Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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The whole world raises a shout of horror in the present day if one man inflicts torture on the body of another: the indignation against this bursts forth almost spontaneously.  In fact we tremble even at the very thought of torture being inflicted on a man or an animal and we undergo unspeakable misery when we hear of such acts.  Yet the same feeling is experienced in a very much lesser degree and extent when it is a question of the tortures of the soul and the dreadfulness of their execution.  Christianity has introduced such tortures on an unprecedented scale and still continues to preach this kind of martyrdom—indeed it even complains innocently of back—sliding and indifference when it meets with a soul which is free from such agonies.  All this has now resulted in humanity when faced with spiritual or mental torture or of instruments of punishment behaves even today with the same astonishing patience and indecision as was seen in former times regarding the cruelties inflicted on the bodies of men or animals.  Hell has certainly not remained merely an empty word and a new kind of pity has been devised to correspond to the newly created fears of hell—a horrible and ponderous compassion to date unknown for people "irrevocably condemned to hell" as for example state that the Stony Guest gave Don Juan to understand that he was in and which during the Christian era should often have made the very stones weep.  Plutarch presents us with a gloomy picture of the state of mind of a superstitious man in pagan times: but this picture pales when compared with that of a Christian of the Middle Ages who supposes that nothing can save him from "torment everlasting".  Dreadful omens appear to him: perhaps he sees a stork holding a snake in its beak and hesitating to swallow it or all nature suddenly becomes pale; or bright fiery colours appear across the surface of the earth; or the ghosts of his dead relatives appear with features showing traces of dreadful sufferings.  Or the dark walls of the room in which the man is sleeping are suddenly lighted up and there amidst a yellow flame he perceives instruments of torture and a mass of snakes and devils.  Christianity has surely turned this world of ours into a fearful place by raising the crucifix everywhere and thereby proclaiming the earth to be a place "where the just man is tortured to death"!  And when the ardour of some great preacher for once disclosed to the public the secret sufferings of the individual the agonies of the lonely souls when for example Whitefield preached "like a dying man to the dying" now bitterly weeping now violently stamping his feet speaking passionately in abrupt and incisive tones turning the whole force of his attack upon any one individual present and isolating him from the congregation—then indeed did it seem as if the earth were being trans formed into a "place of suffering".  The huge crowds then seemed to be seized with a sudden attack of madness: many were in fits of anguish; others lay unconscious and motionless; others trembled or pierced the air with their shrieks.  Everywhere there was a loud breathing as of half—choked people who were gasping for the breath of life.  "Indeed" said an eye witness once "the noises seemed to come from people who were dying in the bitterest agony".  Let us never forget that it was Christianity which first turned the death bed into a bed of agony and that by the scenes which took place there and the terrifying sounds which experienced for the first time it has poisoned the senses and the blood of innumerable witnesses and their children.  Imagine the ordinary man who can never erase the memory of words like these: "Oh, eternity!  Would that I had no soul!  Would that I had never been born!  My soul is damned damned; lost forever!  Six days ago you might have helped me.  Yet now all is over.  I belong to the devil and with him I will go down to hell.  Break, break you poor hearts of stone!  Will you not break?  What more can be done for hearts of stone?  I am damned that you may be saved!  There he is!  Yes; there he is!  Come kind devil!  Come"!  
 

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