God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
- Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
We know what happens next – dinosaur devours man.
I refer to the conclusion from my piece, “And the Dying Cheer”:
It is interesting: reaching the height of western liberal values immediately preceded the destruction of the West. The nineteenth century, in many ways, was the most liberal, free, equal period for the West – perhaps in its history. And then the Great War – suicide, built on the scientific wisdom of man’s reason.
The Enlightenment; considered the height of western man’s philosophical and moral achievement. Man’s reason over God’s reason; man’s law instead of God’s law (or custom, if you prefer). We know what happens next – man’s law devours man. Taken altogether, a rotten tradeoff for freedom.
If you have not read this earlier essay, this one will not seem whole.
God is Dead
From “The Parable of the Madman,” by Friedrich Nietzsche:
"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are 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 the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time?
Perpetually falling; backward, sideward, forward; no more up or down; an infinite nothing. Does this sound hopeful? A declaration of a positive event? “Enlightened”?
Man without any anchor will create an anchor. This anchor was built on the wisdom of “enlightened” man, a foundation of sand. Enlightened man led to the suicide of the West.
From “Twilight of the Idols” (PDF; emphasis added):
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands.
It is quite an interesting phrase: “the right to Christian morality.” What is the moral Christian “right” if not the non-aggression principle? According to Nietzsche, this is what man has given up. We traded it for enlightened man’s right to decide what is moral. How is that working out for you?
This Christian “system” was the foundation of Western Civilization since the fall of Rome. This “system” replaced Roman man-made law with custom – law based on oath, with God as party to the agreement; the most decentralized system of law known to the West. This system began to crumble with the Renaissance.
What did Nietzsche see as replacing this Christian system? Taken from Jacques Barzun, “From Dawn to Decadence”:
In health man feels within him the will to power, a drive to action and achievement, including the self-mastery that will characterize the superman and establish a new ethos. The present conception of what is evil will be replaced by other standards of right and wrong, contrary to both the Christian and the worldly virtues and vices of western civilization. In ethics and the search for truth Nietzsche is a Pragmatist.
A “pragmatist” in ethics and truth; a “new ethos.” No anchor: perpetually falling; backward, sideward, forward; no more up or down; an infinite nothing.
Barzun cites Nietzsche:
In place of fundamental truths I put fundamental probabilities – provisionally assumed guides by which one lives and thinks.
Fundamental truths are replaced by fundamental maybes…or maybe nots. Your betters– the “enlightened” – will let you know which is which. Being pragmatists, your betters will feel free to have “right” and “wrong” trade places whenever they find it…pragmatic – meaning, to their benefit. Good luck trying to keep up.
Nietzsche did not live to see this suicide of the West – the Great War. He seemed to know it was coming.
Not much of one, really…
Cypher: Don't hate me, Trinity. I'm just a messenger.
Nietzsche’s declaration was not some kind of call to arms; he merely put into words that which was well underway centuries before he was born. He was just a messenger.