Atheism’s Death Wish: The Roots of Cultural Suicide

Maybe you’ve seen the recent news stories about atheist billboards (“Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” or “Millions are good without God.” etc.) The following excerpt from a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller sheds some needed light on the effects of atheism on a society.

Twenty years ago communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed because its atheism did not comport with truth or reality. Man is not an animal or a machine. Today, atheism is hastening the death of the West. An atheistic foundation will not sustain life or freedom.

Many in the West live on borrowed capital from the Biblical worldview. Atheist and secularist academics—the intellectual elites—want to enjoy the blessings from Judeo-Christian roots. Yet they despise the tree and hack at its roots, seeking to overthrow the Biblical moral and metaphysical order.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) was born into a British Marxist family and became a journalist, author, satirist, and communist, before ultimately converting to Christianity. One of his most influential experiences came when he traveled to Russia in 1932 and witnessed firsthand Stalin’s planned famine of 1932-1933 that killed perhaps ten million Ukrainians.

This atrocity staggered Muggeridge, but the final blow to his idealistic belief in communism came when Western liberals converged on Russia and, in the face of such horror, championed this atheistic state. His book, The Great Liberal Death Wish, articulates his analysis.

On a basis of liberal-humanism, there is no creature in the universe greater than man, and the future of the human race rests only with human beings themselves, which leads infallibly to some sort of suicidal situation. … The thing that touched off my awareness of the great liberal death wish, my sense that western man was, as it were, sleep-walking into his own ruin, was the extraordinary performance of the liberal intelligentsia, who, in those days, flocked to Moscow like pilgrims to Mecca. And they were one and all utterly delighted and excited by what they saw there.

Muggeridge describes Western clergy admiring the anti-god museum, politicians from free nations proclaiming that there was never a more just and free political system, Western attorneys testifying to the impartial justice of the Soviet Union, Western businessmen speaking of the superiority of the Soviet economy. Muggeridge recognized all this as lies. He wondered how such paragons of Western liberals could promote such distortions. He concludes:

It was from that moment that I began to get the feeling that a liberal view of life was not what I’d supposed it to be—a creative movement which would shape the future—but rather a sort of death wish.

The final conclusion would seem to be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions and providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down. And, having convinced himself that he is too numerous, labors with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct. (quoted in “The Days Have Come Down in the West,” Boston Catholic Journal)

Followers of Jesus Christ cannot idly watch the destruction of western culture. To the bleakness of such belief as Muggeridge exposed, we are to bring the message of the Him who came that men “might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

- excerpted from a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller

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7 Responses to Atheism’s Death Wish: The Roots of Cultural Suicide

  1. Dennis Warren says:


    On a basis of liberal-humanism, there is no creature in the universe greater than man, and the future of the human race rests only with human beings themselves, which leads infallibly to some sort of suicidal situation

    I’m curious if Darrow explains specifically why the “which leads infallibly to some sort of suicidal situation” logically follows from the earlier part of Muggeride’s quoted sentence?

    I noticed somewhere on the DNA site where Darrow noted about how in one country where he spoke their culture had more of a history of Christian types of thinking (i.e. in comparison with more “normal” cultures with whom he more often speaks). I got the impression he was saying this history of Christian type values not only reduces the likelihood of corruption in leaders, but also effects the ability of the listeners to quickly grasp some of the fundamental points he teaches?

    I think I am hearing something like: The understanding of the intrinsic value of human life is much more likely for someone who comes from a culture with a background of Christian viewpoints and/or practices.

    What I’m not certain I understand (yet anyway), is why an atheist would not only be likely to disregard the sanctity of human life, (given his atheistic position) but also seek either suicide or be more likely to kill other people (again, as a logical extension of his atheistic position)?

    Do I correctly understand Muggeridge to be saying something along these lines? … and also is that also Darrow position in his upcoming book?

    Thanks for any clarification you may offer.

    -Dennis

  2. Dennis, thanks very much for reading and engaging with us! Below (in italics) are Darrow’s responses to your questions:

    I’m curious if Darrow explains specifically why the “which leads infallibly to some sort of suicidal situation” logically follows from the earlier part of Muggeridge’s quoted sentence?

    While these are Muggeridge’s thoughts, I would agree with them. While I do not draw the link here, let me simply say that atheism’s premise is there is no God, there is no designer or purposer. All of life is simply some sort of cosmic accident or as some have said, a cosmic crap shoot. There is no purpose for the universe, for life, for my life in particular. Ultimately everything is futile and dark. There is no reason to live and thus no reason, from the atheist’s position not to murder others or kill one-self or contribute to cultural suicide by not having children.

    I noticed somewhere on the DNA site where Darrow noted about how in one country where he spoke their culture had more of a history of Christian types of thinking (i.e. in comparison with more “normal” cultures with whom he more often speaks). I think the word you want is “typical” rather than “normal.” I got the impression he was saying this history of Christian type values not only reduces the likelihood of corruption in leaders …

    I am indeed saying this. In the Judeo-Christian west, truth, honesty, integrity, and justice are virtues. In most of the non-Christian world lying, cheating, bribery are not considered vices. These moral/metaphysical differences lead to very different societies. The empirical research of Transparency International bears this out. Note, for the most part, countries with Judeo-Christian back grounds are the least corrupt, those with Islamic, animistic, or atheistic backgrounds are the most corrupt. As the West moves from Christian to post-Christian to post-modern culture, we can expect corruption to rise. Note for instance that in 2010 the U.S. is 7.1. In 2001 the us had a figure of 7.6 indicating that the U.S. has become more corrupt in the last decade.

    … but also effects the ability of the listeners to quickly grasp some of the fundamental points he teaches?

    Yes, this is also true. People who are consciously functioning from, or living off a memory of, Judeo-Christian theism will more likely resonate with the need to speak truthfully, see beauty as a virtue, and fight for justice and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. Those functioning from an atheistic, animistic, or Hindu worldview will have a different set of virtues and vices and will thus not understand arguments made from a Judeo-Christian theistic position.

    I think I am hearing something like: The understanding of the intrinsic value of human life is much more likely for someone who comes from a culture with a background of Christian viewpoints and/or practices.

    I would respond here, yes and no! On a rational level yes. Believing in the God of creation leads one to “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights …” including the right to life. An atheistic position leads logically to the Nazi death camps, the murder of 30 million people in Mao’s China, etc. On an emotional level, no! There is natural impulse to life. Living things do not want to die. They intuitively or instinctively fight to survive.

    What I’m not certain I understand (yet anyway), is why an atheist would not only be likely to disregard the sanctity of human life, (given his atheistic position) but also seek either suicide or be more likely to kill other people (again, as a logical extension of his atheistic position)?

    Do I correctly understand Muggeridge to be saying something along these lines? …

    Muggeridge , coming from an atheistic background before becoming a theist and professing Christian, argues that atheism, modern ‘liberalism,’ has a death wish that is rooted in the atheist psyche. If you have not read the great liberal death wish, you would do well to do so. It’s available here.

  3. Dennis Warren says:

    I want to respond to Darrows’ response about my request for clarification of why Muggeride drew the link Darrow says he does not draw .

    Darrow, I have heard from several Christians what I think I hear you saying concerning what the Christian believer considers to be the “atheist’s position”. I’m not so sure in practice our prediction of their position is as often or as close to reality as we may think.

    The reason I say this is because of personal experience during a time span in my life where I was thinking a lot from a worldview much closer to atheism than I feel comfortable admitting. I hear you saying something like: since there is no “designer or purpose” it necessarily follows that everything is “futile and dark” as well “thus no reason …” “…not to murder others or kill oneself” and/or to refrain having children. Please correct me if I misunderstand how you characterize the atheist position. However, as I think back on the way I viewed things while I was looking at life from what I consider to be very close to an atheist position, I don’t remember feeling along the lines you assume would logically be present.

    In my near-Atheist time, I suppose you could say I pretty much ignored the lack of “purpose” for my existence and thought and acted along these lines: “ There are parts of being alive I enjoy and other parts I don’t – and the times I enjoy are increased when others share happiness t along with me – so I try to increase the enjoyment I personally experience as well as trying to help others enjoy being alive knowing the happiness of all of us is increased exponentially as we share it”. I realize the understanding of the power of shared happiness was probably something that resulted from my Christian background.

    Hope for life after physical death and hope for eventual certain justice (even when it is missing in this temporal existence) were the two biggest things I remember missing during this “near Atheist” period.

    To be fair, I will mention in particular there was one pleasant thing I thing I learned during this time. I discovered my love for my wife and children didn’t appear to be as hard-linked (as I had previously thought) with my firm belief in God’s holding me accountable to my marriage covenant or something obviously and uniquely associated with my conviction of God’s existence … I still chose to love her and all our family even though I couldn’t feel confident believing in any creed with a creative purpose provided by a greater being who commands me to love under authority evidenced by His acts of creation and/or His acts of Love. The reason I refer to this as “pleasant” is because I think it shows my family in a better light if I love them even without some outside compulsion to do so (for instance, God says I may go to hell if I don’t love others as He loves me, or … I love them because I know they are worth loving plain and simple – and not only because God says I must).

    I say all this reluctantly primarily because I’m wondering if sometimes we are not being fair with atheists when we speculate about how they must think or act – especially if we have not found ourselves in a time when we did not believe.

    I don’t want to be misunderstood, I fully understand an atheist worldview has missing some very powerful restraints on human evil. For instance I believe if Stalin were not to have left seminary and rejected God – most likely over 12 million souls would not been murdered. However, having said that, just because some people who are atheists murder others, doesn’t necessarily mean an atheistic worldview of necessity promotes murdering others (at least my experience doesn’t seem to have supported such a link). Belief in a God of Justice and Love provides safeguards conspicuously missing in the atheist worldview.

    At this point in my life I do again believe in the God who Creates, Sustains and Loves, who I recognize most clearly in Jesus Christ. My reasons for believing now are less cerebral than I once thought necessary. I hope to find more confidence in a happy co-habitation of reason and faith (which is one of the Reasons I Faithfully read this blog).

    Thanks for putting up with what may be a different point of view,

    -Dennis

    • Dennis,

      Thanks for your response. I believe Darrow’s point was more about the logical end (conclusion) of Atheism than about how this or that atheist may behave. Atheists are people created in the image of God, and thus are hard wired to love their family and to enjoy life, even if they don’t recognize the Giver of life. Many, many people who deny God, or at least deny the God of the Bible, borrow from the capital of a Biblical worldview and reality the way God has made it. .

      Another way to say the same thing: a truly honest atheist is rare. After all, if man is nothing more than an animal, an accidental collection of matter, why should anyone have any ethical standards? If the universe is as the atheist describes there is no mooring for truth, love, beauty, etc. As C.S. Lewis points out, some answer that question with, “Because society works better that way,” but why should I (posing now as an atheist) care at all what makes society work better? Why should I care about anyone but myself?

      Gary Brumbelow

  4. V.E.G. says:

    My brother tried to convert an atheist to Christianity, but an atheist refused to accept my brother’s offer. Shortly, the atheist killed himself. I told my brother, “he doesn’t believe in God,” My brother said, “well, he does now.”

  5. Roger Causwell says:

    Nonsense. The Western, Christian world was a bastion of corruption and barbarism for 1,000 years until the reason-centered ideas of the enlightenment began to drag it, kicking and screaming, out of the darkness. Atheism is a logical outgrowth of this enlightenment. It’s a product of people asking rational questions and drawing rational conclusions when given answers rife with paradox, superstition and a complete lack of evidence.

    • admin says:

      Roger

      Thanks for your response. You are correct, atheism is an outgrowth of the enlightenment. But it is atheistic religion that gave us Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot and others. Atheism mantra of the survival of the fittest has produced the bloodiest century the world has ever seen.

      darrow

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