Karl Marx: Is there a God?

In classical Marxism, the notion of a god is dismissed as a human-made invention. Greatly influenced by the transformational criticism of Ludwig von Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, Marxists believed that humans created god and not the reverse. The only intelligent design was in the mind of the human; god does not exist independently from human projection of this entity.

According to classical Marxism: In the process of creating god, humans became self-alienated and projected their virtues onto this abstraction of perfection. They created a God-centered universe where the alleged sinfulness and evil of humanity would be contrasted to and lay prostrate before this wondrous entity. To end the alienation, to free humankind from the shackles of guilt and self-degradation, God must be destroyed in order to reclaim the virtues that humankind innocently surrendered to the notion of a supreme being. There must be a “human-centered” world. Perhaps a Ptolemaic revolution in reverse!! Camille Paglia once said that God is the greatest invention in the history of humankind.

I asked a class last semester what they thought about this notion of god being created by humans. Some felt that was not accurate: God created humanity. Some did not believe in a god; others thought, and I was so impressed by their originality, that God created humans but humans created religion!! I told them that was one of the more original and provocative ideas I had ever heard from a class. The course was on “Capitalism and Socialism” and most were Roman Catholic students with a variety of opinions!!

I also believe that gods, there are many differences between monotheistic religions and those that are pantheistic, are invented by humans. Yet it seems to be an instinctual cultural trait that is part of being human. The European invaders of America encountered religions among the native discoverers. Religion appears in almost every human culture ever chronicled. So clearly the belief in some higher order has immanent application. I have never understood what god means and have found the concept beyond my range of understanding and belief.

What is astonishing is the gravity of believing in God and its motive power on this planet: Wars, enormous expenditure of human and natural resources, masses of people deeply moved and organized around the concept of a deity. I do not underestimate its significance. I find it difficult to believe that the world was created by a spirit or that a god, independent of humanity, is present in our lives. Humans must guide and direct their own destinies. However, for those who sense or deeply believe in a Supreme Being, then for them that belief and presence is real and significant.

Finally, one can be “religious” and a monster and war criminal. One can be a non-believer and committed to virtuous works and societal uplift. It is not relevant whether one believes in a god(s) or not in terms of assessing one’s morality or virtue. It is how one lives and interacts with other persons, and how one behaves as a citizen. Presidents Jefferson and George W. Bush were quite different in their beliefs in a god or a heavenly engineer and yet their contributions are vastly different as well.

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