On a trip to Russia just after the collapse of communism in 1991, I had a conversation with a Marxist scholar who was devastated by revelations about the horrors just then coming to light in his country. “I had no idea things like this were taking place,” he said. “I became a communist with the best of ideals, to fight racism and poverty, to bring about a just society. Now I learn that we created a monster. We saw evil in others—the capitalists, the rich, the exploisters—but not in ourselves. I have learned to distrust any utopian philosophy, especially one that sets ‘us’ against ‘them.’ The danger of evil is inside of all of us, rich or poor, socialist or capitalist.”
There’s this ingrained belief in our culture that science will always progress, but we have no way of being sure that this will in fact happen. Civilizations collapse and disappear. Science is a unique phenomenon that really only appeared once in the history of the world—in Christian Europe. If its philosophical foundations are undercut, then it’s very possible that it will disappear. There’s also the danger that the misuse of science will become a tool for political tyranny. The two most tyrannical regimes of all time, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both claimed to be scientifically based. Marxism/Leninism was promoted as scientific Socialism, while Hitler claimed that National Socialism was actually applied biology. It’s entirely possible that this sort of thing could happen again.
Lenin himself admitted “I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated. But our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. My living nightmare is to find myself lost in an ocean of red with the blood of innumerable victims. It is too late now to alter the past, but what was needed to save Russia were ten Francis of Assissis.”
It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.