The Raving Theist

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Just Asking

May 9, 2006 | 27 Comments

Christianity is a “slave” morality, said Nietzsche. Echoing this theme, Brian Flemming suggests (in a comment to my religion/rape post) that some Christians may be masochists who chose their faith to suit their psychosexual needs, rather than true believers who have made an intellectual choice. And atheists frequently deride the herd aspect of religion, dismissing believers as pathetic sheeple who deserve what they get. It’s the corollary of the theory that religion is about power: those who accept it desire powerlessness.

Less commonly does one see this theory raised in the context of sexual abuse. Blaming the victim is disfavored, and would obviously be irrational in the case of a random attack by a stranger. But many abusive relationships continue despite the opportunity for escape. Whatever compulsion may induce the abused to remain, rarely is it said that he or she “wants” it or is “just asking for it” — at least not in the sense that the religious are so often declared to be getting their just desserts.

Comments

27 Responses to “Just Asking”

  1. hermesten
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:11 am

    Christianity is a “slave morality,” but more in the sense of Hoffer than Nietzsche. The same instinct finds its expression in many different ways, from being a Cowboys fan, a loyal IBM employee, or an “American,” to being a gang member, a “Party” member, or a Bush supporter. It’s just that when Christians have power, Christianity tends to edge its way in the more pernicious direction –just like communism, capitalism, Nazism, or any other dogma does.

  2. "Q" the Enchanter
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:24 am

    Nietzsche’s idea isn’t at all about masochism, but about power: The slave turns the tables on his betters by creating a morality that casts the victors as evil and the vanquished as divinely favored. This is so far from being masochistic it could be called epistemic hedonism.

  3. "Q" the Enchanter
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:24 am

    Nietzsche’s idea isn’t at all about masochism, but about power: The slave turns the tables on his betters by creating a morality that casts the victors as evil and the vanquished as divinely favored. This is so far from being masochistic it could be called epistemic hedonism.

  4. "Q" the Enchanter
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:24 am

    Nietzsche’s idea isn’t at all about masochism, but about power: The slave turns the tables on his betters by creating a morality that casts the victors as evil and the vanquished as divinely favored. This is so far from being masochistic it could be called epistemic hedonism.

  5. June
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:45 am

    Here is an interesting thought experiment: Imagine a culture that raises its children to be scientific, to observe nature, form and discard theories, and generally live life based on reality without supernatural influences. Then, around the 10th grade, together with Physics and Algebra, give them a course called Religion, where they are taught the elements of the Christian faith. How many permanent Christians would you get out of this education model?

  6. hermesten
    May 9th, 2006 @ 9:50 am

    June, I pretty much performed this experiment at home, when I homeschooled my kids, though I did not withhold religion until the 10th grade –in fact, I was reading the Bible to them when there were little. Results: one atheist, one agnostic.

  7. fuckyoy
    May 9th, 2006 @ 1:27 pm

    Fuck you, geriatric zygote.

  8. Michael
    May 9th, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    “Q” is right. Nietzsche’s slave theory had nothing to do with masochism and self-enslavement (many people consider Christianity to be a cosmic sort of Stockholm syndrome, where that sentiment is more applicable) but to the so-called “theology of resentment.”

  9. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    So far there is no such thing as a religiously “sterile” environment. The matter is not one based on religion, but faith. We all believe in something, whether it’s in God, no god, or in the raw expectation that our car will start when we turn the key. I’ve known Christians, Buddists, Athiests, and Devil worshippers in my lifetime. I’ve seen people with and without religion crash and burn, suffer loss, as well as, seem to have pleasant-normalish lives. BUT, there is a line we will all cross one day when we die, and that’s when each of us finds out who is right and who is wrong. None of us who are still living get to peek at the results of this process. I guess my point is if ones life has produced such misery that they believe God cannot exist, and another person through misery has attatched thier faith to something that has carried them through their misery, the proof whinds up being in the pudding. We should get to know as many people as we possibly can. We should learn from everyones life experiences, and we should never claim to see the whole picture. Be careful what flag you wave, especially if someone else ran it up the pole.

  10. hermesten
    May 10th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    “BUT, there is a line we will all cross one day when we die, and that’s when each of us finds out who is right and who is wrong.”

    Come on. You generally sound reasonable, but this is nonsense, and it presupposes the existence of a specific God. In the first place, if there is no God, nobody is going to find out anything. In the second place, if there is a God, which God is it? Maybe it will really be one of the Christian Gods, and non-believers won’t find out anything. In the third place, all thoughts of an “afterlife” are entirely idle speculation, and even if such a thing exists it may not include past, or “life,” knowledge.

    “I guess my point is if ones life has produced such misery that they believe God cannot exist,…”

    If you intend here what you imply –that people who don’t believe in God choose not to believe merely because they are miserable– then this statement is condescending and intentionally insulting, as well as arrogant and supremely ignorant.

    “We should learn from everyones life experiences, and we should never claim to see the whole picture. Be careful what flag you wave, especially if someone else ran it up the pole.”

    Agreed.

  11. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    Sorry, I wasn’t implying that you are miserable.

  12. June
    May 10th, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    “We all believe in something, whether it’s in God, no god, or in the raw expectation that our car will start when we turn the key.”

    And there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen, the absurd notion of religion in a nutshell: We have to believe in something, so by all means lets take the silliest possible approach, stick our fingers in our ears, sing LALALALALALA, and build a culture that revolves around a fictitious supernatural being.

  13. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    If the notion of religion being absurd is your flag, and what you believe in doesn’t hinge on any religion in any way, that’s OK. But you are gravely mistaken if you believe that American culture revolves around God or the equivalent of a God. When America was being birthed there were some hard core Christians present, some extreme, no non-sense folks. Even then, while our nation was growing into some amazing world power – historically speaking, there were huge gaps in the evolutionaty process of morallity, business ethics, and how plain everyday people treated one another. It’s my opinion that much of our society has created their own set of rules (like many cultures), but what scares me is how dark folks are, even religious folks.
    If anyone from no where showed up in America, and tasted the self destructive ways of our families, TV, internet, vices, road rage, etc – I seriously doubt they would say, “Hey, there is obviously, like, some higher power at work here! Can you introduce me to Him?”
    Many years ago I used to volunteer at The New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. On Monday nights for 13 years I spent time with abused, abandoned, addicted kids from 13-17 years old. It’s amazing how a cup of Kool- Aid and some BBQ chips could bring a little hope to these kids lives. I’ve learned that people cling to whatever gives them hope. Hope is essential for climbing out of a deep pit. When those kids would tell me they were praying that their Momma would come home one day, never in a million years would I stomp out their Faith, because that would extinguish their hope. – It’s not my place.
    If “some” folks in our one of a kind society have put their trust in a religion, and others in a God that you or I disagree with kicking out teeth only hurts, it doesn’t help. Every new person I meet, I imagine the words “Handle with Care” stamped across their foreheads, and I do.

  14. hermesten
    May 10th, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    “If anyone from no where showed up in America, and tasted the self destructive ways of our families, TV, internet, vices, road rage, etc – I seriously doubt they would say, “Hey, there is obviously, like, some higher power at work here! Can you introduce me to Him?””

    Exactly, but anywhere in the world, not just America. And note that the hucksters, liars, crooks, and politicans aren’t claiming to be atheists, 99% of them call themselves “Christians.” Not even the democrats have the nuts to take a public position against religion. We have an administration of liars, thieves, perverts, and murderers, and the head criminal claims to get his orders straight from God. I’m not saying that all Christians are bad. What I am saying is that all dogma, but particularly, religious dogma, is a powerful tool for exploitation in the hands of the unscrupulous.

  15. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    OK, point: “there the hucksters, liars, crooks, and politicans aren’t claiming to be atheists, 99% of them call themselves “Christians.”

    I think there is a great message, lesson, or even sky writing in this…
    Let me know if I’m following the flow here, because this expression is extremely common. I find that pointed verbal assualts towards anything are often experience based. I really don’t know how honest anyone is until I get to know them. So when it comes to politicians, I am so far distanced from them there’s no way I could tell you or anyone else who’s trustworthy and who’s not. (unless they get busted). But if we were to take the magnifying glass off of Christians, and address religions – we may not get as much flash as we express our bias’. Take your statement above , for instance. Shift geogragpy, and replace Christianity with Muslim – my point is, I can learn alot from the basic fact that integrity, honesty, and selflessness never associate themselves with one particular group. Now that said, I can’t spend my precious time flippin out about all the knuckleheads I see off in the distance, but I can pursue a peaceful life for my family, I can be honest at work, I can treat others the way I want to be treated, I can only do what I can do, and that I will to the best of my ability. As for me, I will refuse to exploit the weak. I will do the best I can to not use religion to manipulate people who have come to trust me over the years.

  16. hermesten
    May 10th, 2006 @ 3:39 pm

    “I really don’t know how honest anyone is until I get to know them.”

    Agreed, when it applies to individuals. However, corruption of all kinds is pervasive in our political system. Everything thing I know points to this, from my experience with the system at various levels, to historical knowledge, to an examination of our culture, to what is reported in the media. Getting busted has nothing to do with it. If that’s your measure, you’re grossly underestimating the amount of corruption in this country. We are rapidly approaching Banana Republic levels of corruption, and the rule of law is nearly dead. In some instances, such as in the practical effect of the Kelo decision, the law itself has undermined the rule of law and ratified corruption. The executive is conducting an all out assualt on limits imposed by the Consitution on executive power. It they are successful at placing this president above the law –and they have been so far– then they will have placed all future presidents above the law.

    “I can’t spend my precious time flippin out about all the knuckleheads I see off in the distance, but I can pursue a peaceful life for my family, I can be honest at work, I can treat others the way I want to be treated, I can only do what I can do, and that I will to the best of my ability.”

    Agreed, up to a point. But there is a big difference between facilitating the knuckleheads and flippin out over what they do. If you help put these people in power and then you sit back and enjoy a peaceful life when they abuse that power –something you can do only when that abuse of power doesn’t affect you and your family– the you share the responsibilty for what they do.

  17. tarkovsky
    May 10th, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

    It’s amazing how a cup of Kool- Aid and some BBQ chips could bring a little hope to these kids lives.

    True.

    We live in a world where faith actually matters because what you believe in may influence your actions. It falls in the realm of politics.

    Atheism is not a religion but it is a form of faith (belief system is more adequate). Atheists are pre-occupied by politics.

    As an atheist I understand that helping out your fellow man who is knee-deep in the pudding and giving them “something to keep their hopes up” is a good thing (fraternity, solidarity, brotherhood), but in the realm of politics, what RA and all the angry atheists out there (including myself) are worried about doesn’t have to do with faith per se but with the dogma and the manipulation of human beings in the political arena.

    Allah doesn’t order people to go and blow themselves up to go see the 72 virgins or whatever, men do. And that is what we are trying to stamp out: enslavement of men by other men.

    We are genuinely respectful of faith if it doesn’t lead to hatred. (We of course disagree with godidiots but we respect their lack of foresight; the real values behind atheism has deep roots IMHO in humanism.)

  18. hermesten
    May 10th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    “RA and all the angry atheists out there (including myself) are worried about doesn’t have to do with faith per se but with the dogma and the manipulation of human beings in the political arena.”

    Exactly. A subordination to dogma is the enemy life.

  19. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

    Well said, and insightful. Honest question: Is the “Enemy” dogma?

  20. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 3:58 pm

    Also, what are the grass roots of humanism?

  21. bernarda
    May 10th, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

    “Imagine a culture that raises its children to be scientific, to observe nature, form and discard theories, and generally live life based on reality”

    There is such a book, it’s called “Walden Two” by B.F. Skinner.

    hermestan, your first post sums up things extremely well with a minimum of lines. Bravo!

  22. old one
    May 10th, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    cute

  23. hermesten
    May 10th, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

    “Is the “Enemy” dogma?”

    Yes.

  24. Thorngod
    May 11th, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    We have met the enemy and he amgod spelled backward.

  25. paco
    May 11th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    I have never met such brilliant Philistines, and old guy, old dude or whatever you are – what planet are you from????

  26. old one
    May 11th, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

    yours

  27. Thorngod
    May 12th, 2006 @ 11:08 am

    Planet of the Apes, that is.
    And PACO, a philistine is a crude or unmannered fellow, and is probably represented more heavily amongst those of the spiritual persuasions than in the ranks of atheism.

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