We now live in a modern world where spirituality is no longer respected. The famous German philosopher Nietzsche once said that “God is dead.” Ever since, that idea has taken seed in our collective imagination and forever altered our perspective of morality.
Many think this evolution was a good thing. You also can’t argue that some changes have been positive.
But as we gaze at the world with a critical eye, it seems like we’re starting to unravel. And if you go back to Nietzsche and look at the full context of this statement… you’ll understand why and how important a spiritual system of values truly is.
We Killed God, and That’s Not a Good Thing
There’s a lot of irony in Nietzsche’s shocking declaration. Anyone familiar with Christianity will know that God literally dies in the form of Jesus Christ. The reason he died was to atone for the sins of humanity.
Yet the nuance of this statement is interesting as Christian theology believes Jesus rose after his death and so too will those who follow him.
That means Nietzsche’s statement is a nihilistic revelation in the face of scientific materialism. Transcendent meaning is no longer desired. Humans live and then die and that’s all there is.
Many triumph over the death of God because that implies absolute free will, but it also means the finite scope and randomness of being. There’s no right or wrong – only invention and power.
The full context of his statement is more heartbreaking with that in mind:
Without a spiritual system of values, we must elevate humans in place of gods.
That’s much worse.
We Don’t Trust Each Other
One of the reasons modern culture looks favorably upon the fading of spirituality is that they see human influence in spiritual institutions as oppressive. How dare someone impose their moral values on another.
Fair enough, but the Nietzschean view is no better. Without spirituality, we instead look towards scientific revelation for a clue on how to live. Empirical truth is desired… and it’s as absolute as religion.
This is why modern culture is rejecting empirical, scientific truth and redefining truth in light of social concerns.
Whether you’re a traditionalist or a progressive… science is insufficient and morally bankrupt. It’s not enough to build a society on because humans don’t care about scientific revelation. We need transcendent values – even if we must invent them.
The paradox of a Nietzschean value system is that it doesn’t need to be empirically true, but it must be treated as if it is. And therefore, whoever has the most power creates the value system. You won’t get to decide how to live. Someone else decides that for you.
Right or wrong is irrelevant. Whatever you think is moral doesn’t actually matter. Nothing does. Only power.
The result of this worldview is that humanity will become gods.
But only some of them. Maybe just one of them.
And when that person dies, a new religion is created or another person creates a new system of values until they die.
As everyone wants freedom and the decision to live their own lives, this will create a rift between every person. Toxic individualism will reign, but eventually, you’ll need to either oppress or be subjected by another person to continue living.
Spirituality Is the Cure
The reason we need a spiritual system of values is that it rejects the notion a mortal person can decide for others how to live. Spirituality heals the rift of toxic individuality because it prohibits someone with power from redefining how others can live.
We don’t have to live in a world where someone oppresses us. We don’t have to live alone either. The reason those are the only options right now is because we’re choosing not to follow transcendent values and instead choose material ones.
You need a spiritual system of values because it’s the antidote to oppression.
Interestingly, religion is not static. Take a look at any religious tradition in history and you’ll notice that it evolves over time. Then look at the spiritual people of both traditional and modern religions: the internal diversity is immense even among those who claim to follow the same path.
Ideally, religion itself will spiritually evolve and syncretize harmoniously. This will lead to all humans choosing to believe in the same set of values in the future.
This is the same way disparate tribes of humans are coming together and being less warlike with each other.
Go Live Transcendently
I’m not going to pretend that we can solve the problem of differing values in our current lives, but you can begin the process by choosing a spiritual system of values for yourself. Any spiritual path.
Your calling is to not impose that spirituality on others to the best of your ability. Transcendence is the goal.
Over time, I believe the different spiritual paths will syncretize and evolve towards the absolute truth that we’ll accept it within our hearts.