Thanks for visiting my blog. This blog chronicles a mostly 4-year journey of love, life, and loss. It's now time to retire. However, feel free to browse and read through the posts.
My current work/projects can be accessed at

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Fear of Sin (A Nietzsche Essay)

Below is an essay I wrote about Friedrich Nietzsche as a first year student! 
Nietzsche is the guy who said God is dead..
I repeat that sin, man’s self-desecration par excellence, was invented in order to make science, culture and every elevation and ennobling of man impossible; the priest rules through the invention of sin.(The Antichrist, 71)
In his diatribe against Christianity The Antichrist, Friedrich Nietzsche argues that the invention of “sin” has denied man the freedom to engage in intellectual pursuits. According to Nietzsche, potential scientists abscond further pursuit in science, for fear of infuriating the Christian authorities. Indeed, the Christian church persuaded 19th century Europeans to disregard the revolutionary ideas of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution the Christian church vehemently denied. The Church claimed that Creationism was the only possible explanation for man’s origins. Therefore, anyone who believed in Darwinism was charged with committing sin. Interestingly, the conflict between religion and science continues to plague mankind today. Christian scientists especially, continually face the daunting question: How far can I pursue scientific research before I sin?

Before we attempt to tackle this question, we must first know what Nietzsche says about the origin and the nature of sin. Nietzsche credits the Jews with the invention of sin. He states that the Israelites, plagued by troubles, felt that they must have wronged their God (41). Their troubles, they contended, were a punishment for sin. According to Nietzsche, Christianity has inherited this concept of sin. The Christian authorities, which consider themselves the mouthpiece of God, have developed a moral system that distinguishes right and wrong (42). Through this moral system, Nietzsche insists, Christian authorities wield power over society, undermining, above all, intellectual values. Moreover, since the Christian authorities possess God’s “power”, sinners need to submit to them in order to be forgiven (44). Therefore, Nietzsche argues, man cannot freely pursue science if he is constantly forced to conform to Christian ideals. 

Like the Church in the 19th Century, many of today’s Christian churches continue to influence the extent of scientific research, example being the stem cell research in the US. In 2006, President George Bush decided to limit federal funding for stem cell research on moral grounds[i]. These moral grounds, one can argue, were influenced by the Christian belief that life begins at conception. Therefore, President Bush’s decision is an example of a Christian reaction to advancement in science. 

This conflict of interest poses a dilemma for Christians who may be interested scientific research. Suddenly, any research they choose to engage in must take place within the boundaries of Christian beliefs. Some of today’s Christians may decide to take a Christian approach to their research—they engage in research as a way of discovering God’s creation. Such an approach, one can argue, allows them to use science as a way of getting closer to God. Only when the scientific discoveries begin to challenge one’s Christian belief system does a problem arise. Some may choose to abandon their Christian faith for science, whereas some may choose to focus on their Christian beliefs and forsake science. Additionally, some may simply choose to be indifferent by separating their love for science and their love for God. 

Despite these different approaches, the dilemma persists. Science continues to challenge many of the Christian belief systems, particularly when scientific evidence disproves a Christian belief. The only feasible response may be to question one’s own understanding of sin. Although this approach may prompt one to question the existing Christian authorities, an act that may not be readily welcome, one can ultimately choose a deeply personal approach to the question of sin. By engaging in this personal reflection, one may come across 2 Timothy 1.7(KJV): “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” A Christian scientist who reads this Bible verse understands that God does not support fear. Hence, the fear of sin is not a state that should exist in the Christian life. When one chooses to live a life devoid of fear, one understands that the Christian God’s main concern is love: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (NIV John 13.34) Therefore, Christian scientists’ greatest hurdle ultimately should not be the fear of sin, but rather, the challenge to adequately reflect God’s love in the world through their research.

Reference: [i] Stout, David. “In First Veto, Bush blocks Stem Cell Bill”. New York Times, 19 July 2006. Web. 18 Nov 2010. 

Bibliography: Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Antichrist. Trans. H.L. Mencken. Tucson: See Sharp Press, 1999. Print. 
The Holy Bible. International Bible Society. Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1996. Print. New International Version.
Holy Bible. American Bible Society. New York: American Bible Society. Print. King James Version.

No comments:

Post a Comment