“Atheism is the opiate of the masses”

By Tom Quiner

My feet were washed at church last night.

This unusual experience took place at the Holy Thursday service at my church. Just as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, we washed each others’ feet in remembrance of the relevance of His actions today.

In a short while, I’ll be back at church for the celebration of the Lord’s passion, better know as Good Friday. And then comes the most glorious event in the history of heaven and earth: Easter.

History turned on these three days, regardless of what one thinks of them.

As I write these words, I marvel at the evangelical outreach of a competing faith-based belief system: atheism. The American Atheists held a convention here in Des Moines, Iowa a few years ago. I received a letter in the mail from them inviting me to attend, the price of attendance being $159 for non-members. They also ask for donations to purchase billboard space to evangelize their brand of faithless religion. The message displayed on their billboards read: “You KNOW there is NO GOD! We know you’re right!”

Such a leap of faith.

Atheism is a tough sell, so they have re-branded themselves as “secularists.”

They held another conference here in Des Moines last year, this time called “Secularity USA.” They are attempting to undercut Christianity by suggesting that Christian parents are kooks who put their kids’  health at stake by relying on faith-healing alone, and won’t let get them vaccinated.  Needless, to say that approach doesn’t represent Christianity, just as Stalin, Hitler’s and Mao’s (three famous atheists/secularists) propensity to slaughter millions doesn’t necessarily represent the thinking of all atheists/secularists.

It is interesting, though, how rigid atheists are in their thinking, how fervent they are in their belief that a universe with evidence of intelligent design just kinda popped into existence and created order, intelligence, and beauty … out of nothing!

I can understand the agnostic who isn’t certain God exists. And I can understand those who make a leap of faith in their belief in God.

But in light of evidence in nature, in light of evidence in the cosmos, in light of the historical record, in light of revelation to man down through the ages, in light of philosophical logic, it takes a far bigger leap of faith to state with certainty that “we KNOW God doesn’t exist.” So, in a way, atheism really isn’t a faithless religion.

Fr. Robert Barron discusses the intellectual vacuity of the modern atheist movement in the video commentary above. Karl Marx famously said that religion is the “opiate of the masses.” Fr. Barron says he got it backwards, that atheism is the opiate of the masses, that it attempts, much like a drug, to mask our deepest longing.  And what is that longing?

It is our longing for God, our desire for something beyond the abilities of this world to satisfy.

Fr. Barron puts it this way: our hunger for food isn’t a sign that food is a projection. Our hunger proves the reality of food, just as our hunger for God proves His reality.

Like man down through the ages, these atheists desire to practice their religion together and win converts.

Many people didn’t believe in Jesus two-thousand years ago, either. Tonight, we celebrate His unjust execution. Why use the word “celebrate?” Because it was necessary to reveal God’s glory.

I encourage each of us to stop and think seriously about these events, known as the Easter Triduum in the Catholic Church. We give up everything that our heart truly longs for if we discount the Easter miracle.

Be wary of the new atheism.  As Fr. Barron says, stop taking that drug and wake up.


  1. Shawn Pavlik on April 6, 2015 at 7:41 am

    I always like how they try to explain how life just “happened”. Regardless of the fact that with all of our technology and knowledge, we have never been able to create life in a lab.

    • quinersdiner on April 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

      What bothers me about atheism is how close-minded it is. What I love about Catholicism is how open-minded it is towards honest science (despite the Galileo blip). Catholicism believes each scientific discovery leads us closer to God, that faith and reason are allies, not adversaries.

    • jjanski11 on April 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      No one actually thinks life just “happened.” It was a natural process that occurred over time, which has been reproduced over and over and over and over, many many times in the lab.

      • quinersdiner on April 6, 2015 at 9:34 pm

        Such a leap of faith.

  2. jjanski11 on April 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Atheism is a religion like off is a tv channel… the fact that we have to organize just so our rights aren’t trampled on by folks like yourselves does not make us a religion. Constantly having to defend the country we live in from religious zealots takes money and organization, hence we have groups like American Atheists.

    • quinersdiner on April 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Spoken with the usual fervor of an evangelical atheist.

      • jjanski11 on April 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm

        I love how calling me something that is actually associated with Christians like yourself is somehow an insult… it’s almost self-deprecating on your own part.