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Assess Nietzsche's critique of religion.

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Introduction

Tisha Dyer Assess Nietzsche's critique of religion Nietzsche's critique of religion is largely based on his critique of Christianity. Nietzsche says that in modern Europe, people are atheistic, even though they don't realise it. People who say they are religious aren't really and those who say they have moved on haven't actually moved on. Certain people in society retain features of Christianity. For example, socialists still believe in equality in all people. Others still have pity for the poor and needy etc. Nietzsche dislikes religion especially Christianity because it encourages and promotes slave morality. Nietzsche says that we should be striving towards master morality, but Christianity has the completely opposite values to those of the master morality. For example, religion wants us to be like slaves and give things up instead of trying to be great. He talks about a slave revolt in morality, which leads to the dominance of slave values over master values. Christianity is that slave revolt. The problem for Nietzsche is the New Testament - the introduction of Jesus. He thinks that linking the Old Testament with the New Testament is very cheeky. ...read more.

Middle

Christianity is based on a paradox of God on a cross because the two things are opposites but now they are seen as the same thing. It brings the two together -- the Cross equals humiliation and God equals what is worshiped and powerful. God himself becomes sacrificial and we shouldn't be worshipping someone who is willing to sacrifice his power. It symbolises the essence of Christianity - sacrifice of all freedom, self-mutilation and self-mocking. The turning of will to power against itself. Nietzsche characterises self-mutilation as a mental illness. When you see religion there are three things associated with it - solitude, starving and sexual abstinence are praised. In all religions these three things occur. We don't know whether religion causes these or vice-versa or if there's no cause and effect at all but they do mark religion. Christianity marks Sainthood. He says the saint is he who can renounce his will. How is this possible? The saint comes from belief in opposites - good from evil. The saint is a bad one who's become good. someone who becomes good is based on the idea of pure oppositions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nietzsche's account focuses on the motives of believers, but philosophically speaking, what's most important is the truth or falsity of a belief, not the motive for holding it. A counter-argument to this would be to say that it doesn't affect everything he says about religion and religious believers if God exists or not. It depends on your definition of philosophy if God exists or not. Nietzsche is attempting to create a new kind of philosophy in which psychology and sociology are important components. Another argument against his critique is that he views religion from the outside, so doesn't this make it a one-sided story? But obviously Nietzsche will think that his critique is one-sided. He is a perspectivist. Why is a view from outside any less valid than a view from inside? Is the ladder of religious cruelty a complete account of religious development. What about a sacrificing himself for humanity? This doesn't get mentioned. However we could say that Nietzsche rejects that because he obviously doesn't believe in God and insofar as God is 'one of the suffering'. This confirms Nietzsche's negative view of religion / Christianism. Nietzsche said that religion shouldn't How can religion not be an 'end-in-itself' for religious believers? A counter-argument to this would be to say that religion as an instrument is not a religion. ...read more.

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