by Steve Neumann
If one possesses enough of a tendency toward near-morbid introspection and self-reflection, one may ultimately see that even these pursuits don’t necessarily satisfy or replace that gaping, sucking hole left by the untethering of absolute and ultimate value and meaning from a belief in God. Our apostate is thus tempted to plunge into the opposite valuation of life; namely, the fatalistic notion that nothing matters, so why bother? This attitude is echoed in a Led Zeppelin lyric (That’s the Way, Led Zeppelin III) from 1970:
It seems to me that the Humanimal is and has been in a phase of arrested development. Despite all of our frenetic political activity, we seem to have been lulled to sleep by the cold monster; or perhaps we should say that it has convinced us that this somnambulistic state through which we daily move is the ultimate existential pinnacle attainable by us. Nietzsche seemed to feel that the State alternately bullies and seduces the individual into conformity and relative passivity; and it’s true that the State takes a mile when we allow it an inch; but for millennia, the State has made Culture possible. Yet we still need to move beyond the moral and institutional confines of the State in order to move Culture forward. And when I say that we need to move beyond the moral confines of the State, I don’t mean that we should abrogate the equal rights of others and do whatever we please; I simply mean that we would do well to set up a Base Camp in what Sam Harris called the moral landscape, and then allow and encourage each individual to scale the peaks and summits in her own way.