My education in the Department of History at Northern Illinois saw me being trained by a large number of Marxist theorists. They weren't my primary professors, nor my best, but they were numerous. Professor Marvin Rosen, the Director of Undergraduate Education, was perhaps the most flamboyantly Marxist, and publicly despaired of my increasing interest in historical theology and my decision to undertake graduate studies at Notre Dame. But, to his credit, was always warm and encouraging to me in general. Still, this was a crowd that – dare I say it – took Marx's words that "religion was the opiate of the masses" as utter gospel.
Myself, I thought that was just, historically speaking, dumb. The other day, I read a quotation in passing that I wished I had conjured up myself back in those times, that went straight to the heart of the psychology of belief and unbelief, and what is far more often at stake in people's psychological motivations for their beliefs, but was much more precise than my more intuitive "That's dumb."
“A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged.”
– Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, “The Discreet Charm of Nihilism"