We owe to Nietzsche perhaps the most withering intellectual attack yet mounted on Christianity as a religious belief system. In Beyond Good and Evil and elsewhere, Nietzsche had nothing but contempt for the way in which Christianity, he said, taught “even the lowliest how to place themselves through piety in an illusory higher order of things and thus to maintain their contentment with the real order, in which their life is hard enough—and precisely this hardness is necessary.” He wanted nothing less than to annihilate the Christian ethic—which he contemptuously dismissed as a psychology of “devotion, self-sacrifice for one's neighbor, the whole morality of self-denial…”

Of course Nietzsche wanted the weak sent to the wall so that the heroic man alone could dictate the values by which the mass of men live their lives. Only if the...

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