Tag Archive | Nietzsche

Why do Black Lives & LGBTQ+ Lives Matter?

Why do black lives and LGBTQ+ lives matter? This is an important question because some people have views that don’t support the idea of lives mattering. For example, Charles Darwin, the most famous proponent of evolution titled his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life.  And in his book, The Decent of Man, he says,

“The Western nations of Europe… now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization…. The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.”

Does a strict Darwinian view of the world lead to all lives mattering? It does not appear so. That’s why this question is important. Why do black lives and LGTBQ+ lives matter?

If we cut off our objective moral legs, we have no way to stand. If we say morality doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter. We can’t pick and choose. We can’t both say people are the way they are and have the desires they have and it’s fine and say it’s not okay for people to be certain ways and do certain things. That’s the crucial thing we need to consider.

Black lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. White lives matter. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But why?

That is a super important question and one that sadly isn’t receiving a lot of sustained thought. Why do black lives matter? Why do lives matter at all? Where do we get this concept? Is it true? 

Jesus said, black lives matter.[1] Jesus said, LGBTQ+ lives matter. Jesus said, all lives matter.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).

But does Jesus matter? And if He doesn’t on what basis then are we saying all these lives matter? This may seem like a stupid question. We just know all types of lives matter, right? But do we?

The common view that many have is Darwinian evolution, that we came from nothing and we are going to nothing; from purposelessness to purposelessness. Where is meaning, morality, and lives mattering to be found?[2] Is there a basis for human rights?

Also, did the Roman culture, in whose hands Jesus was murdered say, all lives matter?[3] Did Joseph Stalin say all lives matter? Did Friedrich Nietzsche? Did Adolf Hitler? Did Mao Zedong? Is it even possible to say all lives matter or any lives matter when the highest maximum is have it your way and do what’s right for you? Could it be that “just as long as no one gets hurt” has been trampled upon and obliterated by “you can do whatever you want”? Objective NormsIf God is dead, and we killed him, as Nietzsche said, what follows? Perhaps Nietzsche was right, perhaps that makes all things permissible? Each person doing what is right in their own eyes, whatever that might be. Who is anyone, who or what is God, to restrain? …We are who we are and we want what we want and that’s nobodies business, right?

How or where, then, do we get the concept of lives, any lives, ultimately mattering? The concept of lives mattering would be merely imaginary (a social construct). Perhaps good for America right now but not for all people at all times and places.

We can’t deconstruct everything and still have a basis which to say lives matter or to say that we must love others. We can’t both say we can do whatever we want and you can’t do certain things (like be racist or homophobic). 

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C.S. Lewis on Scientism in Out of the Silent Planet

Have you ever heard of C.S. Lewis’ book series, The Chronicles of Narnia? It’s good. But, Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy is even better. And one of the reasons for that is because he confronts scientism.

Scientism exalts the natural sciences as the only fruitful means of investigation. In the words of Wikipedia: “Scientism is the promotion of science as the best or only objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values.” In short, scientism is the view that says science, and science alone, tells us what is right and true.

Science, of course, is different. It is the study of the natural world through systematic study (observation, measurement, testing, and adjustment of hypotheses). Scientism goes beyond science and beyond the observation of the physical world into philosophy and ethics.

How can observations about the natural world tell us how to think and live? How can science tell us how to best do science? What can be said about the problems of scientism? C.S. Lewis gives us a few things to think about, and in a very enjoyable way.

Weston, one of the main characters in C.S. Lewis’ book, Out of the Silent Planet, holds to a form of scientism and belittles other ways of acquiring knowledge. Unscientific people, Weston says, “repeat words that don’t mean anything”[1] and so Weston refers to philology as “unscientific tomfoolery.” The “classics and history” are “trash education.”[2] He also says that Ransom’s “philosophy of life” is “insufferably narrow.”[3]

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Is there a basis for Human Rights?

God’s existence and His revelation are necessary conditions for meaningful human rights. Christianity gives a firm foundation for human rights. Not only that, but Christianity has “the strongest possible resource for practicing sacrificial service, generosity, and peace-making. At the very heart of [Christianity’s] view of reality [is] a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness. Reflection on this could only lead to a radically different way of dealing with those who [are] different from them. It [means] they [could] not act in violence and oppression toward their opponents.”[1] Of course, that doesn’t mean that the ideal is always followed.
 
There have been Christians that have done very wicked things. There have also been many wicked things that have been done by atheists.[2] That, however, does not mean that all atheists are bad or even that atheism is wrong. As we will see below though, atheists do not finally have any basis for morality or human rights.
 
Richard Wurmbrand who experienced ghastly torture at the hands of an atheistic government said,
“The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe. When a man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I heard one torturer say, ‘I thank God, in whom I do not believe, that I lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.”[3] 
Scripture, on the other hand, clearly condemns injustice.[4] Scripture shows us that God loves justice and, conversely, hates injustice; He has compassion for those who suffer injustice—everywhere around the world; He judges and condemns those who perpetrate injustice; and He seeks active rescue for victims of injustice.[5] Much of secular society, however, does not have a reason to condemn injustice.

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Darwin, Dawkins, and Moral Duty

Dawkins says “justice is a human construct of great importance in human affairs.”[1] And Dawkins believes that there is probably a Darwinian explanation that explains justice. So, our concept of justice is just a convenient Darwinian happenstance. I believe he says “blessed precious mistake” in his book The God Delusion. Of course, Nietzsche would disagree. Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morals doesn’t think it’s blessed or precious.

Also, if justice is merely a human construct then the cannibal clan in Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road are not wrong in keeping people locked up in the cellar in order to slaughter and eat. 

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Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 7)

Significance for Christian Practice
Nietzsche is certainly good at reminding us that if God does not break into human experience then we are hopelessly lost. Nietzsche shows us what the antithesis of Christianity looks like. Nietzsche is correct, if God is dead, “if atheism is true, there is no moral accountability for one’s actions… If life ends at the grave, it makes no difference whether one lives as Stalin or as a saint.”[1]

Apologists need to show people the world as it is, and existentialists like Nietzsche can do a good job at shaking us awake to the realities of our broken world. Ironically, understanding Nietzsche could help people become “poor in spirit,” a prerequisite to the Kingdom of heaven. Through, the dark and dooming picture that Nietzsche paints we can see our existential need for God. Thus, understanding Nietzsche’s philosophy can actually be helpful for Christians. Read More…

Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 5)

Nietzsche’s Ideal Implodes
Salaquarda points out that “Historical criticism remained Nietzsche’s most important argument against religion up to the beginning of the 1880s.”[1] However, there are many persuasive arguments that have been made that support, for instance, the resurrection of the Jesus.[2] So, in my opinion, a convincing case can be made for why we can and should believe in the resurrection of Jesus and for the reliability of the Old and New Testaments. Thus, the bedrock of Nietzsche’s criticism is unfounded. In the end, it is his foundation that is shaky (Nietzsche does not even believe in true truth!). Nietzsche also claimed that God was dead and told people that they should live in light of that reality. However, good arguments can be made that conclude that God is alive and well.[3] Truly, even as we look at the world we live in it seems apparent that it is the fool that says there is no God (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).

Nietzsche said, “atheism and a sort of second innocence belong together.”[4] If God is dead there is not only no morality, there is innocence. No one is guilty. No one should feel guilty. Each person can freely do what they see as right in their own eyes. However, human experience tells us otherwise. Nietzsche seems to paint hell as heaven. If we apply his logic he seems to hold up the carnage of Auschwitz as a return to Eden.[5] As William Lane Craig has said, “If God does not exist, then in a sense, our world is Auschwitz: there is no right and wrong; all things are permitted.”[6]

The world will eventually burn up in the death of the sun. There is no meaning. We are decaying matter that will soon be planted. If we are merely matter in motion then we have no morals. We cannot say man descended from apes and thus has no final importance and also say that we must love one another. That reasoning does not follow. Read More…

Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 4)

Nietzsche’s Ideal
I want to look at the functionality of Nietzsche’s philosophy. What kind of world does Nietzsche’s philosophy create? Nietzsche’s philosophy creates a world in its own image, one in which people bite and devour each other.

Nietzsche’s philosophy creates all sorts of problems. For example, Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite; he disagreed with his sister and brother-in-law who were. But, it is hard to say upon what grounds. When there is no morality, when “god is dead,” it is hard to criticize morality in other people. Yet, we see him do this time and time again. When we say there is no God, when we say there is no morality, if we are to be consistent we must realize there is no morality and we must come to terms with the world that it creates. So, I am not necessarily pointing out that Nietzsche was wrong, though I think he was, but I want to point out that he and many who have come after him are inconsistent. We cannot hold up Nietzsche’s ideas in the many forms they take and not expect a torrent of injustices to overwhelm us that harken back to Auschwitz.

Nietzsche hated Christianity’s morality that was based, in his opinion, on “pie in the sky.” However, Nietzsche’s morality, or lack thereof, leads to hell here. Nietzsche very likely would not have supported Nazism, and it seems as if he was not anti-Semitic, but many of his writings support the atrocities of the holocaust.

If Nietzsche is right that God is dead then his morality is right as well. That is, there is no right, there is no wrong, there is in sum, no morality. As Ivan Karamazov said in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book The Brothers Karamazov, “If God is dead, everything is permitted.” In fact, morality is unhelpful. Nietzsche basically says that morality is nihilistic. He says, “Morality is a way of turning one’s back on the will to existence.”[1]

However, we cannot really live in a world like that, we, at least, would loathe that world. But, that’s the bitter truth if God is dead. If God is dead there is no killing a billion devils. Hell may not then be literal, but hell on earth is. If God is dead, humanity is “free;” free to wallow in its own mire. Free to oppress, free to enslave, free to hate, free to do whatever it is we feel to do, so long as we are more powerful than the powers that be…

So, Nietzsche’s atheistic “morality” might be freeing, if you’re at the top of the food chain. But if you’re a minority or a small off-shoot fringe group that’s not accepted by the powers that be, you are likely to be stubble for the Übermensch’s flame. Freedom it seems only would come to the “god” of this world, the “god” that is strong enough to enslave others (of course you might say, that even that “god” is then enslaved to continually fight for his so-called “godhood”). And so, we see that Nietzsche provides no freedom, he just provides a different master, one that (Romans 6 reminds us) brings a litany of death, debauchery, chaos, and everlasting curse. Nietzsche and his morality—and Darwin and Dawkins[2]—do not finally bring freedom and fun or hope of heaven on earth, they bring a very real type of hell to life on earth; they, when their philosophy is lived out to its logical conclusion, nearly have the power to give demons flesh.[3] They, short of incarnating evil, do image their master the devil. They carry out his deeds by their acts; acts of rape, acts of mutilation, acts of vile debauchery and calculated cruelty, they glory in their shame and they praise and promote those who do the same. They do this because they did not see fit to honor God, they thus become futile in their thinking, and do the works of their father the devil.

My goal is not so much to prove Nietzsche wrong, in my opinion, he has done that himself. My goal is to prove that if “God is dead” it follows that there is no morality and that makes for a terrible world. This is immediately relevant to our current culture. We desire Eden—healthy people and planet, peace, and prosperity—all the while saying there is no God and we can do as we like.[4]

It seems then that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was influenced by Nietzsche’s work. It seems to me that a seed was planted in Nietzsche’s work that Hitler would later cultivate to very destructive ends.[5] Nietzsche may not have foreseen or intended all the Nazi party carried out but it seems that what they did is in line with his thought So, although Nietzsche himself may not have supported the Nazi party, his thought when taken to its logical conclusion, does seem to lead to many of the things that the Nazi party did. Nietzsche, from my reading of him, would certainly have no grounds to criticize anything that they did.

The brutality that Hitler and his regime carried out was necessary as Nietzsche described: “man’s sacrifice en bloc [all together] to the prosperity of one single stronger species of man—that would be progress.”[6] Thus the brutality and sacrifice would be worth it in Nietzsche’s mind because it would bring about a new and better age. Nietzsche, I am sure, could concur with these words from Hitler: “Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”[7]

Nietzsche said this in Beyond Good and Evil:

The crucial thing about a good and healthy aristocracy… is that it does not feel that it is a function… but rather its essence and highest justification—and that therefore it has not misgivings in condoning the sacrifice of a vast number of people who must for its sake be oppressed and diminished into incomplete people, slaves, tools. Its fundamental belief must simply be that society can not exist for its own sake, but rather only as a foundation and scaffolding to enable a select kind of creature to ascend to its higher task and in general to its higher existence.[8]

As we have said, we can extrapolate, especially with hindsight, that Nietzsche’s philosophy had an impact (though to what degree we cannot say) on Nazism. If there is no right and no wrong, only what is desirable and undesirable for the particular individual, then we allow, even give precedence, for all sorts of moral degradation (because, after all, moral degradation does not actually exist, only the will to power). Thus, we see Nietzsche’s ideal, his philosophy, ultimately promotes violence and all sorts of vile practices. 

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[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, par. 11.

[2] Richard Dawkins follows Nietzsche in saying that “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life [New York: Basic Books, 1995], 133).

[3] If morality was just a “misfiring” or a “Darwinian mistake,” even a “blessed, precious mistake” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion [New York: Mariner Books, 2008], 253) it would not be grounds for living a moral life. Yes, one certainly could still live a moral life, as apparently, Dawkins claims to. He even makes fun of the consideration that people would need a judge in the sky to make us moral. However, Dawkins does not take into account various atheists that attest to the truth that we need a judge in the sky to keep humanity from caring out acts of atrocity on others (cf. e.g. Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ). If there is no evil, no true transtemporal truth, then there really are no real acts of atrocity. If God is dead, all things are permissible. They may not always be efficient or wise but they are permissible. Efficiency itself becomes the criteria of right and wrong (cite eugenics, euthanasia, Trump’s taxes, etc.). Efficiency becomes a parallel to Nietzsche’s “will to power.” The person that rises above the system (e.g. moral, political), uses the system, or beats the system is the “over-self” that bends the world to its own ends. This is the new “morality,” striving and thriving to subdue life and life’s systems to whatever end is desirable. The true “over-self” may not call themselves a disciple of Nietzsche, it may even be unwise of them to make that claim, but if they live in the ways mentioned above then they are a disciple of Nietzsche even if they don’t know it. They may claim they’re not, they may claim to be pragmatists but they seem to be Nietzsche’s disciples nonetheless.

[4] It reminds me quite a bit of the first sin: forgetting God and doing as we desire. Here we see the danger of autonomous reasoning. From the beginning, even before the Fall, we have been dependent upon God for everything, revelation directing us to know what we should desire. In fact, I think Nietzsche would be happy in that it seems like the only morality today seems to be to do whatever suits the particular individual (unless it infringes upon what someone else wants to do or is really nasty). So, there seems to be no rules, except do not make rules for others or do “really bad things” (like pollution, Christian hypocrisy, and pedophilia).

[5] The Stanford Encyclopedia says “during the 1930s, aspects of Nietzsche’s thought were espoused by the Nazis and Italian Fascists, partly due to the encouragement of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche through her associations with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. It was possible for the Nazi interpreters to assemble, quite selectively, various passages from Nietzsche’s writings whose juxtaposition appeared to justify war, aggression and domination for the sake of nationalistic and racial self-glorification” (Wicks, “Friedrich Nietzsche” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

[6] Par. 12 of the Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality.

[7] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 289.

[8] Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par. 258. Cf. Darwin’s thoughts on the queen bee. He said, “we ought to admire the savage instinctive hatred of the queen-bee, which urges her instantly to destroy the young queens her daughters as soon as born, or to perish herself in the combat; for undoubtedly this is for the good of the community; and maternal love and maternal hatred, though the latter fortunately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable principle of natural selection” (Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species [London: Penguin, 1968], 230).

Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 3)​

Nietzsche’s Critique: Christianity is Nihilistic
Nihilism,[1] for Nietzsche, is something that happens when “slave morality”[2] is followed. It seems like Nietzsche is saying that when you follow the Christian teaching then you no longer care about yourself, you put your hope in “pie in the sky,” and you become nothing. Ironically, as we will see, Nietzsche’s philosophy is the ultimate view that leads to nothingness. In his system, there is no ultimate reason for meaning or morality. Thus, what he criticized Christians for is most fully realized in his own position.

Nietzsche is not intending to promote nihilism but sees himself as fighting against it.[3] Nietzsche clearly sees Christianity as nihilistic. He promotes the animal instinct of the will to life, of fighting tooth and nail to exploit whatever can be exploited. In reading Nietzsche, it seems like the ideal world for him would be one in which we live like animals. Nietzsche’s ideal world seems to be a rough and wild animal kingdom where the powerful rule.[4]

Nietzsche concludes that Christianity is nihilistic and believes that the Übermensch who is anti-nihilistic will one day come to save the world.[5] He over and over again, bemoans weak and wicked, guilt ridden, Christianity.[6] He awaits the dawn of the superior man of the future that will deliver the world from its nauseating and nonsensical fascination with compassion and grace.[7]

In On the Genealogy of Morality,[8] Nietzsche says that large birds of prey do nothing wrong in eating and attacking lambs, they are only doing what comes natural to them. The lambs might say that the birds of prey are bad and that whoever is least like them, like a lamb, is good. However, it seems like Nietzsche is saying that that reasoning does not make sense. The lambs are not any better, any more “good,” than the birds of prey. Their criterion of “good” is subjective and they are merely trying to protect themselves by defining “good” as they themselves already are.[9] Within the paragraph Nietzsche says, “a good person is anyone who does not rape, does not harm anyone, who does not attack, does not retaliate, who leaves the taking of revenge to God,… avoids all evil and asks little from life in general.”

It seems like for Nietzsche the “good person,”[10] who does not do bad things, corresponds to the lamb; and the “bad person,” who does bad things like rape and attack, corresponds to the bird of prey. Therefore, Nietzsche seems to be making the point that the “bird of prey,” the so-called “bad person” that rapes, harms, and attacks is really not evil because “evil” after all is something that the “lamb,” the so-called “good person,” made up. Therefore, we see that in a world where God is dead and morality is subjective[11] then there is nothing ultimately wrong with raping, harming, and attacking others.[12] Actually, Nietzsche basically says that the “lambs,” i.e. the early Christians and Jews, made up their morality to get back at the “birds of prey,” the masters that treated them badly.[13]

Plantinga concurs with my observation. He says,

Nietzsche’s… complaint: that religion originates in slave morality, in the ressentment [sic] of the oppressed. As Nietzsche sees it, Christianity both fosters and arises from a sort of sniveling, cowardly, servile, evasive, duplicitous, and all-around contemptible sort of character, which is at the same time envious, self-righteous, and full of hate disguised as charitable kindness. (Not a pretty picture).[14]

Nietzsche said, “I expressly want to place on record that at the time when mankind felt no shame towards its cruelty, life on earth was more cheerful than it is today,… The heavens darkened over man in direct proportion to the increase in his feeling shame at being man.[15] He is saying that man should not feel shame at “being man,” that is, following his animal instincts (perhaps to rape, harm, and attack like the “bird of prey”). For Nietzsche, it was sermonizing that led the animal “man” to feel ashamed of his instincts.[16]

For Nietzsche, “life functions essentially in an injurious, violent, exploitative and destructive manner, or at least these are its fundamental processes and it cannot be thought of without these characteristics.”[17] Thus, he seems to reason that any system or person that fails to acknowledge this and function in this way is hostile to life and attempts to assassinate the future of man, and follows a path to nothingness.[18] Nietzsche in fact says that “life itself in its essence means appropriating, injuring, overpowering those who are foreign and weaker; oppression, harshness, forcing one’s own forms on others, incorporation, and at the very least, at the very mildest, exploitation.”[19] Nietzsche even says “Perhaps I can even be allowed to admit the possibility that pleasure in cruelty does not really need to have died out.”[20]

Nietzsche said that “people everywhere are rhapsodizing, even under the guise of science, about future social conditions that will have lost their ‘exploitative character’—to my ear that sounds as if they were promising to invent a life form that would refrain from all organic functions.” This seems so apparent to Nietzsche because “the original fact of all history” is that “’Exploitation’ is not part of a decadent or imperfect, primitive society: it is part of the fundamental nature of living things.”[21] Thus, utopia, Eden, heaven, etc. will never be our home. Our nature, since the beginning has been to exploit and Nietzsche would conclude there is nothing wrong with that, it is perfectly normal and realistic.

Nietzsche believes that it is a terrible thing that “the animal ‘man’ is… taught to be ashamed of all his instincts.”[22] Man, at his core, is an animal following his will to life. Christianity, conversely, says we are not animals but that humans, male and female, are created in the image of God and thus have intrinsic worth. We also see that we do not have to follow are base sinful, not merely animalistic, instincts. Nietzsche is hitting on something. We do have instincts, but they come from Adam and the Fall, not animals. Nietzsche’s solution to the inner problem that we all face is wrong as well. The solution is not to give in and forget guilt. The answer is to become a new creation in the better Adam.

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[1] The word “nihilism” comes from the Latin word nihil, which means “nothing.” Nietzsche basically says that nihilism is the predilection for and overvaluation of compassion (see par. 5 in the Preface of On the Genealogy of Morality cf. the end of par. 12 in the First Essay par. 24 in the Second Essay). As Clare Carlisle says, “Although Nietzsche’s philosophy is sometimes mistakenly described as ‘nihilistic’, the opposite is in fact the case, for the purpose of his writing was to halt and to reverse this process of decline” (Clare Carlisle, “Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil: ‘Why insist on the truth?’” in Richmond Journal of Philosophy 4 (Summer 2003). It does seem ironic that Nietzsche’s own philosophy would later be termed nihilistic, which I think is accurate. Nietzsche’s philosophy does lead us to conclude that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known; thus leading us to nihilism. So, although Nietzsche said Christianity was nihilistic, in the final analysis it is his own thought that is. Nietzsche says that Christians have “an imaginary teleology (the “kingdom of God,” “the last judgment,” “eternal life” (The Antichrist, par. 15) and yet Nietzsche has no teleology, Nietzsche is left with nothing—nihilism.

[2] In a sense, so-called “slavery morality” comes from Christ Himself and can be traced all the way back to God the Father. God had pity on Adam and Eve, Israel in Egypt, and on the hopeless state of humanity. Nietzsche is essentially damning humanities only hope of redemption. In fact, the rescue mission included Jesus becoming a man and taking the form of a slave, and dying, dying on a roman cross. Nietzsche who seemed to respect Jesus in many ways hated what Jesus was actually doing. Christ emptied Himself, Christ had pity.

[3] “Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect. Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue (—in every superior moral system it appears as a weakness—); going still further, it has been called the virtue, the source and foundation of all other virtues—but let us always bear in mind that this was from the standpoint of a philosophy that was nihilistic, and upon whose shield the denial of life was inscribed. Schopenhauer was right in this: that by means of pity life is denied, and made worthy of denial—pity is the technic of nihilism. Let me repeat: this depressing and contagious instinct stands against all those instincts which work for the preservation and enhancement of life: in the rôle of protector of the miserable, it is a prime agent in the promotion of décadence—pity persuades to extinction… Of course, one doesn’t say “extinction”: one says “the other world,” or “God” (Nietzsche, The Antichrist, par. 7). One translation says, “pity is the practice of nihilism” (par. 7).

[4] “There is no place in Nietzsche’s picture of the ideal man for pity: pity is nothing more than a morbid fascination with failure. It is the great weakener of the will, and forms the bond between slaves, which perpetuates their slavery” (Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey [New York: Penguin Books, 1994], 297).

[5] See par. 24 of the Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality.

[6] “I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian church the most terrible of all the accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption. The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul. Let any one dare to speak to me of its “humanitarian” blessings! Its deepest necessities range it against any effort to abolish distress; it lives by distress; it creates distress to make itself immortal… For example, the worm of sin: it was the church that first enriched mankind with this misery!—The “equality of souls before God”—this fraud, this pretext for the rancunes of all the base-minded—this explosive concept, ending in revolution, the modern idea, and the notion of overthrowing the whole social order —this is Christian dynamite… The “humanitarian” blessings of Christianity forsooth! To breed out of humanitas a self-contradiction, an art of self-pollution, a will to lie at any price, an aversion and contempt for all good and honest instincts! All this, to me, is the “humanitarianism” of Christianity!—Parasitism as the only practice of the church; with its anæmic and “holy” ideals, sucking all the blood, all the love, all the hope out of life; the beyond as the will to deny all reality; the cross as the distinguishing mark of the most subterranean conspiracy ever heard of,—against health, beauty, well-being, intellect, kindness of soul—against life itself… .

This eternal accusation against Christianity I shall write upon all walls, wherever walls are to be found—I have letters that even the blind will be able to see… I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough or secret, subterranean and small enough,—I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race… The transvaluation of all values!…” (Nietzsche, The Antichrist, par. 62).

[7] “Love and compassion, for instance, especially for the weak and sick, was in Nietzsche’s view, contrary to the “life-affirming” philosophy of the Overman” (Richard Weikart, The Death of Humanity: and the Case for Life [Regnery Publishing, 2016], Kindle Locations 3353-3354).

[8] Par.13. Diogenes makes the interesting observation that “Nietzschean genealogy is effective at undermining master narratives precisely because it provides a counternarrative” (Allen Diogenes, Philosophy for Understanding Theology [Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985], 236-37). David F. Wells believes that Nietzsche’s writing on “slave morality” has had a very large impact. He said that perhaps what laid the groundwork for Nietzsche “becoming the godfather to our morally collapsing world was his contrast between master and slave moralities” (Wells, Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision, 151).

[9] So the “lamb” (i.e. the Christian and Jew) says, “’Only those who suffer are good, only the poor, the powerless, the lowly are good; the suffering, the deprived, the sick, the ugly, are the only pious people, the only ones saved, salvation is for them alone, whereas you rich, thenoble, and powerful, you are eternally wicked, cruel, lustful, insatiate, godless, you will also be eternally wretched, cursed and damned!’” (Par. 7 in the First Essay of On the Genealogy of Morality). Adolf Hitler said in Mein Kompf that “the Jew knew that by an able and persistent use of propaganda heaven itself can be presented to the people as if it were hell and, vice versa, the most miserable kind of life can be presented as if it were paradise. The Jew knew this and acted accordingly.”

[10] Nietzsche seems to believe that a regressive trait lurks in the “good person.” Morality itself is to blame for man not reaching its highest potential of power and splendor. Morality itself is the danger of dangers (see par. 6 in the Preface of On the Genealogy of Morality).

[11] Jean-Paul Sartre said, “There is this in common between art and morality, that in both we have to do with creation and invention. We cannot decide a priori what it is that should be done” (Sartre, “Existentialism Is a Humanism”). We are “free” to believe and do whatever it is our hands find to do. There is no plum line by which to measure what is morally right and morally wrong and thus, it seems in this view, all things should be permitted. The Lord is dead, in Nietzsche’s thought, so we are lords of our own lives. We decide what is right and we take that path not matter where it leads and no matter what the world says about it.

[12] Yes, it remains true that the “bird of prey” may inconvenience others by his actions and may even reap consequences from his actions but in the final analysis what he did was not evil and thus not really wrong. It should be noted that the bird of prey’s actions will more likely occur when birds of prey are more numerous than lambs; in a system where birds of prey hold sway. This is because the bird of prey will be less likely to have their actions checked by penalties. Benjamin Wiker explains a similar reasoning: “Since the universe is purely material result of chance, it is amoral, a conclusion ultimately drawn from the belief that the universe is not designed (and therefore has no intrinsic moral order) and has no designer (And therefore no extrinsic moral orderer). Given such a universe, it is not difficult to see that the most we could hope for is the maximization of our desire and the minimization of pain” (Benjamin Wiker, Moral Darwinism: How We Became Moral Hedonists [Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2002], 166). Further, it seems in societies where it is believed that there is no true evil, “bird of prey” actions would be expected as the norm.

[13] Nietzsche said that “Jesus of Nazareth, as the embodiment of the gospel of love, this ‘redeemer’ bringing salvation and victory to the poor, the sick, to sinners—was he not seduction in its most sinister and irresistible form…?” Nietzsche goes on: “Did Israel not reach the pinnacle of her sublime vengefulness via this very ‘redeemer’, this apparent opponent of and disperser of Israel? Is it not part of a secret black art of a truly grand politics of revenge, a far-sighted, subterranean revenge, slow to grip and calculating, that Israel had to denounce her actual instrument of revenge before all the world as a mortal enemy and nail him to the cross so that ‘all the world’, namely all Israel’s enemies, could safely nibble at this bait? And could anyone, on the other hand, using all the ingenuity of his intellect, think up a more dangerous bait?… Israel, with its revenge and revaluation of all former values, has triumphed repeatedly over all other ideals, all nobler ideals.” (Par. 8 in the First Essay of On the Genealogy of Morality cf. par. 9). Later he says that “the Jews were a priestly nation of resentment par excellence” (Ibid., par. 16). See also Nietzsche, The Antichrist, par. 24.

[14] Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 136.

[15] See par. 7 of the Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality.

[16] Nietzsche, Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality, Par. 7.

[17] Nietzsche, Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality, Par. 11.

[18] Cf. par. 11 in Ibid.

[19] Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par. 259.

[20] Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, par. 7.

[21] Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par. 259.

[22] Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, par. 7.

Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 2)

Nietzsche was Right, but He was also very Wrong
What I hope to show in my paper is that Nietzsche’s philosophy was either very accurate or very wrong. That is, Nietzsche’s conclusions if God is “dead” lead inevitably to certain conclusions. In my evaluation, I take three of Nietzsche’s late period writings (1886-88) as my main point of interaction.[1] This is for a two reasons. First, Nietzsche’s writings are large and this paper is not. Second, because his philosophy is more likely to be further established in his later writings.

In Nietzsche’s writings, he shows over and over again that his thought is the converse of Christianity; this is true if we look at his doctrine of eternal recurrence or his writings on slave morality. And as Nietzsche said, philosophy “always creates the world according to its own image, it cannot do otherwise”[2] and for Nietzsche’s thought, when extrapolated and applied, it makes hell. That is what I hope to argue, I hope to show how Nietzsche’s thought, when applied, makes a world in its own image, one that is terrible, filled with war, rape, and violence. I want to show this because I believe it is the inevitable outcome of the path he started. Since the beginning, it has been true that when we turn away from God we turn to our own destruction (Ps. 16:2; Jer. 2:5; Rom. 1; 3:12; etc.).

So, how is Nietzsche right? Nietzsche is right in that he paints a powerful portrait for us of what it means to be given up to our own devices (cf. Rom. 1). Nietzsche shows us the fallout from the Fall of humanity. But, Nietzsche was also gravely wrong. God is not dead!

Nietzsche’s philosophy is most clearly the converse of Christianity. Nietzsche says God is dead.[3] He says there is no truth. He says to assert yourself and make your own way. He says there is no heaven so live each moment today like it will occur eternally. In short, I hope to show that in the throwing off the “shackles” of morality and the hope of heaven Nietzsche has fettered those who follow him to hell on earth. Nietzsche’s writings and subsequent history show us that a world where right and wrong do not exist, is a world where lots of pain and oppression do.[4]

Ideas and beliefs have consequences, profound consequences. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised then let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Elijah says in 1 Kings 18:21 that if God is not God then don’t live for Him, live for whatever it is that you believe is true, whether Baal or, I believe he would say, whatever applicable philosophy. So, as we look at Nietzsche’s thought, which is the converse of Christianity, we can begin to understand and better appreciate Christianity. 

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[1] That is, Beyond Good and Evil: A Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future (1886), On the Genealogy of Morality (1887), and The Antichrist (1888).

[2] Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par 9.

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, par. 108, 125, 343. Cf. e.g. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, “Zarathustra’s Prologue,” par. 2 and 3.

[4] “By denying human equality and human rights, and by devaluing the lives of the masses, Nietzsche’s philosophy is really a loveless, forlorn philosophy of death, cruelty, and oppression” (Weikart, Richard, The Death of Humanity: and the Case for Life [Regnery Publishing], Kindle Locations 3394-3395.

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