Religion is one of the great evils of our world: So argued Karl Marx, the nineteenth century German philosopher and revolutionary socialist. Marx dismissed religion as an opiate that numbed the minds of common people to their pitiful social conditions. He maintained that the myth of an afterlife, in which the faithful are rewarded, was fabricated by oppressed people in their desperation to devise means by which to cope with their earthly sufferings.
Under the spell of this myth, the poor secured just enough contentment to weather their oppression at the hands of the wealthy. Marx challenged the lower classes to recognize that God is a fantasy and heavenly reward a fiction. If they would unlock the door on this conceptual prison of their own making, they would pave the way to their liberation from economic oppression and its array of attendant miseries.
But subsequent history revealed a dark hazard in atheism. Former atheist, Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) saw this menace up close and exposed it. Milosz studied law, was fluent in five languages, and distinguished himself as a poet, translator, and author of Polish prose. Born in Lithuania, he lived much of his life in Poland under Nazi oppression and embraced atheism and leftist views before defecting to France from communist Poland in 1951. He spent many years teaching literature at the University of California, Berkeley, received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the U.S. National Medal of Arts, and an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.