Paul N. Siegel


The Meek and the Militant


Part I: The Marxist Critique of Religion


Chapter 1
French Enlightenment Materialists’ View of Religion


The French Materialist Ancestors of Marxism

Marx and Engels saw the French Enlightenment philosophers as being among their intellectual ancestors. [1] Engels paid tribute to them as follows:

The great men who in France were clearing the minds of men for the coming revolution themselves acted in an extremely revolutionary fashion. They recognized no external authority of any kind. Religion, concepts of nature, society, political systems, everything was subjected to the most merciless criticism; everything had to justify its existence at the bar of reason or renounce all claim to existence. [2]

Elsewhere he spoke of ‘the splendid French materialistic literature of the past century’ in which ‘French thought made its greatest achievement in form and content’ and added that ‘considering the level of science at that time, it is still infinitely high today as far as content is concerned and has not been equalled as to form’. [3] Where workers were influenced by religion, he advised the translation and dissemination of this literature. Lenin also advocated its translation in annotated editions which would point out what had become obsolete and indicate the advance in the scientific criticism of religion since the 18th century.

As an approach to the Marxist view of religion, therefore, it is well to begin with the ideas of the French Encyclopedists, which Marx and Engels for the most part took for granted as common knowledge. The reader should, however, remember that they believed the Encyclopedists to be subject to the limitations of their epoch and therefore one-sided. Marxism remade the materialism of the Encyclopedists by giving it a dialectical instead of a mechanical character and by applying it to the study of social phenomena. The Marxist critique of religion is, therefore, much richer and more complex than the French materialist critique that was its starting point. It accepts but qualifies the Enlightenment accusations against religion. Although the sanctioning of tyranny by the Bible pointed to by the Encyclopedists has been used by churches for centuries, and cannot be explained away or disregarded by those who believe the Bible to be the word of God, the Bible also contains other concepts, which have likewise been appealed to by rebellious religious movements for centuries. [4] So too, although the Enlightenment dictum that religion fosters ignorance is basically correct, it fails to perceive that the fantasies of religion may be intertwined with genuine knowledge. [5]

The French materialists, although strongly against all organized religion (‘crush the infamy’ was Voltaire’s motto), were for the most part deists, believing in a divine creator but denying scriptural revelation. Holbach and Diderot, however, carried their materialism to the point of atheism. The atheist work of the French materialists can perhaps be most profitably examined through Holbach’s Good Sense: or Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural. This is a re-editing for popular purposes of his two-volume System of Nature. Though poorly organized, repetitive and declamatory, it strikingly presents in its aphorisms the Enlightenment accusations against religion, most specifically Christianity. I shall abstract some of the main points, adding some elaborations made by their 19th and 20th century rationalist heirs and make use of my own illustrations. The Enlightenment accusations against Christianity apply most particularly to fundamentalist Christianity, which takes the Bible as the literal word of God. Modernist liberal Christianity represents a retreat from such attacks in an attempt to hold a more defensible ground, but many of Holbach’s shafts carry far and continue to fall on the modernist position. We shall see later how this position, which does not take the Bible literally to be accepted in all its details, is vulnerable to Marxist attack.

Religion Sanctions Tyranny

The Encyclopedists subjected the Bible to devastating criticism: they showed that it contained concepts which we today regard as barbarous, and that it sanctioned tyranny. ‘We find in all the religions of the earth,’ says Holbach,

‘a God of armies’, a ‘jealous God’, an ‘avenging God’, a ‘destroying God’, a ‘God’ who is pleased with carnage and whom his worshippers consider it as a duty to serve to this taste ... Man ... believes himself forced to bend under the yoke of his god, known to him only by the fabulous accounts given by his ministers, who, after binding each unhappy mortal in the chains of prejudice, remain his masters or else abandon him defenseless to the absolute power of tyrants, no less terrible than the gods, of whom they are the representatives upon earth. [6]

In speaking of ‘all religions on earth’, Holbach is over-generalizing from the Bible. That the God of the Bible, however, is pleased with carnage is indeed evident to anyone who reads the Bible with a mind not put to sleep by uncritical reverence. The Lord commands the Israelites to seize the lands occupied by other peoples, promising he will aid them in their battles. ‘All the people will see what great things I, the Lord, can do,’ he boasts to Moses.

I will drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, as you advance. Do not make any treaties with the people of the country into which you are going ... Instead, tear down their altars ... I, the Lord, tolerate no rivals’ (Exodus 34: 10-14). [7]

‘When you capture cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,’ he says elsewhere (Deuteronomy 20: 16), ‘kill everyone’.

The Israelites indeed considered it their duty to serve this jealous God to his taste. Before going into battle with the Canaanites, they ‘made a vow to the Lord: “If you will let us conquer these people, we will unconditionally dedicate them and their cities to you and will destroy them.” The Lord heard them and helped them conquer the Canaanites. So the Israelites completely destroyed them and their cities, and named the place Hormah’. (Numbers 21: 2-3). The pious editors of the Good News Bible explain that anything unconditionally dedicated ‘belonged completely to the Lord and could not be used; it had to be destroyed’ and that ‘Hormah’ means in Hebrew ‘destruction’.

Just as he aided his chosen people provided that they sacrificed to him other peoples who worshipped different tribal deities, so did he aid his prophets when their dignity (and that of the Lord they served) was offended. The cruelty of the prophet Elisha would be appalling if we could take the naively told tale of his encounter with some children seriously:

Elisha left Jericho to go to Bethel, and on the way some boys came out of a town and made fun of him. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ they shouted. Elisha turned around, glared at them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys to pieces. (2 Kings 2: 23-24)

The moral of the story is clear: that’ll teach the kids a lesson!

At times, however, the Israelites did not quite match their God in ferocity. When they killed all the men of the Midianites, plundered their belongings, burned to the ground their cities, and took prisoner their women and children, Moses, who had been instructed by the Lord to punish the Midianites, exclaimed: ‘Why have you kept all the women alive? ... Kill every boy and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse, but keep alive for yourselves all the girls and all the women who are virgins’ (Numbers 31: 15-18). The Lord evidently approved of Moses’s commandment, for, far from upbraiding him, he gave him detailed instructions on how the loot was to be divided, with a specified portion of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and virgins going to the Lord himself (Numbers 31: 25-30).

What does the giving of the virgins to God mean? Modern students of the Bible state that while the Old Testament condemns human sacrifice in some passages, in other passages it sanctions this practice [8]; this is one such passage. Another passage is Leviticus 27: 28-29:

No one may sell or buy back what he has unconditionally dedicated to the Lord, whether it is a human being, an animal, or land . . . Not even a human being who has been unconditionally dedicated may be bought back; he must be put to death.

Before Jephthah went into battle, he vowed to the Lord:

If you will give me victory over the Ammonites, I will burn as an offering the first person that comes out of my house to meet me, when I come back from the victory. I will offer that person to you as a sacrifice.

On returning home, the victorious Jephthah was met by his own daughter. He exclaimed: ‘I have made a solemn promise to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.’ ‘He did what he had promised the Lord, and she died still a virgin’ (Judges 11: 30-31, 35, 39). In the light of these passages it is clear that the Midianite virgins given to the Lord were sacrificed as burnt offerings, as were the cattle, donkeys, and sheep.

And what did Moses mean by telling the Israelites to take the other virgins for themselves? Thomas Paine, the great American-revolutionary propagandist and deist, a disciple of the Encyclopedists, took it to mean the rape of these virgins and denounced the inhumanity of the purported Word of God. He was disputed by Richard Watson, the Bishop of Llandaff and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, who came to the defence of the faith. Paine’s interpretation, said the bishop, was the wicked construction of an infidel. ‘Prove this,’ he fervently exclaimed, denouncing Paine as ‘thou child of the devil’, ‘and I will allow that the Bible is what you call it – a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy’. [9] All that was meant, he held, was that the young women were taken as slaves. This, in the view of the worthy bishop, preserved the moral reputation of the Bible.

Although he was a professor of divinity with a chair endowed by the king himself, while his opponent was only a rebel with a grammar school education, the bishop overlooked the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 21: 10-14:

When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry ... She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since you forced her to have intercourse with you, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.

Thus God is made to sanction rape and concubinage provided that the woman is ‘mercifully’ permitted to mourn for a month for the parents massacred at his behest by the army of her captor, and that she is released after her captor has tired of her.

Not all the Israelite leaders were as meticulous about obeying God’s bloody instructions as was Moses. The prophet Samuel told Saul,

Now listen to what the Lord Almighty says ... Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don’t leave a thing: kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys. (1 Samuel 15: 1-3)

However, Saul held out on the Lord, keeping some things for himself. Although he ‘killed all the people’, he ‘spared [King] Agog’s life [presumably, to gain ransom] and did not kill the best sheep and cattle’ (1 Samuel 15: 9). consequently, Samuel came back from the dead to tell Saul that he was being beset by the Philistines because he had incurred God’s wrath: ‘You disobeyed the Lord’s command and did not completely destroy the Amalekites and all they had. That is why the Lord is doing this to you now’ (1 Samuel 28: 18).

God was the King of Kings who ruled by terror. So ferocious was he that he slew a man who, while the sacred Covenant Box was being transported, in stumbling inadvertently touched it (2 Samuel 6:6-8). The laws that he gave to Moses for observance by the people of Israel, including the payment of a tax for upkeep of a tent for the Lord’s presence, a tax each man was to render as ‘a price for his life’ (Exodus 30; 12), were presented with the most gruesome threats against those who dared to violate them.

The Lord said, ‘If you will not obey my commands, you will be punished ... I will bring disaster on you – incurable diseases and fevers that will make you blind and cause your life to waste away ... If after all this you still continue to defy me and refuse to obey me, then in my anger I will turn on you and again make your punishment seven times worse than before. Your hunger will be so great that you will eat your own children.’ (Leviticus 26: 14-29)

The servile subjects of despots love to tell them not only how great they are but how merciful they are in mitigating their rigours towards their favourites, and despots gratefully accept this flattering estimate of themselves. Such was the God of the Israelites:

I, the Lord, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered and who shows great love and faithfulness ... But I will not fail to punish children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their parents. (Exodus 34: 6-7)

One is reminded of the tough business executive who tyrannizes over his ‘white-collar slaves’ and then tells them, ‘OK, you guys. You’ve had it pretty soft up till now, but I’m tired of your fooling around. No more Mr Nice Guy!’

The God of the New Testament talks even more about love and mercy, but he nevertheless announces in Old Testament style a divine devastation of Jerusalem that will strike babies as well as their parents. ‘For those will be The Days of Punishment, says Jesus

‘to make come true all that the Scriptures say. How terrible it will be in those days for women who are pregnant and for mothers with little babies! Terrible distress will come upon this land, and God’s punishment will fall on this people.’ (Luke 21: 22-23)

The God of the New Testament, moreover, introduces a new and even greater terror: eternal torment after death. ‘The Son of Man,’ says Jesus, ‘will send out his angels ... and they will throw them [all sinners] into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.’ (Matthew 13:41-42). Paul states that ‘the Lord Jesus’ will ‘appear from heaven with his mighty angels, with a flaming fire, to punish those who reject God and do not obey the Good News about our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.’ (2 Thessalonians 1: 7-9). Those who do not accept Christ’s deity are therefore consigned to everlasting hell-fire. In short, rejoice in the good news – or go to hell!

This doctrine was accepted for centuries – as it still is accepted by millions of fundamentalists – while at the same time the mercy and goodness of God was extolled. We may, however, ask the simple question: what would we think of a father who, whatever the misdeeds of his children, punished them by exposing them to flames even for a moment? And yet we are told that ‘our Heavenly Father’ tortures eternally the human beings for whom he is so concerned!

The Catholic Church, regarding itself as the ministry of Christ, claimed to hold in its hands the keys to the next life. Only through its sacraments could one achieve heaven. Though the Protestant movement broke this monopoly, it delivered humanity, as Holbach says, to ‘the absolute power of tyrants’. During the period of absolute monarchy the king was regarded as the image and symbol of God, his deputy on earth. No matter how tyrannical he might be, rebellion against him was a heinous sin, a violation of the divinely established order. ‘I will always side with him,’ said Luther, ‘however unjust, who endures rebellion and against him who rebels, however justly.’ So too Calvin stated: ‘If we are cruelly vexed by an inhuman prince or robbed and plundered by one prodigal and avaricious – let us remember our own offences against God which doubtless are chastised by these plagues.’ [10] The American rebels against George III were, of course, denying this theory of the divine right of kings, claiming that a people may ‘alter’ or ‘abolish’ a government which has violated its ‘inalienable rights’. Their leaders, in good part deists and freethinkers [11], drew for their arsenal of ideas from Enlightenment rationalism. [12]

Religion Fosters Ignorance

According to the thinkers of the Enlightenment, religious terrors rise from ignorance and feed upon that ignorance, paralysing thought. ‘How could the human mind,’ asks Holbach (p. ix), ‘make any considerable progress while tormented with frightful phantoms and guided by men interested in perpetuating its ignorance and fears?’

The religious prohibition of knowledge is expressed in God’s command to Adam that he eat not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve however, ‘thought how wonderful it would be to become wise’ (Genesis 3:6). God’s response is that of the despot who fears that the enlightenment of his subjects threatens his power. ‘Then the Lord God said, “Now the man has become like one of us and has knowledge of what is good and what is bad. He must not be allowed to eat fruit from the tree of life, and live forever”’ (Genesis 3: 22).

So too he is fearful when the people are building the tower of Babel to reach the sky: ‘This is just the beginning of what they are going to do. Soon they will be able to do anything they want’ (Genesis 11: 6). He meets the threat of human beings acquiring knowledge by destroying their means of communication (their common language) and setting them at odds with each other, using the traditional device of despots, ‘divide and conquer’.

The idea that too bold an inquiry into the ways of nature was dangerous became a part of Christian thinking. In the Middle Ages physicians, for instance, were looked at suspiciously, especially if they were followers of Avicenna and Averroes, the famous Islamic philosophers and medical authorities. Although medicine was in a primitive state, the very fact that men regarded disease as something other than the possession by demons or inflictions from God, as it was regarded in the Bible, made them somewhat dangerous characters. Hence, the proverb ‘Where there are three physicians, there are two atheists.’ John of Salisbury, the English scholastic philosopher, condemned physicians who ‘attribute too much to Nature, cast aside the Author of Nature’. [13]

In the Renaissance the theme of the dangers of the search for knowledge was sounded in the legend of Faust, the scholar who sold his soul to the Devil to gain a knowledge of black magic. This was a period when science was struggling to emerge from magic and was confounded with it. The legend, based on tales of a wandering necromancer, Georg Faustus, who was confused with Johann Fust, an early printer and therefore regarded by many as another dubious character, expresses both the fascination of the new vistas that were opening up and the fears of venturing forth toward them.

The Catholic Church sternly forbade scientific explorations and theories of nature that threatened its authority and dogma. Galileo was forced on pain of death to recant his belief that the earth moves round the sun. His finding of sun spots was denounced for showing that God’s work has imperfections. It was forbidden to teach this discovery of the telescope in Catholic universities. In some of them the prohibition lasted for centuries. [14] Works supporting the theory of Copernicus and Galileo that the earth moves round the sun remained until 1835 on the Church’s index of books that the faithful were forbidden to read. This honour Copernicus and Galileo shared with Cervantes, Descartes, Pascal, Swift, and Stendhal.

The Catholic Church was not alone in opposing the new astronomy as being in conflict with the Bible. ‘This fool,’ said Luther of Copernicus, ‘wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.’ Calvin quoted: ‘The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved’ (Psalms 93: 1) and exclaimed: ‘Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?’ [15]

Both Catholic and Protestant authorities burned heretics at the stake, providing martyrs in the history of free thought. Giordano Bruno, who championed Copernicus and advocated the study of nature without regard to authority, was executed for, among other things, speculating about life on other planets in an infinite universe. For, it was pointed out, if Christ appeared on earth to be crucified for the sins of man, must he not have been moved to undergo the same torment on countless other planets? We would then have a God who exists only to suffer eternally and a humanity which has no unique place in the scheme of things. So too Servetus, the physician and philosopher who came close to anticipating Harvey in discovering the circulation of blood, was consigned to flames in Calvin’s Geneva. One charge brought against him was that in his work on geography he attacked the verity of Moses.

Burning at the stake as a punishment for intellectual differences received sanction from God’s use of hell-fire for the same reason. ‘Bloody Mary’, the 16th century Catholic English queen, stated: ‘As the souls of heretics are hereafter to be eternally burning in hell, there can be nothing more proper

than for me to imitate the Divine vengeance by burning them on earth.’ [16] Burning at the stake was not confined to a few eminent heretics: it has been estimated by many authorities that from the 15th to the 17th centuries several million people, mostly women, were burned to death for witchcraft. The persecution of alleged witches may have had its origin in the efforts to stamp out the remnants of paganism among the common people. [17] Started by the Catholic Church, it was revived and intensified by Protestants. The search for witches was carried out with a zeal that made every village old woman readily suspected of being an agent of the Devil. Many of the victims seem to have been the practitioners of an empirical folk medicine that was in opposition to the professional physicians, who relied on ancient authorities and were subjected to religious controls. [18] The witch-hunting craze lasted into the 18th century, when John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, citing Exodus 22: 18, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and other biblical texts, stated that ‘the giving up of witchcraft is in effect the giving up of the Bible.’ [19]

The ‘warfare between science and religion’, as it was called by the rationalist successors to the Enlightenment philosophers, continued into the 19th century, when the findings of geologists were opposed because they contradicted the Bible. Darwin’s theory of evolution was vociferously resisted for the same reason. In the 20th century Tennessee’s law forbidding the teaching of the doctrine of evolution occasioned the famous Scopes trial, in which William Jennings Bryan, denying that man had ape-like ancestors, was made a monkey of by Clarence Darrow. Confronted by Darrow with such embarrassing questions as how did Cain get his wife since the Bible says that the only people on earth at the time were Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel, and how could the sun have been made on the fourth day of creation, as the Bible says, if we are to accept its statement that ‘The morning and the evening were the first day,’ [20] Bryan could only stubbornly reiterate his faith.

Today religionists, having suffered this defeat, take a different tack. The doctrine of creation, they claim, should be by law accorded ‘equal time’ with the doctrine of evolution in the schools. What this means is that biologists in textbooks and teachers in schoolrooms must present as equally valid as the theory of evolution a doctrine which they do not consider as valid at all. It is similar to the terms under which Galileo, before the papacy clamped down upon him, was given permission to write about the Copernican theory, provided that he presented it as a ‘mathematical possibility’ like the Aristotelian theory, which had the authority of Scripture to support it.

Just as the evidence of the telescope was set aside, so the mountain of evidence verifying the theory of evolution is set aside (here, at least, it is true that faith moves mountains) on the ground of the continuing differences among scientists concerning the mechanics of evolution. Since the theory of evolution does not give the absolute knowledge claimed by religion (science always makes new refinements, advancing to new complexities), it is dismissed as ‘only a theory’, as the Copernican theory was dismissed as only a mathematical supposition. But this dismissal is not an openness to new knowledge but a means of disregarding present knowledge, through which we advance to new knowledge. It asserts that no scientific doctrine is to be taken as gospel (which no scientific philosopher would ever do) in order to take the Gospel as science. [21]

Matter is Eternal: The Universe Needs No Gods

The fearsome gods of religion, Holbach held, were merely the products of men’s terrified imaginations in the face of a universe not understood and that constantly visited calamities upon them. Religion tried to explain both the calamities and the order of nature by reference to these gods. But in reality ‘the phenomena of nature prove the existence of a God only to some prejudiced men, who have been early taught to behold the finger of God in everything whose mechanism could embarrass them. In the wonders of nature the unprejudiced philosopher sees nothing but the power of nature, the permanent and various laws, the necessary effects of different combinations of matter indefinitely diversified.’ ‘Nature, you say, is totally inexplicable without a God. That is to say, to explain what you understand very little, you have need of a cause which you understand not at all’ (pp. 26, 27). The remedy for man’s ignorance is not to attribute that which is unknown to God but to seek to discover the laws of nature.

Religion has, bit by bit, had to give up explanations of natural phenomena by reference to supernatural causes. In Shakespeare’s time, only a few centuries ago, it was held that madness was possession by demons and that earthquakes and plagues were the visitations of God’s wrath. Luther stated: ‘The heathen write that the comet may arise from natural causes, but God creates not one but does not foretoken a sure calamity.’ [22] When science, however, was able to predict the movements of comets, prevent plagues, and warn against earthquakes, these things could no longer be attributed to the will of God. Yet there are residual religious habits of thought manifested in the public prayers of clergymen calling for God’s mercy in times of natural disasters, in insurance policies which refer to such disasters as ‘acts of God’, and in the statement of Anita Bryant that the California drought of 1978 was a punishment for the rampant homosexuality in San Francisco. Here, as always, there is the biblical assumption that a ‘just’ God makes use of a collective punishment that falls upon the innocent as well as upon the ‘guilty’.

In reality, said Holbach (pp. 28-31),

Matter has ... the power of self-motion; and nature, to act, has no need of a mover ... To be astonished that a certain order reigns in the world is to be surprised that the same causes constantly produce the same effects. To be shocked at disorder is to forget that when things change or are interrupted in their actions the effects can no longer be the same.

What seems to us (because it is unusual or because it is disturbing to humanity), to be disorder is as much the result of natural law as anything else. Natural laws describe how matter moves as a result of all the factors involved, thus enabling us, with a knowledge of these factors, to predict what will happen or, by changing the factors, to change the process; they are not simple statements that what has happened in the past will happen in the future.

A prolonged dry spell does not mean that God is angry at Californians any more than California’s customary climate means that God prefers Californians to New Yorkers. And if, despite limited successes in ‘seeding’ clouds, we have not yet got very far in influencing the weather, it would seem that we are more likely to do so by continuing climatological research than by outlawing homosexuality. After all, if Anita Bryant’s explanation of the California drought is correct, since the drought ceased without homosexual life-styles having been altered, God himself quickly gave up in his efforts to do something about the existence of gays.

It has been argued that natural laws imply the existence of a law-giver, but this is to confuse natural law with human law. Human laws are edicts which may or may not be obeyed. Natural laws, however, must be obeyed, for they are in reality not edicts but descriptions of how things actually operate. As such, they do not presuppose a law-giver. [23]

It has also been argued that there must have been a creator of the universe who started things going. This is the so-called first cause of things. From this the argument leaps to the conclusion that this creator must be all-wise, all-knowing, and all-good, which by no means follows. But, in any event, the argument for God making use of the idea of the first cause of things is meaningless. ‘The word “cause” denotes a relation between things and is inapplicable if only one thing is concerned. The universe as a whole has no cause, since, by definition, there is nothing outside it that could be its cause. [24] To ask ‘Who made the universe?’ or ‘How did the universe come to be?’ is as meaningless as to ask ‘Could there be a father who never had a child?’

If it is legitimate to say that the universe must have been made, then it is legitimate to say that the creator too must have been made, and the first cause of things turns out not to be the first cause. Those who claim that it is not legitimate to ask such a question about the Creator are retreating from logic to dogma. When they assert that God is his own cause, their assertion is, as the 20th-century philosopher of science Ernest Nagel states, ‘simply an unclear statement of the grounds upon which scientists regard as unintelligible the initial “why” as to the world’s existence.’ [25]

Everything in the universe has an origin which can be traced, but the universe itself is the totality of things, not simply a thing whose origin needs to be explained. The notion that an infinity of successive states is logically impossible is true only if we insist that it must be completed, that is, that it must have had a beginning, which is the very point at issue. But such an insistence would be mistaken.

The infinity of time, in both directions, offers no difficulties to the understanding. We know that the series of numbers has no end, that for every number there is a larger number. If we include the negative numbers, the number series has no beginning either; for every number there is a smaller number. Infinite series without a beginning and an end have been successfully treated in mathematics; there is nothing paradoxical in them. To object that there must have been a first event, a beginning in time, is the attitude of an untrained mind. [26]

If we assume nevertheless that the universe was created by God, we must ask of what did he make the universe if nothing existed prior to creation? Something cannot be made of nothing: this is a contradiction in terms.

Power – no matter how much – has nothing to do with being able to bring into existence self-contradictions such as square-circles [figures which are both squares and circles at the same time] and Creation Ex Nihilo [creation out of nothing] ... All the Power a God could ever have would not be able to bring something (matter) into existence out of Nothing. [27]

This would be a self-contradiction similar to the statement that God in his omnipotence can create a rock that is so heavy that he himself cannot lift it. Omnipotence, if it is to have any meaning, cannot include such self-contradictions but must refer to logical possibilities.

If God, however, made the universe from existing matter, then there is no need for a God. If we do not object to the idea of God being eternal, we cannot object to the idea of matter being eternal. Matter, which our observation shows is constantly changing in accordance with its laws, itself generates life, including intelligent life, which continues to change in accordance with the law of natural evolution.

The materialistic statement that the universe produces life without any form of divine action is borne out by recent work in biochemistry. In the pages of the Christian Science Monitor, of all places, its natural science editor, Robert C. Cowes, spoke (7 November 1978) of the ‘growing conviction’ among scientists ‘of the inevitability and probable universality of life’ and stated that the Nobel-prize-winning chemist Melvin Calvin summed up ‘the scientific consensus’ in his words, ‘Life is a logical consequence of known chemical principles operating on the atomic composition of the universe.’ [28] It is this conclusion, drawn from, among other studies, experiments simulating primitive earth conditions, and the observations of astronomers suggesting that a small but significant number of bodies in the universe have conditions suitable for life, which have prompted the sending out of government-subsidized radio signals into outer space in a search for extra-terrestrial forms of intelligent life.

In addition to the First Cause argument, theologians have made use of two other main arguments: the argument from design and the argument from universal agreement. The world is so marvellously ordered, it is said, that we must assume that it was created in accordance with a purpose. To this Holbach replies, ‘What is order to one being is disorder to another.’ Order and purpose are human concepts meaningless in the universe outside of man: the teleological-guided universe is a human projection.

A favourite analogy used by those invoking the argument from design was that of a man who found a watch in a desert. He would know from the intricate mechanism that someone must have made it even if he saw no other evidence of human beings about him. So it is as we observe the vastly greater and more intricate mechanism that is the universe. But, as Holbach’s contemporary, the sceptical philosopher Hume, pointed out, the analogy does not hold: we cannot infer purpose in the universe from a comparison with man-made objects. The man in the desert was able to infer the existence of other human beings in the area because he had seen other watches or other objects similar to watches made by men, but none of us have seen gods making universes. [29] As the American philosopher Charles Peirce said in an oft-quoted sentence, ‘Universes are not as plentiful as blackberries.’

In the teleological-guided universe a comet approaching the earth has a purpose: to warn of an impending calamity. The presumption is that there is an intelligence governing the universe akin to human intelligence. Science, in abandoning this presumption, has discovered the laws governing the motion of comets and is able to predict them. The notion of divine purpose does not contribute to an understanding of the universe. [30]

Holbach illustrates the point that purpose is a human imposition upon the universe by telling the story of a holy man of the East who, drinking the water, eating the dates, and contemplating the beauty of an oasis in the desert, exclaimed: ‘O Allah! How great is thy goodness to the children of men!’ But then, as he was proceeding to Mecca, he observed a wolf battening on the corpses of a battlefield, and by the power of his wisdom he understood what it was saying. It was addressing itself to God and exclaiming: ‘By an effect of thy Providence, which watches over thy creatures, these destroyers of our race cut one another’s throats and furnish us with sumptuous meals. O Allah! How great is thy goodness to the children of wolves!’ Human beings who believe that the universe was created for their benefit and thank God at mealtimes for the food that men have grown by making use of the forces of nature, have as little reason to do so as had this wolf.

To those who expatiated on the wonders of the human body, each part of which was adapted to perform its function, Holbach pointed to its defects and breakdowns. He was anticipating Helmholtz, the 19th century investigator of optics who, in response to the commonly-voiced theistic economium on the eye as a mechanism, said that if he had been the Creator he would have been chagrined to have produced so faulty an instrument. We might also point out that the appendix serves no purpose – unless, that is, like Voltaire’s Dr Pangloss, who claimed that the nose was made in order to hold spectacles, we assume that it exists for the purpose of enabling surgeons to make money. In fact, modern biology has shown that the appendix is a vestigial organ from an earlier stage in the evolutionary process in which man, like other animals, was adapted to cope with his environment. The fact that the peripheral vision of horses is much superior to that of human beings does not mean that God preferred horses to human beings or that he was punishing human beings for the fall of Adam; it means that horses are more dependent than human beings on sight and speed in coping with dangers. On the other hand, human beings through the development of their intelligence were able to invent microscopes and telescopes, improving their vision a million-fold.

Finally, with regard to the theistic argument that all peoples, from the most savage to the most civilized, have believed in gods or a God and that the idea of a deity must therefore be an intuitively perceived truth, Holbach answers that, until science proved otherwise, there was a universal belief that the sun moved around the earth. This did not, however, make this commonly-held belief correct. The ‘inward sense’ of God is simply an idea that was transmitted from the time of the childhood of the human race, which, however, is growing in knowledge and is in the process of giving up its childish, irrational fantasies.

Contradictions in Theism

‘We are gravely assured,’ says Holbach (pp. 69-70),

that the non-existence of God is not demonstrated ... Is there anything more incompatible with every notion of common sense than to believe that a supremely good, wise, equitable, and powerful being presides over nature and by himself directs the movements of a world full of folly, misery, crimes, and disorders, which by a single word he could have prevented or removed?

If we believe in an omnipotent God, then we must logically hold him responsible for the evils in the universe. The more charitable hypothesis would seem to be that there is no God. The religionist, however, seeks to escape from this dilemma in various ways, including the invoking of fearful consequences for those who seek to raise the question. One is reminded of the terrible grim humour of a story concerning a group of Jews at Auschwitz. Talking about the horrors around them, they agreed that since God permits such evil to exist he himself must be evil. But the very next day they were punished for their blasphemy: they were taken to the gas chambers.

One theistic answer to the problem of evil is that what seems to be evil really is good because it serves a higher purpose in the divine scheme of things. Just as a painting requires shadows to heighten the effect of brilliant colour, so pain, suffering, and other evils are necessary for the sake of a higher good. But this answer is unwarranted speculation: one might just as well argue that what seems to be good is really evil. Moreover, since humanity cannot see the larger picture, it makes humanity suffer for the sake of God’s aesthetic satisfaction. Voltaire in Candide made the final devastating comment on the contention that we live in ‘the best of all possible worlds’. No matter what agonizing experiences Candide goes through, the fatuous philosopher Dr Pangloss is always there to explain that what seems to be bad is really ultimately good.

It may be that some evil is logically necessary, but surely there is a huge amount of evil which is not, evil whose existence is incompatible with the notion of an omnipotent, benevolent God. If human beings have to have a sense of pain to avoid physical dangers, does this mean that humanity has to suffer the horrors of war in order to appreciate the blessings of peace? If it is necessary to have the absence of colour in order to appreciate colour, would not a tiny spot of blackness do for the purpose of making contrasts? Must human beings be plunged into the terrible cold darkness of despair to appreciate the comfort of light and warmth? To argue that they must is to argue like the man who beat his head against the wall because it felt so good when he stopped.

One version of the idea that evil serves a higher good is that in which the world is seen as a kind of moral gymnasium in which we strengthen our characters by wrestling with evil. But what purpose is served if a baby is born idiotic, insane, or blind? Do these afflictions minister to the building of character? Moreover, it is difficult to see how the existence of hookworm, which makes children listless and apathetic, and of infant malnutrition, which dulls the mind so that the capacity for understanding moral choices is impaired, strengthens character. Religionists will argue that such afflictions teach the parents the stoic acceptance of God’s will. Even if we assume this is good for the parents – and many will say that such acceptance is itself intellectual dullness and a kind of spiritual hookworm – it does not take into account the welfare of the children.

The moral gymnasium theory is derived from the doctrine of free will, the old answer to the problem of evil in a world created by a beneficent God. Evil came about, it was said, when Adam and Eve transgressed by disobeying God’s commandment. As a result of this transgression not only were their descendents born with a propensity to evil but nature itself was disordered so that instead of living in a blissful Eden we live in a world of droughts, hurricanes, and earthquakes. This is what Malcolm X, referring to the blaming of Blacks for their own situation, called making the victim out to be the criminal. If evil only came into the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s transgression, how did they come to commit the sin of disobedience in the first place? Furthermore, before Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, how could they know that it was evil to disobey God?

God is often represented as behaving with a strange arbitrariness toward the sin-prone descendents of Adam and Eve. ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’ But why does God confer his grace upon one person and withhold it from another? Aside from the charge of capriciousness, there is also the question of God’s method of ordering the world so that it is not conducive to the practice of virtue. Suppose a man has a son who every now and then goes off on an alcoholic binge during which he mistreats his wife and children. Should the man constantly press liquor upon his son with the idea that he is giving him an opportunity to strengthen his character? What is the likelihood of this method succeeding, and what are the consequences of failure for the wife and children? Would it not be better to seek to keep liquor out of his son’s way, give him moral support in facing up to his problem, and encourage him to search out the origins of his behaviour with scientific help, thereby enabling him the better to cope with his behaviour pattern? A wise and loving father would do so even if it risked the son’s concluding from his self-analysis< that his father bore a share of the responsibility. But our Heavenly Father is represented as acting in a way which we would condemn on the part of our fellow human beings. [31]

Frequently, such objections are met with the statement that the reasons of God are beyond human wisdom. But to say this is to limit the power of God, for what we are saying is that for an ultimately beneficent purpose which we cannot explain God has made use of evil. But the need to use evil to attain good implies a limited power, for otherwise the doer would not have had to | make use of evil. [32] The same is true of the presumption that there must be an after-life in which we are recompensed for our suffering in this world. If God has to rectify the injustice in this world in the next world, he is not all-powerful in this one. But then, as Hume said, if we go solely by experience, we have no reason to believe that another existence will be any better than this one. [33]

Man’s ‘Immortal Soul’

The materialist, however, denies the existence of an after-life in which consciousness of self, intelligence, and memory survive death. If we assign a soul to ourselves, says Holbach, should we deny it to animals, who have to a limited degree intelligence and memory and whom he finds, morally speaking, superior to tyrants? Do the souls of the babies who die when they are one day old survive, but the souls of chimpanzees, who are much more intelligent than day-old babies, do not? If we allow chimpanzees to have souls, at what point in the scale of life do we stop? With the amoeba? If the souls of day-old babies survive, what kind of consciousness do they have after death since their intelligence and memory were so little developed before death? At what point in the evolutionary process did man acquire an immortal soul? Was it conferred upon him as a kind of graduation present when he became homo sapiens? And at what point in gestation do human beings acquire a soul? At the time of the first stirrings in the womb, as the Catholic Church said from the 12th to the 19th century, or at the time of conception, as it now says?

In truth, we have as little reason to believe that human beings have immortal souls as we have to credit animals with them. Without the body there can be no life of any kind, just as the Cheshire cat’s grin could not exist (except in the imaginings of Lewis Carroll) without the cat. As Holbach phrases it, ‘To say that the souls of men will be happy or unhappy after the death of their bodies is in other words to say that men will see without eyes, hear without ears, taste without palates, smell without noses, and touch without hands or skin.’ And so too with the brain, the seat of intelligence and memory. We know that injury to the brain may produce a coma, a state of prolonged unconsciousness. If damage to a portion of the brain wipes out memory and consciousness, how can memory and consciousness survive the total destruction of the brain in death? [34]

Faith and the Mystical Experience in Revealed Religion

It is often affirmed that Christianity involves a faith that is superior to reason. Its truth can be felt; it cannot be explained. To the assertion of faith Holbach retorts (pp. 72-73):

The Deity has revealed himself with so little uniformity in the different countries of our globe that in point of religion men regard one another with hatred and contempt ... If this religion were the most important concern of men, the goodness of God would seem to demand that it should be to them of all things the most clear, evident and demonstrative.

The statement of the religionist that he believes despite reason is psychologically interesting, but how can it convince others? Are we to believe all absurdities? If not, how shall we choose which absurdity to believe? [35]

The faith of the ‘born again’ preacher is often peddled as if it were a patent medicine: ‘Why not try God? He’ll make a new man of you!’ But of all the faiths on the market, which one shall we buy? The Muslim believes that an angel appeared to Muhammad, the Catholic believes that angels appeared to Joan of Arc, the Mormon believes that an angel appeared to Joseph Smith. None of them believes in the visitations accepted by the others. While the sophisticated Protestant is not inclined to accept such miraculous visitations in our time, he does believe that an angel appeared to Mary. Since each faith claims to be the true religion, the sceptic will answer the question ‘Which faith shall I select?’ by saying, ‘God knows – and he’ll have to show me before I buy.’

Instead of showing himself to human beings all over the world in a manner which is ‘clear, evident, and demonstrative’ such as the perception that three times one is three (trinitarian Christianity says on the contrary that as far as . the deity is concerned three times one is one), the God of the revealed religions has shown himself to only a few individuals whose word all of us are expected to accept. As Holbach’s associate, Diderot, said, The pretended facts with which all religion is supported are ancient and wonderful, that is to say, the most suspicious evidence possible to prove things the most incredible; for to prove the truth of the Gospel by a miracle is to prove an absurdity by a contradiction in nature.’ [36]

The primitive credulousness, the myth-making propensity, and the disregard for the verification of alleged fact of the authors of the Bible are manifest. They accepted ‘miracles’ – violations of nature’s laws – as readily as did their superstitious contemporaries and predecessors. A student of comparative religion points out:

[Jesus’s] death is marked by an eclipse, as was alleged to have been the case with Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Drusus, although no eclipse is recorded by the historians, and if, as it was related, the crucifixion occurred at the Jewish Passover, the moon was full and a solar eclipse was impossible ... Jesus turned water into wine, as did Dinoysius on January sixth of every year; and multiplied loaves of bread, as did Elijah. He walked on water like Orion, Poseidon’s son. He raised men from the dead, as did Elijah and Elisha – this feat had once been so common that Aristophanes in The Frogs (ca. 405 BC) made Dionysus say of Hermes and of Hermes’s father, that performing resurrections was a family profession. He gave sight to the blind by application of his spittle, the remedy which Thoth had used to restore the eye of Horas, and one which was used all around the Mediterranean by medicine men and had even been used successfully and to his great fame by the Emperor Vespasian ... He healed the leper, the lunatic, the deaf and dumb, as did Askelepios. [37]

So readily did the early Christians accept miracles that they did not deny those which were allegedly performed by the heathens.

They owned that the Pythian Apollo prophesied correctly and told what Croesus was doing though hundreds of miles away: that Castor and Pollux appeared [as spirits who led the Romans to victory] at Regillus, and that Tuccia carried water in a sieve. [‘All these absurdities are spoken of by Tertullian as true: Apology, cap. 22’] Their only resource was to declare that these wonders were done by the agency of demons, in which they, like the Jews and the heathens, undoubtedly believed. [38]

So too the 2nd century Christian apologist, Justin Martyr, answered those who compared the story of Jesus’s birth with that of the birth of Perseus, whose mother was said to have been visited by Zeus as a ‘shower of gold’, by ‘what was with him a favourite and unanswerable argument, that Satan had anticipated Christianity and imitated it in advance in the pagan cults: “When I am told that Perseus was born of a virgin, I realize that here again is a case in which the serpent and deceiver has imitated our religion”.’ [39]

The modern believer in the New Testament miracles of the virgin birth, the resurrection from the dead, and the rest, is only slightly less credulous than the early Christians. He does not accept the pagans’ myths but accepts those of his own religion. But there is no more reason to believe the one more than the other. As Hume pointed out in his essay on miracles, the greater the improbability of something the more evidence is necessary if we are to accept it. If someone were to swear that he had seen a man walking on ocean waves, reasonable people would not accept that as readily as if he swore that it had rained hard yesterday in his city. The accounts of miracles do not hold up if we consider the notorious unreliability of eye-witness testimony, especially by those who were at the time under the influence of excitement, the power of suggestion, and the effect of mass hysteria.

It is to the power of suggestion upon hysterics that modern ‘miracles’ such as the ‘cures’ at Lourdes are to be attributed. Freud found that hypnotism was often able to effect spectacular cures of hysterical symptoms, but these cures did not last long. The symptoms were either temporarily masked or converted to other symptoms. This was why he gave up hypnotism for psychoanalysis. The ‘faith cure’, which can be achieved by faith in medical science by the use of placebos as well as by faith in religion, is similar to the apparent cure effected by hypnotic suggestion.

The claims of revealed religion have been defended not only on the basis of alleged miracles or by an appeal to authority but on the basis of what is alleged to be a direct communion with God. This communion gives a sense of peace and assurance, and this blissful feeling is said to be convincing evidence of God’s existence. But this is to say: ‘It makes me feel good; therefore, it is true.’ Not only is this dubious logic but the same could be said by the user of amphetamine, which likewise gives an enhanced feeling of well-being that is, however, as fleeting as the soothing perception of the divine Presence. Communion with God, moreover, can only be experienced, we are told, if one really and truly believed. In the same way the medium at a seance insists that the spirits she is summoning will not come if there is a sceptic present: apparently, these spirits are shy beings, easily put out. But this is scarcely proof; rather is it the ‘wish fulfilment’ and regression to infantilism in which one believes one’s self to be under the protection of an all-powerful authority figure that Freud characterized religion as being.

The regression to the infantile state, when the world was scarcely more than a blob and the self scarcely differentiated from it, is the basis of the mystical experience. [40] This experience, as described by the mystics, insofar as they have been able to articulate it, is one in which the inspired individual rises above the ordinary everyday world and the self to perceive a higher reality in which everything forms a single inseparable whole. In perceiving this higher reality one realizes that evil is an illusion, for the differences and conflicts of the ordinary everyday world are transcended. This perception, say the mystics, is valid knowledge.

If we were to accept this view as true, then there is no point in trying to improve the conditions of life or indeed in doing anything at all, for all is the same in the higher reality. But this experience cannot be verified as truth. A scientific experiment can be repeated and so verified, but the mystical experience is fitful and given only to a few people. Various means such as isolation, prolonged wakefulness, fasting, breathing exercises, peyote and other drugs, and concentration on the monotonous repetition of words have been used to induce it. These result in an abnormal physical and psychological state.

The evidence derived from such a state is not trustworthy. The person suffering from delirium tremens may be convinced of the reality of the pink elephants he sees, but there is no reason for anyone else to believe in them. The same is true of the perceptions of those who have had too little food or too little sleep: lightheadedness is not a means of ascending to a higher reality. [41] We can only concur with J.H. Leuba, the psychologist who studied religious mysticism: ‘Experiences named “mystical” ... are all explicable in the same sense, to the same extent and by the same general scientific principles as any other fact of consciousness.’ [42]




1. I have throughout regarded Marx and Engels as being in common agreement, as the evidence shows they were. As George Novack says (Polemics in Marxist Philosophy, New York, Monad Press, 1978, p.87):

Although Engels modestly assigned himself the role of ‘second fiddle’ to Marx, the development of the dialectical method and historical materialism was a collective creation ... Marx and Engels elaborated its fundamental principles together in the 1840s. Most of what they wrote thereafter, whether in the form of newspaper articles, mainfestos, pamphlets, or books, was either discussed beforehand or submitted to each other’s searching critical scrutiny. Whatever differences of opinion they had on this or that minor matter, there is no record of disagreement on any important theoretical or political question during their forty-year collaboration.

2. Reader in Marxist Philosophy From the Writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, ed. Howard Selsam and Harry Martel, (New York: International Publishers, 1973), p.27. Hereafter referred to as Reader.

3. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels on Religion, (New York: Schocken Books, 1977), pp.142-3. Hereafter referred to as On Religion.

4. Cf. below, pp.26-8 (Marxist Perception of Religion as Ideology), 55-6 (Marxism and the History of Western Religions), 72, 73 (Christianity’s Inception Among the Jews), 76 (The Catholic Church and Feudalism), 142-4 (Buddhist Philosophy and Its Milieu).

5. Cf. below, pp.288 (Marxist Perception of Religion as Ideology), 39 (n.12), 59 (The Effects of the Babylonian Exile).

6. Baron D’Holbach, Good Sense: or Natural Ideas as Opposed to Supernatural, (New York: G. Vale, 1856), pp.viii-ix. For the convenience of the reader, I have modernized the spelling and punctuation of all quotations before the 20th century.

7. Since I am not here concerned with literary values, I have for the sake of clarity used throughout the Good News Bible of the American Bible Society, which ‘seeks to state clearly and accurately the meaning of the original texts in words and forms that are widely accepted by people who use English as a means of communication’.

8. Cf. E.E. Kellet, A Short History of Religions, (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933), p.45. Cf. also p.56-7 below (The Nomadic Ancestors of the Israelites).

9. Richard Watson, An Apology for the Bible, (New York, 1796), p.54.

10. Both quoted by Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian Politics and Communist Religion, Christianity and the Social Revolution, ed. John Lewis et al. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), p.452.

11. Cf. Herbert E. Morais, Deism in Eighteenth Century America, (New York: Russell & Russell, 1960). Among others Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, and Ethan Allen were deists, and George Washington and James Madison were free-thinkers with deistic tendencies. Jefferson, who was identified with the French Revolution, was attacked by the Congregational ministry in 1800 as ‘the arch-apostle of the cause of irreligion and free thought’, (Morais, p.117).

12. Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, (Harvard University Press, 1967), pp.26-7.

13. Cited by F.N. Robinson, ed., The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957), p.662.

14. Bertrand Russell, Religion and Science, (New York: Henry Holt, 1935), p.34.

15. Quoted by Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945), p.528.

16. Corliss Lament, The Illusion of Immortality, Critiques of God, ed. Peter Angeles (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1976), p.264.

17. H.R. Trevor-Roper, The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), pp.107-108.

18. Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness, (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), pp: 82-94.

19. The same text had been cited by Luther and Calvin to justify the burning of witches. Cf. Trevor-Roper, p.137.

20. L. Sprague de Camp, The Great Monkey Trial, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968), pp.406-07.

21. Cf. Cliff Conner, Evolutionism vs. Creationism: In Defense of Scientific Thinking, (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1981), pp.5-11.

22. Russell, Religion and Science, p.45.

23. Cf. Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), pp.8-9.

24. Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1951); p.208, quoted by Peter A. Angeles, The Problem of God: A Short Introduction, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1980), p.42.

25. Ernest Nagel, Malicious Philosophies of Science, Critiques of God, p.362.

26. Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, p.207, quoted by Angeles, p.42.

27. Angeles, p.65.

28. This belief was anticipated by Engels. Cf. On Religion, p.174.

29. Hume on Religion, ed. Richard Wollheim, (New York: World Publishing Co., 1964), p.38.

30. For refutation of contemporary versions of the argument from design, see Wallace I. Matson, The Argument from Design, Critiques of God, pp.69-81.

31. Cf. H.J. McCloskey, God and Evil, Critiques of God, pp.203-23.

32. Cf. John Stuart Mill, Three Essays on Religion, (London: Longmans, Green, 1874), pp.179-80.

33. Hume on Religion, p.239.

34. Cf. Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian, p.90.

35. Cf. Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, (London: Hogarth Press, 1962), vol. 21, p.28.

36. Denis Diderot, Thoughts on Religion, (London 1819), p.5.

37. Homer W. Smith, Man and His Gods, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1952), p.202.

38. Kellett, p.118.

39. Smith, p.183.

40. Cf. Robert G. Olson, Ethics: A Short Introduction, (New York: Random House, 1978), p.127.

41. Cf. Russell, Religion and Science, pp.185-95.

42. J.H. Leuba, The Psychology of Religious Mysticism, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925), p.ix.


Last updated on 2.2.2005