The Fruits of Two Worldviews
Of all the arenas of state-sponsored genocides of the 20th century, the Killing Fields of Cambodia were among the most disturbing. There, in a massive social engineering project, a radical communist government systematically starved, tortured and murdered nearly two million people with the brutal efficiency of an assembly line operation. The regime outlawed all religions. It sought to establish a communist utopia by force, driving everyone into an instant agrarian economy, and eliminating the brightest and most skilled simply because they did not fit the communist ideal. Simply wearing glasses was enough to be processed – i.e., photographed, catalogued, tortured if necessary, and shot or hacked in the back of the head with a hoe. Hundreds of thousands were killed by their own countrymen in a cold, calculated operation so dispassionately merciless, Cambodians to this day are almost in denial of what happened.
The Independent reported that Kang Kek lew, otherwise known as Comrade Duch, was taken to the killing fields as part of his trial. Duch had overseen Prison S-21 where 20,000 people were photographed, tortured and eliminated. Now 66 years old, Duch broke down when shown trees where children’s heads were smashed and saw a pile of 8,000 skulls of victims. The article says he “fell to his knees, hands clasped in tearful prayer for the terrible crimes committed three decades ago.”
Prayer? Yes; you see, long after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, after some personal tragedies, he started attending a Christian church and became a born-again Christian in 1995. He became a lay pastor. When he went to assist the World Vision international relief organization in 1999, he was discovered by a journalist and surrendered to authorities.
A visit to the killing fields was part of his trial which resumed last July after eight years in detention without being charged. It was also part of an effort to document the horrors of the regime in order to bring closure to the horrific tragedy that killed nearly a third of the Cambodian population. Duch is one of five remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge awaiting trial and sentencing by the UN-backed Cambodia Tribunal.
Is this entry off-topic? Perhaps somewhat. But it is necessary to remember intently and frequently the stakes in the battle of worldviews. Let’s recite the obligatory disclaimers first: not all atheists are genocidal maniacs, and not all Christians are merciful saints. Understood.
That being the case, who can deny that the worst genocidal regimes in history were atheistic, and that most atheists are evolutionists? Communist philosophy was built on atheism, and evolution was the scientific justification for its views. Evolution portrayed a world of death and struggle where killing was necessary for the advancement of the race. The fitness of the State, not the individual, is what mattered to both communists and national socialists (both, despite their differences, subsets of Social Darwinist ideology; see 02/17/2008 and 11/30/2005; also see response to criticism of this linkage by Dr. Richard Weikart on Evolution News).
Keeping unfit individuals around, in the minds of many Social Darwinists, was sin; advancing the fitness of the State was righteousness. These were ideas first, then ideologies, then political parties, then dictatorships. The perpetrators of communist genocides (Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, and more) sincerely believed they were acting in accordance with the “laws of science” Darwin had delineated.
Here we see one perpetrator who underwent a radical change of worldview. Kang Kek lew was no peasant yanked into service. He had been head of a local college. He joined the communist party of Cambodia willingly. As a communist, Comrade Duch dutifully carried out the will of the State. He even went beyond the call of “duty.” The Wikipedia entry on him says,
Assisted by his two deputies, Comrade Chan and Comrade Pon, Duch began perfecting his interrogation techniques and the purging of perceived enemies from the Khmer Rouge ranks. Prisoners at these camps, mostly from the ranks of the Khmer Rouge, were routinely starved and tortured to extract real and made up confessions. Few prisoners left the camps alive.
Now with a Christian worldview, Duch weeps over his sins. He prays for the souls of his victims. As a lay pastor, he tried to teach others the truth. He joined a Christian relief organization that works around the world to feed the hungry and bring relief to the vulnerable. Only God knows the depths of his sincerity, but one thing is certain: a Christian worldview of mercy and compassion is polar opposite to the communist worldview that turned intellectuals into cold-blooded mass murderers.
Does Comrade Duch deserve the ultimate sentence for past crimes now that he has changed? Whatever the tribunal decides, the blood of his victims is crying from the ground for justice. The institutions of law enforcement, ordained by God according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 13), must act impartially by the rule of law and must weigh the magnitude of the crimes. God will take care of justice for the soul. These matters are not the point of this entry. Comrade Duch’s story illustrates the stark contrast in the outcomes of worldviews that begin with intellectual questions – the existence of God, purpose in life, the nature of good and evil.
What begins in the mind can move armies: armies of tanks and bombs, or armies of relief workers. That’s why Creation-Evolution Headlines matters. The killing fields in Cambodia, chilling as they were, were not unique. Each Social-Darwinist utopian regime committed similar atrocities in ways just as cold and calculated. The body count from 20th-century state-sponsored genocides, far outstripping the number of casualties from war, is exhausting to contemplate (11/30/2005). A proverb of Jesus, applied to science by Sir Francis Bacon, sums up in seven words what we tried to say in seven paragraphs: “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).