Does Christianity Make Us Weak?
Press Start for “Does Christianity Make Us Weak” by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.
Episode 24: Does Christianity Make Us Weak?
(Friedrich Nietzsche on Herd Morality & The Will to Power)
Written by: Matt Reichle
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Does Christianity Make Us Weak?
Are we “sheeple”?
Imagine, dear viewer, that a basketball team crushes it’s opponent by over 100 points. In the world we live in, the winning coach may get fired for such a display, certain childrens’ leagues refuse to even keep score, and participation trophies abound. Mediocrity is celebrated, applauded, and encouraged while the celebration of excellence is frowned upon.
But where does this desire for mediocrity come from? For Friedrich Nietzsche the answer is simple: Christian morality. The Christian ethos, and its call for piety, obedience, reciprocity, compassion, moderation, and equality—the Christian metaphor of a Shepard and His flock- are all symptoms of a weak form of morality. These beliefs stem from an inability to deal with the strengths of other people… of a need to be led. Strength, cunning, brilliance, exuberance, and wealth; these are the things society ought to value, yet they are devalued.
In his book, On the Genealogy of Morality Nietzsche uses the example of lambs and birds of prey: Large birds carry lambs away to their death on a pretty regular basis. It would be understandable for the lambs to call birds “Evil” but to Nietzsche the terms “good and evil” don’t make sense because the Will to Power complicates these concepts.
The will to power is the drive to maintain control, power, and success in life. Nietzsche famously asserted that: “This world is the will to power-and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power-and nothing besides!”
The world that we live in is one in which people — all LIFE — competes to survive and even flourish. Each species has different instincts and strengths: Metools use hardhats for protection, tiger and lion bots eat tourists, and Iceman uses his cold steely eyes to freeze his prey. The will to power isn’t just biological. Every choice we make—all of the techniques that we use to live a happy and content life are all part of our will to power—of our desire to thrive in the world. If a tiger eats a tourist, that’s good for the lion, not the vacationer. For Nietzsche, the will to power is that part of us that annihilates moral considerations. From the beginning of time, the lions of the world have eaten the lambs. Though one may argue that’s not how the world ought to be—that’s just the way it is.
Through the valorization of a single code—a universal morality that dictates what is good and evil—Christian morality keeps people in line, it renders people an undifferentiated mass that smothers the individual’s will to power—it gives people a convenient excuse to be ordinary. Most of the time, people resist the urge to stand apart, they are afraid to be different, to be alone, and are more likely to assimilate. But Nietzche thinks people should aspire to be exceptional.
People may feel smug when a coach gets fired for running up the score, perhaps it feels good to blame a loss on deflated footballs—to vilify others for success. Lambs may feel justified hating birds of prey. The Large birds of prey value their strength while lambs of the world value their unimportance, weakness, and passive nature. Plainly speaking: the lamb hates the bird because the bird is better than it.
So dear viewer, how many participation trophies do you own?