In this paper, I am going to explore the differences between communism and socialism and how different the thoughts and opinions of these two ways of life are from the current western views on religion and God. To explain about the differences between socialism/communism and western thoughts on religion I will explore the writings of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. They are founders and writers of a lot of the socialist and communist thoughts on religion and God. In our western society when we discuss God and religion, people for the most part are going to lean one way or another when it comes to their beliefs on religion. If you are from the western part of globe like myself the views and thoughts hinge on the belief of God as a superior being, a perfect one, one who controls everything that happens. The other side of the coin in western culture would be the atheist who does not believe in God at all. There are many other views about God and Religion that differ greatly from the views that are held throughout the western regions of the world. In a lot of the Eastern countries of the world the teaching of the Socialist and Communist parties that rule these areas of the world has influenced the views that have been passed down and taught through out the years. Communism and Socialism do not believe in the theory that there is one perfect God and that you can only receive salvation through him.
In the western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, God is the one and only Supreme Being, the Creator of everything. Nothing exists in the world to these religions unless God had created it. God is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all good and eternal to salvation. God created the world and all its components for a purpose. God created human beings to know, to love, to honor, to serve and to obey Him. God is to be thought of in masculine terms, even though God is a pure spirit and has no material or bodily parts. Humans will be judged after death as to how well they have fulfilled God’s plan for them. Those who have failed, the sinners, will be punished for eternity. Those who have succeeded will be rewarded for eternity. The exact nature of the reward or punishment is hotly disputed, but all seem to agree that those who are rewarded will be in God’s presence and those who are punished will not. There are many arguments from people who do not believe in the Christian way of thinking that God is all knowing and that in the end all Christians will go to heaven and non-believers will be punished. In this paper I am going to examine the works of two men and their thoughts about God, Religion and Christianity. The two men are Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, these two men are noted for their beliefs and writings of what has become know as Socialism or Marxism. The writings of these two men have became a base line for the Communist way of thinking and living. Religious common thoughts in most societies of the free world believed in eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, and Religion. But the communist Marxist way of thinking abolished eternal truths, it has also abolished all religion, and all morality. (Marx & Engels Comm. Manifesto)
Frederick Engels writes this about Christianity in an article he wrote called BRUNO BAUER AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY The view that dominated from the free-thinkers of the Middle Ages to the Enlighteners of the 18th century, the latter included, that all religions, and therefore Christianity too, were the work of deceivers was no longer sufficient after Hegel had set philosophy the task of showing a rational evolution in world history. Engels in this article also gives us a look at why he believes that religions are founded and why people believe in religion. Engels thoughts are that religions are founded by people who feel a need for religion themselves and have a feeling for the religious needs of the mass of people within a culture. (Engels, Bruno Bauer) Frederick Engels compares Christianity and socialism in a paper he wrote called ON THE HISTORY OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY. In this paper he wants to compare Christianity and Socialism and explain how both of these way of thoughts got started. Engels starts the article talking about how Christianity and Socialism where started to help the same type of people, the oppressed. Engels believes that Christianity and Socialism had the same goal in mind for the future of its followers belief was that people could find salvation from bondage and misery. When I examine Engels thought process of salvation, I can see how he came these conclusions and I actually find myself agreeing with some of his ideas about salvation. (Engels, Early Christian) One of the ideas that I agree with Engels on is that religions and ways of life such as socialism need to promise some type of salvation or something better that what is currently happening in that society or people would be unwilling to change their way of thought about salvation and how it would affect their lives. A very big difference in Christianity and Socialism is what salvation means to the two ways of thought. Christianity believes that salvation of life is something that happens after death, with the soul living on forever in Heaven. In Socialism the salvation happens while you are living on the earth, and salvation happens in the transformation of society. (Main Concepts, Marxism)
Besides Frederick Engels one of the most influential writers about socialism was Karl Marx. Karl Marxs early thoughts about Christianity and religion argued God had been invented by humans as a projection of their own ideals. A colleague of Marxs Mr. Feuerbach wrote that man, however, in creating God in his own image, had “alienated himself from himself.” He had created another being in contrast to himself, reducing himself to a lowly, evil creature that needed both church and government to guide and control him. One of Feuerbach thoughts where if religion were abolished, human beings would be able to overcome their alienation to religion. Marx then took this idea of alienation that Feuerbach applied to religion and used it in his thoughts about private property and his idea that alienation was the reason that people would work only for them.
Karl Marxs wrote in a critique of Hegels Philosophy of Law says The basis of religious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. The Marxist way of thinking about religion is that religion is something that is stored in the subconscious mind of an individual. When reading Marxs thoughts about the Christian religion I feel as though Marx really felt that Christian way of life was a threat and even an enemy of the Socialism/Marxism way of life. With Christianity preaching salvation at the end of life and Socialism/Marxism preaching that salvation can happen while still on earth we have these two thoughts colliding and actually fighting for individual people to follow their way of thinking. In Christianity God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and the individual is below God. God is the perfect being while man is here to do Gods will on earth. By doing Gods work while on earth and living life in Gods image and by following Gods teachings the individual will achieve eternal salvation in heaven. The Socialism/Marxism way of life looks at Christianity this way as quoted by Mikhail Bakunin in God and the State God being everything, the real world and man are nothing. God being truth, justice, goodness, beauty, power, and life, man is falsehood, iniquity, evil, ugliness, impotence, and death. God being master, man is the slave.” While Satan is “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds.” (Radical Academy, Marx, Engels) I have a major argument with Bakunin thoughts on Christianity. The whole idea of living life in Gods image would mean that an individual who believed in Christianity would be trying to live their life in Gods image. God does not force anyone to read his word or revel in his glory or live by his standards. Individuals are free to choose Christianity if they so feel it is the right choice for them. Christianity is there for people to believe or not to believe it is a choice not something that is forced on them like slavery. I would ask Mr. Bakunin to produce anyone who believes in anything or practices what they believe in to say that they are slaves to their thoughts and actions.
Karl Marx believed very strongly that religion was indeed a creation of humanity. A quote from Marx says God did not create humanity: humanity creates its Gods. Karl Marx studied the teachings of a man called Feuerbach. Here is one of Feuerbachs quotes on religion, “Thought arises from being – being does not arise from thought.” (Radical Academy, Marx, Engels) I feel that what Feuerbach is trying to say in this quote is that religious beliefs and biblical texts require human thoughts and that those human thoughts have created religions. In another writing about religion Karl Marx writes, The struggle against religion is indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people” I think what Karl Marx meant is this writing was that the conditions of the world create and sustains the beliefs that different religions hold with regard to the next world. Religion is the opium of the people, that is, it acts as a kind of painkiller. Religion makes bearable the unbearable, such as: poverty, hunger, inequality and repression that happen in the world.
The Christian religion means salvation to some and to others it is only something that only resides in the thoughts of the people of that society. A Marxist would tell you that true salvation could only be achieved here on earth by working. Salvation is something that all would hope would be in the future for themselves. In this paper we have examined two differing opinions on how salvation can be achieved one was through religion and the other was the socialist way of life. The argument between societies about religion will not be settled here on earth. Who is right and who is wrong in the argument about religion? Is religion just a figment of our imagination, is it something humans made up to make us feel good about the future and our salvation. Or are the Marxists wrong, could religion be everything it is meant to be in the Christian religion. Could religion be the real salvation? These are great questions to ponder and talk about.