Saturday of this week will be the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s death. While Lennon is known for his large catalog of trend-setting songs, he is best known for one song — “Imagine.” It appears on the first page of the atheist’s hymnal.
Ray Comfort writes: “Every year since 2005, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ has been played just before the New Year’s ball drop in Times Square. ‘Imagine’ was played at the 1996 and the 2004 Olympics, and the 2006 Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony.” Emeli Sandé recorded a cover version of “Imagine” for the BBC that was used during the end credits montage at the close of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
Rolling Stone magazine lists “Imagine” as No. 3 on the list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” describing it as Lennon’s “greatest musical gift to the world.”
Recently we’ve come to learn that Lennon was embarrassed by his early political and social radicalism. Fred Seaman, who worked with Lennon from 1979 to his death on December 8, 1980, claims that the music legend “was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.” Seaman continued:
“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.
“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naiveté.”
In a series of interviews published after his death, “[t]he man who famously called for imagining a world with ‘No religion’ also jettisoned his anti-theism,” Jordan Michael Smith of The American Conservative writes. “‘People got the image I was anti-Christ or antireligion,’ he said. ‘I’m not at all. I’m a most religious fellow. I’m religious in the sense of admitting there is more to it than meets the eye. I’m certainly not an atheist.’”
Not only did Lennon reject atheism, he also rejected extreme forms of evolution. He instinctively knew that there was something special about humans and different about the animal world even if he did not know how the theory of evolution is argued:
“Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way,” he insisted. “That’s another piece of garbage. What the hell’s it based on? We couldn’t have come from anything — fish, maybe, but not monkeys. I don’t believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren’t monkeys changing into men now? It’s absolute garbage. It’s absolutely irrational garbage, as mad as the ones who believe the world was made only four thousand years ago, the fundamentalists. That and the monkey thing are both as insane as the apes standing up suddenly.”
What happened to Lennon? Why did his views change? He grew up. He matured. He was willing to look reality in the face without blinking and say, I was wrong. The man who imagined a world with “no religion” and “no possessions” left an estate of more than $275 million, “not bad for one who referred to himself as an ‘instinctive socialist,’ for one who believed in the abolition of ‘all money, police, and government.’” ((David A. Noebel, The Legacy of John Lennon: Charming or Harming a Generation? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 11.))
Lennon’s early flirtation with socialism was temporary. Maybe he was persuaded by the lyrics from fellow-Beatle George Harrison’s song “Taxman.” “The Beatles’ large earnings placed them in the top tax bracket in the United Kingdom, liable to a 95% supertax introduced by Harold Wilson’s Labour government (hence the lyrics ‘There’s one for you, nineteen for me’).”
Lennon knew that sending money to poor nations was counter-productive.
“When it was pointed out that a Beatles reunion could possibly raise $200 million for a poverty-stricken country in South America, Lennon had no time for it. ‘You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. After they’ve eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles.’”
It’s time that atheists and liberals follow Lennon’s lead and also grow up. Atheism and socialism are literal dead ends. They are destroyers of people and societies. If there is no God, then Lennon’s death at the hands of Mark David Chapman was the result of the survival of the fittest, the fittest being Chapman. Atheism is like setting one’s sails “for the island of nihilism. This is the darkest continent of the darkened mind — the ultimate paradise of the fool.” ((R. C. Sproul, The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts That Shaped Our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 171.))