Friedrich Nietzsche 



This widely-read nineteenth century author, whose reputation suffered a partial eclipse owing to all that unpleasantness with the Nazis, wanted an atheism which was not just 'me-tooism.' If atheists live according to Christian morals, then what, after all, is the point? Some newly-minted atheists leave the Christian fold fully intending to continue living according to Christian ethical teaching, and some actually do keep it up for a while: "Just so, many people today who are atheist or agnostic in religion, are governed in their conduct by a code of Christian ethics which is so rooted in their unconscious assumptions that it never occurs to them to question it." (Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning, p. 32). Why on earth? Nietzche was enough of a classicist to realize that people had not always lived by the Sermon on the Mount. One might hear the Sermon on the Mount and snicker. His atheism is taken for granted, no longer really even argued for:



  • “God loves us, for he made us, sent us here!—
  • “'Man hath made God!' ye subtle ones reply.
  • “His handiwork he must hold dear,
  • “And what he made shall he deny?”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §38, Jest, Ruse and Revenge, p. 22).



Me, Too
Inversion
Animal Barn
God a Jew
A Peculiar People
Jesus the Messiah
Pagan Revival
Slave Morality
Utilitarianism
Platonism for the People


God, he explains, in an 'imaginary being' (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 581), and Christianity gives us a "world of pure fiction." We live in a day when an air-brushed atheism is sold under the slogan of 'me-tooism:' 'you can be good without God.' And people are so naive, that bright-eyed Christian youngsters abandon the gospel, in the certainty they will see no moral decline. Check back in five years. Nietzsche is in many ways familiar: like today's atheists, he believes in scientism, in a 'science' which has rendered God obsolete: "The old God was seized with hellish fear. Man himself had turned out to be his greatest mistake; he had created a rival for himself, science makes godlike — it is all over with priests and gods when man becomes scientific." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 628). Yet in some ways he is unfamiliar, scary and strange, to a generation of atheists nourished on pabulum and milk. In this day of a 'new' atheism that has been packaged a bit deceptively, he is a breath of fresh air.

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Me, Too

Nowadays the atheists put up billboards proclaiming, 'You Can Be Good Without God.' Unfortunately, this well-publicized saying is more than just a little bit of a cheat. What does it mean to be 'good'? What specific behaviors are prohibited, which praised? Will an atheist sit down and make out the same list as a Christian? When the Christian includes 'homosexuality' on the 'not-good' side of the ledger, will the atheist cry 'Bigot!'? If the atheist replaces Christian sexual morality with the slogan, 'If it feels good, do it,' explaining that repression causes neurosis (this was the diagnosis of the quack Freud), then billboard-readers have a right to complain they've been victimized by a 'bait-and-switch:' the 'goodness' of the atheist is a reduced subset of Christian morality, with whole wide swaths torn out from the original whole, intact fabric.

Nietzsche saw no point in mimicking Christian morals, and said so loudly and explicitly. He realized that, under atheism, the whole question of 'ought' is problematical: "For there is no longer any ought, morality; so far as it is involved 'ought,' is, through our point of view, as utterly annihilated as religion. Our knowledge can permit only pleasure and pain, benefit and injury, to subsist as motives." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Kindle location 550).  Given that Nietzsche did not believe in free will, it is difficult to envision how he could become a moralist: "If finally men attain to the conviction of the absolute necessity of all acts and of their utter irresponsibility and then absorb it into their flesh and blood, every relic of conscience pangs will disappear." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, The Religious Life, Section 133, Kindle location 1421). In spite of this uncertainty and difficulty in pouring a solid foundation, he did however evolve his own system of morals which was almost an inverted mirror-image of Christianity. He thought Christian morals were the imposition of weak and slavish persons on the strong, masterly man who, in a state of nature, would dominate those envious weaklings. His morals were not 'me-tooism.' They were also a horror, as any will discover who try to live like that.

Nietzsche blamed Christianity for many of the ills in the world, including equal rights:

"That, as an 'immortal soul,' everybody is equal to everybody else, that in the totality of beings the 'salvation' of every single one is permitted to claim to be of everlasting moment, that little bigots and three-quarters madmen are permitted to imagine that for their sakes the laws of nature are continually being broken — such a raising of every sort of egoism to infinity, to impudence, cannot be branded with sufficient contempt. And yet it is to this pitiable flattery of personal vanity and Christianity owes its victory — it is with this that it has persuaded over to its side everything ill-constituted, rebellious-minded, under-privileged, all the dross and refuse of mankind. 'Salvation of the soul' — in plain words: 'The world revolves around me'. . .The poison of the doctrine 'equal rights for all' — this has been more thoroughly sowed by Christianity than by anything else; from the most secret recesses of base instincts, Christianity has waged a war to the death against ever feeling of reverence and distance between man and man, that is, the precondition of every elevation, every increase in culture — it has forged out of the ressentiment of the masses its chief weapon against us, against everything noble, joyful, high-spirited on earth, against our happiness on earth. . .'Immortality' granted to every Peter and Paul has been the greatest and most malicious outrage on noble mankind ever committed." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, §43, p. 168).

Nietzsche was no egalitarian. Beware of what you are giving up when you give up God; political and legal equality goes with the deal:

"You higher men, learn this from me: in the market place nobody believes in higher men. And if you want to speak there, very well! But the mob blinks: 'We are all equal.'
"'You higher men' — thus blinks the mob — 'there are no higher men, we are all equal, man is man; before God we are all equal.'
"Before God! But now this god has died. And before the mob we do not want to be equal." (The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 398).

No democrat, he wanted the lesser beings to know their place: "The human being who has become free — and how much more the spirit who has become free — spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, Englishmen, and other democrats. The free man is a warrior." (Twlight of the Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche,The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 542). Women, not generally being warriors, are not numbered among the superior beings but are counted with Christians, regardless of personal confession. Nietzsche should have hung in there, though, because in the revolutions of the Manosphere, there would eventually come into being a form of Christianity as misogynistic as his dark vision:




Nietzsche at least was consistent. He shared Ayn Rand's disdain for the unfortunate: "The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so. What is more harmful than any vice?— Active sympathy for the ill-constituted and weak — Christianity. . ." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Section 2, pp. 127-128 Penguin edition). This was a theme that had already been sounded, in the mis-named German 'enlightenment:' ". . .it is nevertheless certain that, if human society be considered as one large hospital and Christianity its common alms box, a depraved state of morals and politics must necessarily ensue." (Johann Gottfrield von Herder, Outline of a Philosophy of the History of Man, Kindle location 10170). These people did not like for any message to be preached to the poor other than, 'pull up your socks.' A later generation of atheists would share his contempt: "It [Protestantism] is, on the ethical side, no more than a machine for enabling the botched and ignoble to wreck their envy upon their betters." (H. L. Mencken, A Treatise on the Gods, Kindle location 3593).

Certainly the Bible teaching that man is created in the image of God does contain this explosive potential, as Bible students like Cyprian have ever noticed:

"But in that is expressed the divine and spiritual equality, that all men are like and equal, since they have once been made by God;. . ." (Cyprian, Letter 58:3, p. 731 ECF).

This revolutionary new idea changed the world:

"Some one will say, Are there not among you some poor, and others rich; some servants, and others masters? Is there not some difference between individuals? There is none; nor is there any other cause why we mutually bestow upon each other the name of brethren, except that we believe ourselves to be equal. For since we measure all human things not by the body, but by the spirit, although the condition of bodies is different, yet we have no servants, but we both regard and speak of them as brothers in spirit, in religion as fellow-servants." (Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book 5, Chapter 16, p. 317 ECF 0.07).

It was a change for the worse, in Nietzsche's elitist view. But God does not share Nietzsche's contempt for the least of these.

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Thriceholy Radio

Inversion

Nietzsche's morality is turned inside-out:

"Brethren, war's the origin
Of happiness on earth:
Powder-smoke and battle-din
Witness friendship's birth!
Friendship means three things, you know,—
Kinship in luckless plight,
Equality before the foe
Freedom—in death's sight!" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 41, Jest, Ruse and Revenge, p. 23.)

It is a moralist's truism that war, the worst calamity that can befall a people, paradoxically can sometimes bring out the best in men. In Nietzsche's reordering of priorities, however, the suffering of the weak has very little value, and so all the bad things about war turn out to be really not so bad after all. "One has renounced grand life when one has renounced war." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Morality as Anti-Nature, §3, p. 54).

Where does this martial spirit come from? From Schopenhauer?: "Life is one long battle; we have to fight at every step; and Voltaire very rightly says that if we succeed, it is at the point of the sword, and that we die with the weapon in our hand. . .Our motto should be No Surrender. . ." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The Complete Essays, Kindle location 4339). Neither man was a soldier. Darwinian evolution opened the door to martial analogies for life; but a warped temper makes these men revel in it. This sentimental fondness for struggle would later appeal to the Nazis.

Nietzsche's morality was never intended to apply to everyone; what cared he for the common herd? Rather only to the elite, those who tower over those fellows, or think that they do,— as, of course, does everyone who goes in for this sort of thing:



  • “Star Morality
  • “Foredoomed to spaces vast and far,
    What matters darkness to the star?
  • “Roll calmly on, let time go by,
    Let sorrows pass thee—nations die!
  • “Compassion would but dim the light
    That distance worlds will gladly sight.
  • “To thee one law—be pure and bright!”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 63, Jest, Ruse and Revenge, p. 28).




Nietzsche despised Christianity for siding with the poor and base:

"Christianity has sided with all that is weak and base, with all failures; it has made an ideal of whatever contradicts the instinct of the strong life to preserve itself. . ." (The Antichrist, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 571).

Guilty as charged? Yes: "The cross is the climax of the great themes of reversal found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Mary's song, often called the 'Magnificat,' she speaks of the mighty being brought down from their thrones and God's exaltation of the humble. She sings about the rich being sent away empty and the hungry being filled with good things. In the kingdom of God, everything is being turned upside down." (Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion, pp. 125-126). How far upside down?:


Weight David
Israel Mary's Magnificat
Friedrich Nietzsche Lowest Place
God-Likeness Imaginary Friends
Douglas Wilson He Humbled Himself





The Christian gospel, inasmuch as it preaches good news for the poor and lowly, becomes bad news upon inversion: "Christianity is a revolt of everything that crawls along the ground directed against that which is elevated: the Gospel of the 'lowly' makes low. . ." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Section 43). While Nietzsche retained some respect for the vigor of the old tribal gods, among whom he included the Old Testament deity, the Christian God disgusted him: "When the presuppositions of ascending life, when everything strong, brave, masterful, and proud is eliminated from the conception of God; when he degenerates step by step into a mere symbol, a staff for the weary, a sheet-anchor for the drowning; when he becomes the god of the poor, the sinners, and the sick par excellence, and the attribute 'Savior' or 'Redeemer' remains in the end as the one essential atrtribute of divinity — just what does such a translation signify? what, such a reduction of the divine?" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 583). The synergy between such a viewpoint and German militarism is evident on its face.

Where does this inward-outwardness come from? How has compassion become bad and war good? From the great discovery of the nineteenth century, that life is the struggle for survival of the fittest:

"Whether I look with a good or an evil eye upon men, I find them always at one problem, each and all of them: to do that which conduces to the conservation of the human species. And certainly not out of any sentiment of love for this species, but simply because nothing in them is older, stronger, more inexorable and more unconquerable than that instinct,—because it is precisely the essence of our race and herd. Although we are accustomed readily enough, with our usual short-sightedness, to separate our neighbors precisely into useful and hurtful, into good and evil men, yet when we make a general calculation, and reflect longer on the whole question, we become distrustful of this defining and separating, and finally leave it alone. Even the most hurtful man is still perhaps, in respect to the conservation of the race, the most useful of all; for he conserves in himself, or by his effect on others, impulses without which mankind might long ago have languished or decayed. Hatred, delight in mischief, rapacity and ambition, and whatever else is called evil—belong to the marvellous economy of the conservation of the race; to be sure a costly, lavish, and on the whole very foolish economy:—which has, however, hitherto preserved our race, as is demonstrated to us. I no longer know, my dear fellow-man and neighbor, if thou canst at all live to the disadvantage of the race, and therefore, 'unreasonably' and 'badly'; that which could have injured the race has perhaps died out many millenniums ago, and now belongs to the things which are no longer possible even to God. Indulge thy best or thy worst desires, and above all, go to wreck!—in either case thou art still probably the furtherer and benefactor of mankind in some way or other, and in that respect thou mayest have thy panegyrists—and similarly thy mockers!" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1, Book First, pp. 31-32).

Nietzsche has put his finger on the beating heart of the evolutionists' 'just-so' stories: whatever exists has evolved because it is the fittest; and what is the fittest? Whatever has evolved. If rape and murder have evolved, they must be adaptive. This approach wrenches away the moralists' park-bench stand right out from under him. The moralist says, 'Things can be different;' he espies far-off in the distance a better world, but the evolutionist calls a halt: "Pity on the whole thwarts the law of evolution, which is the law of selection. It preserves what is ripe for destruction; it defends life's disinherited and condemned. . ." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Section 7). While Nietzsche was too idiosyncratic a thinker to hop on anyone's bandwagon, these ideas about life being a theatre of struggle wherein the strong must naturally dominate the weak were not his invention, but normal background music for nineteenth-century atheists.

Perhaps embarrassed by all the blood spilt by their predecessors travelling down their way of error, modern-day Darwinians down-play the bloody struggle for existence in favor of an invisible war of gene against gene. . .even though it is organisms which thrive or perish, not genetic material:


By Chance Complex Versus Simple
Alien God Ancient Error
Declaration of War Hero-Worship
The Binding of Isaac Thomas Jefferson
Judge of the World Retention Rate
Absence of Belief Edgardo Mortara
The First Amendment Adolf Hitler
False Advertising Bigger is Better
Secondary Causes Thy Neighbor
Gospel of Judas Joseph Atwill



The idea that the 'science' of evolution trumps morality and has taken over its former turf, is alive and well today. However, shifting trends in politics, as well as inconvenient and embarrassing piles of dead bodies, have led to a 'kinder-and-gentler' trend in evolutionary morals, versus the pure and heady brew concocted by nineteenth century true believers, like the Social Darwinists and Nietzsche:

"To speak of right and wrong per se makes no sense at all. No act of violence, rape, exploitation, destruction, is intrinsically 'unjust,' since life itself is violent, rapacious, exploitative, and destructive and cannot be conceived otherwise." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, Second Essay, Section XI, p. 209).

Is it true, as William Jennings Bryan alleged, that Darwin is to blame for Nietzsche?

"'Nietzsche carried Darwinism to its logical conclusion and denied the existence of God, denounced Christianity as the doctrine of the degenerate, and democracy as the refuge of the weakling; he overthrew all standards of morality and eulogized war as necessary to man's development.'" (William Jennings Bryan, quoted p. 40, Summer for the Gods, Edward J. Larson).

It is certainly true that Nietzsche despised democracy: "Not my hatred but my nausea gnawed hungrily at my life. . .And I turned my back on those who rule when I saw what they now call ruling: higgling and haggling for power — with the rabble." (On the Rabble, Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 209). Equality was not anything that he believed in: "I do not wish to be mixed up and confused with these preachers of equality. For, to me justice speaks thus: 'Men are not equal.' Nor shall they become equal! What would my love of the overman be if I spoke otherwise?" (Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 213). Where does this hatred for humanity come from?:

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Cannibals Eight Cousins
Genghis Khan Social Darwinism
Guess That Author Summum Bonum
What is to be Done? Richard Dawkins
William Jennings Bryan



Animal Barn

Students who attend our nation's universities discover ongoing, upon their arrival, an orgy in progress. They are torn: that looks like fun, but, alas, they are Christians. Nietzsche appeals to this constituency with his equation, 'immorality=life:'

"The Church combats the passions with excision in every sense of the word: its practice, its cure is castration. It never asks: 'How can one spiritualize, beautify, deify a desire?'— it has at all times laid the emphasis of its discipline on extirpation (of sensuality, of pride, of lust for power, of avarice, of revengefulness). — But to attack the passions at their roots means to attack life at its roots: the practice of the Church is hostile to life. . ." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Morality as Anti-Nature, Section 1, p. 52).

Jesus promises what Nietzsche promises: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10). So who delivers the goods? Is it true that immorality is the key to finding abundant life? Or just meaningless existence? The pagan Greeks took to writing love stories: pot-boilers in which the two star-crossed lovers wandered over land and sea. Though kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery, they never stopped searching. . .and at long last found each other, these were pot-boilers after all. These stories make sense only in the context of life-long monogamy, which in fact was already the ideal in these societies. Once found, to what purpose? To shack up until someone better comes along?

A cartoon showed the big boss addressing his minions at the yearly Christmas party: 'Our achievements this year could not have been possible without you people, or people much like you.' This equivocal tribute is all, in the end, the serial monogamist can offer his or her spouse. If you live your life like Nietzsche directs, it is certain your life will fall into the contours of no love story, nor any story more meaningful than what sheep and pigs could tell. Years ago, before AIDS had reared its ugly head, the gay bath-houses served the desires of their patrons by providing accommodations,—a hole in the wall,—for anonymous, de-personalized sex. This ingenious expedient, of love-making on a rationalized, industrialized, assembly-line scale, altogether impersonal and devoid of human contact or meaning, is what this 'life-giving' orgy has brought mankind, not any new branch of literature to compete with the love stories of old. Rather, the new stories are love stories for narcissists: the lover gazes rapturously into the mirror, his sexual urges are meaningful and valuable because they are his, never noticing when the leering grin of the madman first appears, staring back at him. These stories enthrall their authors but bore everyone else.

Nietzsche sets up an opposition between Christianity and "life," meaning presumably unrestrained sexuality:

"It was Christianity, with its ressentiment against life at the bottom of its heart, which first made something unclean of sexuality: it threw filth on the origin, on the presuposition of our life." (Twilight of the Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 561).

You might make such an equation if, for example, you considered monasticism as central to Christianity. The accusation fits oddly with Nietzsche's simultaneous claim that Christianity is Platonism for the people, because Plato tolerated if he did not also practice child molestation. Christianity's sexual morality is something it did not appropriate entire from the pagan Greeks, thank goodness.

As with many of today's atheists, Nietzsche's wrathful resentment of deity skips right over the multitude, landing with full force on only one:

"For the old gods, after all, things came to an end long ago; and verily, they had a good gay godlike end. They did not end in a 'twilight,' though this lie is told. Instead: one day they laughed themselves to death. That happened when the most godless word issued from one of the gods themselves — the word: 'There is one god. Thou shalt have no other god bfore me!' An old grimbeard of a god, a jealous one, thus forgot himself. And then all the gods laughed and rocked on their chairs and  cried, 'Is not just this godlike that there are gods but no God?'" (Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 293).

Why is it just the living God that gets the atheists so worked up?

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God a Jew

"Once in the year of the Lord one, I opine
The Sybil spake thus, she was drunk, without wine:
'Alas! Now all goeth wrong on its way!
Ne'er so deep sank the world! Decay! Decay!
Rome grew a whore, a brothel she grew,
Rome's Caesar a beast, and God a Jew!'" (Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Book LXIII, Conversation with the Kings, Section 1).

Outrageous as it may seem to an anti-semite like Nietzsche, God did indeed late in time become incarnate as a man, a Jew. Nietzsche cannot forgive Him for not having had the good taste to become incarnate as a 'blonde beast:' "A woman who loves sacrifices her honor; a man of knowledge who 'loves' sacrifices perhaps his humanity; a god who loved became a Jew. . ." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Section 46, pp. 111-112 Penguin edition). Some readers try to vindicate Nietzsche from any suspicion of antisemitism because he criticized other antisemites. In fact he saw Christian antisemitism as self-contradiction. But his view of Judaism was far from sympathetic: "This requies race. In Chrisitanity all of Judaism, a several-century-old Jewish preparatory training and technique of the most serious kind, attains its ultimate matery as the art of lying in a holy manner." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 620). "[A]ll of Judaism" is distilled into "the art of lying in a holy manner"? This is not philosemitic.



  • “When on a Sunday morning we hear the old bells ringing, we ask ourselves: Is it possible? All this for a Jew crucified two thousand years ago who said he was God's son? The proof of such an assertion is lacking.— Certainly, the Christian religion constitutes in our time a protruding bit of antiquity from very remote ages and that its assertions are still generally believed — although men have become so keen in the scrutiny of claims — constitutes the oldest relic of this inheritance. A god who begets children by a mortal woman; a sage who demands that no more work be done, that no more justice be administered but that the signs of the approaching end of the world be heeded; a system of justice that accepts an innocent as a vicarious sacrifice in the place of the guilty; a person who bids his disciples drink his blood; prayers for miracles; sins against a god expiated upon a god; fear of a hereafter to which death is the portal; the figure of the cross as a symbol in an age that no longer knows the purpose and the ignominy of the cross — how ghostly all these things flit before us out of the grave of their primitive antiquity! Is one to believe that such things can still be believed?”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All To Human: A Book for Free Spirits, The Religious Life, Section 113).




Nietzsche could never forgive Christianity its Jewish God. He continues his course of anti-semitic cat-calls right up to the end, as insantiy was closing in around him: "Nevertheless, the god of 'the great numbers,' the democrat among the gods, did not become a proud pagan god: he remained a Jew, he remained a god of nooks, the god of all the dark corners and places, of all the unhealthy quarters the world over!" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 584). He mocks the incarnate God because His kingdom is a hospital. He finds it a pity that "the strong races of northern Europe" did not reject Him. Did Nietzsche despise Christianity because its God is a Jew, or did he despise Judaism for giving birth to Christianity? The two are not mutually exclusive.

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  • “After Buddha was dead people showed his shadow for centuries afterwards in a cave,—an immense frightful shadow. God is dead:—but as the human race is constituted, there will perhaps be caves for millenniums yet, in which people will show his shadow.—And we—we have still to overcome his shadow!”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §108, Book Third, p. 151).





Rembrandt van Rijn, Head of Christ


A Peculiar People

Nietzsche despised Christians. Criticizing the New Testament, he says:

"Think of the tremendous fuss these pious little people make over their little trespasses! Who cares? Certainly God least of all. In the end all these petty provincials even demand the crown of eternal life — on the strength of what? and what do they want with it? Can presumption be carried farther? Just imagine an immortal Peter!. . . These little men are fired with the most ridiculous of ambitions: chewing the cud of their private grievances and misfortunates, they try to attract the attention of the Great Demiurge, to force him to care! (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, XXII, p. 282).

This is the great wonder of wonders, that He does not share Nietzsche's contempt for us: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7). Nietzsche perceived Christianity as lacking all merit: "In Christianity neither morality nor religion has even a single point of contact with reality. Nothing but imaginary causes ('God,' 'soul,' 'ego,' 'spirit,' free will' — for that matter, 'unfree will'), nothing but imaginary effects ('sin,' 'redemption,' 'grace,' 'punishment,' 'forgiveness of sins.') (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 581).

Thus the contemptible folks, who are the estimable ones? That would be him and his crew. Friedrich Nietzsche did not lack self-esteem: "Let us not underestimate this: we ourselves, we free spirits, are nothing less than a 'revaluation of all values,' an incarnate declaration of war and triumph over all the ancient concepts of 'true' and 'untrue.'" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 578). Some prophets go to the grave without followers, but not this one, to humanity's great sorrow and shame. He was greatly admired by certain members of the following generation, who shared his perception that Nature "wipes out what is weak in order to give place to the strong." (Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf (Kindle Location 2252).):

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Jesus the Messiah

While he despised Christians, Nietzsche took a somewhat ambivalent view of the Lord:

"The word 'Christianity' is already a misunderstanding — in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, §39, p. 163, Penguin edition).

He is thus sometimes presented as an opponent of Christians, not of Christ. However, Nietzsche was no admirer of Jesus; he responds to Renan's presentation of Jesus as a genius and hero thusly: "Everyone is a child of God — Jesus definitely claims nothing for himself alone — as a child of God everyone is equal to everyone else. . .To make a hero of Jesus! — And what a worse misunderstanding is the word 'genius'! . . .To speak with the precision of the physiologist a quite different word would rather be in place here: the word idiot." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Section 29).

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Pagan Revival

Like many of today's atheists, Nietzsche suffers from a bad case of haemophobia:

"For this question the deranged reason of the little community found a downright terrifyingly absurd answer: God gave his Son for the forgiveness of sins, as a sacrifice. All at once it was all over with the Gospel! The guilt sacrifice, and that in its most repulsive, barbaric form, the sacrifice of the innocent man for the sins of the guilty! What atrocious paganism!" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Section 41, pp. 165-166 Penguin edition).



Nietzsche himself was partial to the pagan idea of 'eternal recurrence,' as found in the thinking of some Stoic philosophers and in Hinduism:

"'And this slow spider, which crawls in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and I and you in the gateway, whispering together, whispering of eternal things — must not all of us have been there before? And return and walk in that other lane, out there, before us, in this long dreadful lane — must we not eternally return?'" (Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 270).

In Christian thought, the time arrow runs in one direction, forward. To some of the ancient Stoics and the Hindus, it runs rather in large cycles: everything that is happening has happened and will happen again: "Must not whatever can happen have happened, have beern done, have passed by before?" Nietzsche evidently finds the pagan idea appealing though, not being a systematic thinker, he can say nothing to make it seem plausible. There is an element of hypocrisy in Nietzsche's raising the cry of 'paganism' against Christianity; when he grasps toward profundity, what he comes up with is simply unadorned paganism. You see this again and again with the atheists, for example Sam Harris: they are gurus marketing warmed-over paganism to people gullible enough to make the purchase.

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Slave Morality

Nietzsche, a subtle thinker, was not so obtuse as today's New Atheists, who present the Bible, unread, as a manual for slave-owner morality. He realized the Bible inverts slave-owning morality; Moses proclaims the Jubilee from the slave's perspective, not that of the master, with whom, naturally, Nietzsche himself sympathized:

"The Jews—a people 'born for slavery,' as Tacitus and the whole ancient world say; 'the chosen people among the peoples,' as they themselves say and believe—the Jews have brought off that miraculous feat of an inversion of values. . .This inversion of values (which includes using the word 'poor' as synonymous with 'holy' and 'friend') constitutes the significance of the Jewish people: they mark the beginning of the slave rebellion in morals." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, p. 108, Section 195, Natural History of Morals).

The Bible, one of whose central narratives recounts the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and which ultimately reveals God come into the world not in the form of a master but in "the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7), is not a pro-slavery tract. Though it revalues everything, however, it does not counsel armed rebellion, which forms the basis for atheist accusations. The poor trust in God to vindicate their cause: "He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away." (Luke 1:51-53). Since, the atheists say, trusting in God is the same as trusting in nothing, the Bible is pro-slavery. Nietzsche was not so easily fooled; even the atheist must acknowledge that ideas do have consequences.

The allegation that Christianity is a religion made for and by slaves was not original to Nietzsche; the savants who gave the world the French Revolution said the same thing: "True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not much mind: this short life count for too little in their eyes." (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book IV, Kindle location 1571).

Today's atheists take it for granted, with the innocence of children who have never thought, that atheism must be for the slave, not for the master. Nietzsche, who took nothing for granted, admired the strength and power of the master and despised the weakness and servility of the slave. At least he was consistent.




His view is that, hey, oppression and exploitation happen:

"There is nothing very  odd about lambs disliking birds of prey, but this is no reason for holding it against large birds of prey that they carry off lambs. And when the lambs whisper among themselves, 'These birds of prey are evil, and does not this give us a right to say that whatever is the opposite of a bird of prey must be good?' there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such an argument — though the birds of prey will look somewhat quizzically and say, 'We have nothing against these good lambs; in fact, we love them; nothing tastes better than a tender lamb.'" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, Chapter XIII, p. 178).

The spirit of Nietzsche is not dead. Those who admire the strong and despise the weak are likely also to despise Christianity:

"In 1999, Governor Jesse Ventura famously claimed, 'Organized religion is a sham and crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.' Media mogul Ted Turner piped in with his own analysis of the church, saying that 'Christianity is a religion for losers.'" (Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion, p. 124).

And there is something to that: "Yes, it is true. Jesus is for the weak, Jesus is for the poor. Jesus is for 'losers.'" (Holy Subversion, Trevin Wax, p 124). In sharing His values, we can become like Him: "The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus made himself a servant. The infinite God enclosed himself in a woman's womb for nine months. God the Son was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger for a bed." (Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion, p. 125). Nietzsche despised the weak, the sick, and the needy, blaming them for religion: "It was the sick and decaying who despised body and earth and invented the heavenly realm and the redemptive drops of blood. . ." (Thus Spake Zarathustra, On the Afterworldly, p. 144, The Portable Nietzsche).

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Utilitarianism

Nietzsche despised the moral theory of utilitarianism, because it dumps everyone into the same hopper, the worthless many and the worthy few, as he saw them:

"The welfare of the the many and the welfare of the few are radically opposite ends. To consider the former a priori the higher value may be left to the naivete of English biologists." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, First Essay, Section XVII, p. 188 Anchor edition).

Certainly there is much that is wrong with this ambitious moral theory, revived in the present day by atheist Sam Harris. To give the devil his due, one must concede to Nietzsche that its radical egalitarianism is indeed one of its many problems: weighing the rapist's enjoyment on the same scale with his victim's pain and distress is plainly wrong, because some people who are enjoying themselves ought not to be. However, assigning a null or negative value to the vast majority of mankind is plainly not the way to rectify this bad arithmetic:

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Platonism for the People

What did Nietzsche mean when he called Christianity "Platonism for the People"? The early church author Tertullian wrote,

"Writing to the Colossians, he [Paul] says, “See that no one beguile you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and contrary to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost.” He had been at Athens, and had in his interviews (with its philosophers) become acquainted with that human wisdom which pretends to know the truth, whilst it only corrupts it, and is itself divided into its own manifold heresies, by the variety of its mutually repugnant sects. What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from “the porch of Solomon,” who had himself taught that “the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart.” Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition!" (Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 7, pp. 442-443 ECF)

Others amongst these writers, however, were professed Platonists, who seemed willing to let this heathen in to the feast, although not wearing a wedding garment. Or did Nietzsche simply resent that Plato was a theist? He accuses Plato of taking "good" for the highest concept:

"In the end, my mistrust of Plato goes deep: he represents such an aberration from all the basic instincts of the Hellene, is so moralistic, so pre-existently Christian — he already takes the concept 'good' for the highest concept — that for the whole phenomenon of Plato I would sooner use the harsh phrase 'higher swindle,' or, if it sounds better, 'idealism,' than any other. We have paid dearly for the fact that this Athenian got his schooling from the Egyptians (or from the Jews in Egypt?). In that great calamty, Christianity, Palato represesnts that ambiguity and fascination, called an 'ideal,' which made it possible for the nobler spirits of antiquity to misunderstand themselves and to set foot on the bridge leading to the cross." (Twilight of the Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche, p. 557).

Plato does talk about 'the good,' but if this is the accusation, it seems a bit vague. Plato was a theist, not yet quite a monotheist but trending somewhat in that direction. However it is not credible that the Christians borrowed this conviction from Plato, realizing that the Jews were monotheists long before the fourth century Plato, who was not an entirely convinced monotheist in any case. Plato did believe in immortality and sought to point mankind in this direction, but his paradigm revolved around reincarnation, quite different from the one-way trip of Christianity. While there is a certain synergy between the two thought-systems, and many Christian thinkers have believed in Plato's theory of ideas in a modified form, one is entitled to expect more than is given to confirm an accusation of unoriginality.

The ancient Romans had a civilized saying, 'quot homines, tot sententiae:' as many men, so many opinions. But the mis-named 'Enlightenment' did not so read the authors of antiquity, nor their own contemporaries They did not expect to encounter individual opinions, even though that is all you ever will get and ever did get even in the Stone Age. They looked for the spirit of the race or the spirit of the age. Impossibly sweeping generalizations about what 'the Greeks' believed were the normal product of this scholarly workshop. Far from being scientific as they thought, this approach must falsify everything, stretching every Greek to fit a bed of Procrustes. The Greeks were important to Nietzsche, but naturally he wants them to believe what he believes and to value what he values, and so inevitably Plato, whom he does not like, must become an outlier. And so he was, in actual fact. In Athens Plato was a Pythagorean where that was not the indigenous religion, and an anti-democrat in a place that revered democracy. So Plato was indeed atypical of his time and place. But so what? Reading him off the roll does not necessarily make 'the Greeks' usable for Nietzsche; his 'Greeks' are a phantasm shouted out by his inner voices, not necessarily the ancient nationality of that same name.

Many of the early Christians found Platonism compatible in a way that, say, Epicureanism never could be. But some of the time when they reference this school of thought, it is to make a very limited point. During World War II, America interned its Japanese immigrant community in the belief they might otherwise resort to espionage or sabotage. It later came to be understood that this was wrong. Athens applied the death penalty to Socrates on grounds he was corrupting the young. They later came to realize they had erred in so doing. Plato's posthumous rehabilition of Socrates' reputation was successful beyond all expectation. When the early Christians mentioned Socrates, it was to suggest a parallel, 'you erred in killing him because you did not agree with his views, and you admit this; you also err in killing us.'

The accusation that Christianity is Platonism for the people is a double-edged sword. It seeks to insult both Plato and the Christians, the latter on grounds they are not very original. Although if, as Nietzsche darkly hints, Plato got it all from the Alexandrian Jews, then he is the one who is not original. Like most atheists, Nietzsche was not overly consistent. Having accused Christianity of filching it all from a pagan Greek philosopher, this lover of paradox also accuses Christianity of being "un-Greek:"

"Christianity, on the other hand, oppressed and degraded humanity completely and sank it into deepest mire: into the feeling of utter abasement it suddenly flashed the gleam of divine compassion, so that the amazed and grace-dazzled stupefied one gave a cry of delight and for a moment believed that the whole of heaven was within him. . .It [Christianity] wants to annihilate, debase, stupefy, amaze, bedazzle. There is but one thing that it does not want: measure, standard and therefore it is in the worst sense barbarous, asiatic, vulgar, un-Greek." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, The Religious Life, Section 114).

Whatever. Some Greeks are not very Greek. Or maybe just learn to say, 'quot homines, tot sententiae.'

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The Accusation Gnosticism
Early Church Fathers The Same God
Athens and Jerusalem Platonic Heresies
Influence Politics of Socrates
Realism vs. Nominalism



Try it Out

'Me-tooism' is reassuring to the public, because we know where it ends up, and can sincerely welcome our new neighbors. True enough, it often turns out to be a cheat: the atheists will end by disparaging, not endorsing, the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, much less will they give even lip service to Christian sexual mores. They tell us you can be good without God, but whence comes this tendency to slide backwards? Can it be they perceive the futility of following such instructions without help from above? When the deists claimed to derive a system of ethics suspiciously similar to Christianity from pure reason alone, some accused them of plagiarism:

"And almost all the things that are said wisely and truly by modern deists, are plainly borrowed from that revelation which they refuse to embrace, and without which they could never have been able to have said the same things. Now, indeed, when our whole duty, with its true motives, is clearly revealed to us, its precepts appear plainly agreeable to reason; and conscience readily approves what is good, as it condemns what is evil: Nay, after our duty is thus made known to us, it is easy not only to see its agreement with reason, but also to begin and deduce its obligation from reason. But had we been utterly destitute of all revealed light, then, to have discovered our duty in all points, with the true motives of it, merely by the help of natural reason, would have been a work of nicety, pains and labour; like groping for an unknown way, in the obscure twilight. What ground have any modern deists to imagine, that if they themselves had lived without the light of the gospel, they should have been wiser than Socrates, and Plato, and Cicero?"
(Samuel Clarke. A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God (Kindle Locations 4231-4238).)

One might well say to the 'Good-without God' atheist, go and invent your own morals, stop rediscovering ours. But as a citizen sharing the streets with these good folks, are you sure you want to say that? As the trained classicist Nietzsche knew, people have not always been Christian; the claim that reason alone leads to Christian ethics leaves one wondering, why didn't it always? While some pagan ethicists, like Epictetus, approach to Christian morals in some respects, those who do are distinctly more likely to have lived after the Christian revelation than before. Nietzsche's resolution, to break free, is far less reassuring to the public than the 'Me-tooism' which is so much a part of atheism's public face today. Once the umbilical cord with the past has been severed, how low can the limbo dance of atheist morals go? To the point where many of the young people in Great Britain today can form no higher ideal than drunkenness? To the point where the hook-up culture on today's college campuses seems designed to meet the sexual needs of insects rather than creatures with a human form and sentiments?

One would like to think Friedrich Nietzsche's venomous creed has no practitioners currently on the earth, but that would be naive. Notorious racist Richard Spencer lists him as an influence. In 1920's America, two college students at the University of Chicago made a practical test of the Nietzschean system. They took it for a test drive, and young Robert Franks ended up dead because of it. Did they miss the point completely, or did they, of all people, get it? Though his supporters would likely insist otherwise, it could well be that Friedrich Nietzsche, misunderstood, neglected, and overlooked since all that unpleasantness with the Nazis, is the patron saint of school shooters:

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James Oliver Huberty Carl Panzram
Jeffrey Dahmer David Roland Waters
Craig Stephen Hicks Devin Patrick Kelley
Leon Frank Czolgosz Pekka-Eric Auvinen
Karl Marx V. I. Lenin
Bhagat Singh Mao Zedong
Pol Pot Enver Hoxha
The Derg Che Guevara
No True Atheist Why?
Tu Quoque Prince of Tyre
Atheist Armies Jim Jones
The French Revolution