How Atheist Denominations Are Concocted
Because he cannot answer the question of “how he knows what he knows,” the Atheist finds himself lost without any authority. He is then forced to make up what feels right to him personally, as does the next Atheist, and the next. Schisms then ensue, and Atheist denominations are created, each with their own preferences, each with their own faiths. Some even lose their minds concocting these faiths.
The God-Hating Atheist
By the influence of Atheist literature, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had grown cynical of the world. “The Christian resolve to find the world ugly and bad,” he writes, “has made the world ugly and bad.”[i] By that which he calls the “free spirit,” he preaches that “one should not go to church if one wants to breathe pure air.”[ii] Furthermore, he says, “The devil has the broadest perspectives for God; therefore he keeps so far away from God—the devil being the most ancient friend of wisdom.”[iii]
Man must grow better and more evil. – Friedrich Nietzsche
He was born in a rural, German village called Röcken bei Lützen on October 15, the 49th birthday of his namesake, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. And it was this same King Wilhelm who appointed Friedrich Nietzsche’s father as Röcken’s town minister. Throughout his youth, Nietzsche was surrounded by family and friends who were immersed in Protestantism. However, during his school years, he began to trade his Protestant ideology for more secular interests such as philology—studying the Bible as mere literature. By chance, upon entering a local bookstore at the age of twenty-one, he stumbled across the work of an Atheist philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer.[iv] By his mid-forties, a notable failed romance had only deepened his cynicism towards God and women as well.[v]
His three essays on morality, today collectively known as On the Genealogy of Morals, attempt to justify Nietzsche’s made up morality. He writes that, “with the Jews there begins the slave revolt in morality: that revolt which has a history of two thousand years behind it and which we no longer see because it—has been victorious.” He then speaks of a “Jewish hatred—the profoundest and sublimest kind of hatred” that is “capable of creating ideals and reversing values, the like of which has never existed on earth before.” [vi]
His conjecture is that “Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate gospel of love, this ‘Redeemer’ who brought blessedness and victory to the poor, the sick and the sinners” was a Judeo-Christian figure that was invented in order for Israel to “attain the ultimate goal of its sublime vengefulness.” In Nietzsche’s mind, the alleged Jewish plan was to create this Redeemer “and nail it to the cross, so that ‘all the world,’ namely all the opponents of Israel, could unhesitatingly swallow just this bait.”[vii]
An alleged switch of morals was then able to take place. “The two opposing values ‘good and bad,’ ‘good and evil’ have been engaged in a fearful struggle on earth for thousands of years.” This “struggle” of which Nietzsche speaks is “‘Rome against Judea, Judea against Rome’;—there has hitherto been no greater event than this struggle, this question, this deadly contradiction.”[viii] He then argues that, by the fault of the Jews, “All good things were formerly bad things; every original sin has turned into an original virtue.”[ix]
“God is dead!” Nietzsche infamously writes to his “Higher Men” and “Supermen” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.[x] Before this alleged death, Nietzsche tells that wise men preach that man is evil. Nevertheless, Nietzsche argues, “evil is man’s best strength. ‘Man must grow better and more evil’—this do I teach. The most evil is necessary for the Superman’s best.”[xi] Before God, he continues, all men are equal. “But now this God has died. And let us not be equal before the mob.”[xii] For “Men,” Nietzsche claims, “are not equal.”[xiii]
The New York Times critiques the morals of Nietzsche, writing, “If God was dead, so too were equally fictitious entities like the self. There was no objective truth, only the truth-effects engendered by the workings of power and the instabilities of language.”[xiv]
Friedrich Nietzsche eventually went insane while suffering from syphilis, which he contracted from a prostitute who was very likely to have been his sole sexual encounter.[xv] Nietzsche’s career ended in 1889 due to his infamous mental breakdown. Nevertheless, by his death in 1900, he had become the philosophical celebrity of his time, from Moscow to New York.[xvi]
How Nietzsche Damaged the World
H. L. Mencken became Nietzsche’s most influential American interpreter, importing this God-hating, anti-Semitic philosophy across the Atlantic.[xvii] In his book, Treatise on the Gods, Mencken writes that the Superman is the way of the future, and that he prefers Nietzsche’s school of thought rather than those whom he considers to have delusions of the afterlife.[xviii]
Meanwhile, back in Germany, nearly every theme discussed by Friedrich Nietzsche was adopted by Adolph Hitler. Like Nietzsche, Hitler avoids using citations in his historical accounts, finding paranoia and conjecture to be sufficient. After Nietzsche writes on the “struggle” between the Jew and the Gentile, and after he avers this grand Jewish scheme, Hitler expresses his similar struggle in his book, Mein Kampf, meaning My Struggle. While Nietzsche comments on how he believes that the Jew is “capable of creating ideals and reversing values, the like of which has never existed on earth before,” Hitler notoriously trumps up charges against the Jews as well. By quoting the senior German Atheist, Arthur Schopenhauer, Hitler called the Jew “’The Great Master of Lies.’ Those who do not realize the truth of that statement, or do not wish to believe it, will never be able to lend a hand in helping Truth to prevail.”[xix] He argues that the Judaizing of spiritual life “will sooner or later work havoc with our whole posterity.”[xx]
Hitler then readily adopts Nietzsche’s preaching regarding the “Higher Man” and the “Superman.” He writes that “whenever Aryans have mingled their blood with that of an inferior race the result has been the downfall of the people who were the standard-bearers of a higher culture.”[xxi] He contrasts the Jew to the Aryan “Superman.” He writes:
“The Jew uses every possible means to undermine the racial foundations of a subjugated people. In his systematic efforts to ruin girls and women he strives to break down the last barriers of discrimination between him and other peoples. The Jews were responsible for bringing negroes into the Rhineland, with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate.”[xxii]
Hitler finally concludes that “All the symptoms of decline which manifested themselves already in pre-war times can be traced back to the racial problem.”[xxiii]
On August 25th, 1900, Nietzsche died supposedly of a mixture of pneumonia and a stroke in a villa in Weimar. His body was transported to a family gravesite in Röcken bei Lützen, which is located directly beside the village church.[xxiv]
His Atheism is more than just a school of thought. It is a poison that permeates society. Nietzsche concocted a version of history that fit his worldview. This worldview proved to be among the most destructive in history because it was part of a narrative that intentionally confused the meaning of simple words like “good” and “evil.” Evil men could then pose as good men, and they adopted Nietzsche’s ideas to justify the taking of millions of lives. Atheism is more than just an idea. It’s a lethal illness.
The Socialist Atheist
Jean-Paul Sartre helped import a tampered version of Communism that remains counterproductive to France to this day, specifically with the sitting president, Francois Hollande. “Sartre was the leading intellectual in a culture that treats its intellectuals like pop stars.”[xxv] He was so influential that, upon his death, one newspaper lamented, saying, “France has lost its conscience.”[xxvi] As a man, he found a way to compensate for his ugly physical appearance, including his signature lazy eye, through the power of both written and spoken words. As a lover, he had many women while maintaining an open-relationship with his life-long partner and friend, Simone de Beauvoir.[xxvii] As a Socialist, he was associated with what the French called “Les Maos,” after Chairman Mao.[xxviii]
“Without God,” Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov, “everything is permitted.”[xxix] Sartre agrees with this postulation, but in a different way than Dostoyevsky’s character intends it. For Sartre, this would mean that man could be free.[xxx] For example, Sartre argues, should a young man be faced with the dilemma of caring for his mother and enlisting in the military, Christianity would fail to provide an answer for whom the young man should serve. Basically, what matters is the feeling, says Sartre. “I should choose that which really pushes me in a certain direction.”[xxxi] It thus follows that Sartre sees Christianity as stifling and unnecessary. For him, morality starts by following his heart. He describes his feelings on all of this as “Nausea,” as in his novel of the same name.
In one of his most celebrated books, Existentialism is a Humanism, he defines “Existentialism” as a philosophy in which “existence” comes before “essence.” In other words, we exist plainly, and only then do we add rules to our lives. For the existentialist, man comes before law. He believes that, “from the beginning,” what is intended by existentialism, is “that all truth and all actions involve a middle and human subjectivity,” just like the young man in his anecdote.[xxxii] Whether there is a Christian or Atheist conviction, the ultimate decision is made through human subjectivity. “And this is, I believe, the trend of all that one calls in France radicalism, nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we will retrieve the same standards of honesty, progress, humanism, and we will have made God an outdated hypothesis that will die by itself.”[xxxiii]
The Sugar-High of Socialism
Sartre is like a teenager impatiently waiting to earn a driver’s license, but has yet to realize that he will still have no place to go. While he may be correct by saying that Christianity offers no clear answer for this specific dilemma, he avoids asking why the young man should be concerned for the search for goodness in the first place. This narrative then operates on the presumption that man is selfless, and that man will be altruistic without a higher conviction. Sartre believes in abandoning God to make way for secular morals. And he presumes that secular morals are similar to Christian morals, but for those that adhere to a supernatural being.
Because Sartre’s Atheism starts with the notion that man is selfless, it follows that he would be a proponent of a government that operates on the same notion. But this Socialist hypothesis has been disproven time after time by each societal experiment. Essentially, Sartre’s denomination includes two assumptions:
- There is no God, and
- Man is selfless.
Like Protagoras who believes that man is the measure of all things, this is how Atheism is almost immediately contradictory. On the one hand, Nietzsche believes that Atheist morality is the opposite of Christian morality, and that God should therefore be forgotten. On the other hand, Sartre believes that Atheist morality is nearly the same as Christian morality, and God should also therefore be forgotten. Here are two Atheist men with two contradictory beliefs.
Additionally, because this theoretical “Karma-Sartre” denomination presumes that man is selfless, it is understandable how this Atheist would be drawn to Socialism, which is a product of the Atheist worldview. Just as Sartre was a Socialist with the presumption that we live in a selfless world, the current French President is failing miserably by operating on this same principle.
“Today will be the happiest day of Francois Hollande’s term as president of France,” Forbes writes the day Hollande wins the presidency for the Socialist Party.[xxxiv] Predictably, the sugar-high is seen to be over only six months into this reign of error, and Hollande’s popularity already begins to plummet.[xxxv] By January, 2015, joblessness rises to a record 9.9%, nearly double the figure of the previous year. Hollande approved of a top income-tax rate of 75%, to which left-leaning economists said that “lots of other countries will inevitably follow this route.” Instead, the tax was left to die after failing to create as much revenue as expected.[xxxvi] This “supertax” compelled a trend of emigration as an estimated 2.5 million French citizens moved abroad to the U.K., Belgium, and other more Capitalistic countries by February, 2015.[xxxvii]
Sartre was hesitant to fully commit to Les Maos. He held a comfortable, spineless distance that was just enough removed so that, upon seeing Socialism’s demise, no one could blame him too harshly for promoting his beliefs.[xxxviii] Hollande has committed his entire career to this worldview. But, unlike Sartre, he is now incapable of escaping the turmoil that he helped cause. Sartre’s theories can only last until people like Hollande put them into practice. Atheist Socialism may sound like a nice hypothetical, but it fails in practice every time.
The Absurd Atheist
“Absurd” is Albert Camus’ word, not mine. “In America, Camus is, first of all, French; in France he remains, most of all, Algerian—a Franco-Algerian, what was later called a pied noir, a black foot, meaning the European colonial class who had gone to Algeria and made a home there.”[xxxix] In many ways, he was an unlikely close friend of Sartre, though only for a brief time. Camus was anti-Socialist, rejected pure logic, and also rejected the title of philosopher. “He ignored or opposed systematic philosophy, had little faith in rationalism, [and] asserted rather than argued many of his main ideas.”[xl]
Camus attempted to face the biggest philosophical problem for the Atheist, and “that is suicide.”[xli] While Nietzsche writes, “The thought of suicide is a powerful comfort: it helps one through many a dreadful night,”[xlii] Camus seeks a more psychologically positive alternative to this issue. The difference with Camus is in the perspective.
In The Myth of Sisyphus, he writes that the revolt against the flesh is absurd; the thickness and strangeness of the world is absurd; and the “Nausea” of a certain other author of his day, “that’s also absurd.”[xliii] Like Sisyphus, man is condemned to push his boulder uphill for eternity only to see it fall, returning to the foot of the mountain. It’s an endless cycle. Nevertheless, Camus argues that the meaning of life is merely a state of mind. “We must imagine Sisyphus happy.”[xliv]
Imagining Sisyphus to be happy may be an explanation as to how one should live, but it fails to explain why. In his essay The Rebel, he paraphrases René Descartes’ famous dictum, preaching, “I rebel, therefore I am.”[xlv] That is to say, the challenge of life is why we should live. And that’s all.
Absurdism Is Absurdism
“With nihilism” Victor Hugo writes in Les Misérables, “no discussion is possible.”[xlvi] This rule is evident in Camus’ Absurdist writing. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology states that the English word “absurd” is from the French word “absurde” or from the Latin word “absurdus” meaning “incongruous” or “senseless.” Webster Dictionary defines “absurdism” as “a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe.” Furthermore, Webster’s Thesaurus lists some synonyms for the word, including: ridiculous, ludicrous, and insane. This is the perception that Camus has of life.
A challenge, a rebellion, or a revolt may seem inspiring, but they’re just words. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus says that we should imagine ourselves happy. In The Rebel, he says that we should live in order to rebel against life. However, merely repeating mantras of absurdity does not make life absurd. It just makes the man absurd. The Atheist worldview causes one to try to reinvent reality to fit into a philosophical stencil. Such is not an argument. It’s just a hasty conclusion.
After The Rebel was published in 1951, Camus had a falling-out with Sartre and de Beauvoir. Although the essay still clings to the Atheist worldview, Camus had seen enough of the evils of Socialism in practice. With Sartre still refusing to condemn the gulags, Camus tried to find a world where he could remain an Atheist, but without the effects of Atheist terror. “I believe in justice,” Camus said, “but I will defend my mother before justice.” Camus’ circle of Atheist friends abandoned him. He was then denounced as a colonial apologist. Albert Camus died in a car accident on January 4th, 1960. He was forty-six years old. His own daughter said of him, “Papa was alone.”[xlvii]
The Atheist is stuck inside a grand wheel of cyclical reasoning. Protagoras held that man is the measure of all things. Confucius held that wise men know what they know, and know they don’t know what they don’t know. And Lao Tsu held that those who know are not learned. Similarly, Nietzsche believed that morality is the opposite of what we commonly believe it to be. Then Sartre said that it was the same, even without God. When it came time for Camus to voice his opinions, it’s no wonder, upon looking back on the Atheist tradition, that he was a little confused. Atheism’s final stage is absurdism. Ironically, that’s the only part of it that makes sense because the history of Atheism is so contradictory.
The Atheist does not know himself. He simply has faith in his personal whims, even when those whims lead to gulags and concentration camps. When Camus attempted to question the effects of this Atheist worldview, his so-called Atheist friends abandoned him for daring to question a man like Stalin. The Atheist has a deep conviction when it comes to his personal faith. Make no mistake about it. Atheism is a religion.
[i] Basic Writings of Nietzsche at 172.
[ii] Id. at 233.
[iii] Id. at 277.
[iv] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Apr. 29, 2011) (describing some of the details of Nietzsche’s life).
[v] Julian Young, Friedrich Nietzsche, The New York Times, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/n/friedrich_nietzsche/index.html.
[vi] Basic Writings of Nietzsche at 470.
[vii] Id. at 471.
[viii] Id. at 488-89.
[ix] Id. at 550.
[x] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 41 (R. J. Hollingdale trans., Penguin Books) (2003).
[xi] Thus Spoke Zarathustra at 299.
[xii] Id. at 297.
[xiii] Id. at 124.
[xiv] Friedrich Nietzsche
[xv] Christopher Hitchens, Mortality, 60-1 (Twelve) (2012).
[xvi] Alexander Star, What Nietzsche Did to America, The New York Times (Jan. 13, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/books/review/american-nietzsche-by-jennifer-ratner-rosenhagen-book-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
[xviii] H. L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods, 291 (Johns Hopkins University Press 2d. ed.) (2006).
[xix] Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, 213 (Jaico Publishing House) (2008).
[xx] Id. at 225.
[xxi] Id. at 259.
[xxii] Id. at 296.
[xxiii] Id. at 298.
[xxiv] Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[xxv] Louis Menand, Stand By Your Man, The New Yorker (Sep. 26, 2005), http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/09/26/stand-by-your-man.
[xxvi] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[xxvii] Stand By Your Man.
[xxviii] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[xxix] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 589 (Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky trans., Farrar, Straus, & Giroux) (1990).
[xxx] Jean-Paul Sartre, L’existentialisme est un humanisme, 39 (Éditions Gallimard) (1996).
[xxxi] Id. at 43-4.
[xxxii] Id. at 52.
[xxxiii] Id. at 38.
[xxxiv] James Poulos, Five Reasons François Hollande Is Destined to Fail, Forbes (May 6, 2012), http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamespoulos/2012/05/06/five-reasons-francois-hollande-is-destined-to-fail/.
[xxxv] Angelique Chrisafis, Why François Hollande’s Popularity Has Plummeted, The Guardian (Nov. 1, 2012), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/01/why-francois-hollande-popularity-plummeted-france.
[xxxvi] Piketty’s Snub, The Economist (Jan. 2, 2015), http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21637622-just-what-fran-ois-hollande-needsa-public-slight-former-supporter-pikettys-snub.
[xxxvii] Jon Hartley, Hollande’s 75% “Supertax” Failure a Blow to Piketty’s Economics, Forbes (Feb. 2, 2015), http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonhartley/2015/02/02/frances-75-supertax-failure-a-blow-to-pikettys-economics/.
[xxxviii] Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy.
[xxxix] Adam Gopnik, Facing History: Why We Love Camus (Apr. 9, 2012), http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/09/facing-history.
[xl] Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[xli] Albert Camus, Le mythe de Sisyphe, 17 (Éditions Gallimard) (1942).
[xlii] Basic Writings of Nietzsche at 281.
[xliii] Le mythe de Sisyphe at 30-1.
[xliv] Id. at 168.
[xlv] Albert Camus, L’homme révolté, 38 (Éditions Gallimard) (1951).
[xlvi] Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 451 (The Modern Library) (1992).
[xlvii] Prince of the Absurd: In Search of the Real Camus, The Economist (Jan. 7, 2010), http://www.economist.com/node/15211211.