To those of you who are religious and have read a significant amount of Nietzsche. How do you respond to Nietzsche's critiques of religion?
I am not religious, but I will say that I react positively to a great deal of Nietzsche's critique. The extreme rhetoric of his polemics against Christianity are often rooted in "straw man" devices, and thus make for quite a cartoon-ish representation of the same. However, I believe that many readers are distracted by the extremity of the words he chose, and neglect to take account of context. Much of the psychology behind his analysis is subtle and solid. The Geneology of Morals
is an important work of psychological survey and analysis.
The best illustration of how stupid evolutionism really is involves trying to become some totally new animal with new organs, a new basic plan for existence, and new requirements for integration between both old and new organs.
Take flying birds for example; suppose you aren't one, and you want to become one. You'll need a baker's dozen highly specialized systems, including wings, flight feathers, a specialized light bone structure, specialized flow-through design heart and lungs, specialized tail, specialized general balance parameters etc.
For starters, every one of these things would be antifunctional until the day on which the whole thing came together, so that the chances of evolving any of these things by any process resembling evolution (mutations plus selection) would amount to an infinitessimal, i.e. one divided by some gigantic number.
In probability theory, to compute the probability of two things happening at once, you multiply the probabilities together. That says that the likelihood of all these things ever happening, best case, is ten or twelve such infinitessimals multiplied together, i.e. a tenth or twelth-order infinitessimal. The whole history of the universe isn't long enough for that to happen once.
All of that was the best case. In real life, it's even worse than that. In real life, natural selection could not plausibly select for hoped-for functionality, which is what would be required in order to evolve flight feathers on something which could not fly apriori. In real life, all you'd ever get would some sort of a random walk around some starting point, rather than the unidircetional march towards a future requirement which evolution requires.
And the real killer, i.e. the thing which simply kills evolutionism dead, is the following consideration: In real life, assuming you were to somehow miraculously evolve the first feature you'd need to become a flying bird, then by the time another 10,000 generations rolled around and you evolved the second such reature, the first, having been disfunctional/antifunctional all the while, would have DE-EVOLVED and either disappeared altogether or become vestigial.
The probability of an event's happening may be calculated given enough data, but this calculation is not a universal predictor regarding the outcome of individual events, especially those involving complex factors that recur often (as in sexual reproduction.) If anything probability requires
that exceptions happen. I'd also suggest reading up on genetic linkage as a possible argument against the complete de-evolution of single traits, and an explanation for the parrallel development of multiple biological/morphological changes in a species.
Likewise, I find it hard to believe that any historiographical model could take the fossil record as a realistic, much less comprehensive, historical index. So far less than 40 fossil specimens of Tyrannosaurus Rex have been found, many of those incomplete. Are we to assume that only about 3o-odd animals comprised this entire species? If there were more, and I hope we can comfortably assume this to be the case, where did all of those fossil traces go? Suffice it to say animal remains can be disposed of in many ways through which no trace shall remain. The preservation of animal remains as a consequence of fossilization is an exceptional case. Depending on the physical size, quantity, environment, and means of death,etc, it would be possible for a species to not leave a recognizable fossil record or an extremely small one.
I have no idea what lifestyle you imagine could be defended citing Darwin's Origin
. I hate to derail the thread further, but I would be interested to find out.
All of this evolution-talk aside, I'm not certain that Darwin was a considerable influence on Nietzsche. While N. was obviously aware of D's existence, I don't think a particularly strong influence was exercised; the Geneology
, for example, was not based on a Darwinian model. Here is an interesting quote from the Will to Power
(I don't usually cite this book as a reliable source, but the following quote seems relevant):
Nietzsche, in WTP, section 684, wrote:
Anti Darwin.- What surprises me most on making a general survey of the great destinies of man, is that I invariably see the reverse of what today Darwin and his school sees or will persist in seeing: selection in favour of the stronger, the better constituted, and the progress of the species. Precisely the reverse of this stares one in the face: the suppression of the lucky cases, the uselessness of the more highly constituted types, the inevitable mastery of the mediocre, and even of those who are below mediocrity. Unless we are shown some reason why man is an exception among living creatures, I incline to the view that Darwin's school is everywhere at fault. That will to power, in which I perceive the ultimate reason and character of all change, explains why it is that selection is never in favour of the exceptions, and of the lucky cases: the strongest and happiest natures are weak when they are confronted with a majority ruled by gregarious instincts and the fear which possesses the weak. My general view of the world of values shows that in the highest values which now sway the destiny of man, the happy cases among men, the select specimens, do not prevail: but rather the decadent specimens- perhaps there is nothing more interesting in the whole world than this unpleasant spectacle.
"Strange as it may seem, the strong have always to be upheld against the weak; and the well constituted against the ill constituted, the healthy against the sick and physiologically botched. If we drew our morals from reality, they would read thus: the mediocre are more valuable than the exceptional creatures, and the decadent than the mediocre, the will to nonentity prevails over the will to life, - and the general aim now is, in Christian, Buddhistic, Schopenhauerian phraseology 'It is better not to be than to be'.
I protest against this formulating of reality into a moral: and I loathe Christianity with a deadly loathing because it created sublime words and attitudes in order to deck a revolting truth with all the tawdriness of justice, virtue, and godliness....
I see all philosophers and the whole of science on their knees before a reality which is the reverse of the struggle for life as Darwin and his school understood it- that is to say, wherever I look, I see those prevailing and surviving, who throw doubt and suspicion upon life and the value of life.- The error of the Darwinian school became a problem to me: how can one be so blind as to make this mistake?
And finally, in my opinion, the Ubermensch was not conceived of as the result of a biological/genetic change in humanity. Nietzsche is not, for example, endorsing eugenics. Perhaps I am wrong, but in every published writing by N. I can think of the Ubermensch heralds a social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual transformation, not an obvious physical one.