Friedrich Nietzsche: The Antichrist (part 5)

Back to part 4

43

When the centre of gravity of life is placed, not in life itself, but in "the beyond" -- in nothingness -- then one has taken away its centre of gravity altogether. The vast lie of personal immortality destroys all reason, all natural instinct -- henceforth, everything in the instincts that is beneficial, that fosters life and that safeguards the future is a cause of suspicion. So to live that life no longer has any meaning: this is now the "meaning" of life. . . . Why be public-spirited? Why take any pride in descent and forefathers? Why labour together, trust one another, or concern one's self about the common welfare, and try to serve it? . . . Merely so many "temptations," so many strayings from the "straight path." -- "One thing only is necessary". . . That every man, because he has an "immortal soul," is as good as every other man; that in an infinite universe of things the "salvation" of every individual may lay claim to eternal importance; that insignificant bigots and the three-fourths insane may assume that the laws of nature are constantly suspended in their behalf -- it is impossible to lavish too much contempt upon such a magnification of every sort of selfishness to infinity, toinsolence. And yet Christianity has to thank precisely this miserable flattery of personal vanity for its triumph -- it was thus that it lured all the botched, the dissatisfied, the fallen upon evil days, the whole refuse and off-scouring of humanity to its side. The "salvation of the soul" -- in plain language: "the world revolves around me." . . . The poisonous doctrine, "equal rights for all," has been propagated as a Christian principle: out of the secret nooks and crannies of bad instinct Christianity has waged a deadly war upon all feelings of reverence and distance between man and man, which is to say, upon the first prerequisite to every step upward, to every development of civilization -- out of the ressentiment of the masses it has forged its chief weapons against us, against everything noble, joyous and high spirited on earth, against our happiness on earth . . . To allow "immortality" to every Peter and Paul was the greatest, the most vicious outrage upon noble humanity ever perpetrated. -- And let us not underestimate the fatal influence that Christianity has had, even upon politics! Nowadays no one has courage any more for special rights, for the right of dominion, for feelings of honourable pride in himself and his equals -- for the pathos of distance. . . Our politics is sick with this lack of courage! -- The aristocratic attitude of mind has been undermined by the lie of the equality of souls; and if belief in the "privileges of the majority" makes and will continue to make revolution -- it is Christianity, let us not doubt, and Christian valuations, which convert every revolution into a carnival of blood and crime! Christianity is a revolt of all creatures that creep on the ground against everything that is lofty: the gospel of the "lowly" lowers . . .

44

The gospels are invaluable as evidence of the corruption that was already persistent within the primitive community. That which Paul, with the cynical logic of a rabbi, later developed to a conclusion was at bottom merely a process of decay that had begun with the death of the Redeemer. -- These gospels cannot be read too carefully; difficulties lurk behind every word. I confess -- I hope it will not be held against me -- that it is precisely for this reason that they offer first-rate joy to a psychologist -- as the opposite of all merely naive corruption, as refinement par excellence, as an artistic triumph in psychological corruption. The gospels, in fact, stand alone. The Bible as a whole is not to be compared to them. Here we are among Jews: this is the first thing to be borne in mind if we are not to lose the thread of the matter. This positive genius for conjuring up a delusion of personal "holiness" unmatched anywhere else, either in books or by men; this elevation of fraud in word and attitude to the level of an art -- all this is not an accident due to the chance talents of an individual, or to any violation of nature. The thing responsible is race. The whole of Judaism appears in Christianity as the art of concocting holy lies, and there, after many centuries of earnest Jewish training and hard practice of Jewish technique, the business comes to the stage of mastery. The Christian, that ultima ratio of lying, is the Jew all over again -- he is threefold the Jew. . . The underlying will to make use only of such concepts, symbols and attitudes as fit into priestly practice, the instinctive repudiation of other mode of thought, and every other method of estimating values and utilities -- this is not only tradition, it is inheritance: only as an inheritance is it able to operate with the force of nature. The whole of mankind, even the best minds of the best ages (with one exception, perhaps hardly human --), have permitted themselves to be deceived. The gospels have been read as a book of innocence. . . surely no small indication of the high skill with which the trick has been done. -- Of course, if we could actually see these astounding bigots and bogus saints, even if only for an instant, the farce would come to an end, -- and it is precisely because I cannot read a word of theirs without seeing their attitudinizing that I have made an end of them. . . . I simply cannot endure the way they have of rolling up their eyes. -- For the majority, happily enough, books are mere literature. -- Let us not be led astray: they say "judge not," and yet they condemn to hell whoever stands in their way. In letting God sit in judgment they judge themselves; in glorifying God they glorify themselves; in demanding that every one show the virtues which they themselves happen to be capable of -- still more, which they must have in order to remain on top -- they assume the grand air of men struggling for virtue, of men engaging in a war that virtue may prevail. "We live, we die, we sacrifice ourselves for the good" (-- "the truth," "the light," "the kingdom of God"): in point of fact, they simply do what they cannot help doing. Forced, like hypocrites, to be sneaky, to hide in corners, to slink along in the shadows, they convert their necessity into aduty: it is on grounds of duty that they account for their lives of humility, and that humility becomes merely one more proof of their piety. . . Ah, that humble, chaste, charitable brand of fraud! "Virtue itself shall bear witness for us.". . . . One may read the gospels as books of moral seduction: these petty folks fasten themselves to morality -- they know the uses of morality! Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose! -- The fact is that the conscious conceit of the chosen here disguises itself as modesty: it is in this way that they, the "community," the "good and just," range themselves, once and for always, on one side, the side of "the truth" -- and the rest of mankind, "the world," on the other. . . In that we observe the most fatal sort of megalomania that the earth has ever seen: little abortions of bigots and liars began to claim exclusive rights in the concepts of "God," "the truth," "the light," "the spirit," "love," "wisdom" and "life," as if these things were synonyms of themselves and thereby they sought to fence themselves off from the "world"; little super-Jews, ripe for some sort of madhouse, turned values upside down in order to meet their notions, just as if the Christian were the meaning, the salt, the standard and even the final judgment of all the rest. . . . The whole disaster was only made possible by the fact that there already existed in the world a similar megalomania, allied to this one in race, to wit, the Jewish: once a chasm began to yawn between Jews and Judaeo-Christians, the latter had no choice but to employ the self-preservative measures that the Jewish instinct had devised, even against the Jews themselves, whereas the Jews had employed them only against non-Jews. The Christian is simply a Jew of the "reformed" confession. --

45

-- I offer a few examples of the sort of thing these petty people have got into their heads -- what they have put into the mouth of the Master: the unalloyed creed of "beautiful souls." --

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Mark vi, 11) -- How evangelical!

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea" (Mark ix, 42) . -- How evangelical! --

"And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire; Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark ix, 47) -- It is not exactly the eye that is meant.

"Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark ix, 1.) -- Well lied, lion! . . . .

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For . . ." (Note of a psychologist. Christian morality is refuted by its fors: its reasons are against it, -- this makes it Christian.) Mark viii, 34. --

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew vii, l.) -- What a notion of justice, of a "just" judge! . . .

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?" (Matthew V, 46.) -- Principle of "Christian love": it insists upon being well paid in the end. . . .

"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew vi, 15.) -- Very compromising for the said "father."

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew vi, 33.) -- All these things: namely, food, clothing, all the necessities of life. An error, to put it mildly. . . . A bit before this God appears as a tailor, at least in certain cases.

"Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets." (Luke vi, 23.) -- Impudent rabble! It compares itself to the prophets. . .

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (Paul, 1 Corinthians iii, 16.)19 -- For that sort of thing one cannot have enough contempt. . . .

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (Paul, 1 Corinthians vi, 2.) -- Unfortunately, not merely the speech of a lunatic. . .

This frightful impostor then proceeds: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?". . .

"Hat not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. . . . Not many wise men after the flesh, not men mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." (Paul, 1 Corinthians i, 20ff.) -- In order to understand this passage, a first rate example of the psychology underlying every Chandala-morality, one should read the first part of my Genealogy of Morals: there, for the first time, the antagonism between a noble morality and a morality born of ressentimentand impotent vengefulness is exhibited. Paul was the greatest of all apostles of revenge. . . .

46

-- What follows, then? That one had better put on gloves before reading the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very advisable. One would as little choose "early Christians" for companions as Polish Jews: not that one need seek out an objection to them . . . Neither has a pleasant smell. -- I have searched the New Testament in vain for a single sympathetic touch; nothing is there that is free, kindly, open-hearted or upright. In it humanity does not even make the first step upward -- the instinct for cleanliness is lacking. . . . Only bad instincts are there, and there is not even the courage of these bad instincts. It is all cowardice; it is all a shutting of the eyes, a self-deception. Every other book becomes clean, once one has read the New Testament: for example, immediately after reading Paul I took up with delight that most charming and wanton of scoffers, Petronius, of whom one may say what Domenico Boccaccio wrote of Cesare Borgia to the Duke of Parma: "e tutto festo" -- immortally healthy, immortally cheerful and sound. . . .These petty bigots make a capital miscalculation. They attack, but everything they attack is thereby distinguished. Whoever is attacked by an "early Christian" is surely not besmirched . . . On the contrary, it is an honour to have an "early Christian" as an opponent. One cannot read the New Testament without acquired admiration for whatever it abuses -- not to speak of the "wisdom of this world," which an impudent wind bag tries to dispose of "by the foolishness of preaching." . . . Even the scribes and pharisees are benefitted by such opposition: they must certainly have been worth something to have been hated in such an indecent manner. Hypocrisy -- as if this were a charge that the "early Christians" dared to make! -- After all, they were the privileged, and that was enough: the hatred of the Chandala needed no other excuse. The "early Christian" -- and also, I fear, the "last Christian," whom I may perhaps live to see -- is a rebel against all privilege by profound instinct -- he lives and makes war forever for "equal rights." . . .Strictly speaking, he has no alternative. When a man proposes to represent, in his own person, the "chosen of God" -- or to be a "temple of God," or a "judge of the angels" -- then every other criterion, whether based upon honesty, upon intellect, upon manliness and pride, or upon beauty and freedom of the heart, becomes simply "worldly" -- evil in itself. . . Moral: every word that comes from the lips of an "early Christian" is a lie, and his every act is instinctively dishonest -- all his values, all his aims are noxious, but whoever he hates, whatever he hates, has real value . . . The Christian, and particularly the Christian priest, is thus a criterion of values.

-- Must I add that, in the whole New Testament, there appears but a solitary figure worthy of honour? Pilate, the Roman viceroy. To regard a Jewish imbroglio seriously -- that was quite beyond him. One Jew more or less -- what did it matter? . . . The noble scorn of a Roman, before whom the word "truth" was shamelessly mishandled, enriched the New Testament with the only saying that has any value -- and that is at once its criticism and its destruction: "What is truth?". . .

47

-- The thing that sets us apart is not that we are unable to find God, either in history, or in nature, or behind nature -- but that we regard what has been honoured as God, not as "divine," but as pitiable, as absurd, as injurious; not as a mere error, but as a crime against life. . . We deny God as God . . . If any one were to show us this Christian God, we'd be still less inclined to believe in him. -- In a formula: deus, qualem Paulus creavit, dei negatio. [“God, as Paul created him, is a negation of God”] -- Such a religion as Christianity, which does not touch reality at a single point and which goes to pieces the moment reality asserts its rights at any point, must be inevitably the deadly enemy of the "wisdom of this world," which is to say, of science -- and it will give the name of good to whatever means serve to poison, calumniate and cry down all intellectual discipline, all lucidity and strictness in matters of intellectual conscience, and all noble coolness and freedom of the mind. "Faith," as an imperative, vetoes science -- in praxi, lying at any price. . . . Paul well knew that lying -- that "faith" -- was necessary; later on the church borrowed the fact from Paul. -- The God that Paul invented for himself, a God who "reduced to absurdity" "the wisdom of this world" (especially the two great enemies of superstition, philology and medicine), is in truth only an indication of Paul's resolute determination to accomplish that very thing himself: to give one's own will the name of God, Torah -- that is essentially Jewish. Paul wants to dispose of the "wisdom of this world": his enemies are the good philologians and physicians of the Alexandrian school -- on them he makes his war. As a matter of fact no man can be a philologian or a physician without being also an Anti-Christ. That is to say, as a philologian a man sees behind the "holy books," and as a physician he sees behind the physiological degeneration of the typical Christian. The physician says "incurable"; the philologian says "fraud.". . .

48

Has any one ever clearly understood the celebrated story at the beginning of the Bible -- of God's mortal terror of science? . . . No one, in fact, has understood it. This priest-book par excellence opens, as is fitting, with the great inner difficulty of the priest: he faces only one great danger; ergo, "God" faces only one great danger. --

The old God, wholly "spirit," wholly the high-priest, wholly perfect, is promenading in his garden: he is bored and trying to kill time. Against boredom even gods struggle in vain. What does he do? He creates man -- man is entertaining. . . But then he notices that man is also bored. God's pity for the only form of distress that invades all paradises knows no bounds: so he forthwith creates other animals. God's first blunder: to man these other animals were not entertaining -- he sought dominion over them; he did not want to be an "animal" himself. -- So God created woman. In the act he brought boredom to an end -- and also many other things! Woman was the second blunder of God. -- "Woman, at bottom, is a serpent, Heva" -- every priest knows that; "from woman comes every evil in the world" -- every priest knows that, too. Ergo, she is also to blame for science.” . . . It was through woman that man learned to taste of the tree of knowledge. -- What happened? The old God was seized by mortal terror. Man himself had been his greatest blunder; he had created a rival to himself; science makes men equal to God -- it is all up with priests and gods when man becomes scientific! -- Moral: science is the forbidden per se; it alone is forbidden. Science is the first of sins, the germ of all sins, the original sin. This is all there is of morality. -- "Thou shalt not know" -- the rest follows from that. -- God's mortal terror, however, did not hinder him from being shrewd. How is one to protect oneself against science? For a long while this was the capital problem. Answer: Out of paradise with man! Happiness, leisure, foster thought -- and all thoughts are bad thoughts! -- Man must not think. -- And so the priest invents distress, death, the mortal dangers of childbirth, all sorts of misery, old age, decrepitude, above all, sickness -- nothing but devices for making war on science! The troubles of man don't allow him to think. . . Nevertheless -- how terrible! -- , the edifice of knowledge begins to tower aloft, invading heaven, shadowing the gods -- what is to be done? -- The old God invents war; he separates the peoples; he makes men destroy one another (-- the priests have always had need of war....). War -- among other things, a great disturber of science ! -- Incredible! Knowledge, emancipation from the priests, prospers in spite of war. -- So the old God comes to his final resolution: "Man has become scientific -- there is no help for it: he must be drowned!". . . .

49

Have I been understood? At the opening of the Bible there is the whole psychology of the priest. -- The priest knows of only one great danger: that is science -- the sound comprehension of cause and effect. But science flourishes, on the whole, only under favourable conditions -- a man must have time, he must have an overflowing intellect, in order to "know." . . . "Therefore, man must be made unhappy," -- this has been, in all ages, the logic of the priest. -- It is easy to see just what, by this logic, was the first thing to come into the world : -- "sin." . . . The concept of guilt and punishment, the whole "moral order of the world," was set up against science -- against the deliverance of man from priests. . . . Man must not look outward; he must look inward. He must not look at things shrewdly and cautiously, to learn about them; he must not look at all; he must suffer . . . And he must suffer so much that he is always in need of the priest. -- Away with physicians! What is needed is a Redeemer. -- The concept of guilt and punishment, including the doctrines of "grace," of "salvation," of "forgiveness" -- lies through and through, and absolutely without psychological reality -- were devised to destroy man's sense of causality: they are an attack upon the concept of cause and effect! -- And not an attack with the fist, with the knife, with honesty in hate and love! On the contrary, one inspired by the most cowardly, the most crafty, the most ignoble of instincts! An attack of priests! An attack of parasites! The vampirism of pale, subterranean leeches! . . . When the natural consequences of an act are no longer "natural," but are regarded as produced by the ghostly creations of superstition -- by "God," by "spirits," by "souls" -- and reckoned as merely "moral" consequences, as rewards, as punishments, as hints, as lessons, then the whole ground-work of knowledge is destroyed -- then the greatest of crimes against humanity has been perpetrated. -- I repeat that sin, man's self-desecration par excellence, was invented in order to make science, culture, and every elevation and ennobling of man impossible; the priest rules through the invention of sin. --

To proceed to part 6, click here.