Nietzsche’s set of essays, Genealogy of Morals, discusses how the concepts of good and evil came to be and why religion is to blame for the slave morality. In Nietzsche’s eyes, the following of religion goes against how life should be lived and it also leads to the distortion of morals. Darwin’s earlier work, The Origin of Species, discusses the foundations of evolutionary biology which directly challenge the ideas in religion. For Darwin, scientific proof negates the argument of why religion exists and the role that God would take in the creation of humankind.
While both Nietzsche’s and Darwin’s writings focus on different topics, they argue against the same thing: religion. Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin’s attacks against religion are based on the belief that their way of thinking about the world, either morally or scientifically, is better than the way of religious beliefs.Nietzsche argues against the religion of Jews and all monotheistic religions because they introduced the morals that he is so vehemently against. The concept of evil from the slave morality comes from the Jews as Nietzsche says “with the Jews there begins the slave revolt in morality: that revolt which has a history of two thousand years behind it” (Genealogy of Morals, 34).
Their morality seems to be the lower class’s response to the upper class’s dominance. Because they were seen as less than, ‘Jewish hatred’ and their jealousy most likely arose to demonize those who looked down on them. The religions are filled without so much hatred because they are filled with the poor and the slaves. Their religion along with the other monotheistic religions are prime examples of the repressed resentment that the oppressed feels towards their oppressor. Nietzsche even refers to the symbol of the holy cross as “that ghastly paradox of a “God on the Cross,” that mystery of an unimaginable ultimate cruelty and self-crucifixion of God for the salvation of man?” (Genealogy of Morals, 35). Religions are the cause of people sacrificing this life in the promise for a better next life, which is why Nietzsche argues so heavily against it. Nietzsche further develops his argument against religion by explaining his hatred for priests, the ideal religious figure.
He says that “The truly great haters in world history have always been priests” (Genealogy of Morals, 33). Priests are the people he despises the most because not only are they hateful, they are the prime example of someone who sacrifices things in this life for the promise of the afterlife. Christianity is a religion that focuses more on a promised otherly realm, heaven, where all the earthly problems will be absent. Nietzsche thinks that this immediate earthly realm presents many opportunities to actually live life and it would be ridiculous to waste such an opportunity. Priests are also weak and strong at the same time, unable to use the power that they have. Despite being in a good position, they limited their own power and became weak because of their ressentiment.
In turn, they convinced the world that the weak has power. They also perpetuate the feeling of indebtedness, which is the founding figure of civilization which is why so many people believe it. Nietzsche says “The guilty feeling of indebtedness to the divinity continued to grow for several millennia- always in the same measure as the concept of God and the feeling for divinity increased on earth and was carried to the heights” (Genealogy of Morals, 90). Nietzsche regards priests as being people who present themselves and their ideologies as being better than others. While they preach about the virtues of their religions, priests do not behave according to those general principles and it is for that reason that Nietzsche hates priests and all of those who follow them.Like Nietzsche, Darwin also argues against religion through his theories of evolution and natural selection which directly contradict the stories expressed in religious texts like Genesis and are used as an argument against the existence of a god. Darwin acknowledges that many different groups of people, believers included, do not agree with what he has to say because they cannot fathom that change did not happen in one day. He says “But the chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit the one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see in the intermediate steps” (The Origin of Species, 170).
However, if people are willing to setting their differences aside with his theories then there would be a scientific revolution. “When the views entertained in this volume on the origin of species, or when analogous views are generally admitted, we can dimly forsee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural history” (The Origin of Species, 171). Richard Dawkins is one example of a biologist who uses Darwin’s ideas as support for divine fallacy. He says “Even if we found one example that we couldn’t explain, we should hesitate to draw any grandiose conclusions from the fact of our own inability. Darwin himself was very clear on this point.
” (The Argument from Personal Incredulity, 579). Not only did Darwin’s study of biology fuel his disbelief in religion, it fueled the disbelief of others. While Darwin makes makes multiple arguments against God, he waivers very often at least in the beginning of his biology career. When referencing the work done by William Paley in which he described the watchmaker analogy, he says “Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man” (The Origin of Species, 145). His direct reference to a creator shows how he did believe in a high power earlier on in his life. In his own writings, Darwin mentioned how he used to believe in God creating all creatures but once he developed his argument for evolution, that all went away. He even agreed with Paley’s argument before he developed his own opinions. His loss of faith was a gradual one and it was further enhanced by him expanding his scientific beliefs.
Darwin also states that “Further we must suppose that there is a power always intently watching each slight accidental alteration in the transparent layers; and carefully selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, may in any way, or in any degree, tend to produce a distincter image.” (The Origin of Species, 145). While the power that he refers to can be interpreted as natural selection, Darwin is certainly apprehensive in disproving the existence of God.
Darwin maintains this apprehensiveness about being completely against religion and it is shown until he published his autobiography in 1876 after fully developing his own scientific ideas. While both Nietzsche and Darwin have a common argument against religion, their reasons for being against it are quite different. Nietzsche is also much more explicit with his stance on religion unlike Darwin. It seems as if Darwin stays away from the more political or social aspects of his theories, just as he shies away from challenging the existence of God, in his earlier writings like The Origin of Species. Even though Darwin certainly started off as a believer, he was more concerned with his science and was not afraid to develop viewpoints that conflicted with those of the religious background that he started with.
Ultimately, it seems as if Darwin did not completely express his views on religion until later on in his life after his disbelief grew over the years. Darwin uses science as his justification for not believing in God. However, Nietzsche is also against science because he views it as an alternative to religion and as a result of that he would also be against Darwin. Nietzsche’s stance against religion and science is due to his own philosophy.
It seems as if Nietzsche develops his ideal as a result of being against religion whereas Darwin becomes against religion as a result of developing his ideals.