Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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Previous Section   110. THE TRUTH IN RELIGION   Next Section

THE TRUTH IN RELIGION.  In the period of rationalism justice was not done to the importance of religion, of that there is no doubt, but equally there is no doubt that in the reaction that followed this rationalism justice was far overstepped; for religions were treated lovingly, even amorously, and, for instance, a deeper, even the very deepest, understanding of the world was ascribed to them; which science has only to strip of its dogmatic garment in order to possess the "truth” in unmythical form.  Religions should, therefore, this was the opinion of all opposers of rationalism, sensu allegoric, with all consideration for the understanding of the masses, give utterance to that ancient wisdom which is wisdom itself, inasmuch as all true science of later times has always led up to it instead of away from it, so that between the oldest wisdom of mankind and all later harmonies similarity of discernment and a progress of knowledge in case one should wish to speak of such a thing rests not upon the nature but upon the way of communicating it.  This whole conception of religion and science is thoroughly erroneous, and none would still dare to profess it if Schopenhauer's eloquence had not taken it under its protection; this resonant eloquence which, however, only reached its hearers a generation later.  As surely as from Schopenhauer's religious moral interpretations of men and the world much may be gained for the understanding of the Christian and other religions, so surely also is he mistaken about the value of religion for knowledge.  Therein he himself was only a too docile pupil of the scientific teachers of his time, who all worshipped romanticism and had forsworn the spirit of enlightenment; had he been born in our present age he could not possibly have talked about the sensus allegoricus of religion; he would much rather have given honour to truth, as he used to do, with the words, "no religion, direct or indirect, either as dogma or as allegory, has ever contained a truth?  For each has been born of fear and necessity, through the byways of reason did it slip into existence; once, perhaps, when imperilled by science, some philosophic doctrine has lied itself into its system in order that it may be found there later, but this is a theological trick of the time when a religion already doubts itself.  These tricks of theology (which certainly were practised in the early days of Christianity, as the religion of a scholarly period steeped in philosophy) have led to that superstition of the sensus allcgoricus, but yet more the habits of the philosophers (especially the half-natures, the poetical philosophers and the philosophising artists), to treat all the sensations which If they discovered in themselves as the fundamental nature of man in general, and hence to allow their own religious feelings an important influence in the building up of their systems.  As philosophers frequently philosophised under the custom of religious habits, or at least under the anciently inherited power of that "metaphysical need” they developed doctrinal opinions which really bore a great resemblance to the Jewish or Christian or Indian religious views, a resemblance, namely, such as children usually bear to their mothers, only that in this case the fathers were not clear about that motherhood, as happens sometimes, but in their innocence romanced about a family likeness between all religion and science.  In reality, between religions and real science there exists neither relationship nor friendship, nor even enmity; they live on different planets.  Every philosophy which shows a religious comet's tail shining in the darkness of its last prospects makes all the science it contains suspicious; all this is presumably also religion, even though in the guise of science.  Moreover, if all nations were to agree about certain religious matters, for instance the existence of a God (which, it may be remarked, is not the case with regard to this point), this would only be an argument against those affirmed matters, for instance the existence of a God; the consensus gentium and hominum in general can only take place in case of a huge folly.  On the other hand, there is no consensus omnium sapientium, with regard to any single thing; with that exception mentioned in Goethe's lines: "Alle die Weisesten aller der Zeiten.  Lacheln und winken und stimmen mit ein:.  Thoricht, auf Bess'rung der Thoren zu harren!  Kinder der Klugheit, o habet die Narren.  Eben zum Narren auch, wie sich's gehort"!  Spoken without verse and rhyme and applied to our case, the consensus sapientium consists in this: that the consensus gentium counts as a folly.  
 

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