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(From Guardian Unlimited)
The question: Is religion the opium of the people?
Karl Marx was a serious atheist. He didn't think that religion was mad or particularly bad: it was "the opium of the people" but "the heart in a heartless world" too. Instead, he had a theory about the nature of religion that attempted to penetrate to the heart of the human condition.
For Marx, the human animal is fulfilled in its labouring. We are made from the earth -- we are "of nature", as he wrote in his early Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. So, when tilling the soil, we connect to the stuff of which we are made, reshaping it, and thereby shaping ourselves. Therein lies our …