In 2002, Olga Homolova, a journalist from the Czech Republic wrote an article entitled, DREAM OF A GODLESS COUNTRY. ANTI-RELIGIOUS AND ATHEISTIC PROPAGANDA IN SOVIET RUSSIA IN THE 1920s.
I have become intrigued by the parallels between the modern day New Atheist movement and the Russian Godless movement (as Homolova calls it). For example:
The real heart of the propaganda in the Godless press, however, was the campaign for a scientific approach to the world, which the agitators believed would result in the ultimate inevitable demise of the religious world view. “God will fall under the weight of science,” as the illustration announces in the first edition of Bezbozhnik u stanka in 1926. Contributions on this subject are in various forms but they all carry one basic message: all religion stems from ignorance and merely keeps Man in shackles; the only correct and scientific approach is to be a disbeliever.
How is this any different from the real heart of the propaganda in the New Atheist press (books and web pages)? In fact, notice the last sentence: “the only correct and scientific approach is to be a disbeliever.” So Jerry Coyne’s new book is simply recycled Soviet propaganda.
Articles on agriculture published by the Godless press in an effort to address the concerns of the Russian village are meant to play an educational and consciousness-raising role. These contributions regularly contrast modern technology brought to the village by the Bolsheviks “in the name of progress” with the backwardness of the Russian village, caused, allegedly, by religion. The antagonism between science and religion is repeatedly demonstrated with cases where prayer for the crops has been ineffective contrasted with cases of electrification provided by the Soviet system and not by God. Thus religion is presented as an institution that stands in the way of scientific and technological progress.
The only thing different is that the New Atheist movement doesn’t use this argument in an agricultural context. It’s been updated:
Nothing new under the sun. I’m not sure why the New Atheist movement ignores its Russian forebears. Perhaps we need to explore how the Russian atheist movement played out over time.