he functioned more as a myth than as a historical reality, and thisthe old guard could not accept. The historicity of Christ had beenthe feature of Christianity that separated it from all other religions,
which by Christianity‟s standards, never rose above the level of thefairy tale. The meaning of Christ, then, in Strauss‟ view, was
aboveall the expression of the mythic aspirations of a culture at aspecific stage in its development. The question of his historicitywas thus left open. Bruno Bauer took this a step further with hiscriticism of the Synoptic gospels, demonstrating that none of thetexts had any historical value. Atheism was only a step away, andBauer proceeded across this line with little hesitation. Religionbegan to appear as a positive obstacle to the spirit of rationalinquiry, and Karl Marx summed up the Young Hegelian project as
it existed in the early forties with the pithy phrasing “the critiqueof society begins with the critique of religion.” Feuerbach provided
his own picture of the meaning of Chrtistianity, positing a modelof projection which transformed anthropology into theology. Thegreat philosophical task, Feuerbach thought, would be to reversethis process. Unmask the meaning of this projection of humanqualities onto an abstract locus known as God, and it wouldimmediately be clear that what was attributed to God was in reality
embodied in the collective soul of humanity. “Man is to man thetrue Supreme Being”, Feuerbach famously wrote, and his view
energized the Left intelligentsia for some years after itsintroduction in his book, The Essence of Christianity, published in1841.
This changed radically with the appearance of Stirner‟s “breviaryof destruction” (as the art critic James Hunecker called it), The
Ego and Its Own, in late 1844. For the Young Hegelians hadalready determined that the problem, in its most basic form, was
religion; wasn‟t Feuerbach merely introducing a new religion, a
religion of Man, in the guise of a communistic atheism? Stirner
demolished Feuerbach‟s argument, and at the same time forced
consideration of the implications which appeared as a result of
taking Feuerbach‟s and Bauer‟s ideas to their logical conclusions.
How do we undermine religion at its roots? Stirner answered this
question most unsettlingly; we must extend Feuerbach‟s concept of
projection into that of the fixed idea. God is only one of the ideasthat give birth to the religious impulse. Any idea that subjects theindividual to itself has the same purpose. To say that heimplications of this thesis are far-reaching would be putting itmildly. And so the first immoralist, or, to put it more accurately,the first amoralist, came into being.