One of the oldest standard atheist cliches is that religion causes all wars and strife in the world. As the Jewish-American left-winger Tom Lehrer sang nearly fifty years ago:
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Moslems
And everybody hates the Jews.
A generation later, his words were echoed by another anti-religious left-wing singer, John Lennon:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
Of course, none of this true. In reality, to paraphrase Dr Johnson (1709-84), religion, and not patriotism, is ‘the last refuge of the scoundrel’. Scoundrels do not justify their hatred, envy, malice, cruelty and lust for wealth, territory and power by announcing truthfully that they are hateful, envious, malicious, cruel and lustful for wealth, territory and power, they camouflage it behind the noblest human instincts. Religion, the noblest, is therefore their flag, their best excuse, although ‘patriotism’ or ‘freedom and democracy’ will do, whenever atheistic and secularist societies want to justify their evil aggression and massacres.
However, interestingly, in the Gospels Christ does not ask if on His return, He will find religion on earth, rather He asks if He will ‘find faith on earth’ (Lk 18, 8). For religion means a humanised, institutionalised, thisworldly system, adapted to the demands of states. It is a State-manipulated substitute for real faith and it may well abound when Christ returns. On the other hand, faith is the Holy Spirit living and acting in the hearts of the faithful, and that will be very rare when Christ returns, if it exists at all.
And this is what Tom Lehrer’s song and John Lennon’s songs are about. We can see it very clearly in the present war in Syria, where ethnic groups hide behind their religious name tags. Daily we hear of Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Druze and Christians, all fighting and slaughtering one another. It is the same in Burma (Buddhists versus Muslims), in Northern Ireland (Protestants versus Catholics), in Nigeria (Muslims versus Christians), and in almost every other conflict in the world, present, past and future.
So are Tom Lehrer, his follower John Lennon and the standard atheist, right when they imply that religion is the cause of war?
Of course, they are not right. It is human evil that causes war, though very, very often it cloaks itself in ‘religion’ – but never in faith. Faith, the knowledge of spiritual reality (not institutionalised or nationalised ‘religion’), is the cause of peace, not of war.
However, such subtlety is lost on the atheistic mass media, which always present human conflicts as caused by ‘religion’, despite all the obvious cases when it is caused by anti-religious atheists – like Napoleon, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and any number of other tyrants. The mass media always present wars as ‘religious wars’, ‘wars about religion’, and not about ethnic identities fighting for wealth, territory, natural resources and power.
And this is how, surely, the end will come. Some ‘great’ man will appear as a peacemaker and unite, i.e. destroy, all religions and settle in Jerusalem, not far from Syria, where deluded people will bow down before him and all his magic tricks and illusions. Peace will come for a short time – but at the cost of freedom, and Antichrist, the Grand Inquisitor, as Dostoyevsky foretold, will triumph from his throne. No religion, no heaven, no hell, just imagine – ‘it’s easy if you try’, ‘all the people living for today’. We have seen so many of Antichrist’s little forerunners, from Charlemagne to Napoleon, from Hitler and even the deluded imagination of John Lennon, that we know the story of the end. Let us then beware.