Sunday, May 2, 2010

Christianity is an expression of slave psychology

I understand why Nietzsche thought that Judaism and Christianity reflected slave morality. The scriptures are written from the point of view of a slave. God is cast as a slave owner, we his slaves. He is supremely just, and we are but lowly sinners, poor and dirty (a view that displays a very uncharitable understanding of society’s underprivileged. Apparently to be sinful was to be like the poor!). Our greatest efforts to appease His anger would be naught but for his mercy through the sacrifice of his own Son. It is the language of a sycophant, of the humble slave trying to appease his master’s anger by prostrating himself.

It is the language of the slave thanking his master for the gift of his own life, for it is only the master’s mercy that allows him to keep it. Undeserving and wayward as he is from his master’s forgiveness, he justly deserves to be punished eternally, where there is weeping and nashing of teeth. Only such a punishment could be just for the extreme and willful evil that the slave continually commits against his master’s mercy, in thought, word and deed. The master has given the slave his very life, for which the slave is very thankful.

All the evil that the slave practices has nothing to do with the original nature that the master created in him. Evil is entirely his own doing, a perversion of his master’s grace in giving him a completely perfect nature. Every shortcoming is entirely the slave’s own fault, him having been created perfect, but falling of his own free will. This is language that we would offer to a tyrant, a cosmic Caligula whose anger it was in one’s best interest to appease by crawling on the ground before him. Listen for people who bemoan their sin in this way. Christianity could not exist without guilt. I used to think that as long as I was feeling guilt I was not understanding the Christian mindset. I now see that I understood it perfectly well.

The master commands us to love and worship him, and our allegiance to him is so complete that even should he beat us to death like a dog in the street, yet would we serve him. It is the language of the downtrodden, the world-weary, those bemoaning their fate in this veil of tears. It is not the language or psychology of the free person. We should not be surprised that Christianity has appealed to the spiritually and economically poor in every generation. It was written by those who understood the life of poverty intimately. The Bible bears the marks of its entirely human psychology, the stamp of its lowly origin.

But where does this leave us, we humanists and secularists who recognize that there is value and dignity in forming one’s own thoughts as an expression of one’s autonomy? It leaves us with everything. It leaves us with life itself. In this short life that we’ve been blessed with, we have the supremely valuable opportunity to live the kind of life that we choose, to be free. Not to be bound by fear and enslavement. Christianity is not worthy of the belief of a free person, of one who values his dignity. A free person should see certain beliefs as beneath herself.


  1. If we are not slaves to God, then we WILL be slaves of something. Whatever RULES you, you are a slave to it. And whoever said humans were created perfect? Were it not for Christianity, I think you might have a hard time speaking about what's good about your life because you said "we've been blessed" above. A "blessing" is defined as the act or words of a person who blesses. Who is that person?

  2. I knew the phrase "we've been blessed" would throw people off, and now regret using it. There's really nothing I need to explain about it's use though, except to say 1) that it's metaphor, and that 2) your claim that I cannot account for goodness without God or Christianity or whatever is false. So, in regard to 1), I'm not committing to someone doing the blessing, to a god or whatever. Life is good, and there is goodness in this world whether or not any god exists. I consider my life a blessing in the sense that I am thankful for it. I could be crippled or in chronic pain, but fortunately I am not. Therefore, I feel blessed, a word I understand carries religious implications, but chose to use partly because I am making the point in this piece that an atheist can find grandeur, meaning, and transcendence in this life without appeal to a god.

    In regard to my second point, the view you are defending according to which we cannot make sense of morality or value without God is a hopelessly outdated objection. Plato refuted your position over 2,000 years ago.

  3. You misspelled gnash. It has a g!