Marquis de Sade, atheism and Nature-as-a-Deity

Taking nature as a deity isn’t just peculiar to those atheists who perhaps once had been culturally attuned to Christianity.   It’s also very Christian.   Hippies and assorted spiritists may choose to follow a natural way in eating, giving birth and taking care of diseases (e.g, via vaccination avoidance).  

Women are not permitted to use contraception under certain brands of Christianity, and diseases must follow their course. Atheists, religious types and those who are directionless and searching for their meaning in life may all turn to Nature (capital N) to give them their guiding principles.  There’s nothing wrong with that, if meant in earnest.  Be fruitful and multiply.  

Nature ought to be your teacher, however, not just your authoritarian bureaucrat, making you suffer for no reason.

I’m reading the Marquis de Sade who is a typical inversionist Christian.  Bataille has some similarities, but converts his Christianity into a set of culturally proscribed attitudes and behavior, which he must transgress against.   Bataille uses the ideological structure of Christianity to get his psychological highs, just as Sade does.  

Bataille is an atheist, whilst Sade is inclined to paint his Nature in a very Christian light.

What is Nature and do we need its law-giving properties?

The idea that there are underlying principles of life, to which we must submit, has a certain basis in experience to it.   For instance, one does not go “against nature” by planting crops unsuited to the season.  One waits on nature, patiently attending to the times when it is ready to yield its fruit. One does not cut down trees prematurely.

Humans throughout the ages have  been attuned to have a certain amount of discipline imposed on them by the force of nature.   The discipline takes the form of behavior management:  If you pick the fruit before it’s ready, you will get an upset stomach — best wait for Nature, who provides! Sade takes this principle one step further.  In the absence of God, Nature tells us what to do.  

Sade’s “Nature” is precisely the elements of human behavior and sexuality that Christianity would suppress.   “Nature” becomes a justification for human perversion.  Paradoxically, what is being viewed by Sade as Nature is by no means nature at all  — not even “human nature”.   To the contrary:  It’s what nature turns into when it has been long suppressed by Christian mores.  

 Only then does it become Nature the Sadist.   Apart from this, nature is not sadistic, but more aptly, as Nietzsche noted, indifferent.

Those who want us to avoid contraception because they think that God-through-Nature commands it are simply submitting to nature’s indifference.   They are welcome to be an object of nature’s designs, since nature doesn’t care if they are one.   They are also welcome not to be an object of nature’s designs, since nature isn’t going to notice if they aren’t one.  God, therefore, doesn’t notice such inclinations to submit or to avoid submitting, either.  The wish to submit to Nature, so as to receive benefits is purely human in origin, not divine.

The view that nature has something sadistic to say to us (and not meanings that are merely cyclical or in line with certain organic principles) is fundamentally Christian.  Dionysus, the Nature god of ancient Greece, says everything destructs and regenerates, so drink the fruit of the vine, self-destruct — and enjoy!  The reason monotheistic religions view nature in a much more negative light is that they are referring to human nature tortured under patriarchal constraints.   

A terrier abused as a puppy is vicious and lacks the capacity to trust as an adult. By contrast, the nature of the beast is different when it’s not abused — although never, in the Christian, moral sense, “perfect”.

Intellectual shamanism also has a view on “nature”– indeed, a profound interest in engaging with it.   The difference is that ongoing interactions with a reality unmediated by Christian mores will incline one to an increasingly more thorough-going skepticism as regards divine forces.   

Shamanistic experience that is reflective urges one to see that everything one experiences has its origins within one’s mind.  External reality exists — but it is indifferent generally.  Sometimes reality is hostile, sometimes beneficial, but in all instances, there is indifference to both these aspects.

Intellectual shamanism nonetheless requires engaging with these generally indifferent forces of nature, to discover that there are no laws to which one can give oneself, apart from very general ones relating to self-preservation.  

Adopting intellectual shamanistic practices can only enable you to deepen an already profound atheism.


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