8 Bit Philosophy: Does Christianity Make Us Weak? (Nietzsche)

8-Bit Philosophy

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Does Christianity Make Us Weak? (Nietzsche)

Friedrich Nietzsche on Herd Morality & The Will to Power.

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Sofox

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My experience of Christianity has always been about compassion, empthy, understanding where the other person is coming from, and largely, not being a jerk. Trying to do the right thing even when it's hard to do.

Maybe it's because I'm Irish and this video is clearly influenced by American culture (unless there are other countries with participation trophies), but I don't see the whole assimilation culture that Christianity is meant to have here. Yes, I suppose there are lessons about not being overly arrogant, or not acting morally superior to everyone, or the limitations of wealth; but I've always seen Christianity as about giving us moral underpinnings, a better sense of where we are in the world, and otherwise let us follow our own path (though maybe praying to God for guidance if we're not sure).
 

Callate

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...Of course, Neitzsche also died insane.

The man had some interesting things to say, no question. But taking him as a sole guiding light undoubtedly carries with it the assumption that one will, of course, be the predator not the prey. Assuming that those who work together to accomplish greater ends (and fend off the "predators", however strong) is unwise. And those who feel they can pick and choose, accepting the benefits of the so-called "herd mentality" when it suits them and victimizing others to their own benefit when it suits them, cease to so much predators as scavengers; in the long term, they often end up with neither the strength of existing on predation nor the protections of affectionate camaraderie.
 

Cleggster

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My problem with Neitzsche is that while he had some really good food for thought about the nature of humans...and nature. But I always felt he ignored intent, which I feel is the more important part of morality. A tiger doesn't eat someone to cause them harm, but because it is hungry and intent never becomes a factor.
 

Gorrath

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Callate said:
...accepting the benefits of the so-called "herd mentality" when it suits them and victimizing others to their own benefit when it suits them, cease to so much predators as scavengers...
This makes me think of modern capitalism in the U.S. Those corporations who drone on about the good of the free market (the predator's market) whilst huddling up with the Government, their hands out like paupers when their businesses start to fail due to mismanagement (sheep's market.) Those that want to play both sides simply become wolves in sheep's clothing. The double-talk is unbearable.
 

TheDrunkNinja

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Go around telling the 99% that speak out against the wealthy 1% that "It's just the way it is. They're better than you because they just played the game better," and you're probably gonna have a bad time.

Christianity teaches moral humility and the virtue of being humble, the extreme of which is described by Neitzsche as a celebration of mediocrity. The opposing side, however, has the extreme of giving approval to those who use their gifts to stand up as our "betters" and should not be admonished for exploiting these gifts for their own benefit on those who do not have such gifts.

How about instead of circle-jerking with Neitzsche, we accept that a balance of such morals is probably the best course. Do not be ashamed of your gifts, but do not flaunt them about in the face of those who have none. Encourage those who have potential, do not bring them down to suit everyone else. If you have a gift, you have the responsibility to use it; not just to benefit yourself at the cost of others, but to benefit those around you.
 

Gorrath

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Sofox said:
My experience of Christianity has always been about compassion, empthy, understanding where the other person is coming from, and largely, not being a jerk. Trying to do the right thing even when it's hard to do.

Maybe it's because I'm Irish and this video is clearly influenced by American culture (unless there are other countries with participation trophies), but I don't see the whole assimilation culture that Christianity is meant to have here. Yes, I suppose there are lessons about not being overly arrogant, or not acting morally superior to everyone, or the limitations of wealth; but I've always seen Christianity as about giving us moral underpinnings, a better sense of where we are in the world, and otherwise let us follow our own path (though maybe praying to God for guidance if we're not sure).
One could argue there are some pretty amazing divides between what Christian writings say, how those writings are interpreted and what theology is derived from them and disseminated. I don't want to belabor you with an undesired lecture though; I guess suffice it to say that it really depends on which brand of Christianity you're looking at. The New Testament would have us be God's lambs. The old Testament would have us be God's wolves. Much Christian theology I've seen tries to split that difference and it comes out a confused mess. I think that's born out by just how many sub-sets of Christian teaching there are. Religion is a sensitive subject, so I will not press these points if you'd rather not. Cheers!
 

LysanderNemoinis

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Nov 8, 2010
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Wow, I can't believe that most of the posts so far have been defending or at least not bashing Christianity. It's actually...kind of a nice treat for me to see. But I'd also like to point out that most of the people who want paticipation trophies, not keeping score in games, treating everyone like a winnner, gold stars for all, and wanting people to conform are the very same people who love Nietzsche almost purely because of his hatred of religion.
 

Mr.Mattress

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Jul 17, 2009
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So Nietzsche created the "Might Makes Right" Argument? Good to know where it came from.

OT: Christianity is a religion that wishes for people to be kind, fair, just, charitable and humble. But Christianity in and of itself does not do these things nor enforce them (other then the threat of Damnation in Hell). The reason Western Society is valuing the "under-achievers" more then the Achievers during things like "Childrens Baseball Games" and "College Basketball" has nothing to do with Christianity. I believe it has more to do with the fact that Children/Teens/Young Adults, when they're told they're either always a winner or always a looser, would become petty, sore winners/looser's who either mock their competition or completely give up on the activity (or worse) depending on the side. It's a good thing to keep adolescences' spirits high, but it's also a good thing to teach them humility and humbleness.

Besides, the kids who always win are going to go on to do amazing in the area they always win, while the kids who always loose, as long as they are encouraged, will either get better or move on to something they are good at. The worst thing to do to an adolescent is to call them a looser.
 

LiMaSaRe

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Callate said:
...Of course, Neitzsche also died insane.

The man had some interesting things to say, no question. But taking him as a sole guiding light undoubtedly carries with it the assumption that one will, of course, be the predator not the prey.
Nietzsche's insanity was hereditary. It seems irrelevant to what he wrote before his psychotic break.

Secondly, Nietzsche never intended his philosophy to be a sole guiding light. He tells you NOT to let anyone else enforce their values on you, including his. He also didn't think that his philosophy applied to 99% of humanity; it was always written for the "free spirits" who, like he, listen only to themselves, and he thought those people were exceedingly rare.

Sofox said:
Maybe it's because I'm Irish and this video is clearly influenced by American culture (unless there are other countries with participation trophies), but I don't see the whole assimilation culture that Christianity is meant to have here.
Nietzsche wrote all of his philosophy in Germany, mostly during the 1880's. He refers explicitly to European culture when he describes the herd mentality, and I don't think anybody was giving out "participation awards" yet at that time. Ireland is included in the European Christian culture to which he refers, and in "People's and Fatherlands" he describes the Irish as particularly prone to assimilation. Any influence by American culture in this video arises solely from the hands of Matt Reichle and Jared Bauer, and is not innate to Nietzsche's philosophy.
 

EnigmaticSevens

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And any good biologist could explain to Nietzsche that the glorious 'tiger' has been brought to the brink of extinction and non-existence by the actions and explosive population growth of the remarkably intelligent primate it used to predate upon (not that it doesn't still try to have a go at it from time to time), because the 'nature' that he vaunts above the supposedly weak and quivering Christian ethos, is as equally (if not more so) disdainful of the concept of his ubermensche. Nature fosters both cooperation and competition, a continual balance between the brilliance of the individual and the coordination of the group. You are not a special, special, snowflake, just an ordinary one and as a whole, so much snow is little more than a nuisance to be melted... but, by chance and by crystalline structure, snow may fall and thus be arranged until it produces the most breathtaking sculptures of ice imaginable.
 

Gorrath

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LysanderNemoinis said:
Wow, I can't believe that most of the posts so far have been defending or at least not bashing Christianity. It's actually...kind of a nice treat for me to see. But I'd also like to point out that most of the people who want paticipation trophies, not keeping score in games, treating everyone like a winnner, gold stars for all, and wanting people to conform are the very same people who love Nietzsche almost purely because of his hatred of religion.
I'm curious as to where you derive that conclusion from. People who like participation trophies also like Nietzsche because he hates religion? Is there some link or correlation between participation trophies and hating religion? I find that assertion to be a bit odd; what makes you link the two?
 

Lightknight

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Cooperation and tribalism in general was instrumental to us becoming full fledged societies able to carry out complex tasks on a global scale. I'm not sure calls to play fair or not run up the score can be attributed to a religion. Maybe we've evolved to have an innate sense of decency and things like Christian values came out of those values instead of merely instilling them? Because it was evolutionarily more beneficial to work together and to consider the feelings of one another than it was to try and do everything on our own with no respect for other people.
 

LysanderNemoinis

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Nov 8, 2010
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Gorrath said:
LysanderNemoinis said:
Wow, I can't believe that most of the posts so far have been defending or at least not bashing Christianity. It's actually...kind of a nice treat for me to see. But I'd also like to point out that most of the people who want paticipation trophies, not keeping score in games, treating everyone like a winnner, gold stars for all, and wanting people to conform are the very same people who love Nietzsche almost purely because of his hatred of religion.
I'm curious as to where you derive that conclusion from. People who like participation trophies also like Nietzsche because he hates religion? Is there some link or correlation between participation trophies and hating religion? I find that assertion to be a bit odd; what makes you link the two?
Generally, very far left-leaning people, and especially in the education industry (which is almost entirely liberal to a fault), are the ones pushing participation trophies, gold stars for nothing, forcing winners in schools to give up their trophies if the game's a blowout, etc. Also, I've yet to meet a single liberal person who doesn't adore Nietzsche or at least spout his anti-religious rhetoric whenever they happen to encounter anything religious.
 

Retsam19

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Okay, Christian here, some interesting ideas in this video I wanted to respond to, with the Biblical teaching on the topic. Sorry if it's a bit of an essay.

Disclaimer 1: I'm talking mostly Christian doctrine, i.e. what's in the Bible, which doesn't perfectly align with Christian behavior

Disclaimer 2: Dammit Jim, I'm a programmer not a theologian.

---

Anyways.... The idea that Christianity teaches mediocrity and conformity that's pretty clearly a misunderstanding of Christian teaching.

Regarding conformity, a specific passage on this topic is 1 Corinthians 12, which compares the members of the church to parts of the body. It's too long to quote in entirety but the message isn't "everyone should be the same" but rather the opposite: "everyone can't be the same". Just as a physical body needs hands as well as feet as well as eyes as well as a brain, so too does the body of Christ (a commonly used Biblical phrase meaning the church) need people with differing abilities and callings.

And regarding mediocrity, the best verse I can think of on that topic is Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters". Another passage on the same topic is the "parable of the talents" (a parable is a story told by Jesus to teach a lesson, a talent is a sum of money), which has the same message. Too long to quote directly but it's relevant enough to summarize: (So here's the "Forums Bastardized Version" translation of this passage)

A master is leaving on a journey and is leaving 3 servants in charge of his stuff while he's gone. To one servant he entrusts a large sum of money (10 talents), to another servant a medium sum (5 talents) to another a small sum (1 talent). Both the first two servants use the money to make more money which they give to their master when he returns and are both praised for their efforts, while the third servant buries the money until the master returns, and when the master returns the third servant is harshly chastised for wasting what was given to him and called "a wicked and slothful servant".
The story isn't about investing strategies or proper Human Resources management, but it's quite literally about using our talents. Nietzsche, as presented by this video, seems to think the 1st servant would be chastised for outperforming the 3rd servant and that the 3rd servant would be given a participation trophy... but the opposite is true. As Christians we aren't chastised for using our talents, we're chastised if we aren't using them.

While neither mediocrity or conformity are part of Christian doctrine, equality does come into Christian teaching in that we're all equally sinful and in need of God's salvation. But that's descriptive not prescriptive, and it's a call to humility not mediocrity.

---

But, Christianity does reject the idea of "will to power" - it doesn't reject that it happens, but it rejects that it's the right way to live.

The defense of "will to power" because "that's the way things are" is a non-argument. I've never met anyone who actually lives that way. They might say they believe that, but just wait until they encounter some part of the world that they don't like. Nobody says "I think rape's okay, because that's just they way the world works". Maybe Nietzsche had a better argument for it than that, but that's the way it was presented in this video.

It's not about squelching your natural talents and abilities, but it's a question of what you do with them. The "natural" behavior that Nietzsche describes is that people with abilities should use those abilities for their own benefit; that people with power should use that power to oppress the weak if they can and they benefit from it. Jesus, however, taught the opposite, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7. If you read one part of the Bible, read this part) he famously calls for turning the other cheek and says that if someone steals your shirt, that you should give them your coat as well. That's a radical rejection of self-interest there.

In general, Christianity teaches that you should use your abilities to server God first, others second, and yourself last. Does that count as weak? I don't know, depends on how you define it. But I think we'd all be better off if we lived that way.
 

Nimcha

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Ah, the dead god.

I feel Nietschze had a point but was missing the larger picture. Religions exist to grow, and nothing else. Celebrating mediocrity is just one of the tools to keep the people in who are already in, along with promising heaven to believers and their kin. Christianity has its own little nifty device with the original sin making everybody sinners from the get go. Thus making rectruitment paramount.
 

Mazimadu

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What the hell is this?

This is a video game culture site, why the hell are we discussing Nietzsche and Christianity? Its not like there is a game that does it well.

NOTE:
I wrote this before I read the comments. I am happy that there are many Christians on this site discussing how Nietzsche got it wrong. Still, I would not imagine the Escapist to be the place to have philosophical/theological discussion. This is still a video game website.
 

JohnZ117

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Jun 19, 2012
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Nimcha said:
Ah, the dead god.
If you're referring to his (in)famous quote "God is dead," that one has been so misinterpreted, it's annoying
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the marketplace and cried incessantly: "I am looking for God! I am looking for God!"

As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there he caused considerable laughter. "Have you lost him then?" said one. "Did he lose his way like a child?" said another. "Or is he hiding? Is he scared of us? Did he emigrate?" They shouted and laughed in this manner. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his look. "Where has God gone?" he cried. "I will tell you. We have killed him ? you and I. We are all his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Where is it moving now? Where are we moving now? Away from all suns? Aren't we perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Aren't we straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Hasn't it become colder? Isn't more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God?s putrefaction? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? That which was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives ? who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games will we need to invent? Isn't the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it?"

"There has never been a greater deed ? and whoever shall be born after us, for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all the history that came before." Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground and it shattered and went out. "I come too early," he said then; "my time hasn't come yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still traveling ? it has not yet reached human ears. Lightning and thunder need time, deeds need time after they have been done before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars ? and yet we have done it ourselves."

It has also been related that on that same day the madman entered various churches and there sang a requiem aeternam deo. Led out and told to shut up, he is said to have retorted each time: "What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"

It is his warning about the success of the Age of Enlightenment. With all that was disproved we were/are a people without certainty or guidance. "Where has (Certainty) gone?" he cried. "I will tell you. We have killed (Certainty) ? you and I."
 

Baresark

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Nietzsche is always interesting despite I have never found much value in his philosophies. He seems to be the result of his inherent dislike of life in general with little to no positives to be found in his view. I like how he attributes that mentality to Christianity when I have never seen any Christian participate in this. I also question how common it is. There is value in positive reinforcement for basic things. But I wouldn't say that is the same as giving accolade to someone for being mediocre. Also, Christianity espouses economic equality to a degree, but not really gender/sex equality, race equality or any such thing. The bible does a lot more concentration on rich people not being better than poor people just because they are rich. Nietzsche seemed to value the opposite (rich people are thus because they are better).

But, I also don't read a whole lot of his philosophy, so I could easily be off base. I just have never heard it first hand.
 

Baresark

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Mazimadu said:
What the hell is this?

This is a video game culture site, why the hell are we discussing Nietzsche and Christianity? Its not like there is a game that does it well.

NOTE:
I wrote this before I read the comments. I am happy that there are many Christians on this site discussing how Nietzsche got it wrong. Still, I would not imagine the Escapist to be the place to have philosophical/theological discussion. This is still a video game website.
In their defense, they don't just do videogames, though it is a big portion of their site. This is taken from the Wisecrack Youtube channel, which is easily one of the best and this particular series always leads to interesting debates. They always use videogames to discuss various philosophical topics.

If they really wanted a fun film video series, they would do Earthling Cinema. Great show. And Thug Notes is also a lot of fun.