Night of 11th-12th July 1941
The natural piety of man—Russian atheists know how to die—No atheistical education.
I think the man who contemplates the universe with his eyes wide open is the man with the greatest amount of natural piety: not in the religious sense, but in the sense of an intimate harmony with things.
Man has discovered in nature the wonderful notion of that all-mighty being whose law he worships. Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this all-mighty, which we call God (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe). The priests, who have always succeeded in exploiting this feeling, threaten punishments for the man who refuses to accept the creed they impose. When one provokes in a child a fear of the dark, one awakens in him a feeling of atavistic dread. Thus this child will be ruled all his life by this dread, whereas another child, who has been intelligently brought up, will be free of it.
It’s said that every man needs a refuge where he can find consolation and help in unhappiness. I don’t believe it! If humanity follows that path, it’s solely a matter of tradition and habit. That’s a lesson, by the way, that can be drawn from the Bolshevik front. The Russians have no God, and that doesn’t prevent them from being able to face death. We don’t want to educate anyone in atheism.