Monday, July 1, 2013

Nazism, Communism, Atheism, and the Enlightenment

As we approach Independence Day, it is worth considering the contention of many religionists' that America was founded on religious fundamentals--specifically, on Judeo-Christian values. Without religion, they contend, the alternative--an atheistic state--leads directly to systems like Nazism or communism. 

But is this true? Contrary to religionists' claims, the Founding Fathers of America sought precisely to separate religion from the state, and create a Lockean, Enlightenment state. They were not primarily Christians. They were primarily champions of reason. 

So, what about the supposedly atheistic states of Nazism and communism?

In Penny Nance's Strange Bedfellows, Ari Armstrong explains that Nazism, like religion, is rooted in emotionalism (faith), not reason. He quotes Andrew Bernstein from his debate with Dinesh D'Souza titled Christianity: Good or Bad for Mankind? to make his case.

In Communism vs. Atheism, Yaron Brook explains why communism, too, is fundamentally no different from religion. Communists, like the Nazi's, were mystics. Communists, explains Brook, simply replaced God with "the proletariat." The proletariat, like God, was seen by the communists as a mystical, higher power to which the individual must be subordinated.

To Christianity (or Judaism, Islam, etc.), the communists and Nazis were atheists because they rejected the Christian God. But, Nazism and communism are not atheistic in the broader, more fundamental sense. Religion, communism, and Nazism are all fundamentally the same: They are all rooted in mysticism. 

The only antipode to mysticism is reason, which means the only antipode to communism, Nazism, or a religious state is a nation based on reason--a country like the United States of America at its founding. This is because, as Bernstein points out (quoted in Armstrong's piece):

The real struggle in human history is not religion versus secularism; that’s only one example of it. The real struggle in human history is reason versus unreason, or rationalism versus irrationalism—those who support the mind and those who oppose it.

Related Reading:

Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen

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