Finally, of course, to evaluate the opposing bad effects of such religions, as well, and to bring to light their terrible danger, there's always an increasingly expensive and fearful price to pay when religions prevail, not as a means of cultivation and education in the hand of philosophers, but as some inherently sovereign power, when religions want themselves to be the final purpose and not a means alongside other means. Among human beings, as among all other animal species, there is an excess of failures, invalids, degenerates, infirm individuals, those who necessarily suffer. Successful examples are always the exception, among human beings as well, and, given that the human being is the as-yet-undetermined animal, the rare exception. But even worse: the higher the type of human being which a particular person represents, the more improbable it becomes that he will turn out well. The contingent, the law of absurdity in the collective household of humanity, reveals itself in the most frightening manner in its destructive effects on the higher people, whose conditions of life are refined, multifaceted, and hard to estimate. Now, how do the two greatest religions mentioned above stand in relation to this excess of unsuccessful cases? They seek to preserve, to maintain alive, anything which merely allows itself to be preserved. In fact, they basically side with these unsuccessful cases as religions for those who are suffering; they agree with all those who suffer from life as from some illness, and they would like to see to it that every other feeling of life was judged false and became impossible. Even if we still wish to fix a high value on this protecting and preserving care, inasmuch as it is concerned and has been concerned with, among all the other people, the highest type of human being as well, the one who up to this point has almost always suffered the most, nonetheless in the total reckoning, the religions so far, that is, the sovereign religions, belong among the major causes which have kept the type "man" on a lower rung - they have preserved too much of what should have perished. We have to thank them for something invaluable. And who is rich enough in gratitude not to become poor in the face of everything which, for example, the "spiritual men" of Christianity have done for Europe up to this point? And yet, if they gave consolation to sufferers, courage to the oppressed and despairing, a staff and support to those who could not stand on their own, and enticed away from society and into monasteries and spiritual prisons those suffering from inner destruction and those who had become wild, what must they have done in addition, in order to work in this way in good conscience basically for the preservation of everything sick and suffering, which amounts, in fact and truth, for the deterioration of the European race? Turn all evaluations of worth on their heads - that's what they had to do! Break up the strong men, infect great hopes, bring joy in beauty under suspicion, bend all self-mastery, everything manly, lofty, domineering, all instincts characteristic of the loftiest and most successful type of "man" into uncertainty, a distressed conscience, self-destruction, in fact, to turn all love for earthly things and for dominion over the earth into hate for the earth and the earthly - that's the task the church gave itself and had to give itself, until finally in its estimation "unworldliness," "lack of sensuality," and "higher man" melted together into a single feeling. Suppose we could survey with the mocking and disinterested eye of an Epicurean god the strangely painful comedy of European Christianity, as crude as it is refined, I believe we would find no end to our amazement and laughter. Does it not seem that for eighteen centuries there has been ruling over Europe a will to turn the human being into a sublime monstrosity?11 However, anyone who, with the opposite needs, no longer Epicurean, but with some divine hammer in his hand, were to approach this almost voluntary degeneration and decay of a human being like the Christian European (Pascal, for example), would he not have to cry out with fury, pity, and horror, "You fools! You arrogant, pitying fools, what have you done here! Was that a work for your hands? What a mess you've made, ruining my most beautiful stone! What have you presumed!" What I wanted to say was this: Christianity has been the most disastrous sort of arrogance so far. Men, not lofty and hard enough to be permitted to shape men as artists; men not strong and far-sighted enough to allow, with a sublime conquest of the self, the foreground law of thousandfold failure and destruction to prevail; men not noble enough to see the abysmally different rank ordering, gaps separating ranks between man and man: - such men have, with their "equal before God," so far ruled over the fate of Europe to the point where finally a diminished, almost ridiculous type has been bred, a herd animal, something obliging, sickly, and mediocre - the contemporary European. . . .

11. . . . Epicurean : a follower of Epicurus (341 BC-270 BC), who taught that the highest good was pleasure, especially mental pleasure.
Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
Part III - Aphorism # 62

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