The Matrix and the death of Christianity
In 1999, the film Matrix was released in cinema and became an overnight cultural phenomenon. The concept of the film, a virtual world, in which humans are tricked into believing their false existence is real, has been a trope that has been explored in numerous cinematic iterations, yet it was the Matrix that has captured the zeitgeist of the Western mind. What the prior films lacked, the Matrix possessed: the prophesy of a long dead philosopher, predicting the dead of a god and arrival of the uebermensch. As Christianity was defined as “Platonism for the masses” by Nietzsche, so too is the Matrix, will to power for the masses.
The film begins in darkness, and chronicles a journey of an unremarkable man’s search for the truth. It is fitting that those whom the protagonist, Neo, contacts to discover the truth of the “matrix” operates in darkness, while the state security “agents” interact with him in light. The typical allegory of Plato’s cave myth is cleverly reversed; when Neo is led out of the proverbial cave, it is not the comforting light of To Agothon that greets him, but the empty thunderings of an impersonal universe, forever darkened by the man’s own hands. “[W]e know that it was us that scorched the sky,” quips Neo’s guide Morpheus. Much like Nietzsche described in his “Beyond Good and Evil,” it was unremarkable men that killed god and erased all references. Thus, what greets the hero is not the guiding light of the truth, but the oppressive despair of the abyss that has swallowed up any and all reference point.
Neo’s training instills in the hero that physical strength, moral virtue, intellectual capacity, social position, etc. hold no real value in the Matrix. The only coin that matters is that of the will. “Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? Do you think that's air you're breathing now?” counsels Morpheus during one of their sparring sessions. The protagonists battle their enemy in disembodied consciousness, in a spiritual or a metaphysical realm. Rather than physical beings or fantastical monsters, it is ideas and interpretations that the protagonists fight to overcome. When Morpheus is tortured by the agents, it is with ideas, perspectives, and concepts that crush him, rather than crude instruments of enhanced interrogation.
The great enemy in the Matrix, of course, is Christianity and the Christian God. Though the love interest of the hero shares her name with the trinitarian God, the true trinity of the film is the agents three, “guarding all the doors . . . holding all the keys,” omnipresent and omniscient, three beings acting as one. When torturing Morpheus, one of the agent relates the creation myth of the Matrix. In the beginning, man was placed in a Matrix that provided all that was needed and desired, yet, incomprehensibly, man rebelled against the construct. A new Matrix was provided, in which “human beings [defined] their reality through misery and suffering.” It is the Jewish creation myth retold, in terms of artificial intelligence, sentient programs, and cyberpunk narrative.
The film prophesies a new future, a new world order following the dissolution of Christian slave morality, a "world without rules or controls, borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible,” as Neo quips, before flying away Superman style. But what is the new future that the uebermensch ushers? Those “freed” from the “control” of the Matrix face a world of perpetual darkness, with no moral or ethical reference, subject to the whims of their betters; for, the only coin of the new Heavens is will to power. Having killed God, the new man has become like God, determining for himself good and evil, with nothing and no one to contravene his will. A world of infinite possibilities, is also a world of infinite cruelty. The Romans once enslaved a third of the world’s population in abject slavery; the Aztecs carved out 10,000 hearts in one day; the NSDAP built death factories; all these will be but child’s play compared with the will of the uebermenschen who will rule over us, who exist beyond good and evil. “Terribleness is part of greatness: let us not deceive ourselves,” advises the great philosopher.
“Another Christian concept, no less crazy, has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights…” observed the great philosopher. And it is this slave morality that gave birth to the lunacy of humanism and its infinite “human rights.” The Christian revolution placed victims in prominence, gave voice to the meek, extolled the poor, and favored the weak. At the expense of their betters, the inferiors have flourished, under the harsh moral whips of Christian sensibilities. It is with Christian biblical verses that the slaves discomfit their masters, it is with Christian philosophy that the muck demand “equal rights” from their betters, it is with Christian theology that the peasants obligate their rulers’ begrudging benevolence. This slave morality, that gives preference for the inferior specimen to pollute the blood of their betters, has been the dominant sociocultural Matrix for much of the world, in the past two millenia.
No longer, do Christianity hold sway over men’s hearts, as was displayed by the enthusiastic mass acceptance of Nietzsche’s philosophy via the Matrix in the 1999. It is not a coincidence that the “new atheism,” or rather anti-Christian, movement swelled into prominence in the late 2001. The philosophical seeds implanted into the willing public via the Matrix germinated quickly, under the harsh sun of Islamic terrorism. Though nominally “all” religions are targeted, in practicality, since the “new atheist” movement is an entirely Western phenomenon, the movement subverts primarily Christian values and morals. When the last vestige of Christian slave morality has been swept away, the uebermensch will rule supreme, and crushing of the weak by the jackboots of Imperial legions will be a Kantian moral imperative. Only those unflinching souls that have discarded all values of the slave morality will enjoy true freedom, leading to the ascendency of the individual, as portrayed by the Matrix. “Welcome to the desert of the real.”