The Marxist approach to history is even more bereft of meaning, being based on the hypothesis that it is economic conditions, alone, which are the real factors which shape man. According to Marx, religion came into existence in an age of feudalism and capitalism. Since these systems were tyrannical and fostered exploitation, the moral and religious concepts which evolved under them had, of necessity, reflected their environment. They were no more than doctrines which condoned and upheld exploitation. But this theory does not, academically, carry any weight. Nor does experience testify to it. This theory, based on a total denial of the human will, regards man simply as a product of economic conditions. Like the soap-cakes manufactured in a factory, man is moulded in the factory of environment. He does not act with an independent mind, but simply conforms to whatever conditioning he has been subjected to. If this were an incontrovertible fact, how could it have been possible for Marx, himself the product of a ‘capitalist society’, to revolt against the economic conditions prevailing in his time? If the contemporary economic system gave birth to religion, why not believe then, according to the same logic, that Marxism too is the product of the same conditions? If the stand taken by Marxism on religion is correct, why should this not be applicable to Marxism itself? It follows that this theory is absurd. There is no scientific and rational proof to support it.
Experience too has exposed the false premises of this theory. The example of the Erstwhile U.S.S.R., where this ideology had been predominant for sixty-five years, will serve to illustrate our point.
It has been claimed for a long time now that material conditions in the Soviet Union have changed. The system of production, exchange and distribution have all become non-capitalistic. But after the death of Stalin, it was admitted by the Russian leaders themselves that Stalin’s regime was one of tyranny and coercion, and that the masses had been exploited in the same manner as in capitalist countries. It should be borne in mind that it was absolute control of the press by the government which made it possible for Stalin to project his tyranny and exploitation as justice and fair play to the rest of the world. As the press is still under complete government control, we must infer that the same drama, which was staged with such success in Stalin’s times, is still going on today under the cloak of blatantly misleading propaganda. The 20th Congress (February 1956) of the Russian Communist Party exposed the tyrannical acts of Stalin. It will not be surprising if the 40th Congress of the party brings to light the barbarity of his successors. This half-a-century old experience clearly shows that the systems of production and exchange have nothing to do with the shaping of ideas. Had the human mind been subservient to the system of production, and had ideas taken shape in accordance with it, a communist state like Russia ought, strictly speaking, to have curbed the tendencies to oppress and exploit. Thus the whole argument of the modern age is nothing short of sophistry in the garb of scientific reasoning—a patchwork, a hotchpotch of discordant elements. Of course, the ‘Scientific Method’ has been adopted to study these ‘facts’, but this, by itself, cannot arrive at the correct results.
Other essential factors must be taken into account.
That is to say, that, if the scientific method is applied, but applied only to half-truths and onesided data, in spite of its ostensible bona fides from the intellectual standpoint, it is bound to yield results which are far from being accurate.
Here is an apt illustration of this point. In the first week of January 1964, an International Congress of Orientalists held in New Delhi, was attended by 1200 participants. On this occasion, one of the Orientalists read a paper in which it was claimed that several of the Muslim monuments of India had actually been built by the Hindu Rajas and not by the Muslim rulers. The paper claimed that the Qutb Minar, a tower, known to have been built by Sultan Qutbuddin Abek, was originally ‘Vishnu Dhwaj’, a symbol of Lord Vishnu built by Samudra Gupta 2300 years ago. ‘Qutb Minar’ was a misnomer, the brainchild of Muslim historians of a later period.
The main argument in support of the claim was that the stones used in the construction of the Qutb Minar were very ancient and that their carvings had been done centuries before the period of Qutbuddin Abek. Prima facie, the argument is scientific in that such ancient stones are to be found in the structure of the Qutb Minar. But the study of the Qutb Minar with reference only to its stones cannot give support to any truly scientific argument. Over and above this, several other aspects of the question have to be borne in mind, the most important one being that old stones from the ruins of ancient buildings were often used in new structures by subsequent builders, including the Muslims. This, together with the Qutb Minar’s architectural design, the technique of placing the stones in position, the incomplete mosque in the vicinity of the tower, the remaining traces of the parallel tower, plus other pieces of similar historical evidence, points to Sultan Qutbuddin as being the actual builder, and shows the Orientalist’s contentions to be totally fallacious.
The theories of the anti-religionists are no better.
Just as in the above example, an attempt has been made to make a show of ‘scientific’ reasoning by a willful misinterpretation of the presence of certain ancient stones, similarly, by presenting certain halftruths and a large number of irrelevant facts viewed from a distorted angle, the enemies of religion claim that their so-called scientific method of study has actually done away with religion. On the contrary, if the factual data on the subject is studied in its entirety and from the correct angle, an entirely opposite conclusion will most certainly be arrived at.
Indeed, the veracity of religion is proved by the fact that even the most intelligent of thinkers begin to talk nonsense when they refuse to make any reference to religion. Do away with religion and you do away with the essential framework within which your problems may be discussed and solved. Most of the scholars whose names figure on the list of anti-religionists are very intelligent and learned persons. These geniuses have entered the arena of religious debate, equipped with the most valuable of contemporary sciences. But judging from the poor performance of these ‘intelligent’ people, one wonders what had so blighted their minds that they should have committed such absurdities on paper.
Their outpourings are notorious for their waverings, contradictions, tacit admissions of ignorance and ‘reasoning’ which is, to say the least of it, haphazard. They make tall claims on flimsy grounds with an almost total disregard for facts. Their case must unquestionably fall to the ground, because it could only be a false case which is ‘supported’ by such erroneous statements and patently flawed arguments. A case which had the slightest merit would never be beset by such serious shortcomings.