Heisman’s suicide note, 10

Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that modern morality and modern democratic, egalitarian ideas are superficial secularizations of Christian values. His masterful philosophical and psychological analysis of Jesus and his movement is the starting point of any significant discussion about Christianity’s relationship to modern values. Christianity, he claimed, was a slave morality, and modern egalitarianism rests upon the underlying victory of value revolution Christianity initiated.
Yet the secularization thesis is not an exclusively elitist insight. As popular historian Thomas Cahill put it in The Gift of the Jews, “There is no way that it could ever have been ‘self-evident that all men are created equal’ without the intervention of the Jews.” No matter which way one looks at it, whether elitist or populist, Jews, including Jesus, have been decisive in molding the evolution of civilization in the West through the inordinate influence of Christianity.
Contra Nietzsche, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, takes the diametrically opposite view that “modern” morality does not come from the Bible. One of the greatest failures of Dawkins’ book is that he fails to even mention Nietzsche; he fails to mention the most relevant and potent challenge to his belief that the morality of modernity has nothing to do with the Bible. Among the reasons that Dawkins did not confront Nietzsche, perhaps this is the most obvious: if Nietzsche is right, Dawkins is wrong…
Dawkins believes in an ever-moving Zeitgeist. This spirit of the times is a spirit of progress that moves away from prejudices such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, and towards some form of political equality. This politically leftwards shift, he claims, has no connection with religion; it even marches on despite religion. But if modern egalitarianism does not come from the Bible, then where does it come from? Dawkins explained:

The onus is not on me to answer. For my purpose it is sufficient that they certainly have not come from religion.

That is an explanation? How can religion be ruled out if he has no substantial alternative explanation? While his atheism is a lack of belief in God or gods, he is unable to offer a positive scientific explanation for the modern Western values he has faith in. Dawkins accepted the premise that morality is ‘not necessarily constructed by reason’. But if reason cannot determine fundamental values, then liberalism and the mysterious modern Zeitgeist of progress rest on fundamentally irrational foundations.
Dawkins apparently believes in a spontaneous generation or special creation theory of modern values. In the special creation theory of modern political equality, Christianity has nothing to do with its quick and sudden evolution. “Progress” thus progresses from a spontaneous generation of modern egalitarian values. Dawkins writes almost as if modernity did not evolve out of the Christian world that preceded it…
Jesus turned the ancient world upside down. Either Roman/Jewish war would tear him apart, or Jesus would tear Roman/Jewish war apart by attacking the kin selective nepotism that polarized both Roman and Jew in opposition to Jesus himself. Jesus reversed kin selective values through hatred of the family. Dawkins apparently prefers the Old Testament on this point, and criticized Jesus for his “dodgy family values.” But if Dawkins is going to criticize Jesus’s anti-kin selective values, he should really criticize the values of modernity. What “modern moralist”, Dawkins asked, would follow Abraham? Yet Abraham’s willingness to kill his own son in the name of God is a theological root of Jesus’s hatred of the family. God was not to be confused with pure family values…
To reverse kin selection is to destroy the human family. This is how Jesus attempted to bring the world-rule of the selfish gene to an end. In standing as an individual against kin selective, Jesus acted as the supreme monkeywrench in the gene machine that undergirded modern individualism.
Dawkins hypothesized that indiscriminate altruism in the modern context, along with sex with contraception, are misfirings of former genetic adaptations. Since Dawkins subscribes to some form of the liberal egalitarian Zeitgeist, this means that Dawkins values this misfiring of ancient genetic adaptations. Dawkins thus believes that these forms of genetically maladaptive behavior are good. Why does Dawkins value genetically maladaptive behavior?
Jesus represented a social problem and his innovative ethics represent, in a sense, a kind of solution. Jesus’s ethics are fundamentally selfish in the sense that, in attacking kin selective altruism with an incompatible standard of anti-kin selective altruism, he opened a place for the half-breeds… Christianity, an antidote to genetically adaptive hatred, is probably the deepest source of the implicit modern valuation that the nepotism of kin selection (i.e. Christ killing Nazi racism) is evil.
Jesus was a mutt, but not just any kind of mutt. Jews and Romans were considered political opposite—and often spiritual opposites. Romans considered themselves the alphas of their world, and the Jews the omegas of their world. Jews considered themselves alphas in the eyes of God, and the Romans as the moral omegas of their world. Jesus combined these incompatible alpha/omega conflicts within himself. Jesus could be conceived as both the alpha and the omega his social order. All previous “social” boundaries were broken in his individual being. His very existence implicated the breaking of all social boundaries. All the seeds of modernity, as a break with the ancient world, are latent within the existence of Jesus…
Being a bridge of the gulf between gentile and Jew in life, Jesus was a bridge of the gulf between gentile and Jew in death. Gentile assimilation of Christianity over a thousand medieval years gradually engendered the modern idea of humanity. The assimilation of Jew and gentile in Jesus is what opened assimilation of Jew and gentile in the modern West.
If reason, in itself, cannot determine fundamental values, it becomes clearer that Christianity provided the ethical ends, while modernity bridged the chasm between the real and ideal by providing the technological means to realize those ethical ends. Modernity was bred out of a struggle between the real and the ideal in the form of a struggle for moral superiority…
The path towards self-destruction through moral superiority can be discerned in Matthew 5:38-39:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

When Jesus say “But I tell you”, he is upping the ante above Judaism’s upping the ante above paganism.
Non-violent resistance is not a modern invention; it was practiced by first-century Jews against Rome. Jesus’s political powerlessness, however, became the limitation that grounded his theological innovations. Jesus’s innovations with Judaism mirrored the origins of Judaism itself in paradigmatic Egyptian slaves. The less powerful one is, the higher one’s ethic may be—at least in principle. Christianity is more evolved than Judaism in that it has even lower or more forgiving standards of what a good human being is than Judaism…
Jesus’s death as a gene propagator, and resurrection as a meme propagator, can be understood as a supernatural defiance of the “natural law” of natural selection. Bodily death was not the final word.
The sanctification of human life in opposition to natural selection was Biblically expressed through the notion of the human soul, and especially mind/body dualism…
Modern liberalism has not been inclined to acknowledge its historical debt to Christianity anymore than Christianity has been historically inclined to acknowledge its Jewish parentage. Yet one cannot fully understand the secularization of Christianity except as a development with roots in the preceding paradigm of Christianity’s separation from Judaism.
When rootless West moderns trace their roots to Christianity, they are led to Christianity’s roots in Judaism (this is surely a formula for rootlessness).
[pages 488-500]

2 Replies on “Heisman’s suicide note, 10

  1. A profound point:
    This time our forefathers – The Greatest Generation and Boomers – are willing to sacrifice their children to diversity.
    The god of Abraham cedes to the god of diversity.
    “Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui.”
    Saint Thomas Aquinas.
    The old god of Christianity cedes to a new rite of diversity.
    Abrahamism is pure mind poison.

    1. Just for the record, this is the complete quote:

      Tantum ergo Sacramentum
      Veneremur cernui:
      Et antiquum documentum
      Novo cedat ritui

      English translation:

      Hence so great a Sacrament
      Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui]
      And let the old practice [documentum]
      Give way to the new rite