A passage from This Time the World
by George Lincoln Rockwell
I read and reread the Bible, as I had not done before, from beginning to end. I was appalled at the demand by God for human sacrifice, for the eating of human body waste by the Lord, for the horrible cruelties and atrocities demanded by the Lord, according to the Old Testament…
Most of all, I wondered at the idea that if there were a few simple ideas and facts to be understood to enjoy eternal life and happiness, here and later on, and God were all-powerful, He had made it impossible for me to believe those ideas and facts because of the very mind which he gave me! And then I am to be threatened with eternal damnation for not believing that which I cannot believe! My first reaction was atheism.
I did something I deeply regret and shall never do again. I had begun to discover my own power of persuasion and, in the eternal bull sessions of a boys’ school, religion is not exempt as a topic. I was genuinely sorry I had lost my belief in Christianity, for it has truly marvelous power to sustain and help one in times of tribulation. I began to discuss the matter with a devout Catholic boy who tried with all his heart and might to make me see my error. We skied five miles over to his church to see a priest he said could straighten me out and I was truly anxious to be shown my error, if error it was.
But the matter turned out differently. Coldly and scientifically I argued with the priest, refusing to let him lead me into the inevitable non sequiturs, redundancies, etc. and brutally holding to logic. He was reduced, eventually, to exclaiming, “You just must believe. You have to believe!” I told him I could not believe and asked him if he were not able to help me do what he said I must. He shook his head sadly, no doubt convinced that I was determined not to understand.
The effect on my friend was something I had not counted on. All the way back to the school we skied in silence. When we got back, he said not a word and for days avoided me. I felt a secret shame for which I could see no reason. Eventually, he told me that he had been forced to agree with me and had lost his faith. That he was no happier about it than I, with my own loss of faith, was obvious. In fact, he was even more stricken. The result was to set me thinking on what I had done and whether it was right.
I saw then what I believe all great religious teachers knew, but could not and did not say. The ordinary man is too weak and too helpless in the whirling vortex of life to sustain himself on his naked human will and his cold human reason. Only with some kind of deep belief in an all-powerful magical being of some kind can the masses of humanity maintain social and reasonably worthwhile lives. Without such a belief, they can see no reason for not immediately indulging themselves in their most animal and immediate desires and they despair in the face of death unless they can imagine something further.
As long as men are thus ignorant and weak-minded, they must have some such spiritual crutches. So religion, far from being an “opiate”, is truly the sustainer of the masses of people. He who destroys religion before humanity has progressed far beyond its present primitive intellectual state is helping to destroy civilization.
I am an agnostic, which means that to all proposals and explanations of the mysteries of life and eternity, I say, “I do not know and I don’t believe you or any other human does either.”
At the same time, I stand firmly for positive, ethical religions, whatever they may be and believe they must be protected and given the greatest freedom to do what they can to lessen the awesome burden of human misery on this tiny planet. I know there will be many intellectuals who will reply that religion has caused untold torture and suffering to stamp out “heresy”, but in view of man’s need for emotional catharsis in today’s immensely frustrating world, and in view of Pavlov’s experiments, I believe that religion is the poor man’s “psychiatry”, his only “escape” from intolerable pressures of society.
Since that ski-trip to the priest up in Maine, I have never tried to argue anybody out of his religion and have given strict orders in the American Nazi Party that religion is simply not permitted as a subject of discussion for anybody. We have Protestants, Catholics, atheists and agnostics among our membership and all of them are equally welcome and valuable.