Religion is just the imaginary sun which seems to man to revolve around him, until he realizes that he himself is the centre of his own revolution

Religion is just the imaginary sun which seems to man to revolve around him, until he realizes that he himself is the centre of his own revolution…(Humans)   look for a superhuman being in the fantasy reality of heaven, and find nothing there, but their own reflection.

Karl Marx, Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie, in  Werke, 4 vols (Berlin, 1959-1961), vol.1, p.379, 488

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

ibid. Introduction

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man.

ibid.

It is true that much of religion can be explained away as man’s wish fulfilment. But the gospel does not offer a god forn those who cannot explain everything (a god of the gaps). Nor does it offer a wish fulfilment (this is either the prosperity gospel or a mere ‘fire insurance’ Christianity). The gospel tells men what they don’t want to hear – not what they do want to hear. It assaults their pride by mocking their pretensions to self-righteousness or moral worth. It humbles men and is scoffed at as offensive to man’s sensibilities – cf. the Pharisees and all those who rejected the offence of Jesus’ cross.

Marx is attacking religion – but not the gospel.

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