By L. Alfred James
My last article analyzed France’s attempt to create a nation without the use of any scripture at all. The result was a bloody revolution with 40,000 deaths in its wake, the arrest of hundreds of thousands of people, and a dictator controlling the nation. That was the outcome of trying to create a nation that had no dependence at all on any kind of scripture.
It is not surprising why this would happen. If there is no revelation from God, then there is no law decreed by God for humanity. A law decreed by God would transcend any laws of man. This has been realized quite often over the past two millennia. Throughout history there have been many times in which a government has created specific laws based on God’s revelation in scripture. Why? Because it is quite obvious that a human law can be based on God’s law. Moreover, if any human law contradicts God’s law, Bible-reading citizens will probably protest it.
But what about a government that says there is no revelation from God, or maybe even says there is no God at all? What is the basis of law for such a nation? There is only one possible answer: The basis of the law is whatever the government decides. It doesn’t matter if the government is a monarchy, oligarchy, republic, or democracy. In such a nation, the law will be determined entirely by the whims of the government, and there is no way to challenge it. Don’t miss this point: Unless there is a divine law that is higher than human law, there is no way to challenge any human law. And that is why the government in France had no qualms about arresting and killing so many of its citizens.
That Wouldn’t Happen Today, Would It?
I know how some of my readers will respond. “Ah, but that was a long time ago. That was the 1700’s. With all the breakthroughs of modern science, and all that we have learned about human nature and governance from psychology and sociology, surely we could make such a government work now.”
Lest anyone be tempted to believe this, please be informed that this experiment—trying to create a scriptureless government—has also been tried in our own day by several communist regimes. These governments perfectly fulfilled the hopes and expectations of the French deists in the 1700s—deists like Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau—who believed that the Bible should be dispensed with, trashed, or consigned to the flames.
Starting with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, a series of communist takeovers occurred—in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America—during the twentieth century. All told, about thirty different national governments were overthrown and taken over by communists. All of them were committed to building a new society without the Bible or any other religious texts. And all of them were committed to solving the world’s problems by human reasoning, particularly scientific research. And all of them believed that they were helping honest laborers to finally get a fair deal.
Well, how did they do? Did they create a utopia?
No. Not even close.
The Death Toll
Without any supernatural source of truth, it is impossible to justify the claim that human beings have any intrinsic value. Therefore, it is impossible to justify the claim that human beings have any rights. There is no scientific basis for believing in human rights. One can never observe human rights in a test tube. The only rational basis for human rights ultimately rests on some kind of transcendent source of truth, some kind of scripture. And history bears this out again and again.
If you want to see how well these experiments in scriptureless nation-building went, pick up a copy of The Black Book of Communism. It provides detailed historical descriptions about each region of the world in which communists sought to create a scriptureless society. In each case, the communistic governments brutally harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and killed anyone who stood in their way. In each case, these governmental leaders believed they were doing a good thing, bringing utopia to humankind. And in each case, they failed to produce utopia. They only produced hell on earth.
What is most interesting about The Black Book of Communism is that the authors of this work are all left-leaning lovers of communism. So you can’t accuse them of being unsympathetic or biased in their research. Nonetheless, the brutality they report is absolutely shocking. Just consider the number of deaths caused by communism in the twentieth century:
Soviet Union: 20 million deaths
China: 65 million deaths
Vietnam: 1 million deaths
North Korea: 2 million deaths
Cambodia: 2 million deaths
Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths
Latin America: 150,000 deaths
Africa: 1.7 million deaths
Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths
The total body count approaches 100 million people killed.
What is most bizarre is the fact that communism, as an ideology, is supposed to be committed to the “average Joe,” the laborer, the worker, the proletariat. Communist revolutionaries were convinced that governments should exist to support the worker and make sure he is treated fairly. They were so devoted to the average Joe that they engaged in shocking levels of self-denial and sacrifice to overthrow capitalist governments and monarchies, shedding much blood along the way. They often succeeded and, full of enthusiasm, they were poised to create a society of perfect fairness. But, alas, it never worked. It always resulted in death squads killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Because in communism, there is no rational basis for believing that human beings have intrinsic worth. There is no reason for a communist government to exercise restraint and give dissidents a fair hearing. That would imply that these dissidents have rights. But there is no objective basis for human rights apart from scripture.
The Bible provides such a basis. If the Bible really is a revelation from God, then we have a strong foundation for believing that human beings are intrinsically valuable. Namely, the fact that they are made in the image of God. This is what makes murder wrong (see Genesis 9:6). And this biblical doctrine is the historical basis for believing in human rights.
To be sure, I will be the first person to condemn atrocities committed by Christians for the past several hundred years. These atrocities are absolutely inexcusable. But if you add up all of the deaths caused by Christians doing stupid things (many of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.) across all of the centuries since Christ, you will get a total that is less than 1% of all the death caused by Communism in one single century. It is no contest. The body count that has resulted from scriptureless nation-building is simply unfathomable.