Religion should be used as a tool for self-improvement in humans rather than something that limits life experiences. The 19th century, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had very notable things to say about Christianity: “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one intrinsic depravity… In the entire New Testament, there is only person worth respecting: Pilate, the Roman governor.” He disliked Christianity because of its de-emphasis on people feeling envy. Rather than suppressing our envy, we use this natural feeling to better ourselves by attaining what had made us envious in the first place.
Nietzsche’s account of Christianity was that it emerged in the late Roman Empire by faint-hearted slaves who had lacked the gut to get hold of what they really wanted. If they couldn’t fulfill their desires, they would refuse to admit their failure, thus they had clung to a philosophy that made their failures a virtue. Nietzsche figured that the Christians had wished to enjoy things like intellectual mastery, a position in the world, sex, and creativity but they were too inept to get them. Therefore, they had therefore fashioned a hypocritical creed denouncing all of their desires which they were too weak to fight for.
In the end, the Christian value system was formed. This turned resistance of sex turned into ‘purity’, being weak became “goodness,” submission to those that you hate became “obedience” and not taking revenge became known as “forgiveness.” Christianity amounted the perfect justification for being passive and a mechanism for draining the potential from our lives. Rather than religion making us abstinent from certain experiences from life, it should rather let us experience life and all of what it has to offer. This compliance with its principles can prevent us from achieving self-improvement. If we choose to remain stagnant with our lives and not pursue our desires, there would be no point in life, because we are always going to be stuck with the same experiences.
However, religion in society should teach us things like how to use our envy to make the quality of life better. For example, if a worker were to be envious of his friend’s position as a manager, then that worker, rather than suppressing that envy, he should embrace it by working harder than everyone else in the workforce, so he could get promoted to a better promotion. He scorned Christianity because it numbs pain and reassures us that things are just fine as they are, detaining us of the will to change our lives for the better. The satisfaction we receive by being diligent devotees of our religion can fatally get in the way of taking the steps necessary to improve our lives.
Religion should not be used as a fraudulent advantage over those of people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The 19th century, German philosopher Karl Marx had quite prominent viewpoints of religion’s potential as a capitalist scam. Specifically, Marx believed that capitalists were successfully able to shrink the wages of the laborers as much as possible in order to create a wide profit margin for themselves. The modern lifestyle brought by capitalism created new challenges which kept the proletariat weak. These challenges include disease, crowded quarters, crime-ridden cities, and even injuries in the factory.
Marx believed that religion served the purpose in society which was similar to the function of opium in an injured or sick person. In other words, it provided people with pleasant illusions which gave them the strength to carry on throughout their poor economic conditions, therefore to eliminate their immediate suffering. This is why he calls religion the “opium of the people” in his work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. From this work, he states that the “criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun.
Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.” This basically means that religion sparks the proletariat’s irrationality because of their non-existent acknowledgment of the fact that the capitalists are using religion to their advantage to make money for themselves even though it was the workers who produced the goods. Because of the presence of religion, the working class treats it like an illusion where the conditions of their lives don’t matter as long as they believe that after they die, they will go to heaven and experience a better life there. This illusion is what causes the proletariat class to be complacent and not invoke any form of protests or backlash against the state.
Marx saw religion as harmful as well because it prevents people from seeing the oppression and class structure around them. With the abstract horrors of capitalism being censored by the principles of religion, it could possibly prevent revolutions of the working class. In short, Marx believed that the workers could almost be exploited easily because of the compatibility of religion and capitalism. Now that we know of religion’s potential of being something capitalists can use to make more money, it is safe to say that this extent of religion’s power should not be incorporated into society.
Religion offers sentimental value and it is meant to be taken very seriously. It has become a lifestyle in most people’s lives. It is quite unethical to use something so innocent to commit such selfish acts. What Marx believed the capitalists were doing was that they were throwing the lives of the working class away so that they could make a fortune for themselves. The idea of religion is to give people a way to live life for the sake of God or their creator, however, the capitalists are manipulating the people in a way such that the people are working for their benefit. They should not be complacent, instead, they should overthrow this fraudulent scheme and experience what it truly means to be a religious follower.