The Stone That the Builders Rejected

When looking back at the atrocities committed during the 20th century, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn attributed them to the observation that men have forgotten God. He saw the rampant atheism in the world as a direct cause of the mass genocides that occurred in the world. No one can forget the millions who died under Stalin’s regime. The roots of this act lie in the Bolshevik’s coming to power. While they were consolidating their power, the Bolsheviks released much propaganda against religion. Marx taught that religion was the opioid of the masses, a mere tool that was used to control people and had no real meaning. The Bolsheviks ate this lesson up like they did Marx’s other lessons. They released stories of ‘learned’ Marxists defeating ‘dumb’ Christian preachers. One such story, entitled Religious Foolishness, tells the story of a town hero who argues and defeats a Baptist preacher. The town hero points out that many rich men who claim to be loving Christians build big mansions and repress the poor, which everyone thinks discredits Christianity. Personally, I can’t stand this approach. It’s a classic ad hominem fallacy and gets the conversation nowhere, because I could just as easily remark that Stalin, an atheist, wasn’t such a nice guy either, which should discredit atheism by this measure. Christianity does not teach that one can live in a nice, comfortable mansion and oppress the poor. The people the town hero is referring to are not authentic Christians. A real Christian gives all he or she has to others, especially the poor. A real Christian does everything out of love of others, not love of self. Atheism, on the other hand, does not teach us this. In fact, it teaches us nothing. A famous branch of atheism is utilitarianism, which teaches that one should act accordingly to bring about one’s own pleasure, which would permit living in a nice mansion and oppressing others if that brings one pleasure. Christianity teaches one to love without ceasing, while atheism is a license to commit right or wrong. The great author Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that without God, anything is permissible. Russia in the twentieth century shows just how dark this philosophy can go.

Religious Foolishness

 

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4 thoughts on “The Stone That the Builders Rejected

  1. I think it is important to recognize that many atrocities have also been committed in the name of religion. In addition, your point about utilitarianism could be more nuanced. Many versions of utilitarianism are about maximizing good by also minimizing harm. Basically, the most good for the most people with the least harm (essentially the harm principle). You make some interesting points here, but your account could be more contextualized and objective.

  2. I liked how you connected, in part, the dying presence of religion to the anti-religious propaganda that was spread by the Bolshevik Party. You also bring up a good point by mentioning the ad hominem fallacy. I tend also to agree with Courtney (above) however, that the debate of attributing mass atrocities to certain groups of people goes both ways. Atheists and Christians (and other religions) both have historically been to blame for mass atrocities alike. Also, like Courtney mentioned, utilitarianism also calls for the agent to maximize utility by choosing the most moral action, which (in my interpretation) does not really give blatant permission to oppress others.

  3. Indeed there were true times of great suffering during the 20th century, and some could equate this to many forgetting the power of God. I did my post on the Living Church movement which is another example of effects of Lenin and his Bolshevik followers desire to weaken the church. He targeted the Church because he was afraid of their power to unite people and start a counterrevolution. Good post!

  4. I’m wondering if some of your sources aren’t displaying properly? (There’s a big blank space at the bottom of your text?). Anyway, the fact that you really care about this topic really shines through here and I hope you’ll keep that level of engagement going forward. A bit more research would have made this really strong — focusing so exclusively on one document comes at the expense of context and that undermines the point you are trying to make. Also, check back on utilitarianism: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/

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