“Never forget.” We use that slogan to remember. But it never seems to work.
In a few days we will pass another anniversary of Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Fleet bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Our Pacific Fleet was seriously crippled. President Roosevelt called it a “day of infamy.” This day, he said, will never be forgotten by the American people.
Do you remember Pearl Harbor Day? If you are under 30 years old, December 7 likely is only another date on the calendar. Days of atrocity are forgotten in a generation. Remember the genocide in Rwanda? What about Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina? Do you remember Pol Pot in Cambodia or Idi Amin in Uganda? All these tragedies happened in the last 40 years!
We remember days of national tragedy for about two generations? We apply the words “never forget” to the worst tragedies. Currently, the tragedy of 9/11 (2001) uses these words.
The Holocaust also uses this motto. Remember hearing about the 11 million people killed in Hitler’s death camps? Most people remember the 6 million Jews. But Hitler also hated gypsies, homosexuals, mentally retarded people, and Christians who aided the Jews. Five million of these innocents were murdered in the camps in addition to the six millions Jews. How easily we forget.
“Never forget” was used first with the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1919. Ever hear of it? In 1915 the Ottoman Turks decided to destroy the Armenians living in Turkey. There was no reason for it. Turks and Armenians lived together peacefully for centuries. About two million Armenians lived in Turkey in 1915. One and a half million were slaughtered. Their bodies dumped in mass graves. By 1923 no Armenians remained in Turkey.
Do we care about the Armenian genocide? In 1925, dozens of Armenian orphans presented a rug they wove to President Coolidge. They wanted to thank America. We led humanitarian efforts for their people. This rug became the property of the Office of the President.
In 2013, the Armenian National Committee asked the Smithsonian Institution to exhibit the rug. It was to be part of an Armenian display at the Smithsonian. But the rug belonged to the Office of the President. So the Smithsonian asked President Obama to lend them the rug. It was a routine request. The White House refused. Apparently, the White House did not want to offend the Turks. Thus, we showed disrespect for the million and a half Armenians who died in this genocide. But that’s seems to be OK. Wouldn’t want some Turks to feel uncomfortable.
Never forget? We refuse to remember.
What’s the point of this history lesson? It’s to show how easily we forget past tragedies. We refuse to learn the lessons of history.
It’s so often we fail to remember. Thus, we fail to learn. A philosopher named George Santayana lived 100 years ago. He said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” An anonymous quote states, “History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time.”
Can We Learn from the Great Experiment?
History is important. We need to learn. And there is so much to learn. For example, over the last 250 years the world has taken part in a grand experiment. It was not by choice. Most of us don’t even realize it happened.
What was this experiment? The rise of atheism. Atheism grew and is now the dominating world-view in the Western world. Here’s what happened.
Science was on the rise. Scientists were solving one problem after another. Could science lead us into the perfect society? Loud, vocal leaders encouraged the change. A society based on reason. Reason based on materialism. How could any intelligent person say, “No?”
And so, our new society made decisions based on science and worldly reason. There is no need to rely on the wisdom of the past. The past was full of wars and plagues and famines. Science and reason will correct the mistakes of the past. Right?
In addition, they said we should forget about those silly superstitions from the past–religion and such. In the past people used God and spirits to explain things like thunderstorms and comets and eclipses. They were afraid. They did not understand. But now there is no need for God. We are slaves no longer to the errors of the past. Science and reason will lead us into a bright new tomorrow. That’s what they told us. That’s what they thought.
But their science and reason were defined by atheism. Science and reason are not world views. They must be defined by a world view. A world view answers basic questions, such as What is the meaning of life? Christianity is a world view. So is atheism. Science and reason are methods for exploration. Atheism replaced Christianity as the foundation for science and reason. Science and reason became limited by materialism.
How did it turn out? Slow but thorough change began. The first big event effected by this was the French Revolution. In 1789 a popular revolution erupted in France. King Louis XVI fell. Priests and government fell with him. Reforms came fast–one after another.
In 1792 radical elements took over. The new leaders were atheists and deists. They tried to remove from France all evidence of Christianity and religion.
This new policy was called “deChristianization.” Religious buildings and lands were confiscated. Statues, paintings, and other works of Christian art were destroyed. Priests were forced to swear allegiance only to the State. Church bells were melted down. The metal was used to make cannons. Religious holidays were forbidden and replaced by secular holidays.
This new leadership produced a “Reign of Terror.” A new invention, the guillotine, was introduced. The leaders were pleased with this method of execution. It was hailed as a modern, hygienic, and scientific.
The Reign of Terror ran from July 1792 to July 1794. An estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people were executed during these two years. The Revolutionary Tribunal executed 16,954 persons. In 1799 the revolution was stopped. Napoleon took over.
Changes Continue Across Europe
During the Nineteenth Century atheism made subtle changes across Europe. Traditional morals were tossed aside. Those morals were based on “Christian superstition.” That’s OK, atheists proclaimed. With the help of science we will find new, modern, scientifically based morals. We are still waiting for these new morals.
This is a common bi-product of atheism. They remove the good products of Christianity. The replace them with nothing. Did atheism ever produce this new morality? No. Morals became chaotic. Morality became non-existent. Hedonism reigned. Its slogan: “If it feels good, do it.”
Scientific evolution was twisted to serve atheism. From evolution, atheists produced a science of racism. The northern European race they labeled “Aryan.” The Aryan race had the highest level of civilization. It must be more highly evolved than all other races. Such was the teaching of atheists. Modern racism began. It was based on atheism based “science.”
Economics also was influenced by atheism’s version of evolution. Hebert Spencer invented the term “survival of the fittest.” Men such as Carnegie and Morgan used the term to justify their rape of American business. Show no mercy! Only the strong survive! Kill or be killed! As Nietzsche predicted, atheism gave birth to a new breed of ubermensch (superman).
Atheism entered politics. Karl Marx produced a new, scientific study of capitalism. Marxism led to spectacular results in the Twentieth Century.
Reaping the Harvest of Atheism
An old, true saying tells us a man reaps what he sows. The Bible agrees:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6: 7-8, NIV)
During the Twentieth Century atheism reaped its harvest. For the first time major countries claimed atheism as their world view. First Russia followed by China. Albania and the Communist Bloc countries in Europe were atheistic. So were Cuba, North Korea, and parts of Southeast Asia.
What was the result? People in these countries lost personal freedom. Human rights in these countries also ceased to exist. Total dictatorships controlled more than a billion people. Life was cheap. Death was commonplace.
How many deaths? In the Soviet Union, under Stalin, estimates run from 20 million to 40 million “abnormal” deaths. Both Lenin and Stalin used famine for mass murder. At least 7 million peasants starved under Lenin; at least 9 million under Stalin. These numbers do not include civilian or military deaths during either world war.
Other atheist regimes had similar loss of life. Mao Zedong (China) believed in death. Many of the mass deaths were planned. Mao felt, as did Stalin, that the death of millions was necessary. Their deaths put an end to old ways of thinking. This was necessary to build the ideal Marxist society. Precise numbers of deaths under Mao are not available. Estimates start at 50 million. Again, this does not include death during war.
Cambodian atheists executed around 2 million people out of a population of 7 million. This took place in just four years (1975-1979).
Christian persecution was at an all-time high during the Twentieth Century. Estimates begin at 50 million Christians martyred for their faith. Studies estimate more Christians were martyred in the Twentieth Century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined. More than half of these Christians were martyred by atheist regimes.
We must never forget the harvest reaped by atheism. But how can we forget what we never learned? Findings like these have never been publicized. Atheism seems like just another belief. But it is not. It is like a pretty little snake. Pick it up. It looks so pretty. But it’s cold. Its venom will kill you.
We must never forget.