Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nietzsche Lives, Unfortunately

Every once in a while, maybe once every other year, I read a popular reference to Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathurstra. It might be a throw away line by a college professor being interviewed in the news, a College or High School student who quotes Nietzsche in a pendantic show of his sophistication. (Anyone who uses the word pendantic is being pendantic!) I'll run across Zarathustra (Nietzsche's alter ego) in a novel I'm reading or find him quoted in a Time magazine article.

Scary stuff, given the historical impact of Nietzschean thinking on the world.

Try quoting this short article some time in your next college paper.


The Nietzschean Nature of Abortion

Friederich Nietzsche found humility and charity disgusting, blaming society’s appreciation for these “offensive” qualities on the Jews and their offspring, the Christians.1 By Nietzsche’s account, goodness was originally associated with the “knightly-aristocratic” values of “powerful physicality” and the joy of unbridled freedom.2 But the Jews, being weak and craven, resented this order, so they instigated a “slave rebellion in morals,”3 enthroning values they could model in their pitiful estate—patience and kindness. Quite naturally, the protagonist in Thus Spoke Zarathustra came to hate the notion of Jesus Christ as a shepherd who cares for the sheep, the vulnerable of the world.4 And just as naturally, Hitler distributed copies of this book, like an evangelist, to his Nazi Party associates.

One would think that enthusiasm for Nietzsche’s perspective evaporated with Hitler’s demise, but it is alive and well today in the pro-abortion movement. They turn a cold shoulder to Christ’s teaching, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40 KJV). And they welcome Nietzsche’s pronouncement, “God is dead,”5 for it gives them all the ethical room they wish in which to maneuver. Nietzsche contended that the universe is bereft of objective truth, and that only those who possess the “will to power” can insert their arbitrary values into the vacuum that is the cosmos—just the ticket for those who would murder babies in the womb.

The alternatives are stark. Either the universe is orderly, with boundaries set by an Almighty Creator, or the things which we call “good” are merely artifacts of human convenience. Jesus claims to be Lord of the universe, the One whose own earthly suffering provides hope for the downtrodden. But Nietzsche presents a world in which values are mere contrivances, leaving the weak at the mercy of the unmerciful. His nihilistic landscape is a terrifying place to live, indeed.

Most persons agree that rescuing the weak is inherently virtuous.6 Both major political parties in America have embraced language about “empowering the powerless” and having compassion on the needy in society. But such commitments are little more than empty platitudes if the principle cannot be extended to defenseless, unborn infants. The confessed concern for “the children” in our culture is laughable when pockets of resistance to a ban on partial-birth abortion7 still exist in American culture.8 We live in an age when leaders desire the image of Jesus while practicing the ethics of Nietzsche. They cannot, however, have both.

James, the brother of Jesus, once wrote to the early Christians that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, and the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27 ESV). He said this because he understood a foundational dictum from his Lord: that the Holy One of Israel considers injustices done to the most vulnerable ones in His creation an insurrection against the justice of God. For today’s Christian, undefiled pure religion means making a clear defense on behalf of the unborn. Any other response is a nod to Nietzsche.

Source: Kairos Journal


1 Friederich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, translated and edited, with commentaries, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library, 1992), 470.
2 Ibid.,469.
3 Friederich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, translated and edited, with commentaries, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library, 1992), 298.
4 "Zarathustra wants to be called a robber by the shepherds. 'Shepherds, I say; but they call themselves believers in the true faith.' 'Behold the good and the just! Whom do they hate the most? The man who breaks their tables of values, the breaker, the lawbreaker: yet he is the creator." From Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for None and All, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books, 1966), 23.
5 Ibid., 12.
6 Even so, evil is often promoted as virtuous by many. See Kairos Journal article, "The Blinding Power of Evil—or—Evil as a 'Duty'".
7 For a definition of "partial-birth abortion," visit
8 See Kairos Journal article, "Partial-Birth Abortion and the Health of a Nation."

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