Monday, June 12, 2017

Man Destroys God


God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.

-        Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

We know what happens next – dinosaur devours man.

I refer to the conclusion from my piece, “And the Dying Cheer”:

It is interesting: reaching the height of western liberal values immediately preceded the destruction of the West.  The nineteenth century, in many ways, was the most liberal, free, equal period for the West – perhaps in its history.  And then the Great War – suicide, built on the scientific wisdom of man’s reason.

The Enlightenment; considered the height of western man’s philosophical and moral achievement.  Man’s reason over God’s reason; man’s law instead of God’s law (or custom, if you prefer).  We know what happens next – man’s law devours man.  Taken altogether, a rotten tradeoff for freedom.

If you have not read this earlier essay, this one will not seem whole.

God is Dead

From “The Parable of the Madman,” by Friedrich Nietzsche:

"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time?

Perpetually falling; backward, sideward, forward; no more up or down; an infinite nothing.  Does this sound hopeful?  A declaration of a positive event?  “Enlightened”?

Man without any anchor will create an anchor.  This anchor was built on the wisdom of “enlightened” man, a foundation of sand.  Enlightened man led to the suicide of the West.

From “Twilight of the Idols” (PDF; emphasis added):

When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands.

It is quite an interesting phrase: “the right to Christian morality.”  What is the moral Christian “right” if not the non-aggression principle?  According to Nietzsche, this is what man has given up.  We traded it for enlightened man’s right to decide what is moral.  How is that working out for you?

This Christian “system” was the foundation of Western Civilization since the fall of Rome.  This “system” replaced Roman man-made law with custom – law based on oath, with God as party to the agreement; the most decentralized system of law known to the West.  This system began to crumble with the Renaissance.

What did Nietzsche see as replacing this Christian system?  Taken from Jacques Barzun, “From Dawn to Decadence”:

In health man feels within him the will to power, a drive to action and achievement, including the self-mastery that will characterize the superman and establish a new ethos.  The present conception of what is evil will be replaced by other standards of right and wrong, contrary to both the Christian and the worldly virtues and vices of western civilization.  In ethics and the search for truth Nietzsche is a Pragmatist.

A “pragmatist” in ethics and truth; a “new ethos.”  No anchor: perpetually falling; backward, sideward, forward; no more up or down; an infinite nothing. 

Barzun cites Nietzsche:

In place of fundamental truths I put fundamental probabilities – provisionally assumed guides by which one lives and thinks.

Fundamental truths are replaced by fundamental maybes…or maybe nots.  Your betters – the “enlightened” – will let you know which is which.  Being pragmatists, your betters will feel free to have “right” and “wrong” trade places whenever they find it…pragmatic – meaning, to their benefit.  Good luck trying to keep up.

Nietzsche did not live to see this suicide of the West – the Great War.  He seemed to know it was coming.


Not much of one, really…

Cypher: Don't hate me, Trinity. I'm just a messenger.

Nietzsche’s declaration was not some kind of call to arms; he merely put into words that which was well underway centuries before he was born.  He was just a messenger.


  1. Check out Jordan Peterson, as he's exploring all of this.

    1. I was informed of him a few weeks ago and have watched several of his videos since. A worthwhile investment of time.

      Thank you.

  2. A fascinating topic for sure! Both Ayn Rand and Rothbard argued that they were in fact able to establish a rational basis for ethics (& morality). An objective ethics (science!). Nietzsche and I remain less than convinced. Both of the former made great contributions. But succeed?

    JP makes an interesting case about all of this (without mentioning Rand nor Rothbard).

  3. For one, I don't think that people have given up the right to Christian morality. I know that there are people who think of themselves as Christian who still believe in the Enlightenment project of retrieving the rational kernel from Christianity, namely its moral outlook and I think that Kant's morality is a strong example of this approach. BUT, Nietzsche was doing something even more profound that I think you understand but have not made explicit for your readers, and that is that he thinks that rationality itself and even the notion of truth which is the foundation of the concept of rationality is jeopardized when the Christian project goes down. Liberalism itself is a decadent form of Christianity, in which the sophisticated relationship between Christian imagination, grace, and law are broken down in favor of grace with no law and no imagination. And it is this Christianity finally revealing itself as liberal decadence which threatens to destroy mankind. Is liberalism a religion? I believe it is. Does Nietzsche make this clear? I don't know. I would have to look at his writings again. Was Nietzsche right about Christianity ultimately becoming decadence? I don't think so. But did Christianity sow the seeds for its own destruction? I believe so as he says. Christianity at one time distinguished between truth and science and mythology and fable. But then Christianity's own method was turned against itself. Now a method of distinguishing between truth and myth takes down Christianity and truth and science are now going to live on their own in the realm of Ahistorical Reason and this Ahistorical Reason puts us in the realm of absolute truth and myth is no longer needed. But there is no ahistorical reason as Kant told us, or if there Kant maintains there is, it becomes difficult to see how Kant can maintain his juggling act and we end up with his two worlds of the empirical man and the noumenal man. How far we have come from the distinction between the City of God and the City of Man of Augustine. How far we have become from the things of God and the things of Caesar. And how little imagination there is in content. How little grace. And ultimately, how little law. The Christian view united with Aristotle is still the best union of the natural man and the supernatural man and the rational man we have seen. Kant's attempt to subordinate the natural man to the rational man and the his attempt to roll up the supernatural man into the rational man is a failure as it should be. Why should what made Christianity the deepest insight into man's being and search for meaning no longer have power to redeem and preserve if it once did? Nietzsche gives us a historical story of the West and Christianity but then tells us that Christianity is dead and thus the West is dead? And then what? We repeat the history of the West with Homeric heroes and Homer and Christ all over again nailed to the cross and the achievements of the civilization based on this? As if man had simply forgotten what he had achieved and why? Christianity is dead? The West is dead? Long live Christianity? Long live the West?

    1. "...rationality itself and even the notion of truth which is the foundation of the concept of rationality is jeopardized when the Christian project goes down."

      At best, I saw this as an image. Thank you for stating it plainly.