Without faith, there’d be nothing but indifferent material forces at work. It’s only when the idea of events having an author is introduced that the universe becomes cruel, as opposed to merely heavy, or fast-moving, or prone to unpredictable acceleration.
― Francis Spufford
People today are trying to hang on to the dignity of man, but they do not know how to, because they have lost the truth that man is made in the image of God. . . . We are watching our culture put into effect the fact that when you tell men long enough that they are machines, it soon begins to show in their actions. You see it in our whole culture — in the theater of cruelty, in the violence in the streets, in the death of man in art and life.
― Francis A. Schaeffer,
Escape from Reason
It is difficult to claim that Christianity has learned nothing from its past cruelty or that such cruelty is written in its laws or prescribed by its beliefs. When did Christians last burn, strangle, or imprison each other for alleged errors of faith?
By contrast, those who reject God’s absolute authority, preferring their own, are far more ready to persecute than Christians have been and have grown more inclined to do so over time. Each revolutionary generation reliably repeats the savagery.
The Bolsheviks knew all about the French revolutionary terror, but that did not stop them having their own. The Chinese Communists knew all about Stalin’s intentional famine and five-year-plans, but they repeated the barbarity with the Great Leap Forward. The Khmer Rouge were not ignorant of their revolutionary forerunners, yet they repeated the evil worse than before. The supposedly enlightened revolution Fidel Castro resorted swiftly to torture and arbitrary imprisonment and to the lawless purging and murder even of Castro’s old comrades such as Huber Matos.
By comparison, where now do we see Christian churches or factions persecuting each other as they did in the Reformation or Counter-Reformation? Nowhere. The delusion of revolutionary progress, and the ruthlessness it justifies, survives any amount of experience. This suggests that terror and slaughter are inherent in utopian materialist revolutionary movements. There will by another of these episodes along soon.
The Rage Against God
Dethroning God, that generation [under Soviet communism] found it impossible to leave the sanctuary empty. They put man in His place, which had the paradoxical effect, not of elevating human nature but of demeaning it to depths of cruelty, depravity and stupidity unparalleled in human history.
–A. N. Wilson