Correspondence: Religion and Socialism

Northfleet, Kent.
The Editorial Committee.
Dear Sirs,—I have been a reader of your journal for nearly two years now, and I am always delighted by the vigorous articles in it
I am in basic disagreement with your analysis of the world’s problems. I don’t think that merely a change in system will solve them. You assume that everybody will be perfectly selfless and take no advantage of their freedom to take just what they like, with no regard to their real needs. You may dispense with money and all the trappings of the capitalist system, but you have not changed human beings at all. The world is in the state it is because people are naturally sinful and greedy. Everybody is sinful to some degree, both capitalists and workers. You must change people, not the system.
Yours faithfully,

★ ★ ★

Windermere, Westmorland.
Dear Sir,—If the debate “Socialism Versus Religion” in your last issue was fairly reported, it was a farcical affair. I wonder if, in the first place, whether it was really necessary. Is Socialism then at odds with religion? To many of us it is the practical application of religious philosophy. Some churches might have been at odds, or still might be; but if the New Testament is read aright one can find very much to support Socialism, and nothing at all to oppose it on any count. Was Jesus born privileged? Did he live in opulence? Was he given a grand state funeral? He was born in a stable, lived in poverty, and suffered a state execution. He condemned the rich in no uncertain manner, and preached equality with and responsibility to one’s neighbour.
In the past the church was condemned by Socialists because it condoned the evil order of things. But must religion be condemned for the sins of the church? Jesus did not belong to any church, and was in fact arrested and executed for his opposition to the state church.
In the second place, I cannot for the life of me see how on earth a Christian can produce “evidence” of the existence of God; or how anything like a group that calls itself the “Catholic Evidence Guild” can exist for that purpose. How can a sighted man produce evidence of the existence of light to a man totally blind from birth? Especially if the blind man does not want to believe in its existence anyway? Evidence of the existence of God is everywhere, even in the innermost conscience of Comrade Jarvis; but no one can make anyone else accept that evidence if he does not want to do. A true Tory would not accept the fact of bad working and living conditions among workers in a particular industry as “evidence” of the evils of capitalism. Nor can a materialist accept life, beauty, nature, the testimony of millions who have felt “religious experience” as evidence of the existence of God. He has not the eyes to see.
One need not believe in the virgin birth, the miracles, or the divinity of Jesus to find God. Nor need one necessarily attend a church.
One thing is certain: if religion is a delusion, then it is a strange delusion, because millions have been persecuted and have been put to death because of it, and have faced death bravely and happily. If religion is delusion, then Socialism is delusion—life itself is delusion!
There are many thousands of Socialists who are Socialists because of, not in spite of, their religion. They may not broadcast the fact, because religion is a very personal possession and it cannot be adequately expressed in words. Words are for material things.
Yours sincerely,

★ ★ ★

Dundee, Scotland.
To the Editor.

Religion and Socialism

In a report of a debate on Socialism versus Religion that appeared in the June issue of the Socialist Standard, Mr. Jarvis, who represented the Socialist case against religion, said: “There can be no religion without God, although there can be religious ritual and paraphernalia without God.” Now if there is any logic in the first part of this statement, I take it to be this: the existence of religion presupposes a belief in the existence of God, one could not exist without the other. If this is true, then Mr. Jarvis must be talking in riddles when he asks his opponent for proof of the existence of God, as he has already given proof by his own statement that religion could not exist without God. And from this logic I take it, seeing that the Christian religion and the religion of Islam exists, so then must God. But if God does not exist at all, which, of course, is the Socialist view, how does Mr. Jarvis reconcile this view with his own statement that religion would not exist without God?

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