Cliff's Edge

Cliff Goldstein

is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His next book, Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity has just been released by Pacific Press.

Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and 1844

On October 15, 1844, one week before the Great Disappointment, a boy was born into a pious Lutheran family in Germany. His name was Friedrich, Friedrich Nietzsche, and the infant would age into one of modernity’s most influential atheists. Believing that the Christian God was dying in the West, Nietzsche railed against the Christian religion’s continued moral influence, deriding it as a “slave morality,” the morality of the weak, who, in an attempt to protect themselves from the stronger, concocted silly notions like “love your enemies.” For Nietzsche, modernity needed to get beyond antiquated notions of “good and evil”; a character in one of his books (Thus Spake Zarathustra) declared, “Smash the old law tablets!” meaning, of course, the Ten Commandments.

The year 1844 was also important for Karl Marx, the founder of Communism. Called the “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844,” this work had been written by Marx that year, even if not published until 1927 by the Soviet Union. The manuscripts show the early development of Marx’s ideology, in which he argued for a totally materialist reality that moved through various economic stages until the workers of the world would unite, overthrow their capitalist oppressors, and create a Communist utopia on earth.

The year 1844 was an important one for Charles Darwin, too, for in it he wrote to his wife, “I have just finished my sketch of my species theory. If, as I believe, my theory is true and if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will be a considerable step in science.” In what has become known as “The Essay of 1844,” Darwin produced one of the earliest expressions of his evolutionary theory, even if it was not then made public. Only in 1859, with the publication of On the Origin of Species, did Darwin publicly promulgate his view that all life on earth originated from a common ancestor by natural and chance processes alone.

A coincidence that all these events happened in 1844?

Forgive me, but I don’t think it mere coincidence that this year, 1844, was the fulfillment of the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14; and the same year that, out of the leftovers of the Great Disappointment, seeds were planted that would burgeon into a worldwide movement that would repudiate the guts of Marxist, Nietzschean, and Darwinian ideology.

Contra Marx, the Seventh-day Adventist movement proclaimed that the great controversy between Christ and Satan, not a materialist dialectic, explained the flow of history, which would end, not in a human-made Communist utopia but in the supernatural establishment of God’s eternal kingdom. Contra Darwin, the Seventh-day Adventist movement taught that life originated, not in the natural and chance processes of random mutation and natural selection, but by the power of the Creator God, who in six days created life on earth and rested on the seventh. Contra Nietzsche, the Seventh-day Adventist movement proclaimed not only that God exists but that His universal code of morality, the Ten Commandments (the “old law tablets”), remains God’s ultimate standard of judgment and is binding on all humanity.

A coincidence that all these events happened in 1844? How naive, I think, to believe so. 

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