism Thus there will emerge a progressive society with no wages, no money, no social classes, and eventually no state. This communist utopia will simply be a free association of producers under their own conscious control. Society will ultimately realize the communist ideal: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”[31] There will, however, be the need for an intermediate period of “the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[32] But in the higher stage the state will vanish and true freedom will begin.

The Marxist Ethic

There are several characteristic dimensions of the ethics of Marxism. Three of these are relativism, utilitarianism, and collectivism.

Relativism

 Since Marxism is atheistic, and since, as Nietzsche rioted, when God dies all absolute value dies with Him, it is understandable that Marxist ethics is relativistic. That is, there are no moral absolutes. There are two reasons for this.

First, there is no external, eternal realm. The only absolute is the inexorable progress of the unfolding dialectic of history. Engels wrote, “We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatever as an eternal, ultimate and forever immutable law on the pretext that the moral world has its permanent principles which transcend history.”[33]

Secondly, there is no such thing as a nature or essence of man which could serve as a foundation for general principles of human conduct. Man’s ideas of good and evil are determined by man’s concrete place in the socioeconomic structure. In brief, class struggle generates its own ethic.

Utilitarianism

On what basis are one’s actions regarded as moral? The answer is, they are regarded as moral if they serve to create a new communist society. Actions can be justified by their end. Lenin once defined morality as that which serves to destroy the exploiting capitalistic society and to unite workers in creating a new communist society,[34] in effect saying that the end justifies the means.[35] This is the communist’s equivalent of utilitarianism’s “greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.” Whatever promotes the ultimate cause of communism is good, and what hinders it is evil.

Collectivism

Another feature of Marxist ethics is that the universal transcends the individual. This is a heritage from Hegel, who believed that the perfect life is possible only when the individual is organically integrated into the ethical totality. For Marx, however, the highest ethical totality is not the state (as it was for Hegel) but “universal freedom of will.” Note that this “freedom” is not individual but corporate and universal. The difference from Hegel is that the emphasis is shifted from the state to society, from the body politic to the body public.

According to Marx, in the perfect society private morals are eliminated and the ethical ideals of the community are achieved. This will be accomplished, of course, by material production. For material production determines religion, metaphysics, and morality.[36]

An Evaluation of Marxist Humanism

 Several aspects of Marxism call for comment here. Some comments will be of a positive nature; a large number, however, will point out weaknesses in Marx’s philosophy.

Positive Contributions of Marxism

Marx’s concern for the condition of workers is to be commended. Working conditions in Europe and North America are vastly improved today from those of over a century ago when Marx wrote and this is at least partially due to the pressure applied by Marxists. Likewise, Marx is certainly right in attacking the view that workers are merely a means to the end of capitalistic gain. Thus there has been a significant humanistic contribution in that Marxist philosophy places man over money.

Another positive contribution of Marxism has been its corrective on unlimited and uncontrolled capitalism. Any system which permits the rich to get richer and makes the poor poorer without limits is bound to produce ethical abuses. In the ancient Jewish economy this possibility was checked by the Year of Jubilee (every fiftieth year), when acquisitions were returned to their original owners.[37]

Finally, the millennial aspirations of Marxism are noble. Indeed, the Marxist philosophy of history encourages men to work toward the goal of overcoming the perceived evils of the present world. It is this humanistic vision which has captured the imagination and dedication of many young thinkers.

Negative Features of Marxism

Marxism is subject to numerous critiques. We will briefly indicate some of the more significant ones.

First, the dogmatic atheism of Marxism is unfounded. It is self-defeating to insist that God is nothing but a projection of human imagination. “Nothing but” statements presume “more than” knowledge. One cannot know that God is confined to imagination unless one’s knowledge goes beyond mere imagination.

Second, Marx’s deterministic view of history is ill founded. Not only is it contrary to fact—since things have not worked out as Marx predicted—but it is a category mistake to assume that economic influence works like physical laws.

Third, a materialistic view of man ignores the rich spiritual and religious aspects of human nature, to say nothing of the evidence for man’s immateriality and immortality.

Fourth, in its strongest form ethical relativism is self-destructive. The absolute denial of absolutes cuts its own throat. And to replace one absolute with another (the communist end) does not avoid absolutism. Also, the fallacies of the “end justifies the means” ethic are infamous.

Fifth, Marxism holds out an admirably idealistic goal (a human utopia) but has a miserable record of achievement. Life in Marxist countries has been more like hell than heaven. While the goal of a perfect community is desirable, the revolutionary means of achieving it is highly dubious. Every country that experienced a communist revolution ended up seeing a system that is even more repressive and oppressive than the flawed system it displaced. Where the standard of living improved for some in the short term it was at the expense of the many whose property and wealth was seized while they were murdered, sent to labor camps for reeducation, or sent to collective farms to serve as slave labor. And ultimately the promise of equality for all proved to be equal poverty and oppression for the people while the few at the top enjoyed what little wealth was left over. Also the means for maintaining the system—brainwashing campaigns, fear of the secret police force, networks of secret informers, etc.—after failing to deliver on its promises is dystopian. From a Christian perspective the means of transforming mankind is not revolution and reprogramming but regeneration. It begins not with the birth of a new government but with the birth of new men and new women—that is, the new birth (John 3:5).

Sixth, Marx’s view of capitalistic systems was short-sighted, shallow, and based on a stereotype. While his critique of the unbridled, compassionless capitalism at work England in the nineteenth century was warranted and insightful, it wrongly assumed that capitalist systems were impossible to gently reform in a politically and the only possible option was a violent and bloody overthrow. Marx was wrong. Several capitalistic countries were able to implement several types of reforms and implement controls without violence.[38]

Seventh, Marx’s view of religion is superficial. He should have heeded his father’s exhortation to him at age seventeen: “Faith [in God] is a real [requirement] of man sooner or later, and there are moments in life when even the atheist is [involuntarily] drawn to worship the Almighty.”[39] Or better yet, in view of his later tumultuous life and the revolutions his thought has precipitated in the world, Marx should have applied his own earlier thoughts:

Union with Christ bestows inner exaltation, consolation in suffering, calm assurance, and a heart which is open to love of mankind, to all that is noble, to all that is great, not out of ambition, not through the desire of fame, but only because of Christ.[40]

Karl Marx’s own father feared it was the desire for fame which transformed Karl’s Christian conscience into a demonic passion. In March 1837 he admonished his ambitious son:

From time to time, my heart revels in the thoughts of you and your future. And yet, from time to time, I cannot escape the sad, suspicious, fearful thoughts that strike like lightning: Does your heart match your head and your talents? Does it have room for the earthly but gentler feelings that are such an essential consolation to the sensitive human being in this vale of sorrows? Is the demon, which is clearly not given to or dominated by everybody, of a celestial or a Faustian nature?[41]

 

 

[1] See Marx and Engels on Religion, ed. Reinhold Niebuhr (New York: Schocken, 1964), 214.

[2] Ibid, 224.

[3] Ibid, 50.

[4] Ibid, 41.

[5] Ibid, 147.

[6] Ibid, 231.

[7] Ibid, 237.

[8] Ibid, 71.

[9] Ibid, 69.

[10] Ibid, 35.

[11] Ibid, 36.

[12] Ibid, 295. Even agnosticism was rejected by Marx: “What, indeed, is agnosticism but, to use an expressive Lancashire term, ‘shamefaced’ materialism? The agnostic conception of nature is materialistic throughout.”

[13] Ibid, 143.

[14] Ibid, 136.

[15] At Marx’s burial, Engels eulogized him saying, “just as Darwin discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of evolution human history.” Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of Great Economic Thinkers. (Simon and Shuster: New York: 1986) 170

[16] See Marx, Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy, trans. T. B. Bottomore (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 82.

[17] Marx and Engels on Religion, 298.

[18] Marx, Selected Writings, 83.

[19] Ibid, 91-92.

[20] Ibid, 67.

[21] Ibid, 69.

[22] Ibid, 250.

[23] Ibid, 176.

[24] Ibid, 177, 253.

[25] Marx and Engels on Religion, 298.

[26] Hegel himself rejected this dialectic, though it is commonly attributed to him. See Gustav E. Mueller, “The Hegel Legend of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis,” Journal of the History of Ideas 19, no. 3 (1958): 411-414.

[27] Das Kapital, ed. Friedrich Engels, trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, in Great Books of the Western World, ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 19521, vol.50, 6.

[28] Marx, Selected Writings, 67; cf. 70, 90, 111ff.

[29] Marx and Engels on Religion, 274.

[30] See Marx, Selected Writings, 79-80, 147ff., 236.

[31] Ibid, 263.

[32] Ibid, 261.

[33] Quoted in R. N. Carew Hunt, The Theory and Practice of Communism. New York: Macmillan, 1962), 87-88.

[34] Ibid, 89.

[35] Some neo-Marxists have rejected this, insisting that means are subject to the same moral principles as the end. But they have thereby departed from orthodox Marxism. See George H. Hampsch, The Theory of Communism (Secaucus, N. J.: Citadel, 1965), 127.

[36] See Marx, The Communist Manifesto, ed. Samuel H. Beer (New York: Appleton Century-Crofts, 1955), 177.

[37] Leviticus 25.

[38] Robert L. Heilbroner. The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of Great Economic Thinkers. (Touchstone: 1986). 166-169.

[39] Letter from Trier, November 18, 1835.

[40] Written by Marx between August 10 and 16, 1835.

[41] Saul K. Padover, Karl Marx: An Intimate Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978), 97.

Copyright 1983, 2016 – Norman L. Geisler –  All rights reserved


This essay is adapted from Chapter Five of Norman Geisler’s Is Man the Measure? An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism (Wipf & Stock: 1983). It will also be reproduced in Norm’s forthcoming book Is Man the Measure: An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism and Transhumanism (Bastion Books: 2017).


Read Part 2 of 2 here.

From Apologist to Atheist: A Critical Review

From Apologist to Atheist: A Critical Review
Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D.

This is a review of Why I Rejected Christianity: A Former Apologist Explainsby John W. Loftus (Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing, 2007), a 278 page paperback. The book has four parts: Part 1: My Changing Years; Part 2: The Cumulative Case; Part 3: What I Believe Today; Part 4: Appendices of published writings and a photo of Loftus and two former professors, Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. James Strauss.

Introductory Appreciation

So that my evaluation of the book does not obscure my appreciation of it, let me briefly point out some of the values of this book. First, it is an honest and open account of how a Christian became an atheist. Seldom are unbelievers so candid and open. Second, every Christian–let alone Christian apologists – can learn some valuable lessons from it on how to treat wayward believers. Third, it is a thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that every honest theist and Christian should face. Indeed, some of his criticisms are valid. In particular I would single out his critique of the subjective argument from the alleged self-authenticating “witness of the Holy Spirit” by Loftus’ former teacher William Lane Craig (in chap. 15).

An Exposition and Evaluation of the Book

The book is too long to cover every argument contained in it. Since the vast majority, if not all of them, have been treated elsewhere in our writings (see Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics ), we will be content to highlight some important points Loftus made. The first part is best summarized by selecting the author’s own words.

Part 1
: “My Changing Years” is an open and illuminating account of how he became an atheist. This is best reported in his own words. “I was born in 1954 and grew up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in a Catholic home. . . . I never experienced true faith growing up, but I did learn that whenever I was in need I should call out to God. And that’s exactly what I did at 18 years old when I felt I had nowhere to turn for help. I was not always a good boy, being a middle child in a home with three boys. . . . I seemed to be in almost every fight in the household. . . . They [his parents] thought it would be good for everyone if I considered attending Howe Military School . . .” (9). “I was a problem teenager. . . . I spent many weeks in the Wood Youth Center, in Ft. Wayne. I dropped out of school. Most of my law breaking occurred during the time my mother and father were separated and divorced. . . . I was arrested six different times as a juvenile offender for various offenses!” (10). “Eventually I began to feel as if I was possessed by some demonic being. So one night . . . I went over to see a woman named Cathy . . . who had earlier spoken to me earlier [sic] about Jesus. She led me to accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sins. . . . I felt free and forgiven for the first time in my life” (11).

After being baptized in a Church of Christ, “by the fall of that year, I had read completely through the Bible twice!” (12). After graduating from Great Lakes Bible College (GLBC), Loftus attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (both Church of Christ schools). Then he notes, “I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), and graduated in 1985 with a Th.M degree, under the mentoring of Dr. William Lane Craig . . .” (7). Subsequently, “I was in the [Church of Christ] ministry for about fourteen years, or so. . . . I am now an atheist” (7-8).

Loftus summarized, “There are three major things that happened in my life that changed my thinking. They all happened in the space of about five years, from 1991-1996. These things are associated with three people: 1) Linda, 2) Larry, and 3) Jeff. Linda brought a major crisis in my life. Larry brought new information in my life. Jeff took away my sense of a loving Christian community. . . . In the midst of these things, I felt rejected by the Church of Christ in my local area. For me it was an assault of major proportions. If I still believed in the devil, I would say it was orchestrated by the legions of Hell” (emphasis in original, 20-21).

Linda
was the director of Operation Shelter Loftus founded to help people in need. He said, “She practically idolized me. She did everything I said to do. . . . What man doesn’t want to be worshiped? I guess I did. I was having problems with my own relationship with my wife at the time, and Linda made herself available. I succumbed and had an affair with her” (21). “But there is more. After a few months I decided I could no longer reconcile the affair with my faith or my family life. So I told Linda that it was over.” (22). She became angry and accused him of rape. “I received a phone call from someone who threatened my life. . . . All this devastated me; my sin, the strange mitigating factors, the Christian people who wouldn’t forgive even though I repented of this sin, the potential charge of rape, and God not seeming to care about his wayward soldier” (22).

Larry
, his cousin, was a bio-chemistry teacher in the Air Force. Loftus tried unsuccessfully to convince him of the truth of creation over evolution. Instead, he said, “He did convince me of one solid truth; the universe is as old as scientists say it is, and the consensus is that it is 12-15 billion years old. Now that by itself isn’t too harmful of an idea, . . . but it was the first time I really considered the theological implications of it. Two corollaries of that idea started me down the road to being the honest doubter I am today. The first is that in Genesis chapter 1 we see that the earth existed before the sun, moon, and stars, which were all created on the fourth day. This does not square with Astronomy. . . . The second corollary for me at the time was this. If God took so long to create the universe, then why would he all of a sudden snap his fingers, so to speak, and create human beings?” (22-23) “Nearly two years later, I came to deny the Christian faith. There were just too many individual problems that I had to balance, like spinning several plates on several sticks, in order to keep my faith. At some point they just all came crashing down” (emphasis in original, 23). Subsequently, “The Angola Christian Church asked for my resignation in December 1990.” Further, “at this point, neither one of the Christian Churches in our area wanted me. The truth is that not enough of the right people thought I should be in ministry” (24). “What bothered me was that Jerry Paul, my home minister in Ft. Wayne at the time, didn’t bother to call me. . . . Jerry never called me to talk to me, or pray with me, or comfort me. . . . I’m the sort of person who has a very hard time asking for help, and I was hurting badly” (24-25).

Loftus
got a job teaching philosophy and wrote a friend: “I have settled down to teaching strictly secular philosophy courses at secular colleges. I actually enjoy this much more than at GLCC (where “the watchdogs of brotherhood doctrinal purity” are on the beat). . . . I am now freed of the internal censors. I can now write as I think. Watch out now” (emphasis in original, 25-26).

Jeff, was pastor of another church in the Pleasant Lake area that Loftus felt more comfortable in attending. He wrote, “I felt rejected by the Church of Christ in my local area. After my experience with Linda, I didn’t even go to church for several months. . . . As best as I can tell, Jeff was suspicious of my motives–my own cousin! Without going into great detail, he and his wife Lurleen suspected that I was secretly trying to oust him to become the pastor there. . . . I began to doubt that people with our passions and living in our day and age so removed from the Bible, could properly understand that book, when people living in the same age and as close to one another as he and I couldn’t understand each other” (26). “I wonder to myself how these consciences can differ so widely, especially when Christianity is the only faith that claims God the Holy Spirit actually takes up residence in their being. I often ask myself why Christians don’t seem to act any better than others when they alone claim to have the power, wisdom and guidance of God right there within them. Apparently, the Holy Spirit didn’t properly do his job here. This was the last blow to my faith and one of the reasons why I am an atheist today” (emphasis in original, 27).

By way of response to Loftus’ sad story, my first inclination is to say, “Thanks, we needed that!” In fact, every Christian needs to take seriously what John has said. Several things are very apparent: there was a tremendous lack of God’s grace, forgiveness, and love manifest in this situation by other professing Christians. Apologists beware! There is more than reason, arguments, and evidence involved in people coming to faith as well as in people leaving the faith. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (Jn. 13:35).

My second thought is that becoming an atheist, by Loftus’ own admission, involves more than rational arguments. It involves a free choice by a sinful human being who the Bible says is in rebellion with God (Psa. 14:1; Rom. 1:18). Loftus admits the same in his above testimony. It is noteworthy that his first step away from God was adultery. Then, he began to doubt God’s Word. To be sure, an unloving Christian community did not help matters. But how he responded to this was his personal responsibility. And since we are more than rational and volitional creatures, we must be mindful of the role human emotion plays in a person’s decisions.

Part 3
: “What I Believe Today”

At this point it will be more instructive to hear the rest of the story. Loftus did not jump directly from theism to atheism. First, he chose to become a Deist. He wrote: “I previously chose to believe in Deism and the philosopher’s God who created this universe. . . . I struggled to believe in God. It was probably a Kierkegaardian leap of faith for me, which also made me an Existentialist, a Deistic Existentialist. But this wasn’t satisfying, for according to Marcus Borg: ‘There is little difference between a distant and absent God and no God at all’” (26, emphasis added).

Then The Answer Hit Me.
“When we seek for a cause of it all we run into absurdities, precisely because blind chancistic events cannot be figured out! Chance events can produce order. We know this. Even if the odds are extremely unlikely for this universe to exist, once there is some order in the universe and someone to look upon the order that’s there, it cries out for an explanation. . . . But when we reflect on why we can’t figure it all out, the best reason I can offer is that random chance events can’t be figured out [in] hindsight. So in the end, I do have a reason for what I believe. Nature is ultimate. According to the late Carl Sagan, ‘The cosmos is all there is, was, or ever will be.’ According to Bertrand Russell the universe is simply ‘a brute fact.’ I am an atheist. There is no God. And there is at least one reason for me not to believe in God, and that is because the universe is absurd when we try to figure it out. . . . According to Jacques Monad, ‘our number came up in a Monte Carlo game’” (266).

What is Life Without God?
This is the logical and last question with which Loftus deals. His answer is brief and to the point: Life, without God can be happy and meaningful because “while there may be no ultimate reasons for being a good person [apart from God] . . . , there are plenty of non-ultimate reasons for being good” (272). Reminiscent of the atheist Ayn Rand, Loftus contends that “the values of tolerance, family, and friendship in a political democracy under democratic capitalism provide a society with the best chance to avoid pain for most people in it”(272). He adds, “You don’t need an ‘ultimate’ anything to live life in this world. There just aren’t any ultimacies” (273). Strangely, just two sentences later he says, “So it makes what I do here what ultimately matters–it’s all there is. . .” (273). Then he adds, “And while life is ultimately meaningless, I am living life to the hilt everyday. I’m living without the guilt that Christianity threw on me, too! Life is good–very good! I feel better about it now than I ever have!” (273). One can only wonder how someone can feel better about things when they are really so bad. There is no real purpose for life; the world is absurd, and there is nothing after this–nothing! It would appear that this is a good example of what Freud defined as an illusion, namely, something one wishes to be true, even if there is no rational ground for believing it is.

Why then do so many people believe in God? Loftus answers, “In my opinion, this human need may be the reason why people believe in God in the first place, not because of arguments pro and con. As humans we simply cannot bear to believe we have no ultimate purpose in life, and that our existence is absurd” (270). Of course, we may ask why we cannot. Is it not possible that this God-sized vacuum was created by God, and that the soul is restless until it finds its rest in God? Loftus also has problems with why Christianity is so widely accepted in the world, particularly if there is no reality behind it. His answer also rings hollow in view of the strong historical evidence for the Christian Faith . He says, “In my opinion, Christianity is a legendary development from a person named Jesus that lucked its way into political power” (emphasis in original, 271). This, however, overlooks the fact that the great early spread of Christianity, as well as its greatest spread today, is under oppression of anti-Christian governments (like China).

As for the criticism that “Christians don’t have a good track record when it comes to slavery, wars, . . . scientific progress, and so on” (271). Loftus seems blissfully unaware that the Christian view of God and creation is the very foundation of science. Further, most of the founders of modern science believed in the biblical doctrine of creation. What is more, the strong influence of Christianity through people like Wilberforce in England and the Wesleys in America was crucial in the liberation of slaves. Of course, there have been people who claimed to be Christian who engaged in witch hunts, inquisitions, KKK, and the like. But there have also been leaders (like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others) who were atheists and/or evolutionists and who killed multi-millions of people. Certainly, no atheists would consider that this is a legitimate argument against atheism.

What If I’m Wrong?

In an enlightening statement, Loftus faces the final question and gives a brutally frank answer to it. “What if I’m wrong about Christianity? What then? Well, then I will go to hell, however conceived, when I die. And what did I do to deserve to go to hell? I ‘sinned,’ I didn’t believe in Jesus’ atonement, or in his bodily resurrection from the grave. Whose fault would this be? Mine?” (275). Again, his response has an empty sound. “I have honest doubts. Am I to be blamed because I couldn’t understand Christianity?” (275). “But what if I’m deceived by the traditional devil to have these doubts? Maybe he is playing tricks on me, making me think my doubts are honest ones, when they are not?” (275). Again, his question is good and his answer disappointing, shifting the blame to God rather than to take responsibility for his own decision. He asks instead: “The question is why an all-powerful God didn’t help me. The devil wouldn’t have a chance against God, but why does God do nothing to help me overcome my doubt?” (275). Of course, this is to assume, contrary to Scripture (1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 4:13), that God does not provide this help for those who are willing. Further, it is to assume that God will overpower a human will to accomplish His desire, but this is also contrary to Scripture and good reasons. Jesus said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Mt. 23:37, emphasis added).

Part 2: “
The Cumulative Case”

This section deals with the reasons Loftus gives against Christianity and for atheism which, admittedly, were not the initial reasons that brought on His unbelief (see Part 1). The discussion here need not be long for several reasons. First, his unbelief was not initiated by reason, as he admits. Rather, it was his rejection by friends and the lack of Christian love (see above).
Second, there is nothing really new here that has not already been answered elsewhere (see my Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics). None of his arguments is definitive, either alone or as part of a whole “cumulative argument,” and many are so easily answered that they demonstrate the initial trigger for his unbelief was not really rational. For example, the initial problem he had with Genesis 1 (see above) being allegedly contrary to astronomy is only high school level apologetics. Since there was light from the first day (Gen. 1:3), there is no problem with the sun not appearing until the fourth day. Further, time does not help evolution nor hinder creation. No matter how much time one posits, natural laws and random processes do not produce the irreducible complexity and specified complexity we find in living things. Red, white, and blue confetti dropped from an airplane will never produce the America Flag on your lawn. And giving it more time to fall (by going up higher to drop it) only accentuates the problem by mixing the falling confetti up more. That these kinds of problems furthered the process of his early skepticism only goes to show that it was not a rationally based decision. Indeed, Loftus described it (above) as a “leap of faith” that lead him to reject theism. He said, “I previously chose to believe in Deism and the philosopher’s God who created this universe. . . . I struggled to believe in God. It was probably a Kierkegaardian leap of faith for me . . .” (265, emphasis added). Likewise, it was a leap of faith (or disbelief) that made him an atheist. No rational argument compelled or even demanded it.

One thing is certain: it was not evidence and rational arguments that led him to atheism.  Even his best argument against God–the argument from evil–which he considers to be the “Achilles heel” of Christianity– is circular reasoning. For how can one know God is ultimately in-just for allowing evil unless he knows what is ultimately just. And how can he know there is an ultimate standard of justice (i.e., absolute moral law), unless there is an absolute Moral Law Giver? Indeed, other great atheists, such as C. S. Lewis and Jay Budzisziewski, were converted to theism from atheism because of the existence of evil in the world.

The So-Called Cumulative Argument

Loftus declared: “I consider this book to be one single argument against Christianity, with each section a subset of that one argument. Each section of this argument depends upon the others for its force, since no single one of them alone can bear the whole weight of showing that the Christian world-view is false.” Thus, “it’s proper and fitting to do so as a whole, especially since this is the only way to properly evaluate world-views” (emphasis in original, 56). While there may be general agreement on this point, the disagreement emerges in two areas.

First, the atheist weighs the specific evidence differently than the theist, and his bias affects the way he weighs it. What Loftus views as improbable (say, the resurrection of Christ) is because of his bias against miracles, not because there is not highly probably historical evidence that it happened, which there is . The main reason it becomes implausible to an atheist is that it is a miracle, an act of God. And there cannot be acts of God if there is no God, which he believes is the case. Thus the real debate of historical reliability of the New Testament (and thus the deity of Christ) is dependent on whether there is good evidence for the existence of God, which there is.And if God exists, then miracles are not only possible, but the biggest one – the creation of the world – has already happened. Thus, other smaller miracles are possible. When one sees a record with miracles in it, he cannot dismiss it in advance as being improbable. If miracles are possible (which they are in a theistic universe), then their probability depends purely on the reliability of the documents. And the Gospel documents are reliable. In summary, there are more NT documents, earlier documents, more documents, by more contemporaries and eyewitness testimony, more historically and archaeologically confirmed than for any other events in the ancient world. Hence, it is highly probable that Jesus did the miracles contained in the NT and rose from the dead to confirm his claim to be the Son of God. If so, the essential facts of Christianity are true.

Further, Loftus accepts a number of challengeable or untrue premises. The theist agrees that Christianity is a historical religion and “history, at best, cannot show us that the claims of the Bible are true. History can only give us probabilities”(37). However, Christians disagree when Loftus concludes from this that this situation “leaves room for reasonable doubt” (37). Probabilities leave room for some doubt but not necessarily always a reasonable doubt. And high probabilities do not leave room for any reasonable doubt, though there is always room for possible doubt in historical arguments.

What is more, just as Loftus claims a cumulative argument for his atheists world view, the Christian can claim the same for his Christian world view. It too can be a cumulative case where one probability is built on another until the whole argument for Christianity is so highly probable that it is beyond all reasonable doubt.  And the flip side is that if atheism only offers some possible, but not even probable arguments against Christianity, then adding up these mere possibilities does not yield any probability in favor of atheism. And a close look at each of Loftus’ arguments–minus their biased presuppositions–yields only a possibility for atheism in face of a high probability in favor of theism.

There are many examples of these bias presuppositions. One is the “outsider perspective” (discussed above). Another is the presumption of naturalism (see below). Further, he presupposes that “ancient standards [for eyewitnesses] are pathetic in comparison to today’s standards” (38). This is simply false. Indeed, many legal experts have examined the New Testament eyewitness testimony and found it more than sufficient. Nor does one have to accept Loftus claim NT writers could not be good witnesses since they had a flawed hermeneutic of the OT. This is for two reasons. First of all, their hermeneutic was not flawed since they never misinterpreted the OT. They always drew the proper meaning or an implication in that meaning from the text. What is more, there is no logical connection between their view of OT interpretation and their accuracy in recording events they witnessed. Even allegorists tell the literal truth when they witness a murder!

Finally, Loftus’ God-of-the-gaps argument is faulty. He reasons that since “there is becoming less and less room for God, as we explain more and more,” we can assume no room for God as we explain the rest. “This scientific naturalistic assumption” is made so often, even by Christians in their daily lives, that it “probably has a metaphysical grounding” (262). Here Loftus makes an unjustified metaphysical leap of faith. Even if one could find a natural cause for all regular events in this world (which the theist can readily admit), this would not rule out either some miracles in the present and the past. It would not eliminate the possibility (or probability–if there is evidence) for a miracle in the present, because while regular events do always have natural causes, this is not necessarily true of non-regular events (anomalies). For science in the present empirical sense deals only with repeatable events. A law or a prediction cannot be based on one occurrence. It takes many occurrences from which a pattern can be induced and a projection made. Second, there is a significant difference between observable and repeatable events in the present (empirical science) and unobserved, unrepeated events in the past (forensic science). No one observed these past events (like the origin of the universe and first life). Hence, observation and repetition are not available for forensic science of origin science. Here one must depend on the principles of causality and uniformity. Events (even past ones) had a cause (causality). And the present is the key to the past (uniformity). Hence, the kind of causes that produce a certain kind of event in the present should be posited for these same kind of events in the past. Some of these events demand intelligent causes. This is true of archaeology and paleography of the past, as well as cryptology, information theory, and the like in the present. Hence, uniformity does not mean uniformitarianism. Because there are intelligent causes of certain kinds of events in the present (like a sculptor or a sculpture), then an intelligent cause must be assumed for like events in the past (like the forming of Mt. Rushmore). Likewise, when we see the mathematically identical letter sequence in a written language (known to have an intelligent cause in the present), we may rightly posit an intelligent cause for the DNA in the first living cell (in the past). So, it is not any more of a God-of-the gaps move that leads one to posit an intelligent cause of first life (which contains 1000 sets of The Encyclopedia Britannica of information in it) than is does to produce these sets in the present. Thus, Loftus confuses origin science and operation science as well as uniformity (analogy) and uniformitarianism (naturalism). And his argument fails for these reasons.

The So-called “Cumulative Argument.”

Loftus proposes another line of reasoning that does not serve atheism well either. For his offer of implausible possibilities does not add up to probability. Indeed, rather than one part strengthening the other, it is more like the “leaky-bucket” fallacy where the failure of one bucket to hold the water is wrongly supposed to be corrected by another leaky bucket under it. In most cases the parts of the so called “cumulative argument” are only possibilities which never add up to probabilities. Loftus’ argument is more like a chain of different arguments. But as we all know, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.
For example, one of the weakest links in his case for atheism is his failure to provide any real positive evidence for God’s non-existence – except evil which really calls for God. And his negative arguments against the theistic arguments are neither plausible nor probable. Even if they were, at best, they would not be disproofs for God, but disproofs of proofs for God. Indeed, some are absurd like chance producing complex and specified order in the universe. A fundamental law of thought is that the effect cannot be greater than the cause. And both the universe (by way of the Anthropic Principle) and life (by way of Information Theory) manifest incredible intelligent design. In fact, based on Hume’s principle of uniformity, there is every reason to accept an intelligent cause of the universe and life since we never ever see a regular occurrence of these kinds of events other than by an intelligent cause. And if there is good reason to believe God exists, then miracles follow. Because if there is a God who can make the world, then he can intervene in it. And without an antisupernatural bias there is no presumption in favor of either skepticism or atheism with regard to the existence of God, the truth of Christianity based on or the authenticity of the New Testament, and the miracles of Christ contained in it–particularly His resurrection.

The Outsider Test for Faith.

Also crucial to Loftus’ atheistic view is what he calls the “outsider test.” According to this test, “the presumption of skepticism [is] the preferred stance when approaching any religious faith, especially one’s own” (40). “Mark Twain said: ‘the easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.’ Believers are truly atheists with regard to all other religions but their own. Atheists just reject one more religion” (40). Quoting Michael Shermer, Loftus says, the fact is that “‘most of us most of the time come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning’” (43).

What is interesting about these statements is that Loftus does not seem to be aware of their self-defeating nature. If “most of us most of the time come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning” (43), then can we not assume that Loftus came to his atheistic views the same way? Further, if one should have the presumption of skepticism toward any belief system, especially his own, then why should Loftus not have the presumption of skepticism toward his own atheistic beliefs? The truth is that the outsider test is self-defeating since by it every agnostic should be agnostic about his own agnosticism and every skeptic would be skeptical of his own skepticism.

What is more, Loftus contends that “it’s overwhelmingly true that the presumption you begin with will be the one you will end up with” (44). If so, then this sword cuts both ways for it would be true of skeptics and even atheists like Loftus as well. But the truth is that people do convert from their beliefs. And some are convinced by evidence to do so. Hence, the real issue is whether there is evidence for the truth of the view to which one is converting. And the atheist’s view lacks positive evidence. On the other hand, the theists offers many valid evidences for God, and the atheist really has none–except evil and even it is self-defeating.

Another example of his many self-defeating statements is his denial of any ultimates. He insisted, “There just aren’t any ultimacies.” But, just two sentences later he says, “So it makes what I do here what ultimately matters – it’s all there is. . . . And while life is ultimately meaningless, I am living life to the hilt everyday” (273). But if there are no ultimates, then how can Loftus know what “ultimately matters” and what is “ultimately meaningless”?

Further, Loftus’ “outsider test” is contrary to common sense. By it we could eliminate the credibility of any holocaust survivor’s testimony because he was an “insider.” But who better would know what happened than someone who went through it. Likewise, by this odd test one could deny his own self-existence since from an outsiders view (which he should take according to the test) his existence could be doubted or denied as an illusion. But what is more obvious and self-evident than one’s own existence?

One form of the outsider argument leads Loftus to claim “believers are truly atheists with regard to all other religions but their own. Atheists just reject one more religion” (40). But can’t theists use the same basic argument and reject atheism. In brief, atheists are unbelievers with regard to all beliefs other than their own. Why don’t they just become unbelievers with regard to one more belief (namely, their atheism)?
The skeptic is calling for the presumption of falsehood on our basic beliefs. But if our beliefs are based on good evidence and reason, then why should they be doubted? In fact, we should not doubt the opposite of what we have good reason to believe until there is better reason to believe something else. Loftus himself would not give the presumption of disbelief to his own atheism. Why then should a Christian doubt the existence of God or the truth of Christianity? There is one and only one reason–evidence. It has nothing to do with an advanced presumption. Advance presumption is nothing more or less than bias.

Loftus’ advanced skepticism argument contains the same fallacy as Hume’s argument against miracles. According to Hume, the presumption against miracles is so great that it would practically take a miracle to overcome it. But, of course, there would be an advanced presumption against that miracle and so on. Thus, it is in advance practically impossible for any event to be confirmed as a miracle.  Or to put it another way, Hume argued that: (1) Natural laws are regular. (2) Miracles are rare. (3) The evidence for the regular is always greater than the evidence for the rare. (4) An intelligent person should always base his beliefs on the greater evidence. (5) Therefore, the intelligent person should never believe in miracles. Besides the fact that premises (3) is false, even on a naturalistic basis (since the Big Bang, spontaneous generation of first life, and macro-evolution are rare and not regular events), there is an absurd conclusion contained in Hume’s argument that is also contained in Loftus’ reasoning.

Now the absurd conclusion that follows from Hume’s reasoning is that even if a miracle actually happen (like the resurrection of Jesus), no intelligent person should believe in it. Now there is something patently wrong with an argument that insists we should not believe in something, even if has actually happened! Likewise, it is also unreasonable to argue that even if there is good evidence for an event, nevertheless, no rational person should believe it. Why not? That is what rational people do–they believe based on good evidence.

Neither Hume nor Loftus would reason this way about the Big Bang or spontaneous generation of first life. Naturalists believe these events happened, even though they are not being repeated regularly. Why then should a Christian who has good reasons to believe in God (like the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments) approach his belief with advanced skepticism. We have offered this evidence elsewhere , so it need not be repeated here. Advanced skepticism should only be used when one has advanced evidence or good reasons to disbelieve that the event really did not happen. Otherwise, one should come with an open mind to the question.

The truth is that the only way the atheist or skeptic can even compete on the playing field of religious truth is to load the dice or stack the deck. Most often this is done by assuming either metaphysical or methodological naturalism. Otherwise, their position is often absurd. This is clear from two illustrations. In the face of the strong evidence in favor of a Big Bang origin of the universe, British atheist Antony Kenny wrote: “A proponent of [the big bang] theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the matter of the universe came from nothing and by nothing” (emphasis added). But even the skeptic David Hume said, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause” (emphasis added). Likewise, Harvard’s Richard Lewontin confessed correctly: “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to understanding the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its construct . . . because we have a prior commitment to materialism. . . . We are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes. . . . Moreover that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door” (New York Review of Books, 1/9/96, emphasis added). Trying to reach someone like this is a case of not being able to make the horse drink after you led him to the water. Lewontin is a classic case in point. He admits an incredible bias in advance of looking at the facts that would accept “patently absurb” views “against common sense” because of a “prior” and “absolute” commitment to a naturalistic and materialistic world view (i.e., atheism). Loftus is not as blunt, but he has a similar blind spot when he argues against common sense and Hume’s principle of “constant conjunction” and posits pure chance (which can’t cause anything–only minds and natural forces can) caused the incredible specified and irreducible complexity found in living things. No one ever observes any such thing happening once, let alone over and over (as Hume’s principle demands). Nor has it been repeated in the laboratory without intelligent intervention.

Conclusion

While Loftus’ view does not come across as strong as Lewontin’s, nonetheless, the same bias is there against a view (theism) that he admits doubting originally for non-rational reasons. He admits that he came gradually “by a leap of faith,” and he attempts to justify this rationally by offering reasons based on bias, unjustified conclusions, and self-defeating presuppositions. Looking at the evidence through these lenses will never lead one to the truth. And it will do no good in the end for anyone to blame it on God for not overpowering a skeptics mind or will. For no skeptic would want a God who forces them to believe against their will. The God of the Bible is not that kind of God (Mt. 23:37) but is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance [change their mind]” (2 Pet. 3:9).

In summation, one can place question marks on both his “conversion” and “deconversion.” Given the legalistic context, one can question whether or not he really understood the grace of God. And by his own testimony, the initial factors that prompted his “deconversion” were not really rational but emotional and volitional. As to the rational doubts that ensued, there is nothing much new that other skeptics have not already asked – and apologists have not already answered.

[Footnotes missing]

Copyright © 2012 NormanGeisler.net – All rights reserved

Can Atheists Justify Being Good Without God ?

Can Atheists Justify Being Good Without God ?
by Norman L. Geisler

 


There is a new atheist’s ad out with a picture of  Santa Claus and the words: “Why  believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.”  This is clever, but is it possible?  Let’s analyze it more carefully.

First, if there is no Moral Law Giver (God), then how can there be a moral law that prescribes: “Be good.”  Every prescription has a prescriber, and this is a moral prescription.

Second, what does “good” mean?  How is good to be defined.? If it can mean anything for anyone, then it means nothing for anyone.  It is total relativism. Being “good” for some (like Nazis) can mean killing Jews.  But for Jews it is evil.  Hence, on this view there is no objective difference between good and evil.

Third,  what does “goodness” itself mean in the atheist slogan.  Being good “for goodness sake” implies that something is just plain good in itself.  That is, it is an ultimate goodness.  But this by definition is what Christians mean by God.  Everything else hasgoodness, but only God (the Ultimate) is goodness.  In this case, the atheist is using “goodness” as a surrogate or substitute for God.

This maneuver is not uncommon for atheists. Before the Big Bang evidence, atheists were fond of doing this with the word  “universe.”  It was supposed to be eternal and, hence, needed no Cause since only what begins needs a Beginner.  Carl Sagan employed the term “Cosmos” as a God-substitute.  He said, “the COSMOS is everything that ever was, is, or will be.”  It sounds a little like what Psalm 90 declares: “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”  Bertrand Russell attempted the same tactic in his famous BBC debate with Father Copleston.  When asked what caused the universe, he replied that nothing did.  It was just “there.”  But how does an eternal, uncaused universe from which everything else came to be differ from an Uncaused Cause (God)?

However, in the light of the Big Bang evidence that the universe had a beginning, these answers lack scientific support.  As agnostic Jastrow put it, “The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.”  And  “This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but theologians.  They have always accepted the word of the Bible: `In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'” (God and the Astronomers, 115).

Fourth, Dembski and Wells give another objection in recent bookn(How to be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or not), 115): “Atheism is a belief with scientific pretensions but no scientific backing.”  It has no scientific backing for believing in an eternal universe, The Second Law of Thermodynamics still holds.  The universe is running out of useable energy and, therefore, cannot be eternal.  And it has no scientific backing for the spontaneous origin of first life.  Again, as Dembski notes, “Until science can show that physical process operating under realistic prebiotic conditions can bring about full-fledged cells from nonliving material, intellectual fulfillment remains an atheistic pipedream” (ibid.).

Fifth, the truth is that many of the great atheists themselves understood well that without God there is no basis for being good for goodness sake.  The famous French atheist, Jean Paul Sartre said,  without God,  “I was like a man who’s lost his shadow.  And there was nothing left in heaven, not right or wrong, nor anyone to give me orders” (The Flies, Act III).  Nietzsche said that when God died (see the “Madman” in Gay Science), then all objective values died with Him.  And a subjective understanding of goodness to which everyone can assign their own relative meaning, is not goodness at all–let alone being goodness for goodness sake.

Sixth, atheists fail to make an important distinction.  One can be good (as many atheists are) without believing in God.  But one cannot be good without there being a God.  That is, they can believe in a moral law (and live accordingly) without believing in God.  But they cannot justify this belief without reference to a Moral Law Giver (God).  This leads to one last observation.

Seventh, the fact is, that you cannot have an objective moral law without a Moral Law Giver.  But atheist are the first to insist there must be a moral law–otherwise, how can they mount their argument against God from the injustices in this world.   C. S. Lewis sais this clearly when he wrote,  “[As an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line” (Mere Christianity, 15). Thus, he reasoned from this objective moral law to a Moral Law Giver (God).  The atheist must make his painful choice: Either he loses the basis for his argument against God from evil, or he must admit there is an objective moral law which leads to a Moral Law Giver.  One thing is certain: without God, the atheist cannot have objective goodness for goodness sake.  Indeed, since “for goodness sake” is a euphemistic phrase meaning “For God’s sake,” then the atheist ad, both literarily and logically, should be rendered, “Why believe in God? Just be good for God’s sake.”  In other words, it is precisely because there is a God that we can really be good.  Without an absolutely good God, there is no real objective basis for being good.