Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili was born in 1879, in a poor family in Gori, a small town near Tbilisi in Georgia. He began to use the name of Stalin, which means "man of steel" in Russian, after 1913.
His mother was a religious woman. She she used all her strength to rear her son to be a priest, so she enrolled him in a church school in Gori. He graduated after five years there, and entered the seminary in Tblisi to begin his studies to become a priest of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
During this period, however, Stalin read a few books that changed his world view. Up to then, he had been the devout son of a religious mother, but he lost his faith in God and religion and became an atheist after reading Darwin's The Origin of Species.
In his book, Stalin and the Shaping of the Soviet Union, the Oxford University historian Alex de Jonge shows Darwin's vital role in shaping Stalin's youthful outlook. According to Jonge, he was "a theological student who had lost his faith; Stalin would always maintain that it was Darwin who was responsible for that loss."28 Stalin's adoption of Marxism happened not long afterward. Jonge states that Stalin often emphasized this point in his private conversations.
In his book Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, the English historian Alan Bullock compares these two men, saying that, in his youth, Stalin was very influenced by the works of Karl Marx and Auguste Comte, which he read in Russian translations.29
Actually, this deception happened not only to Stalin, but to the majority of a generation of Russian students and other young people. The myths in scientific garb proposed by Darwin, Huxley, and Lamarck led many young Russians to become atheists. In A People's Tragedy, A history of the Russian Revolution, historian Orlando Figes says, "The scientific materialism of Darwin and Huxley . . . had the status of a religion among the Russian intelligentsia during Lenin's youth."30 Figes relates how Semen Kanatchikov, a young worker who later joined the Bolsheviks, abandoned his religion as the result of evolutionist propaganda:
After Stalin had joined the ranks of the Communists, he was arrested several times under the Tsar's regime. At left, a series of photographs of one of those arrests.
One young worker "proved" to him that God had not created man by showing that, if one filled a box with earth and kept it warm, worms and insects would eventually appear in it. This sort of vulgarized pre-Darwinian science, which was widely found in the left-wing pamphlets of that time, had a tremendous impact on young workers like Kanatchikov… "Now my emancipation from my old prejudices moved forward at an accelerated tempo," later he wrote. "I stopped going to the priest for confession, no longer attended church, and began to eat 'forbidden' food."31
Stalin became close to Lenin in his latter days and tried to advance within the party. Upon Lenin's death, Stalin overcame his rivals and became the Soviet Union's sole ruler..
Such examples as the one quoted above, used to support the claim that God did not create life and that everything came to be by chance, were sheer bogus. Worms and insects did not arise by happenstance—out of nothing, as the medieval belief in spontaneous generation had it—but from eggs laid in the ground. But because the scientific world was not yet aware that living creatures could never be generated from lifeless matter, such myths as these arose like a flood, drowning the half-ignorant Russian youth in atheism.
Members of the atheist generation that grew up in Russia in the 19th century, emerged in the 20thcentury as passionate Communists. One of them was Stalin. In 1898 he joined a secret Communist organization and began to write for a Communist magazine, Brdzola (The Struggle), in 1901. By 1917, he was an active militant of the Communist movement led by Lenin. After the October Revolution of 1917, he became one of the five members of the Politburo, the highest degree of membership in the Communist Party. While Lenin lay ill in 1923, Stalin's power continued in the party to grow and upon Lenin's death, he became the supreme authority. In the five years between 1924 and 1929, he cleared the party of all his opponents by assassination, execution, or exile. Even Trotsky, one of the architects of the October Revolution, became the object of his rage and was driven out of the Soviet Union.
After consolidating his power, Stalin turned his iron fist on society. Lenin had tried to nationalize all the agricultural land in Russia, but the devastation caused by the great famine of 1920-1921 forced him to postpone this undertaking. Stalin, determined to put his plan into effect, began to apply a policy called "collectivization." Its aim was to nationalize all of the villagers' property, seize and export their crops, and use the revenue to bolster Soviet industry and strengthen the military.
Stalin carried out his collectivization policy by torture, murder and starvation. Six million people died of famine, while he exported hundreds of thousands of tons of grain. Once again, Stalin documented the savagery of Materialist-Darwinist ideas, which regarded humanity as an animal species that had to be trained by inflicting pain as corrective punishment.