by David A. Noebel
Karl Marx (1818-1883) became an atheist while studying at the University of Berlin. His atheistic convictions predated his socialistic beliefs and were based not on the plight of oppressed masses but on Ludwig Feuerbach’s philosophical conclusion pertaining to the existence of God. Marx’s doctoral dissertation in the field of philosophy emphasized his "hatred of all the gods." He grew to perceive belief in God as a narcotic. His criticism and elimination of religion formed the foundation for all other criticisms; that is, Marx felt that atheism in practice consisted of the "forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions." Frederick Engels and V. I. Lenin agreed that religion was a drug or "spiritual booze" and must be combated. "Every idea of God," insisted Lenin, "is unutterable vileness." The Marxist/Leninist movement has not deviated from its founding fathers’ attitude toward God specifically nor toward religion in general. The Atheist’s Handbook declares, "The Communist Party has always taken and continues to take a position of militant atheism and of an implacable aggressive ideological struggle against religious befuddlement." Under the direction of the Council of Religious Affairs, the Central House of Scientific Atheism, the Institute for Scientific Atheism and its publication Science and Religion, the doctrine of atheism has maintained its foundational role in Communist ideology. Only in the sixth era of glasnost and perestroika has the Soviet Union taken a less aggressive stance toward religion, but these concessions are in no way a rejection of the basic tenets of Marxist/Leninist theology, which is still unapologetically atheistic.