the essay 'What
Men of these rich, governing classes popes, kings, dukes, and all the great ones of the earth were left without any religion, with but the external forms of one, which they supported as being profitable and even necessary for themselves, since these forms screened a teaching which justified those privileges which they made use of.
It was so at the time of the Renaissance and after it, when the chief subject of works of art was the laudation of the strong popes, kings, and dukes... Next, the element of sexual desire began more and more to enter into art, and (with very few exceptions, and in novels and dramas almost without exception) it has now become an essential feature of every art product of the rich classes.
Dostoyevsky from the Idiot (part 4, chapter 7). The prince Muishkin speaking,
Roman Catholicism is, so to speak, simply the same thing as un-Christianity,' he added with flashing eyes, which seemed to take in everybody in the room. 'It is not a Christian religion, in the first place,' said the latter, in extreme agitation, quite out of proportion to the necessity of the moment. 'And in the second place, Roman Catholicism is, in my opinion, worse than Atheism itself. Yes- that is my opinion. Atheism only preaches a negation, but Romanism goes further; it preaches a disfigured, distorted Christ-it preaches Antichrist-I assure you, I swear it!
Then the prince Muishkin gives his reasons:
This is my own personal conviction, and it has long distressed me. The Roman Catholic believes that the Church on earth cannot stand without universal temporal Power. In my opinion the Roman Catholic religion is not a faith at all, but simply a continuation of the Roman Empire and everything is subordinated to this idea- beginning with faith. The Pope has seized territories and an earthly throne, and has held them with the sword. And so the thing has gone on, only that to the sword they have added lying, intrigue, deceit, fanaticism, superstition, swindling.
Muishkin gives us here a key to the evolution of atheism, atheistic communism and socialism:
How could the upshot of all this be other than Atheism? Atheism is the child of Roman Catholicism-it proceeded from these Romans themselves, though perhaps they would not believe it. It grew and fattened on hatred of its parents; it is the progeny of their lies and spiritual feebleness.
Atheism! In our country it is only among the upper classes that you find unbelievers; men who have lost the root or spirit of their faith; but abroad whole masses of the people are beginning to profess unbelief-at first because of the darkness and lies by which they were surrounded; but now out of fanaticism, out of loathing for the Church and Christianity!... Socialism is the progeny of Romanism and of the Romanist spirit.
And we must not suppose that all this is harmless and without danger to ourselves. Oh, no; we must resist, and quickly, quickly! We must let out Christ shine forth upon the Western nations, our Christ whom we have preserved intact, and whom they have never known.
to Ivan a