Robert Cardinal Sarah.

Charles Lewis: Atheism leaves only an empty feeling

By 
  • August 28, 2019

It all started innocently enough when I used the expression “children of God” in a recent column. Apparently in this secularized age it is an expression that some find insulting. 

One woman I have known for many years felt that I was putting her in a category that I had no right to put her in. This person is well educated, has raised three daughters and is a trained scientist. She has also volunteered at hospices. But writing “children of God,” to her mind, was pushing my ideas on those who did not want them. She is an ardent atheist.

To her, saying she was a child of God was akin to claiming she was the love child of Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West, though DNA tests could easily prove this was not true. Proving God is not the Father of us all is trickier.

I tried to explain that such great men as Martin Luther King often used the expression as a way to express the idea we are all worthy of dignity and have the same value despite superficial differences like colour or ethnicity. 

I do not think Dr. King meant that all those people were Christian or even believers. He was noting a common bond that was meant to bring people together. How can you hate the people who are your brothers and sisters?

I sent a letter to this woman explaining that I believe in God. He is as real to me as the ground I walk on and the sky above me. It is not a philosophy or a vague idea but an absolute reality. I also believe He not only created all, but sustains all. Every moment we have is because God makes it so.

Therefore, to believe all that is also to believe that we are all children of God. It would be illogical for me to think otherwise.

Many atheists will say their cosmic view is also real. Though while we believe in something, atheists believe in the absence of something. Science explains all.

There are about nine million atheists in the United States and about two million in Canada. Atheism is not the majority view, but it is certainly strong and in Canada very influential. What else would explain the mixture of pro-death policies that our esteemed prime minister declares as Canadian values? Oh, I forgot, Justin Trudeau is a Catholic. 

To be clear, not all atheists are the same. That would be grossly unfair. But atheism as a movement, as a national way of life, is dangerous. 

No one knows this better than Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who kept the faith alive under an oppressive communistic and atheistic regime. 

In his book God Or Nothing, which I just finished reading, he offers a sharp analysis of living under a government that despises God and elevates man. It was not pretty.

He writes that atheism is a “decision to ignore reason.” An atheist would necessarily find this insulting. But a believer gets it completely. If not God, then man. And the history of those places — Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao’s China and so on — where men became God is the stuff of nightmares.

Sarah writes: “Atheism has its principal origin in the heightened individualism of Western man. The individual-king who aspires more and more to a sort of absolute autonomy or independence tends to forget God. On the moral level, this search for absolute liberty implies the gradual, indiscriminate rejection of ethical rules and principles.”

All this happens when the children of God decide they no longer need guidance from their Father. They believe in the material but not the spiritual. It is creating a world of emptiness. Where no one is a child of God. 

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"Many atheists will say their cosmic view is also real. Though while we believe in something, atheists believe in the absence of something. Science explains all."

Couple of thoughts on this. Atheists believe in many things (just not the...

"Many atheists will say their cosmic view is also real. Though while we believe in something, atheists believe in the absence of something. Science explains all."

Couple of thoughts on this. Atheists believe in many things (just not the supernatural). There is the old line of "There are 10,000 gods believed in, the difference between you and me - I believe in one less". Relative to modern and ancient religions, you also believe in the absence of something - atheists only take it one small step further.

"No one knows this better than Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who kept the faith alive under an oppressive communistic and atheistic regime. "

In your estimation, was the Guinea regime oppressive because of its atheism or the communism? What about the very religious nations that severely oppress religious minorities? What about the countries that are mostly atheistic that don't suppress minority religions (parts of Europe and Japan)? It seems to me that every time someone wants to show how horrible atheists are, they have to point to a communist or fascist government. Sounds like the communism/fascism is more the issue (see Japan/Europe comment above) than anything having to do with atheism. It appears that the author is cherry picking data that only supports an existing world view.

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Dennis Keane
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Hi Dennis,

A couple of my thoughts on your post.

In terms of Europe and Japan, I'm not sure it is accurate to hold either up as shining examples of tolerance by atheists to Catholicism over the last few centuries.

Concerning Europe, in the...

Hi Dennis,

A couple of my thoughts on your post.

In terms of Europe and Japan, I'm not sure it is accurate to hold either up as shining examples of tolerance by atheists to Catholicism over the last few centuries.

Concerning Europe, in the French and Spanish revolutions, which were the forebearers of modern atheism/leftism/communism, there was much persecution and destruction of churches as part of the atheist ideology that drove those movements. Nazi Germany, the extreme atheist state which banned crucifixes from classrooms and murdered thousands of Catholics in the camps such as Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe, was of course located in Europe, as was half of communist Russia, which murdered millions of Catholics, Ukrainians in particular. Today in Europe, for example in Holland and Scandinavia, there are subtler but still very deliberate steps being taken by the political and judicial system to erode the remaining influence and freedom of the Church.

Regarding Japan, freedom for Catholic practice there is a somewhat recent phenomenon. During the 250 year Tokugawa era there was widespread torture and murder of any Catholics that the authorities could root out (see the recent movie called "Silence"). Persecution eventually declined by the early 20th century, but Catholicism was (and still is not) welcomed with completely open arms there by the government, which views it as a foreign influence not fundamentally compatible with Japanese national culture or statehood. For this reason priests and nuns who were captured by Imperial Japan were treated very very harshly during World War 2.

In regards to your contention that the persecution of the church should be blamed on the political ideologies of communism/fascism as distinct from atheism, I am not sure it is as easy to separate atheism from those political ideologies as you make it seem. Atheism is the moral foundation of both ideologies, which elevate mankind (either a racial or "oppressed" class) above God. The state, the military and nationalism are seen by these ideologies as the highest powers of good in the universe and hence they have no place for a competing religion or moral framework. Today around the world you can see many examples of increasing political polarization in countries, where the political right and left are becoming more and more ideologically extreme, and this correlates with their drift further and further away from Catholicism and God. We've already seen this all play out last century and it led to the deaths of millions of people. After much bloodshed following world war 2, there was a brief return in the 1950s to "Christian family values" because people realized they were so important for preventing these horrors. But that was not to last long because man is easily tempted by sin to once again forget God exists and so they try to build a utopian state without God. So arguably communism and fascism are an inevitable result of mankind becoming more atheistic. They are in fact its natural political manifestations.

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Elliot Ja
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We could spend a few thousand pages associated with the persecution of religious vs non-religious and tally up body counts and the end result would be - nothing. So - I'm going to skip over that discussion - I find it boring. My comment was...

We could spend a few thousand pages associated with the persecution of religious vs non-religious and tally up body counts and the end result would be - nothing. So - I'm going to skip over that discussion - I find it boring. My comment was entirely about current times.

For your last paragraph. While I understand that communists are generally atheists (not so sure about fascists - look up Hitler's writings on religion - Mein Kamf has some interesting quotes on his attitude towards religion). Regardless, atheists do not have to be be communists. The countries dominated by secular atheists in the contemporary world are some of the most peaceful and prosperous places. I should note that there is a potential correlation vs causation fallacy here. Are these countries peaceful and prosperous because of the highly secular nature or did they become secularized because of these conditions? I would reference researcher Phil Zuckerman "Op-Ed: Think religion makes society less violent? Think again." - he provides a considerable amount of evidence that drifting from god does not equate to violence and despair. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1101-zuckerman-violence-secularism-20151101-story.html

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Dennis Keane
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Score another victory for Godwin’s Law.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about... Godwin’s Law: As a discussion on the Internet grows longer, the likelihood of a comparison of a person's being compared to Hitler or another Nazi...

Score another victory for Godwin’s Law.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about... Godwin’s Law: As a discussion on the Internet grows longer, the likelihood of a comparison of a person's being compared to Hitler or another Nazi reference, increases.

Of course you should know by now that atheism is not a worldview. It is not communist, socialist, democratic, or libertarian. It does not preach hatred, love, or indifference. It is just the lack of belief in a God.

Despite what most people think, in 2019 people are happier, healthier, more tolerant, and more peaceful than at any point in human history. We have ample data that proves this. We also live in the most secular period in human history. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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Not Hitler
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