If There Were No God
Sep 21, 2020 1965
Some years ago, I visited the city of Gori in the east of the country of Georgia. Most people haven’t heard of it, but it’s famous for one very notable event. It’s the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, who was the leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.
At first, what I found there was only interesting. It seemed just like any other museum. But soon I became more and more disturbed, and then eventually completely shocked.
To understand why, you need to know a bit about who Joseph Stalin was. He was born in the Russian empire, and as a young man he raised money for Lenin’s communist faction through robberies, kidnappings, and protection rackets.
After the Russian Revolution, Lenin founded the Soviet Union, and after Lenin died, Joseph Stalin took over the leadership of the country. Stalin became one of the twentieth century’s most influential figures.
One of the things that Stalin is mainly remembered for was his murderous brutality. In what is known the “Great Terror,” in which during a period of a few years, at least nine million people died, with at around 700,000 so-called enemies of the state being directly executed. 18 million people were imprisoned. Additionally, Joseph Stalin also oversaw massive famines that killed millions.
I’m glad I live a universe in which there is a God.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and since then, in both Russia and Georgia, Joseph Stalin has retained his popularity as someone who led the people to victory in wartime, and as someone who established the Soviet Union a major power in the world.
That’s why, when I visited Gori, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I didn’t feel the surprise in the beginning. It just seemed like another town with a museum to the past. It was a fascinating museum, with even the railway carriage that Stalin used for travel on display.
The surprise actually crept up on me gradually, until it became a visceral shock that seemed to urge me to leave as soon as I could.
What it was, was a very sense of the total and absolute glorification of Joseph Stalin. There was no mention of his callous murder of millions. The whole museum focused on his life as a loving family man, and father and leader of the nation.
The whole place made me feel what the world would be like if there were no God.
There is good in the world, because there is a God.
If there were no God, there would be no truth because there would be no final reckoning. History would be altered to suited ourselves, with no accountability. The suffering of millions would be ignored as irrelevant to the powerful.
If there were no God, humanity would glorify man and his achievements through any means, regardless of moral boundaries. It’s “survival of the fittest” and “to the powerful go the spoils.”
If there were no God, the masses would mindlessly follow the strong, justifying themselves based on the delusions of grandeur and power.
If there were no God, every wrong and every evil would be justified. There would be no excess of immorality and cruelty that could not be explained away as necessary, and “swept under the carpet of history.”
These were all the things that I saw at Gori, and it made me sick to my stomach.
Then I realised that it’s not just Gori. I realised that I see these things all around me in the world today, and that they have happened again and again throughout history. And this made me feel the dark hole of despair in my guts.
But, there is good in the world, because there is a God. The merciful will be shown mercy, the peacemakers will be called the children of God, the pure in heart will see God, and the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5). There will be a final reckoning before a God of goodness and love.
I’m glad that I don’t live in Gori. I’m glad there is a God.