Once the atheist throws out the Pearl of Great Price of the kingdom of God, what fills the void? Does lack of faith make one vulnerable to dangerous ideologies that mimic the spiritual needs we are created with? To ask the question is to answer it.
Fred Schwarz is an influential Christian speaker and writer and a noted anti-Communist of previous generations who has dealt continually with the issues of atheism and Communism for decades. We have seen that these two sets of beliefs form a nearly inseparable pair as they resurface throughout history, most recently in the rantings of author Michael Chapman which I covered in a post on my blog. Why does atheism seem to produce communistic ideas in history?
Dr. Schwarz gave a helpful answer almost fifty years ago, and since the issues have reappeared again, I thought it fitting to resurrect this answer from the dust bin of history. Here is an excerpt from Schwartz with a few editorial notes for context:
"[Another] factor in the making of a Communist is unfulfilled religious need. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ He needs a purpose. Man is born with a heart to worship God, to reach out for something bigger and beyond himself, to seek some noble vision for which to sacrifice, some purpose for which to live and die. When denial of the existence of God deprives him of the natural fulfillment, Communism provides a substitute. It gives him a sense of purpose and destiny, gives meaning to life, and provides a motive for sacrifice.
People [especially parents] are mystified when a man [or adolescent] born to great wealth and social position becomes a Communist, spends his fortune for Communist purposes, and even goes to jail in the interest of the Communist cause. To many people, this does not make sense.
Let us try to put ourselves in his position. As a child he has the finest tutors. [For today’s youth, this education is immediate via the internet, and can take the form of, say, a constant stream of Richard Dawkins propaganda on YouTube]. He is intelligent. Very early in life he learns that there is no God, that the idea of God is for dull and second rate minds, and that he, in the purity and perfection of his intellect, has no need for God. He accepts the Darwinian hypothesis concerning the origin of man, and the Marxian hypothesis concerning the origin of civilization, culture, morality, ethics, and religion.
As a young man he sits on the mount of learning and watches the progress of the animal species from the jungles via savagery and barbarism to civilization. He watches the productive forces as they operate on the human species dividing it into nations and classes, creating cultures, civilizations, moral codes, educational and political institutions and religious faith. He sits above it all, and beyond it all. He is lost in lonely isolation. Life is devoid of meaning, purpose, and objective. Yet he is a young man with all the idealism and emotional urgency of youth. Where can he find fulfillment? Some seek it in sporting life; some in the life of a playboy. These outlets have little appeal for him.
Suddenly he hears a whisper on the breeze that history in the goodness of its heart is calling unto itself a few of its finest and its best—superior intellects, courageous characters with an insight into its mind and its purpose, and a knowledge of historic law and historic will; that it is uniting them into its finest organization and giving them the destiny of conquering the world and regenerating mankind. It comes as a vision of glory. It sets a song singing in his heart. It puts stars before his eyes. It leads him forward to live and, if necessary, to die in the Communist cause. In it he finds a religious refuge for his godless and unbelieving heart.
Communists are not born; they are made. They are being formed constantly on the campuses of the world. As long as youth is disillusioned, materialistically oriented and spiritually unfulfilled, there will be no dearth of Communist recruits. Herein lies our greatest challenge."
(Dr. Fred Scharz, You Can Trust the Communists (. . . to do exactly as they say!) Engewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1960, 33-5).
Schwarz’s description certainly fits the message that the atheist propagandists on the internet use, and seems to fit many of the young overly-enthusiastic youth who have joined the fad of "converting" to atheism. Perhaps seeing how closely their new found atheism leads to mock religious faith — complete with inspiration, calling, purpose, destiny, "regeneration" or enlightenment, glory, worship, and "refuge" or security – they will reconsider the uniqueness of godlessness along with its alleged merits. We were created with a full spectrum of religious needs. Why deny their origin only to fill them with a parody?
I should add that Dr. Schwarz influenced Dr. David Noebel, whose Summit Ministries continues to produce many fine Christian apologetics.