Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Special to CNN
There are no atheists in dictatorships. The death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il underlies a basic fact of earthly politics: when a political regime denies any transcendent supernatural reality, it deifies itself.
The communist regime that has been in control of North Korea for over half a century is officially atheistic, following the example of its first protector state, the Soviet Union.
Like the Russian communists, the North Koreans sought to expunge any trace of Christianity or other religious faiths. But make no mistake, this does not mean that the Pyongyang regime did not believe in worship.
To the contrary, the North Korean regime mandated worship, the worship of its own supreme leader.
As Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis explained, North Korea’s founding dictator Kim Il Sung “was allowed to build a Stalinist state, with its own cult of personality centered on himself, at just the time when Khrushchev was condemning such perversions of Marxism-Leninism elsewhere.”
The North Korean cult of personality goes far beyond anything Josef Stalin could have envisioned. Kim Il Sung became known as the Great Leader, the nation’s protector, gifted with supernatural powers.
The Great Leader was said to be able to control the weather with his moods. Kim was credited with saving the North Koreans from “flunkeyism,” or subservience to foreign powers.
All this was backed up with an ideology known as “Jucheism,” which demands total self-sufficiency and isolation for the Korean people. As journalist Jasper Becker observed, Jucheism “served a useful purpose by establishing a national church of Communism” in North Korea.
Indeed, Kim’s regime turned completely inward, eventually forbidding even the reading of works by Marx and Stalin. Kim Il Sung was recast at the center of cosmic history. In Becker’s words, “At this point the propaganda began to veer into the realms of madness by presenting Kim as the Christ-like savior of Korea.”
Kim Il Sung came to be considered a god. He was the “iron-willed brilliant commander,” the “Fatherly Leader” and “the leader who unfolded paradise.” The calendar was reset to start with his birth year. His birthday replaced Christmas. Children were taught to give thanks to the Fatherly Leader before eating meals.
North Koreans were subjected to coerced indoctrination, especially through the schools. They were told that Kim Il Sung was immortal and would never die. Thus, they were unprepared for his death in 1994.
As veteran reporter Barbara Demick recalled about the shock around the death that Kim Il Sung “wasn’t merely the father of their country, their George Washington, their Mao, he was their God.”
Next in line came Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung’s son and chosen successor. Once he had consolidated power, the cult of deification went into full swing. Kim Jong-Il was the deified “Dear Leader” whom North Koreans were commanded to adore and follow.
Like his father, Kim Jong Il constructed a cult of personality that defied imagination. His birth was claimed to have been accompanied by supernatural special effects, heralding his arrival as the infant of destiny.
What did North Koreans receive from the hands of their “Great” and “Dear” leader? Year after year of disastrous harvests followed by starvation. The North Korean regime is among the most paranoid on the planet, and human rights organizations consistently place North Korea’s regimes among the world’s most repressive.
The hermit kingdom of North Korea is largely dark at night, starved of electrical power, and yet the regime has been determined to develop nuclear weapons.
There are important lessons to observe here. A big one is that officially atheistic states are never so atheistic as they appear. Something or someone will be worshipped and acknowledged as ultimate.
If the worship of God is forbidden, the state may well turn its own dictator into a deity. This transforms the leader and the regime into objects of devotion and worship. The state is then beyond all rational critique and consideration.
In other words, citizenship is transformed into idolatry. History records the tragic legacy of idolatrous states, led by despots who range from ancient kings to warlike emperors and delusional Fuhrers.
The worship of the North Korean leaders is not all that different than what the philosopher George W. F. Hegel envisioned when he hoped for the emergence of an authoritarian state that would be “the march of God in the world.”
Friedrich Nietzsche would later reduce the vision for that state to a single individual, an iron-fisted strongman.
Now, Kim Jong Il has been revealed to be, like his father, mortal after all. Waiting in the wings is his own son and chosen successor, Kim Jong On. The North Korean regime has already started the process of deifying Kim Jong On as the third “Fatherly Leader” of the North Korean people.
I expect the consequences to be as disastrous as they were under his father and grandfather.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
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bible says the fool says in his heart there is no god.foolisness of people still surprises me,jesus said I and the father am one,no one come to the father but through me,all i see from the n koreans is hate and paranoia,leaders who are as bad as stalin was in russia,back in the day,n korea is always on the verge of starting world war 3,alway a show of force to keep up appearences,all i see from the media about the n korean leaders are men,who just use fear and intimidation,to maintain control of a country in termoil,I think they just spew out propeganda about there peoples worship of the one leader,which is so phony,i laugh when i see it online or television,media which in n korea is state controlled,only a matter of time before,n korea society collapses oh,i forgot as long as china is an ally,n korea s dictatorship will still be around or might be around another 50 years,scary
The writer doesn't seem to know why N Korea lives in isolation and never-ending marshal low. Please read the Korean War and educate you self. The People of N. Korea still live in fear of the feudal western governments which the writer clam God fearing religious people.
Why relate KIM with religion. It's plain and simple he was a dictator, dictating marshal low noting more.
The writer declares hatred to KIM, although he is a religious figure for a religion which teaches love to every-being. And by so doing the writer denies love to the Architect of the universe and the efficient cause of our being, our Lord and the Final Cause, who ought to be the whole goal of our will, and who alone can make us happy.
Please stop hating .
I have read this article three times and can not find out where YOU CLAIM there is some kind of HATRED in it. Perhaps you can enlighten me a bit more as to what HATRED you speak of.
I have a friend who is on an archeological dig in the Republic of Georgia (former part of the USSR, between the Black and Caspian seas). He emailed me about how they had found the remains of the earliest hominoid outside of Africa, dating to a couple of hundred thousand years ago. There is an entire research team there from Oxford University’s paleontology department, the most respected in the World.
Fortunately, Mr Mohler informed me that the entire World began only 6,000 years ago with man already totally evolved (and with a talking snake). So, I am going to write to the team and tell them to all fold up their tents and go home and read their Bibles. The answers to the natural history of the human species are all in there.
Wow, that Mr. Mohler knows a lot about a lot of different sciences!!!
Why do you mix up man years or man's perception of biblical time with the truth that only God gives? The Bible is filled with the truth of God not science. Your reference to earliest hominoid having some tie to Adam has no basis in fact (science or Gods truth). If you are saying Adam was a hominoid then you cannot imply 6,000 years as relevant. In order to slam the Bible and Christians as was your intent please use Hominid or Hominidae.
Establishing a date of 6,000 years ignores the first three days of the creation story in the Bible or the biblical option of a prior earth in Genesis 1:2. These dates are further simply a trap for skeptics and non believers that look to use the Bible as a tool to trap God in His own words. As you will find out if you have not already the Bible is a story about God redeeming a people for Himself. The purpose of the Bible has been and continues to be fulfilled to this day.
It does not matter if the creation story is Moses summarizing the first people of the chosen ones or the first hominid since Moses is setting the foundation of mans relationship with his Creator. As to the time period before God set night and day in Genesis what is a day if there is no reference point?
I enjoyed your comments.
Colin, love your work. Be careful though, Henokt is obviously a professor or quantum theory and has single handedly disproved it! Not a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately, most of the world continues to drink the KOOL AID dished out by the "intellectuals" concerning evolution. It is a MYTH plain and simple. I know.I believed in it for 55 years until God came into my life and opened my eyes to the TRUTH that eludes the vast majority.
I have a friend who works for NASA (I have a lot of friends). He was telling me how the latest photographs from the Hubble space telescope are revealing galaxies in the early stages of formation, from about 13.7 billion years ago. The discoveries are advancing science at an incredible rate and helping us develop very sophisticated theories of galactic formation.
Fortunately, Mr Mohler has informed me that the entire Universe was created only 6,000 years ago by [the Christian] god with one man, one woman and a magic talking snake. His "Magic Talking Snake" theory of galactic formation will be debated at the upcoming conference of the American Astronomical Society at Harvard University.
What a brilliant man Mr. Mohler is, smarter than Einstein, Hawkings and Newton and those other fools who think the Universe is enormous and really old!!
See above reply, there is no 6,000 years set for the big bang
The best deductive reasoning of the universe we have is Monadology by Gottfried Leibnitz which in conclusion claim the existence of the ultimate unity or the original simple substance GOD.
Whatever NASA is looking didn't add any knowledge to the above text and certainly didn’t clarify the formation of the universe in a defined scientific way rather than hypothesize.
If you truly believe that there is no need for GOD, then do your deductive reasoning and compare it to Leibnitz.
....Scientists now tell us they can describe many events right back to the first fraction of a second (t=10 -10) of our universe's existence when it existed as a source incomparably compact and incomparably hot (1014 K). Eminent historian of science, Owen Gingerich, describes events at that point of time in these words:
At that point, at a second split so fine than no clock could measure it, the entire observable universe is compressed within the wavelike blur described by the uncertainty principle, so tiny and compact that it could pass through the eye of a needle. Not just this room, or the earth, or the solar system, but the entire universe squeezed into a dense dot of pure energy. And then comes the explosion.
Gottfried Leibnitz called the dense dot the "Necessary Being" GOD.
Yes Henokt, and god is in my wallet if I define him as a credit card.
What happened 13.7 billion years + one day ago? Your scientist "friends" can't answer that. Your logic has an end, a limit, just like your "friends" knowledge.
How did something, like the first pieces of matter to collide in the supposed Big Bang, come from nothing? Do you believe matter always existed then? What put those elements into motion? How does something come from nothing and form everything?
I have a friend who works for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. He was telling me how a new strain of Bird Flu has evolved with a resistance to the strongest antibodies we can throw at it. The best immunologists in the World believe it evolved in parts of India or China where the regular contact between chickens and humans allows easy vectoring to humans.
This was quite worrying, but luckily, Mr Mohler has corrected him. Evolution is a lie. All life was created in its current form about 6,000 years ago by a Bronze Age sky god they called “Yahweh,” who we now call “God”.
So, the Center for disease Control will immediately stop researching the evolution of disease and close down, so their researchers can go home and read their Bibles to find a cure for bird flu there.
Thanks Mr Mohler, where would medical science be without you!
The clash between Christian doctrine and modern medical science (and related disciplines) is part of why I am no longer a Christian.
Me too, RJ. The more I came to understand mother nature, the less reason there was to believe in a supernatural god and the more I came to understand human nature, the more I realized why billions of us nevertheless do.
There is no clash between science and God only bias by man that drives illogical attacks against one or the other.
I have a good friend who works for Exxon-Mobile. He is a geologist engaged in searching for oil and other fossil fuels in Africa. They know where to look for oil based on the ages of the rocks and their location during the Carboniferous Period, which is when the vast mats of plankton and other small sea creatures were laid down in that region, and gradually turned to oil over the intervening tens of millions of years. That is why they are called "fossil fuels".
Fortunately, Mr Mohler has told me that fossil fuels are not made of fossils at all, as the world is only six thousand years old and started with the Garden of Eden and a magic talking snake! So, I will write to my friend and tell him to stop looking where they usually find oil, as that has just been a lucky coincidence. God must have buried some there to fool them.
What a playful, loving god we have, and isn’t Mr. Mohler smart to see through the ruse!
I find it completely ironic that who the snake represented is a lot like who you represent. Know this Colin and I promise you this, that you will be judged harshly and you will be tortured over and over for eternity. You will certainly suffer greatly.
Albert Mohler was very helpful to me. You see, a friend of mine (who was actually valedictorian of our high school) went into the field of paleontology. He works at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where they are doing research on the earliest Aboriginal settlements in Australia and the development of the many hundreds of languages spoken by the Aboriginals in Australia.
Their latest theories suggest that man made it to Australia at least 60,000 years ago, during the penultimate Ice Age and that their languages diversified as they spread throughout the continent and lost contact with one another.
Fortunately, Mr. Mohler has informed me that this can’t be right, as the World is only one tenth as old (about 6,000 years) and began with a magic talking snake and that all 600 recognized Australian Aboriginal languages were made by god in the Tower of Babel. Further, the Ice Ages did not even happen.
It makes me wonder where Australian Aboriginals come from if they were not on Noah’s Ark and evolution is a lie, but I’m sure I’ll find the answers in the Bible.
Thanks Mr. Mohler, blind faith is a wonderful thing. It stops pesky little problems like education and thinking for oneself.
Please! It's a serpent! Get it right!
And what is a serpent?
Sorry, we need to make sartalics more ubiqutious, The difference being serpents stick to dry land, snakes center around wet land, but even so I only say it because of course of everything you right, most believers I see zero in on the "mistake" that it's a serpent and not a snake, but ignore that it can talk, because that makes sense.
I suspected u were beeing sarcastic. So, they are saying that a serpent is a kind of snake? Their criticism seems impotent.
There is one big difference between worshiping Kim Jong Il and worshiping invisible friends. Kim Jong Il actually exists, and nobody is claiming he doesn't. So North Koreans are bit less delusional in that regard than 80% (or so) of the world.
I once tasted Dear Father Kims doo doo and let me tell you it was delicious.
Mohler is on record as believing the Universe is 5000 years old because "the Bible says so" when it is really 13.7 billion years old. I think I can dismiss anything Mohler says.
13.7billion? Not 13.6 or 13.8? To be off by .1 is to be off by 100,000,000 years. Where's your proof? Atheists just throw numbers out there as if they were concrete fact. 13.7 billion, indeed. Were you here then? Certainly a historian from the era kept a record or a calendar to validate your claim? Proof please.
There is only an approximate 1% uncertainty in those numbers. They are able to accurately state the age of the universe by vast amounts of research and evidence they have gathered. We don't drop numbers out of our heads...we know enough to do the research and not just trust one book for answers.
"NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has taken the best measurement of the age of the Universe to date. According to highly precise observations of microwave radiation observed all over the cosmos, WMAP scientists now have the best estimate yet on the age of the Universe: 13.73 billion years, plus or minus 120 million years (that’s an error margin of only 0.87%… not bad really…)." (http://www.universetoday.com/13371/1373-billion-years-the-most-accurate-measurement-of-the-age-of-the-universe-yet)
I'll trust an article where actual research has been done before I'll ever trust a book meant to create mass fear and control.
So where is your proof for the bubyull stories and your god's existence?
Ever heard of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) ? I didn't think so. Idiot.
That probe is WAY beyond Keith's scientific training. Obviously, with a statement like "atheists throw number out there" is all the proof anyone needs that he never had a science class in his life. "As if" the numbers came from "atheists" ? Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha. But let him keep looking for that historian form that epoch. That will keep him busy for a while. After that, give him a snack, and put him down for his nap.
Atheists throw out numbers? No we let you delusional religious folk do that. It only hurts your non-existent case.
NASA doesn’t’ know the extent and composition of the universe and to claim these dates are in 1% marginal error is a misconception.
Part of the universe logged by NASA could only be 1% of the universe
"... when a political regime denies any transcendent supernatural reality, it deifies itself."
Says it all right there, folks.
And by extension,
when a person denies any transcendent supernatural reality, he deifies himself.
George, when are you going to get it through your thick head that atheists don't belief in any gods – none, zero! But do keep throwing up straw man arguments to distract attention from your own unsupported beliefs
hotairace when are YOU going to get it through your thick head that canadians have no relevance here, none.There's your sign
Hey George, do you want to get a room somewhere, and I'll read sweet love poems to you, and then we'll see what happens after that? I think you're too old for my taste, but I'm desperate and it's the holiday season and all. What do you say?
This bears repeating:
"... when a person denies any transcendent supernatural reality, he deifies himself."
Think about that for a second. When you deify yourself, that means that you are the end-all be-all and the sole arbitor of morality. Do you not see how that makes you an earthly god even if you don't believe in a supernatural God?
Denying a supernatural god does not mean you deify yourself. Admission of flaws and fallibility knocks you down a peg or two and considering most atheists believe that morality arises from society, not within oneself, you can't become the soul (see what I did there?) arbiter of good and evil.
Yes, just look at Sweden atheist, wealthy, healthy and happy and then look at Italy Christian, broke, and corrupt.
George, you are drinking your own bath water. Your Babble has zero credibility and you have less. Repeatedly repeating your inane thoughts does not enhance their credibility.
Hotairace has shown that not only is he a gutter trash canadian but that he also has no human dignity or courage. He is more to be pitied than heard from, a useless piece of subhuman flotsam. There's your real sign
Captain and George, I pity you both. You are both delusional and hateful people whose analog are muslim terrorists.
Guess atheists are just passing on earth as ghosts not knowing why they were created nor what are they here for or where are heading to...!? Total emptiness and color blindness.
Sitting here laughing at the comment "deifying" leaders considering Christianity's deification of their leader, at most a peasant, preacher, delusional man named Jesus.
Some added commentary:
JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")
Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694
Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.
Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.
Obviously, today's followers (e.g. Southern Baptists) of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!
commentary? hit report abuse on reality bull sh it
Wow. It's amazing, the lengths evangelicals will go to in their efforts to demonize atheism. At least there is one thing we know about Kim Jong II. He existed. There is still no proof for the existence of any god.
atheists demonize themselves.
How so Felix? By believing in science and the evidence it is able to put forth instead of a book written by man 2000 years ago and that has never been proven to have been inspired by anything other than man and his/her imagination? By not accepting that some god is is control of our lives and the world around us? By not having blind faith? By giving credit to our fellow man and understanding that religion is at the foreground of most wars? By saying that the buybull is full of horrific stories that allow women and children to be treated like no-bodies in this world? By being content with our lives and still doing good without the need for supernatural belief?
Likewise, there is no proof of the nonexistence of any god. I suppose that you can project the "absence of evidence is the evidence of absence" argument, but there really isn't anything that confirms or denies the existence of anything.
You said, "Likewise, there is no proof of the nonexistence of any god. I suppose that you can project the "absence of evidence is the evidence of absence" argument, but there really isn't anything that confirms or denies the existence of anything."
While that is technically true, that doesn't mean that both positions have equal merit.
Without evidence in support of the existence of gods, the default position is that they do not exist. Assuming they exists isn't reasonable. Atheism argues from the default position.
Note that there are really two basic versions of atheism:
a) Believing there are no gods, and
b) Not believing there are any gods.
Version a is the strong form of atheism and asserts there are no gods. This is a statement of belief, because this assertion is made without evidence that proves there are no gods.
Version b is the weak form of atheism, and is a statement of disbelief. It asserts that there is no reason to believe there are any gods because there is no evidence to support their existence.
As mentioned above, I can't prove there are no gods. I therefor don't dismiss the possibility, however miniscule, that there are any. The complete and utter lack of any evidence in support of the existence of any gods, leads me to disbelieve they exist. When evidence is produced that shows there are gods, I will amend my position.
The belief in gods is, in essence, the same as believing in the Tooth Fairy. There is equal evidence to support their existence. Equal evidence means equal merit. The fact that I can't prove that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist, does little to invalidate the disbelief in it.
Claims for the existence of a creature, or a phenomenon, have no merit until, at the very least, a hypothesis is presented that does not conflict with any known fact. Even if this hypothesis is available, that in and of itself doesn't do anything to support the existence of the phenomenon described. For this phenomenon to go from "not impossible" to "probable", evidence is required. The amount and quality of the evidence govern how probable the phenomenon is to exist.
The most rudimentary hypothesis of gods may be consistent with all of the know facts. This pretty much requires that these gods don't, or no longer, interact with our universe. That means that we can't entirely rule out the possibility that they exist. On the other hand, gods that have mutually exclusive traits are impossible to exist.
If you ronery and you know it, crap your hands!
@Chrism, clearly you excel at theft as every good christian does. They stole christmas from pagans, they stole their virgin birth story from about 4 other mythologies and they are even trying to steal the idea of evolution from Darwin and wrap it up as intelligent design. It's clear why they must believe in an external "creator" as they lack any creativity of their own.
Thats what's required to be religious so it makes sense. You have to blind yourself to facts. It's like when you tell a lie. In order for it to work you will most likely have to make a string of lies up so you can back up the original lie. Well in this case they have to believe the lie so they have to convince themselves of the lie whenever it is questioned. Just add some psychology terms like denial, repression, displacement,sublimation, projection, rationalization and we have a pretty well developed start to understanding these people.
Every word of your post is correct except the word "religious" should be replaced by atheist.
You attempt steal my words much like your religion has stolen it's contents. Although your comments do serve as an example of Projection. Thank you.
So, the North Koreans deify their leader, and worship him in a completely irrational and destructive way, and this guy manages to see this as a criticism of atheism? It's amazing how blind someone can be.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.