From its inception following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the now former Union of Soviet Socialists Republic established atheism as their official position on God. But the Soviets were not content for atheism to merely be their position on paper. They wanted atheism to be the official position of all their citizens too. And so the authorities actively sought to force atheism upon the entire state.
Their first leader, Vladimir Lenin, referred to religion as the “opium of the people,” and based many of his ideas on the 19th century writings of Karl Marx, who advocated for the elimination of religion altogether. They propagated atheism in the schools and in the media. Christian rituals and holy days were replaced with secular holidays. Easter was replaced with Communist Saturday. Christian practices of baptism and confirmation were replaced with so-called “family events” or admission into the Communist Party. Church structures were leveled. Those who maintained a strong belief in God were often imprisoned, sent to Siberia, or just executed.
Among the country’s many leaders was Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled the communist state from 1964 to his death in 1982. Brezhnev’s funeral was described by some as the largest, most impressive funeral in the world. But there was a little event of great and telling significance that occurred at the funeral. Just before his casket was closed, with the soldiers and many others looking on, Brezhnev’s widow made the sign of the cross on Brezhnev’s chest; as if to admit that after generations of atheistic propaganda, millions killed just to show that atheism was right—after all of that—in the end atheism wasn’t enough. And somehow she knew that atheism could not be the final answer.
“The fool says in his heart, there is no God!”
George Bernard Shaw, a well-known liberal philosopher and socialist, in the last of his writings, wrote, “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshipers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”
“The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”
We don’t live in the Soviet Union, North Korea, or China. Hopefully we never will. Nevertheless, there is an endless pull of spiritual forces in our culture, too, to pull us away from the one true God to live under the control of other gods—including the god of humanism. These forces may not overtly call us not to believe in God but they do call us to put our trust in other things. Either way, it’s the pressure to live as if there is no God on the throne of heaven.
Trying to take God out of the picture is really not a new phenomenon. It is a ploy the devil has used since the beginning of time. When the serpent tempted Eve, he did so with the claim, “You can be like God.” You can be master of your own existence. At the Tower of Babel, the people tried to build a great tower into the heavens so that they could “make a name for themselves.”
But while man is busy trying to pass judgment on the idea of God, Psalm 53:2 reminds us what is really going on. God is passing judgment on man’s ideas. Psalm 53:2, “The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God.”
The Bible does not attempt to prove that God exits. From the beginning His existence is understood to be a first-truth. “In the beginning God,” Genesis 1:1 reads. His existence is the great “duh!” of all time (Romans 1:18-20). Every generation has come and gone. Yet in spite of man’s best efforts, God has never left the picture. You may live without God but you cannot really escape Him.
Quite the contrary, Adam and Eve tried to be their own gods—even so they were banished from the garden. The people at the Tower of Babel tried to make their own name—even so their languages were confused and their efforts, in the end, foiled. The Soviet Union tried to defeat God—but as quickly as they rose to power, they collapsed in ruin. Human ideas have come and gone and they will come and go. Isn’t it interesting, however, that relentless secular assaults on God have not quelled the hunger people have for God? Because in the depths of his soul, somehow man knows that he does not have the answer.
Do not be shaken by man’s agenda, or by all that is wrong or unjust in the world. For in it all “God is looking down from upon the sons of men.” And “it’s the fool who says in his heart there is no God.”
Prayer: Lord, I believe you! And I believe that you will have the final word. “The grass withers, the flowers fades, but the word of the Lord abides forever!”