I have surprisingly mixed feelings about this entire thing. However, before I get into why that is, it is important to understand the context of the situation. Usually, if I see college professors slamming anything on the LEFT and not something on the Right, that comes as a massive surprise. However, you will soon understand why I am not 100% positive about this whole thing.
First, allow me to explain some context. This article comes from a different article written on Campus Reform titled: “Yale prof: Communism is a ‘religion’ with ‘sloppy theology’”. In this article, the writer explains that “panelists at Princeton University condemned communism on Tuesday (last week), likening it to a ‘religion’ with ‘extremely sloppy theology’ and honing in on its ‘inhuman’ nature.”
The article mentions the name of the panel: “Consequences of an Idea: Assessing 100 Years of Communism” and notes the name of the three panelists. First, there’s Carlos Eire, a Yale history and religious studies professor and an immigrant from Cuba. Then, there’s Sergiu Klainerman, a Princeton math professor and immigrant from Romania, a socialist country. Finally, there’s Skidmore College political science professor Flagg Taylor.
In this panel, Eire made the case that Communism is “damn close, if not exactly the same as a religion,” with “orthodoxy and heresy.”
Communism is “impervious to empirical evidence, scientific evidence, sociological evidence… It is also an extremely sloppy theology that does not base its observations on human behavior.”
He argued that “human beings are incapable of pure altruism, of sharing goods equally. There is never any true sharing. It is impossible.”
According to Campus Reform: “The religious studies professor noted that Christian monasticism also involved property sharing, but that monastic history is one ‘of failure, of corruption, and reform.’ He granted that it yielded some success, arguing that this was because sharing was voluntary.”
Then, Eire claims that “historically, it has been proven that communism can work, sometimes, to some extent, always with some reform. But it always requires an oligarchy of some sort.”
Campus Reform continues by writing: “The Yale professor also argued that it is only viable in small communities, noting several failed historical attempts by Christian monastics or other religious leaders to extend monastic sharing to wider communities.”
Eire insisted that “it is possible to speak of communism… as a religion” that is “governed by bad theology.”
Later in the panel, Taylor argues that it is not enough to label Communism as totalitarian, suggesting that it is better to label it as an “ideocracy” where “ideology is not just one of four or five important features” but that ideology is “the most important feature.” “In this account, a totalitarian regime becomes totalitarian precisely because it is ideological.”
Taylor argues that Communism is founded on “organized and systematic lying”, differing from “ordinary falsehood.” He argues that “ordinary falsehood” “stays in touch with the truth and knowingly distorts the truth” as opposed to an “ideological lie” which “seeks to impose a pseudo-reality upon reality. It does not depart from reality so much as [it] completely ignores reality and… it seeks to disrupt our normal access to reality.”
Taylor concludes the panel by pointing out some trends present in our daily lives that are reminiscent of communist ideocracies, such as the “hyper-bureaucratization of life”, the “persistence of perfectionism” and a “prevalent culture of activism”. He describes the latter two as a form of fanaticism that is “always certain that the enacting of a certain program will bring an end to societal dysfunction and injustice.”
This sort of fanaticism, Taylor says, “is not driven primarily by unbridled passion, but rather is the result of an intellectual error, which should recall ideologies like revolutionary socialism” and the disastrous results that they bring.
Now, this was a lot to cover, but I think it can be fairly obvious why I have some level of issue with all of this. While I do agree that Communism is basically like a religion at this point, as I have time and time again mocked the Left for their religious-like belief of climate change, it is important to understand just what kind of religion we are talking about here and why Christianity does not really belong in this sort of categorization that the professors use to define something as religious.
Carlos Eire, the Yale professor, made the argument that Communism is “impervious to empirical evidence, scientific evidence, sociological evidence”. And while that is true, this comes after comparing Communism with religion. Now, as a Christian, the first religion that comes to mind when someone talks about religion in general is Christianity. But this argument does not work for Christianity in and of itself.
Christianity is not “impervious to empirical evidence, scientific evidence, sociological evidence”. There is nothing in science today that goes as far as to disprove or really even challenge the existence of God. While there are people out there that use science as a weapon against Christianity and the notion of a living, eternal, self-existent God who is the Creator of the Universe, no scientific evidence really disproves God.
Even the theory of evolution does not disprove God. It basically suggests the universe started with a singular cell that evolved and got to where we are today. But it does not challenge the idea of a God because it does not answer the question “where did that cell come from?” If evolution is, indeed, how we got to this point (and I believe in some level of evolution, but within species. Meaning a species evolving to adapt better to its surroundings, not evolving into a different species altogether) then how did that first life cell come to be? What did it evolve from? Surely, not from something that was previously not alive. Not if it’s the first alive thing ever.
What I mean is this: I used to not be alive, but I was a sperm cell within my father that eventually made contact with my mother’s egg cells. There were living cells before I was alive (ironically, the Left will still somehow say that we are not alive inside the womb but are alive before we even get there as living cells). But with the first cell, what came before it? Nothing surely. But then, how did it get there in the first place?
Even if you believe the Universe was always here, as in it had no beginning (which is ludicrous), you cannot make the same argument for life on Earth. Earth was not always here. Life was not always here. So how did life get here? How did it develop from absolute nothingness? If there was ever a time when there was nothing, absent of an external force, what would there be today? Nothing!
So even the “best” tools for the Left in countering the existence of God do not actually counter the existence of God. There is no empirical, scientific, sociological evidence that points away from the Truth claims of the Bible. So in Eire’s comparison between Communism and religion, his argument does not actually work for Christianity. However, it does work magnificently well for Communism, which is meant to be the overall point. Not to mention he’s talking about religion in general and not Christianity in particular.
Now, he does also mention Christian Monasticism. For context, Monasticism is a religious way of life where one renounces worldly pursuits in order to devote oneself entirely to spiritual work. Basically, think of Catholic priests (just not the ones that molest kids or argue that there is climate change or that there should be gay priests or anything that adamantly goes against the Bible, as that basically stops being Monasticism altogether).
Eire critiques Christian Monasticism and history as being one “of failure, of corruption, and reform.”
Now, unfortunately, I am not a theologian, so I cannot necessarily argue against this completely. My understanding, at least of the Catholic Church, which tends to be Monastic, is that it has (and arguably is right now) corrupt and very different from what it should be. And I’m sorry to anyone who is Catholic here, but to say the Catholic Church is perfect is to be naïve.
The Catholic Church believes in the infallibility of the Pope. They believe the Pope is never wrong and incapable of being wrong. That, of course, is ridiculous. Of course the Pope can be wrong. He’s HUMAN! To say that the Pope cannot be wrong is to elevate the Pope to God’s level of omniscience. That is blasphemy and wholly unchristian.
The Catholic Church also believes in praying to saints, such as Saint Peter, and even to the Virgin Mary, that they may ask God to help the person praying to them. Praying to anyone but God is idolatry and there is no other way to label it. It’s not like asking someone else to pray for you. You don’t get down on your knees and bow your head to ask someone else to pray for you. Asking for the Virgin Mary to pray for you, while you yourself are in a praying position and are doing this to a statue of the Virgin Mary is to elevate the Virgin Mary to God’s level. Again, that’s blasphemy as well as idolatry.
I won’t spend too long criticizing what I don’t like about the Catholic Church, but it is important to note there are issues with it. Just as there are issues with every other denomination. There is no perfect denomination of Christianity. The church of Christ is, currently, being run by humans. Humans who make mistakes. Humans who are not omniscient. Humans who, by nature, are evil and can only be righteous by the good grace of the Lord.
So I won’t argue that there are no mistakes or issues within the denominations of Christianity or within Monasticism of Christianity. But there is a MASSIVE difference between calling Christian Monasticism a failure and corrupt and calling Christianity itself a failure and corrupt. I want to make it entirely clear, of course, that Eire is talking about Monasticism in particular. And I, not being a theologian and not having great understanding of this, will not necessarily argue against the particular claim. I just wanted to make the difference clear. He is criticizing Monasticism, not Christianity itself.
Now, I feel I should wrap this up so as to not make this article too long. In conclusion, I am glad there are college professors, particularly Ivy League college professors, who understand the horrors of Communism and its fundamental fanaticism that is devoid of knowledge and understanding.
And while Communism, and many things within Communism, can be considered to be like religion or an actual religion, where the government is God (I have mentioned multiple times that the Left wants to replace God with government. If that’s not basically making Communism a religion, I don’t know what would), I feel it particularly necessary to explain that the argument Eire used to describe religion or Communism as being like a religion does not exactly work with Christianity as science does not really suggest there is no God. In fact, it does the opposite.
Science has shown us to be extremely complex creatures living in an extremely complex reality. To say that everything that has happened up to now, including our very existence, is a matter of random chance is to reach for the bottom of the barrel in trying to deny God’s existence. The mathematical likelihood, or chance, of everything that has happened to be replicated is virtually impossible. Not only that, chance in and of itself doesn't have the power to do anything - it's just a mathematical concept to calculate probability. Chance is not a thing. When you toss a coin, you have 50/50 chance of it landing on tails - it'll depend on many factors: distance from the floor, force applied, objects it hits on its way down, etc. But chance is not a factor - it's a probability and it has no influence on the actual result. And yet, here we are. How? Well, I think we all know.
But aside from that, I want to acknowledge the fact that there are at least some college professors who still view Communism in a bad light. Of course, two of them actually had to experience communism (or at least socialism) to understand how bad it is, but still.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
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