In Your Language

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poor Karl Marx

Religion is:

"the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods" (Oxford Dictionary Online).

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"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world...It's opium of the people" (Marx 1844/1964).

I find this quotation does not capture what "belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power" is defined by the Oxford Dictionary. I do not equate my worship to be a sigh which implies that I have no other recourse and that I hate my life. There are plenty of religious people who worship joyously and voluntarily. In fact, for Christians, the relationship with God is absolutely of our free will. It takes our decision and invitation for God to work in our lives.

If Marx is implying that being under a superhuman controlling power is the same as being an "oppressed creature," I'd say that if a creature is oppressed it's not by the higher power but by their own choices and the rest of humanity. Hitler oppressed, Alexander the Great pillaged the oppressed, the Egyptian pharaohs enslaved people; yet they were humans that set out to replace the God or gods.  Humans have grasped oppression just fine without divine intervention.

The only point that I agree with is that we live in a generally heartless world because of idols and people trying to be Gods. Anyone with eyes or a grasp of language can pick up on the perverse behavior that fills our world. Let me be an example, I was born out of wedlock. I have a long lost sister that I cannot know details about. I don't know who my biological father is or looks like. And that's just from the first 4.5 years of my life.

I don't believe that he's speaking truth when he says that every non-religious person in the world thinks that religious people are sighing and moaning. I see that the opposite is true. Some non-religious people feel like they have a handicap of the subjective experience of connecting with that which is outside of us, and bigger than us. The same way I feel handicapped in the humor category- it just escapes me.

I think that believing has nothing to do with knowing. The same way Bill Nye claimed that all he wanted was proof in order to believe. What was apparent to me was that he was putting too much "belief" in his science. Even the author of my sociology book mentions that science and law cannot enlighten us on the existence of God; the purpose of life; the afterlife; and about morality (Henslin, 2011, pp. 368-9).

From God's perspective, he gave Karl Marx a brilliant mind but Marx went ahead an used it against him. Same thing with Bill Nye, God gave him the brilliant mind and the social notoriety but he has used those things to denounce that he even exists. Many people have a problem with things that are subjective and relate religion to be in that realm. In the next breath though, they will use their subjective emotions to validate their behavior. It is a hard battle to pick because either we give stock to the subjective as a whole, or we are called to reject our own human emotions and capacity to have relationships.

We could look at religious people as seeing this subjective connection (if you will) with the Higher Power as a gift. Some people take for granted that we can even construct such an idea to connect with that which is beyond us in comparison to the ape or the ant. We are the only creatures that are pre-installed with the ability to worship.

People who struggle to make that mental "leap of faith" into religion often struggle with attribution errors; such as "if it goes right, it's to my credit; if things go wrong, it's "their fault" or "the universe is against me." In that respect, we give ourselves and others too much credit. We're either a god (all of the time, all knowing, all powerful, all wise) or we're not at any time or any circumstance a god. We do not get to pick and choose our proprieties any more than a tree.

All that said, I'm okay with the fact that Karl Marx had it (or at least, me) wrong in the context of that famous quotation. It's sad that a fool like me can refute what he says and that what he has said is "worshiped" by atheists in it's own right. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I'm not preaching. I'm just responding to the things that people feel justified to say. I just want to challenge the thoughts we default to. We can be mindful consumers of rhetoric.

Source:


Henslin, J. M. (2011). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach (9th Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Thank you for reading. I hope this post inspired you to take a closer look at why you believe what you believe. Please G+ and share this post if reading it was a worthwhile 2 minutes of your day. Blessings~ Meredith

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