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HERO WORSHIP

 

 

Superhumanism

By Robert M. Price

 

My favorite philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, looked forward to the coming of what he called the Superman. He meant, I think, a new type of human being who will live up to the full human potential, who will decide for himself (and herself) about the real meaning of life and choose standards of right and wrong for himself. This Superman would throw off all the chains that have bound most of us for the whole history of humanity. Some of the strongest of those chains are the chains that religion has clamped on the minds of men and women, telling us not to think for ourselves, telling us to believe whatever the church says without evidence or doubt. Scientific knowledge has always had to fight against religionís threats that to know too much is to forfeit salvation and to go to hell. The Superman is the courageous human being who will laugh at such empty and childish threats, and who will have the daring to pursue the truth wherever it leads.

††††††††††† Iíll bet you have not been able to read this far without thinking of the comic book character Superman, Kal-el from the planet Krypton, just as no one can now hear The William Tell Overture without thinking of The Lone Ranger, since most of us heard that great piece of music for the first time when it was used as the theme music for the masked manís TV show. And why not? The Lone Ranger is just as much a genuine hero as William Tell, even though probably neither one of them actually existed as historical figures. And it is just as appropriate to think of the Kryptonian Superman when we read of Nietzscheís Superman. Thatís because one is a great symbol for the other.

††††††††††† I am thinking of a favorite Superman comic book I read back in 1967. In it Superman has to defeat an enemy with powers equal to his own. He is twice Supermanís height with a flaming red beard, a yellow tunic, and winged sandals. He is called Zha-Vam, and his name is made from the first letters of the six Olympian gods who gave him their powers: Zeus, Hercules, Achilles, Vulcan, Apollo, and Mercury. It seems the ancient gods of the Greeks and Romans foresaw the day when Superman would appear and steal all their glory. With Superman doing all his superhuman feats of rescue and help, no one would remember the old gods anymore. So the gods decided to create the titan Zha-Vam to be their champion to defeat and humiliate Superman. If Zha-Vam succeeded, the ancient gods hoped the human race would worship them again. Well, Zha-Vam gave Superman a run for his money all right. It took the Man of Tomorrow three whole issues to defeat Zha-Vam, and he finally did it by using his brain, not his muscles.

††††††††††† In those three comic books I see the whole history of human beings striving to gain their independence, their right to fulfill their own great destiny. We have to argue against all the preaching of religions which tell us we are wicked and weak, and that we must trust God or the gods, which really means obeying their self-appointed servants, the clergy. (Often they, too, have great powers of mind and character and are chafing at the restrictions their faith places on them.) Zha-Vam stands for religions that demand we worship their gods. Superman is like Galileo, Charles Darwin, Nicolai Copernicus, Annie Besant. They used their talents to advance human knowledge, but the church didnít like it, tried to stop them. Zha-Vam represents all the inquisitors, the religious armies, the persecutors who have tried to whittle down the super powers of the human race. It is a long battle that never seems to end. But if we are to rise to our own destined greatness, we must fight it. And to fight it means to be confident in the unlimited potential of the human race, and of ourselves as members of it, no matter what anyone may say to the contrary.

 

Copyright©2004 by Robert M Price
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