The Antichrist Essay, Research Paper
To be of no church is dangerous. Religion, of which the rewards are distant, and which is animated only by faith and hope, will glide by degrees out of the mind unless it be invigorated and reimpressed by external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and the salutary influence of example. The following statement is the epitome of the deceptive nature of Judeo-Christian ideals. The statement is commanding and restrictive, not allowing the reader to from their own thoughts. It also demonstrates people s tendency to discount ideas of religion, telling us that religious beliefs are only strengthened by external influences, and not by one natural free opinions.
My thesis is that Christianity contradicts all that is natural in the world. Most of the exerpts and arguments used in this essay come from Nietzsche s essay, The Antichrist. I will attempt to show ways in which Christianity, although by many is believed to be all that is good and true, is actually rooted in weakness and lies.
The idea that religion must be affirmed by external influences affirms the notion that the ideals of Christianity contradict the natural tendencies of the human race. Nietzsche describes the Christian as, the herd animal, the sick human animal He opens his essay, The Antichrist, by describing the bad nature of Christianity. Nietzsche says that anything which heightens the feeling of power in man is good, and that which is born of weakness is bad. He closes this section of his essay by stating, What is more harmful than any vice? Active pity for all the failures and all the weak. Christianity.
This idea that Christianity has sided with the weak, contradicts the instinct of the strong life to preserve itself, according to Nietzsche. Darwin also spoke of the survival of the fittest, or more specifically, the reproduction of the fittest. This ties in with Nietzsche s criticism of siding with the weak . If the weak are catered to, this contradicts the natural tendency for only the strongest and smartest to be allowed to reproduce, which allows a natural advancement of the species. The practice of facilitating the weak only perpetuates the weakening of a species, because it stifles the process of natural selection.
Nietzsche says that Christianity is the religion of pity. He goes on to say that we are deprived of strength when we feel pity, and that it only leads to the perpetuation of misery, and leads us to nothingness. Religions attempts to mask this nothingness with terms such as heaven or blessedness, according to Nietzsche. The idea of pity once again hampers one s natural tendency to become stronger. When the focus of one s life is pitying others, it crosses those instincts which aim at the preservation of live and the enhancement of its value. The inhibition of the enhancement of life s values leads to the inhibition of free thought.
Nietzsche goes on to describe faith, which goes with the inhibition of free thought. He says that the theologian see all things in a distorted manner, limited by his faith. It closes one eyes to oneself, and warps a persons values. However, possession of these blinders is seen as a virtuous characteristic of a person, in the eyes of the Christian. Nietzsche goes on to tell us that no other argument is taken to account when the opposing argument is linked with God , redemption , or eternity . In 1969, a psychologist names Carl Rogers described the natural tendencies of human beings, with respect to learning. He stated that the most useful type of learning is the learning that results in a continuing openness experiences and a tolerance of change. As Nietzsche describes, Christian thought is the opposite of this, it is unnatural.
In The Antichrist, Nietzsche links Christianity and Judaism, stating that they do not oppose each other, but that Christianity is a result of Judaism. He states that Christianity is not a couter-movent of Judaism, bit instead, Judaism is the soil of Christianity. For this reason, the unnatural tendencies of Christianity are linked to ideas of Judaism. Nietzsche states that this was not always so. He states old Israel, namely in the time of the kings, when Israel was in a natural relationship with all things. Yahweh was the expression of consciousness of power, of joy in oneself, of hope for oneself: through him victory and welfare were expected, through him nature was trusted to give people what they needed However, as Nietzsche states, all hopes remained unfulfilled, and this old god should have been discarded. Instead, his concept was denatured. He was now a god only under certain conditions.
Nietzsche goes on to explain how this concept of God I used by the priestly caste as a tool for control of the masses. They explain happiness as a gift, and misery as punishment for sin, which forms a moral world order . This turns the natural phenomenon of cause and effect relationships upside down, according to Nietzsche. An unnatural causality is required for this type of thought, which leads to only unnatural results. He goes on to explain that this new morality hampers the natural growth and development of people, and instead degrades the imagination.
Nothing in Christianity has any base in reality. As Nietzsche states: Nothing but imaginary causes ( God , soul , ego , spirit . Free will – for that matter, unfree will ), nothing but imaginary effects ( sin , redemption , grace , punishment ). Intercourse between imaginary beings ( God , spirits , souls ), an imaginary natural science . He goes on about the imaginary aspects of Christian thought. Nietzsche then continues to state that Christianity is a world of pure fiction, which is vastly inferior to a world of dreams, which at least mirrors reality. A world of fiction (Christianity), on the other hand, negates all that is natural, and if fact this world of fiction leads to hatred of all that is natural (reality).
Another enemy of Christianity is science. Nietzsche states that Christianity, which does not have contact with reality at any point, which crumbles as soon as reality is conceded its rights at even a single point, must naturally be mortally hostile against the wisdom of this world, which means science. Since religion is rooted in faith, faith can be seen as a veto against science. For example, one can sit and observe nature, but with the blinders of faith inhibiting their learning. A Christian will tell you that God created all species of animals in one day, but refuse to see the fact that new species are born everyday, and that about 25 different species of animals suffer extinction daily.
The following is just a scratch of the surface of the narrow-minded, unnatural thought of the true Christian. Nietzsche explains that those who seek knowledge are anti-Christian, since their desire to learn is done without faith . He tells us that Paul comprehended that faith was essential for religion, and it ruins the wisdom of the world . Two main opponents of faith, philology and medicine, are seen as very anti-Christian. However, their methods coincide with nature, looking for cause and effect relationships. Even a priest would admit that open-heart surgery is more effective in curing heart disease than prayer is. If he disagreed, his opinions would be rooted in faith, which Nietzsche explains, is rooted in all that is unnatural and false.
Since science is a main opponent of religion, it could be interpreted that the creation of man would have been God s greatest mistake. Nietzsche goes on to explain that the scientific man leads to the demise of all that is priestly and god-like, leading to the destruction of religious thought. To quell scientific though, religion attempts to quell all thought and ideas by removing man from paradise. Any type of independent though is a sin. Nietzsche goes on to tell us that priests create ideas of misery and distress, which prohibits thinking, and forced the masses to have faith.
The beginning of the Bible warns that science is the only great danger to religion. The priest know that science is easy to inhibit, since it requires a surplus of time and happens only under happy circumstances Consequently man must be made unhappy. Any thought, which goes against the will of God and the priest, is sin, which will result in punishment. This unnatural scare tactic is the root of religion. If man is scared by supernatural myth, he will not fight it. There is no independent thought, no new ideas, and no natural advancement of the human race. Nietzsche explains: he shall suffer in such a way that he has need for a priest at all times. Away with physicians! A savior is needed. The concept of guilt and punishment, including the doctrine of grace , of redemption , of forgiveness – lies through and through, and without any physiological reality- were invented to destroy a man s casual sense: they are an attempt to assassinate cause and effect.
Nietzsche gives another reason why Christians are made to suffer. Zarathustra spoke of priests: many of them had suffered too much; therefore they want to make others suffer. It doesn t seem that priests are vengeful by nature, but instead feel that others should be subject to what they experienced. This is similar to the way the Math department at this school does not allow the use of graphing calculators. It s just not fair to the instructors who didn t have the luxury. No matter what the motivation, fear-eliciting tactics of the priestly caste is the root of the mass appeal of Christianity. I am reminded of a line from a movie called The Usual Suspects: I don t believe in God, but I fear him. Fear is the tool that controls the weak herd.
This is how the priestly caste overcame the power of the warriors. The warriors of the past gained power by individual strength, while the priests gain power from the fear of the masses. When the weak masses are brainwashed into believing that all the strength resides in the cloth, the priests and Christianity reach their pinnacle. This structure allows people to be weak and passive, which contradicts the natural tendencies of any species. There is no more fit and unfit. Instead, a passive herd that doesn t think, just obeys.
In his essay, The Antichrist, Nietzsche explains that not all religion is unnatural. He cites Buddhism as another nihilistic religion, a religion of decadence. However, he tells us that Buddhism is a hundred times more realistic that Christianity: posing problems objectively and coolly is part of its inheritance, for Buddhism comes after a philosophic movement that spanned centuries. The concept of God had long been disposed when it arrived. He explains that Buddhism stands beyond the ideas of good and evil , and persuades people to struggle against suffering, not against sin.
Buddhist principles conform to nature, they do not contradict it. Nietzsche explains some naturalistic principles of Buddhism: he (Buddha) recommends life in the open air, the wandering life; moderation in eating and the careful selection of food: wariness of all intoxicants; wariness also of emotions that activate the gall bladder or heat the blood, no worry for oneself or for others. This seems to contradict the pitiful nature of Christianity, stating that a happy life is rooted in the lack of worries, for yourself and for others. This passage also allows free thought, as far as ones actions of what one puts into their body. This gives a sense of freedom of independence and individualism, and it has logic behind it (compared to not eating meat with dairy, or no meat of Fridays during lent).
Buddha advises his followers not to fight those who think otherwise. Feelings of resentment, antipathy, and revenge are condemned in this type of thinking. And all this is quite right, all of these emotions would indeed be utterly unhealthy This is another example of how this type of thinking is one with nature. The Christian idea of absolute truth, lead to hatred of those who are different, not only religiously but also culturally. This only leads to conflict and war, which is debilitating to all.
Buddhism says to be open to new thoughts, without the blinders of faith. It presupposes a mild climate, and an absence of militarism. As Nietzsche states, cheerfulness, calm, and freedom from desire are the highest goal, and most important, the goal is attained! Unlike the opening quote, which states that rewards are distant, the goals of Buddhism are realistic, and obtained in normal cases. In Christianity, what is highest is essentially unattainable. The process of the herd trying to achieve these goals is the vice used by the priest to control the masses. If the goals are not attained, then the struggle to attain them goes on for a lifetime. Which, as stated earlier, gives no time or environment, which nurtures the advancement of natural thought.
The goals of Buddhism are rooted in the Earth; they are attainable and natural. Nietzsche states that the Christian s center of gravity is placed in the beyond, in nothingness. This idea of the afterlife destroys all reason, everything natural in the instincts-whatever in the instincts is beneficent and life promoting or guarantees a future now arouses mistrust. Instead of living you life for self-advancement and free thought, the Christian lives to be judged by the rules of his/her religion. Life on Earth has been referred to as a test for entrance into the afterlife. Nietzsche feels that this diminishes the meaning of anyone s life and contribution to the planet. Instead, the herd is forced to conform to the will of the priests, no matter how contradictory to nature the rules are.
Nietzsche goes on to explain the good spirit as skeptics (like Zarathustra). Strength, freedom which is born of the strength and overstrength of the spirit, proves itself by skepticism Convictions are prisons. Such men do not look far enough, they do not look beneath themselves He tells us that opposition of Christian thought is a sign of a great spirit, which is rooted in strength. Strong is associated with good; good is associated with that which is natural. Nietzsche goes on to tell us the opposite, the need for faith, for some kind of unconditional Yes and No is a need born of weakness The believer does not belong to himself, he can only be a means, he must be used up, he requires somebody to use him up. As stated in the beginning of his essay, Nietzsche associates weak with unnatural, which means that Judeo-Christian ideals are also unnatural.
Nietzsche s definition of natural is by no means a happy proposal. Toward the end of The Antichrist, he states that there are three main castes in any natural society. He tells us that the three castes condition each other and gravitate differently physiologically: each has its own hygiene, its own field of work, its own sense of perfection and mastery. He divides them into a pre-eminently spiritual group, a physically strong group, and the majority of the mediocre group. This is the way of nature, and should not be quelled by man-made ideals or mores.
Nietzsche sums up his ideas of Christianity at the end of his essay: it has turned every value into an un-value, every truth into a lie, every integrity into a vileness of the soul it created distress to eternalize itself The equality of souls before God , this falsehood, this pretext for the rancor of all the base-minded the principle of decline of the whole order of society-is Christian dynamite a contempt for all good and honest instincts. A contradiction of all that is natural.
My thesis for this paper was to show how Christianity, although thought by true believers to be all that is natural, good, and true, is in fact the complete opposite. Nietzsche has an outright hatred for Judeo-Christian ideals, and some of his interpretations may seem extreme. These explanations of natural societies could be interpreted as reason for genocide, such as seen during the Holocaust. This is not his thought, however, as he cited Buddhist ideals which condemn such actions. Nietzsche’s main argument is that Christianity is blind to natural differences between humans, but more importantly, scares its followers into not recognizing them.
Nietzsche, Fredrich, translated by Walter Kaufmann. The Portable Nietzsche. Penguin Books, USA (1954)
Rogers, Carl, Freedom To Learn, (1969)