“Nietzsche is Dead.” – God

Below is a critical paper I wrote for an introductory philosophy class about a year ago on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most prominent and influential postmodern thinkers of our day. Sadly, for whatever reason, I lost my bibliography that was attached to it – I will list out the references that I remember at the bottom, but will probably forget some. I am hoping to eventually synthesize it into a shorter essay that is more approachable for those who are unfamiliar with any kind of philosophical jargon. 


“Whither is God,” he {the madman] cried.
“I shall tell you. We have killed him-you and I.
All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this?
How were we able to drink up the sea?
Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?…
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?
What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned
has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?
What water is there for us to clean ourselves?
What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?
Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”   

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Madman


The death of God – could any statement be loaded with more dynamite? Friedrich Nietzsche, God’s alleged murderer/coroner, seemed to lack any fear of the chaos that God’s death would bring, but rather happily plunged himself into the oncoming darkness of God’s absence. Nietzsche joins the ranks of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud as one of the three Masters of Suspicion of the postmodern age. As far as lasting power, however, both Marx and Freud have lost much of their relevancy, while Nietzsche still remains potently present in Western culture today*. Nietzsche, born in 1844 in Prussia, was heralded as a brilliant prodigy, becoming a professor of philology when he was only 24 at the University of Basel, and exhibited a remarkable literary talent. The volume of his works are sweeping, as well as the list of world-changers he has influenced: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Michael Foucault, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, to name a few**. His life, however, ended tragically with him spending his final eleven years in an insane asylum, and under the care of his sister. Some have speculated that Nietzsche merely followed his nihilistic philosophy to its logical conclusion, and it robbed him of his sanity, while others claim that it was the culmination of a lifelong struggle with/of an untreatable illness. We, however, will never be certain. My aim in this paper is to briefly look at the essence of Nietzsche’s metaphysical, epistemological and ethical foundations, then to provide a humble response from a Christian worldview.

He is also known for having a seriously gnarly mustache.
He is also known for having a seriously gnarly mustache.

Metaphysics: Nietzsche’s metaphysics can be difficult to discern, because he was skeptical of there even being such a thing,

“It is true, there could be a metaphysical world; the absolute possibility of it is hardly to be disputed. We behold all things through the human head and cannot cut off this head; while the question nonetheless remains what of the world would still be there if one had cut it off” (Human, All Too Human, 9).

Nietzsche was a raw atheistic existentialist, and quite literally a nihilist, though a strange one – advocating for an active nihilism, in hopes to cure the problem of nihilism (The Will To to Power, 35). Nietzsche claimed that the death of God was the wiping “away of the horizon”. This is as near as one can get to accurately portraying Nietzsche’s metaphysics. When Nietzsche claimed to have “killed God”, he obviously did not mean to think that he had actually killed a real deity, but rather he saw himself as puncturing the illusion that society has been duped into believing for ages – the “horizon” of ethics, morals and transcendent truths had been erased, and now we must take over in God’s place. He, influenced by Feuerbach, believed that it is in fact man who created God in his own image (Clark, 30). Though he disagreed with much of Darwin’s philosophy, he was heavily influenced by the theory of evolution, seeing it not merely as physical, but also philosophical. RC Sproul notes the disagreement between Darwin and Nietzsche,

“Yet he [Nietzsche] challenged the idea that mankind is locked into an upward spiral of progress. Evolution, for Nietzsche, does not occur according to some teleological plan (which involves a remnant of the idea of God); it is haphazard” (Sproul, 160).

Nietzsche saw any concept of design or “essence” that preceded existence as suspicious of needing to lean on the crutch of “God” for its explanation. The deepest reality that Nietzsche could affirm was what he described as the “will to power”, which could be argued was one of the few deviations Nietzsche makes from hard existentialism. Speaking of the human body, including the collective mankind, he states,

“If it is a living and not a dying body…it will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant – not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power…‘Exploitation’ belongs to the essence of what lives” (Beyond Good and Evil, 259).

Nietzsche, thinking with a somewhat evolutionary mindset, explains that for any life to be real life, it must be manifested through the strong conquering the weak– might makes right. Nietzsche uses the imagery of the “overman” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra as an embodiment to the evolutionary future of man who has fully channeled his “will to power”.

“What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment… Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 3-4).

This “will to power” is the tenacious force that embraces all things as “good”, even all of the radical difficulties and pains in the world. From this instinctual drive, Nietzsche agrees with King Solomon that there is “nothing new under the sun” with his “doctrine of eternal recurrence.” Since the only “real” essence in life is the will to power, all life will always be the same: the conquest to “grow, spread, seize, become predominant” will never differ, though appearances and circumstances change (Clark, 59).

“The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!” (The Gay Science, 341)

Epistemology: If Nietzsche’s metaphysics seem somewhat enigmatic, his epistemology is much clearer, but perhaps more difficult to interpret. Nietzsche’s epistemological understanding of “truth” is the lifeblood of the postmodern movement today, and one of the reasons Nietzsche remains so popular:

“Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying “there are only facts,” I should say: no, it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations” (Kauffman, 458).

Nietzsche’s epistemology could be defined as “perspectavilism”, meaning that there is no such thing as absolute truth or objective reality, only perspectives (Clark, 59). From this we get what the French philosopher, Jean-Francois Lyotard, defines as the quintessence of postmodernism: “Incredulity towards metanarratives” (Perry, 24); no one has a corner on the market of truth. All of mankind is like a group of blind men stumbling upon different parts of an elephant, grasping pieces of truth, but never the whole. This is the unique characteristic of the philosophical framework of postmodernism: premodern philosophy began with answering “what is reality?” (metaphysics), and that answer led to “how do we know?” (epistemology), which then would lead “how should we live?” (ethics). Modern philosophy began when Descartes shifted epistemology to the base as the starting point, and determined to doubt everything, and therefore would establish his metaphysics in light of what he could reason. Descartes, however made a subtle error – he didn’t doubt everything. He forgot to doubt that his reason works properly, and that there is a common humanity, as in assuming that all people would share his same worldview (O’Neil). Nietzsche, however, takes the modern experiment of doubt to its logical conclusion. This is what gives rise to Nietzsche’s distrust towards reason and empiricism, and his fragmentation of truth. Nietzsche seems, like Kant, to synthesize both empiricism and rationality, but rather than direct them towards delineating between the “noumena” and “phenomenal”, he merely dismisses the noumena entirely. Nietzsche’s skepticism lashes out in all directions, like a wild dog on a leash.

“What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms… truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are” (Kaufmann, 46)

It is noteworthy to mention Nietzsche’s hermeneutics of suspicion prove to outweigh the likes of both Freud and Marx (though strikingly similar to Nietzsche), both of which claim to make wholesale truth claims about the problems of mankind, be it sociological or psychological.

“They [Marx and Freud] belong to the grand narrative (distressingly biblical to someone like Nietzsche) in which the light shines the darkness away. For Nietzsche, by contrast, the ‘curative aspect of suspicion is not found in an illumination of a false discourse by a true one,’ but in the realization that critique is itself anything but pure reason, since it is inside the ideas and practices it challenges as much as it is outside of them” (Westphal, 228)

In the pursuit of becoming the “overman”, one must reject the notion of conforming to notions like “true” or “false”, but instead must create his own perspective of truth, so that the “will to power” may flourish unhindered. So, for Nietzsche, he sees anyone’s claims to have ultimate truth, a metanarrative, as simply a power play – attempting to extend their will to power over others (Westphal, 229).

The now famous Time magazine cover from April 8, 1966, created by Nietzschean influence in culture.
The now famous Time magazine cover from April 8, 1966, created by Nietzschean influence in culture.

Ethics: On the matter of ethics, Nietzsche has much to say. Kant, disagreeing with Anselm’s and Aquinas’ natural theology, strongly believed that God could not be rationally or empirically explained or experienced. He did, however, feel that there was still a strong basis for the argument for God built upon the moral argument, which stated there would be no meaningful explanation or need for ethics if there were no God (Sproul, 131). Kant’s argument though is precariously balanced, and Nietzsche arrives to hurl it to the ground. Kant, though attempting to defend a theistic worldview, ends up doing great damage to it by attempting to prove that God could not be experienced through rationality or empiricism, but by faith alone. He essentially detonates the pillars of metaphysics and epistemology that prop up his ethics, but then exhorts us to live moral lives anyway. Sproul elaborates,

“Kant says that even if we cannot know [by reason or empirically] that God exists, for practical purposes we must live “as if” he exists for ethics and society to be possible” (Sproul, 131).

Nietzsche presses on this weakness with all the weight his skeptical force can muster. Kant’s defense of ethics falls flat if: 1) one simply redefines what exactly “good” and “bad” means and 2) society sees no problem with it. If our only logical basis for “God” is morals, but we have given no ground for morals, then we have no reason to believe in Kant’s God. Kant may have naively assumed that this simply wouldn’t happen, but he was sadly mistaken. If our experience of the metaphysical realm is limited by an epistemology that cannot know anything metaphysically for certain, then we (humanity in general) have no basis on which to define our ethics – our morality is suspended by thin-air. With no metaphysical concrete, the ethical structure (as Kant knows it) is prone to topple over at any changing of the wind. Nietzsche, with burning indignation attacks this weakened worldview, drawing out that if there are no metaphysical realities, than all morality is a myth,

My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena–more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to a stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real, and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus “truth,” at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call “imaginings.” Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they always contain mere absurdity” (Twilight of Idols, chpt. 6, par. 1)

Master of his own fate and captain of his destiny, Nietzsche dispels the classical notions of “right” and “wrong”, and creates his own ethics based on the only metaphysical reality he is certain of: the will to power. Nietzsche classifies morality into two categories: the master and the slave (Beyond Good and Evil, 260). The master morality is displayed when one learns to harness one’s own will to power in the inner-self-discipline of the mind, the rejection of society’s, or as Nietzsche calls it the herd’s, laurels, and the conquest of the weak. Westphal describes Nietzsche’s master morality simply as, “the spontaneous, self-celebration of strength…simple, shameless self-affirmation” (Westphal, 233). With this understanding, Nietzsche praises men like Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Caesar for their strength and conquest (Sproul, 166). Tyrannical leaders are not “evil” necessarily, but are just stronger. Nietzsche explains the simply necessity of the weak to buckle under the power of the strong,

“The noble soul is that unshakable faith that to a being such as ‘we are’ other beings must be subordinate by nature and have to sacrifice themselves. That noble soul accepts this fact of its egoism without any question mark, that is, shamelessly, as part of the primordial law of things: if it sought a name for this fact it would say, ‘it is justice itself.’” (Beyond Good And Evil, 265)

The closest Nietzsche will get to defining “justice” is light-years away from the altruistic understanding of equality. True “justice”, according to Nietzsche, is the proper ordering of the caste-system, with the strong dominating the weak. Revenge is the most basic element of the natural world, and the strong administer it liberally. The slave, however, is motivated by the same desire for power, but lacks the brutality and means to exalt himself or exact his vengeance, so he becomes resentful instead (Westphal, 236). Out of this ressentiment towards the power of the masters, the overmen, the slaves superstitiously call their masters “evil” and themselves “good” (this is where Nietzsche sees the origin of “good” and “evil” coming from). The overmen, however, do not see this dogmatic “morality”; they don’t dominate the weak because he is “evil”, but simply because he is weak,

“That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no ground for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs says among themselves: ‘these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb – would he not be good?’ there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal except perhaps that the birds of prey might view it a little ironically and say: ‘we don’t dislike them at all, these good little lambs; we even love them: nothing is more tasty than a tender lamb'” (Genealogy of Morals I, 13).

This is how Nietzsche postulates classical ethics were created: a “barbarian” type of overmen ruled over the herd, but in time the weak succeeded in elevating their fictitious morals like peace, equality, forgiveness and altruism to the societal norm. “With the advent of the herd morality, man’s most basic nature was denied, which in Nietzsche’s view is a denial of life itself” (Sproul, 165). Nietzsche primarily blames Christianity for the emasculation of the will to power, with its doctrines of loving your enemy, turning the other cheek, helping the least of these, etc.

One final note could be made on Nietzsche’s ethics: Nietzsche, ironically, deeply valued honest motives. With his epistemological structure, he deeply scorned others (especially Christians) who taught moral absolutes to the tune of slave morality. Nietzsche knew that they were motivated by the exact same primal desire for self-exaltation, but the slave hid behind his weakness and called it virtue. Westphal winsomely explains,

“It is a morality that preaches forgiveness, but whose motivation is revenge, that preaches love of enemies, but is the creation of the enemy as the incarnation of evil. It always has to pretend, to itself as well as to others, to be other than it is. Like the preacher whose concern for souls is motivated by greed for money, slave morality is a Big Lie” (Westphal, 236-37).

maxresdefault-2

A Christian Response-

The Benefit of Nietzsche: There is nothing that Nietzsche hated more than Christianity, it is “the one great curse…for which no means are too venomous, too underhanded, too underground, and too petty” (Zacharias, 24). Despite his utter disgust towards the Christian faith, there are some profoundly helpful insights that Christians can glean from Nietzsche’s critique.

First, Nietzsche’s fulfillment of Descartes’ error to doubt even reason itself shows the logical conclusion of the epistemic shift. If we have no certain knowledge of any metaphysical truth, because we are hamstrung by our limping reason, then we are left with nothing. Mankind has no teleological goal, because there is no One giving it to us – ergo, everything is meaningless. Present day philosophers have tried to paint a cheerier coat of paint on this reality by claiming a sort of optimistic nihilism. Since there is no given meaning for life, we must create meaning. Stephen Jay Gould, a professor of Harvard, sums this up well,

“We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer [for our purpose] — but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves — from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way” (Keller, 36-37)

Nietzsche, however, did not share the same romantic enthusiasm of Gould. Nietzsche stressed much more the terrifying banality of existence, saying that the only antidote was to simply “accept it – because there was nothing else” (The Gay Science, 341). Ravi Zacharias rightfully comments,

“He compelled the philosopher to pay the full fare of his ticket to atheism and see where it was going to let him off. Nietzsche wanted to look life squarely in the eye, with no God to obstruct his vision, and the picture he saw was agonizing to his mind. He saw no vast mind behind the framing of this world; he heard no transcending voice giving counsel to this world; he saw no light at the end of the tunnel, and he felt the loneliness of existence in its most desolate form” (Zacharias, 27).

It has become common, however, for secular philosophers to speak in an almost transcendent-spiritual way of connecting to an “energy” of the universe, the grand beauty of the cosmos, or the human “soul”  finding its own purpose. Many skeptics believe they can take the pen of destiny into their own hands to scrawl out their own purpose and significance – but they use value-laden words like “beauty” and “good” and “meaning” when, in Nietzsche’s evaluation, they have deluded themselves. There is no such thing as “meaning, beauty or good” – there is only power; the gnawing, scratching, craving to dominate the weak. When you die, you rot – all of your beauty, significance and meaning will count for nothing in the oceans of dead time that follows the extinguishing of your existence. The only thing you can do, through self-discipline is maximize as much carnal pleasure as possible by indulging your will to power – whatever the cost. To believe that there is transcendent beauty, values, and meaning that lasts, requires metaphysical backing – one cannot have the freedom of moral relativism and the comfort of a metaphysical footing, because that is dishonest, and Nietzsche’s wrath burns hot against the hypocrites. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. This is beneficial for the Christian worldview because it stamps out the hypocrisy that so many skeptics and relativists hold today – you either must embrace an absolute metaphysical reality (i.e. there is a God), or deny it all as preposterous, and on your way to the metaphysical garbage can, toss out your moral conscience as well. To try and maintain moral relativism and transcendent absolutes is much like trying to drill holes in the bottom of your boat, but still believing that it can float just fine.

Secondly, Nietzsche’s critique of the motive of slave morality is, surprisingly, helpful. Nietzsche’s critique of morals is helpful the way God’s purging fire that consumes “wood, hay and straw” in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 is helpful. Nietzsche sees through false pretense of religious people, and especially religious leaders as a thin veneer for disguising their own conquest for self-gain. Now, Nietzsche does not fault them for desiring self-gain, quite the opposite, he faults them for being dishonest about it at all. This is because Nietzsche assumes that all people are driven by the will to power, which is incongruous with the Christian doctrines of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc. Jesus, surprisingly, shares some of Nietzsche’s speculation about the motives of religious people. When Jesus teaches his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), he challenges the masses that their righteousness must exceed that of the religious leaders (5:20), then immediately helps clarify that by explaining that all of the virtues that the religious leaders have been teaching them (abstaining from murder, adultery, lying, etc.) must come from a heart that genuinely desires to do those things. One cannot simply adhere to the external virtues of patience, while deep down they are seething with anger – that’s not real patience. Jesus knew that, and so did Nietzsche. In another place, Jesus is furious with the religious leaders and curses them, calling them “whitewashed tombs” for adhering to religious rigmarole but ignoring the need for a heart that desires God (23:27). Jesus will not accept external religiosity; He will not be duped by appearances of morality and is profoundly offended, even more so than Nietzsche, by religious self-righteousness.

Nietzsche and Jesus, both sharing some similar critiques of religious people, have two very different remedies. Nietzsche, somewhat naively, assumes that there simply is no such thing as genuine charity; all morals, all actions, all of life is dominated by his self-centered will to power – all other acts are simply ulterior to this one motive. All people who make moral truth claims are merely wolves in sheep’s clothing, attempting to advance their own agenda. Jesus, however, did not seem to share Nietzsche’s pessimism. Christ affirmed Nietzsche’s diagnosis of mankind’s deep fascination with himself, yet instead of capitulating to it, proclaimed there was a way to escape it. Jesus, in a conversation with a religious leader, explained that the Holy Spirit, His very presence, would need to come and free their hearts from their slavery to self-glorification (John 3:3-8). But for this to happen, Jesus would first have to die for the sins of the world (John 3:9-15). Jesus Christ, the man who claimed to be God, the one who had all of the means to exalt his will to power over humanity, surrendered his right to power in order to exalt others up. So now, Christians, like other theists, can stand on the firm metaphysical foundation of a God who declared both epistemological and ethical reality – but this God, Jesus Christ, didn’t stop there. Christ didn’t just give us a list of rules to follow, He said, “I know you won’t be able to follow these, but I will pay the consequences of your failure” (John 8:34, Isa. 53:5) and in so doing He gives us the means to obey: a new heart (Jer. 31:33).

This kind of pure, no “catch”, no ulterior motives, grace is a categorical impossibility for Nietzsche – he cannot imagine the possibility of someone willingly surrendering power (when the accrual of power is his very definition of “life”); let alone dying for someone else – so he just writes it off as a farce, and the Christian’s hypocrisy around him justifies his decision. But this is simply immature and irresponsible of Nietzsche.

nietzsche.001-copy

The Critique of Nietzsche: Nietzsche’s perspectavilism was profound because he noticed the blunder of Descartes’ epistemic shift, and had the courage to take his skepticism to the uttermost, thus birthing the age of relativism we know exists today. However, it would appear that Nietzsche has fallen prey to the same error of his predecessor – he has overlooked the expansiveness of the implications of his epistemology. If, as Nietzsche says, “there are no facts, only interpretations”, does that then mean that very view is only an interpretation? When Nietzsche makes the statement, does he expect us to believe it; does he think it is true? If it isn’t true, then we can dismiss it as wrong, but if it is true, then, in a way, it isn’t “right”. This problem bleeds into his ethics as well: if all moral truth claims are nothing more than power plays to advance one’s own agenda, then isn’t that in itself nothing more than the greatest power play of all, devoid of all credibility? Nietzsche epistemologically paints himself into a corner, where he can no longer make any claims. In his attempts to erase the clearly defined lines that lay behind him, he erases the very ground he is standing on. He must borrow the ground of metaphysical reality, which he claims doesn’t exist, in order to have good footing to prop up his flamethrower of relativism to torch the idea of metaphysical reality. This is logically unsound, and irrational. You see this over and over again in Nietzsche’s critiques of people for lying to themselves about there being such thing as absolute moral values; Nietzsche obviously thinks that honesty is a moral value worth defending. But the real question is this: if Nietzsche believes that all is meaningless and there is no absolute truth, why is he attempting to convince us? According to his own worldview, wouldn’t the most logically consistent thing for him to do is give up on trying to persuade us, as if he is absolutely right? Every fiery rant and impassioned critique, Nietzsche is tipping his hand our way, revealing that he is living in the same hypocritical dualism that he hates. The postmodern band, Bright Eyes, tell of this in their ironically, self-critiquing Nietzschean song, “We Are Nowhere, And It’s Now”

And if you swear that there’s no truth and who cares, how come you say it like you’re right?

The early 20th century philosopher, G.K. Chesterton, often critiqued the philosophy of Nietzsche, seeing him as a truly brilliant man, but most certainly a sick man. In response to the epistemological relativism that Nietzsche propagated, Chesterton rightly stated that,

“The new rebel is a skeptic, and will not trust anything…but therefore he can never be really a revolutionary. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind…Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything…There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped” (Keller, 38).

The author and philosopher C.S. Lewis, in his Abolition of Man, also railed against this relativism, critically likening the moral relativist as one who “sees through” moral imperatives and ethical demands,

You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ forever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see some­thing through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.

What on earth would motivate someone to this kind of extreme contradiction of reason? What would one gain by cutting the support beam that reality as we know it rests on? Answer: the freedom to build whatever one desired with the rubble and ruins – one could stack them back into a building, or take a brick and bash someone’s head in. And that is exactly what people did.

For example, Adolf Hitler personally attested to Nietzsche’s tremendous influence of his own worldview. Hitler used Nietzsche’s concepts of the “overmen” to justify the Aryan race as superior to all other non-Germanic races. Many proponents of Nietzsche have said that Hitler obviously misinterpreted Nietzsche’s philosophy because his motivation for the Holocaust was built out of demonization of the Jews, and the overman of Nietzsche sees nothing as “evil”, but rather as weak; Hitler appears to be motivated out of slave resentment, rather than the pure will to power. That may be true, but Nietzsche provided the worldview that made it logically impossible for someone to approach Hitler and say, “I think you misinterpreted what Nietzsche said.” Hitler could stare back at you blankly and say, “Well, that’s your perspective.” In Nietzsche’s world we can’t say “genocide is wrong”, “war crimes are wrong”, or even “misinterpreting a piece of philosophy is wrong“, because in his worldview, wrong is a fiction. Perhaps Hitler misinterpreted Nietzsche, but it’s hard to deny the influence of Nietzsche’s will to power in the Third Reich, which truly seemed to embody the concept of the weak being herded like cattle before the strong – which is exactly what the death camps of WWII did.

6a010535ce1cf6970c01b8d0e1e985970c
Hitler staring at a bust of Nietzsche in his office, 1934.

Conclusion

Nietzsche’s attempt to recreate the philosophical landscape as we know it proved Dostoevsky’s short maxim to be true, “If there is no God, everything is permitted”, unleashing a wave of indulgent young people excitedly running after their pleasures, gleefully chanting, “everything is permitted!”, now having a basis for justifying their lusts, greeds, prejudices, and hatreds. But in time, the running will wear away, and eventually, they will come before the face of true evil. They will reach for a moral judgment to make, and find that it is not there. Their running will slow and resort to a horror-stricken trudging with limp arms dangling, in a panic of disbelief, “everything is permitted…?” Is rape wrong? Is genocide wrong? Is sex trafficking wrong? Our natural inclination is to say “Yes, of course they are wrong!” But, unless we have a firm footing to stand on, a footing of moral absolutes built upon an absolute reality, we cannot say that.

I recently saw an interview of a young boy from Northern Uganda who was kidnapped by the LRA. He was stolen from his schoolyard with a group of friends; shortly after, they handed him an AK-47 and told him to shoot half of his friends, or he would be killed. So he shot them. Months later, his platoon attacked a nearby village, killing almost everyone there, and kidnapping the women left alive. Three of the women had hidden their infants with them, so the boy was ordered to take the infants and bash their heads against the nearby trees, or he would be killed. So he did. After the women were used as pack mules for several miles, they were raped, and then two of them shot. The boy was then ordered to take the remaining woman and cut off her hands, her feet, her ears, her nose, and cut out her eyes to send a message of their strength to the surrounding villages, or he would be killed. So he did.

Friends, when you read that, you are not thinking, “Well, thats just one group exerting their “will to power” over the weak – that’s life.” You are thinking, “This is horrifying! This is evil! This shouldn’t happen!” But, the bitter truth is this: unless you are willing to admit that there is an Absolute Reality that is declaring truth, reality, and morality – you have no right to say what the LRA is doing is wrong. You must sit there and silently accept it, and endure your humanity being unraveled in the process.

When we jettison our metaphysical basis, it sends us into psychological, emotional, ethical and sociological contradictions that seem to rip our souls to shreds. This is the cost of the death of God; it seems so costly, that one might think it unnatural, like trying over and over again to breathe underwater. Perhaps our societies flourish when they live as if God exists because God does exist. Is that not the most likely explanation?

Have there been evil things done in the name of religion? Absolutely. But to assume this means that our world would profit by the “death of God” simply shows that you, like many in our generation today, haven’t counted the cost. Nietzsche certainly did, and the price was terrifyingly steep. The inner turmoil, the bleak, enigmatic reality is the “inner chaos” that Nietzsche says we all must embrace in our evolutionary path towards the overman (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 3-5). One may wonder if Nietzsche’s warning in Beyond Good and Evil speaks of walking this razor’s edge between the overman and sheer insanity, a walk between two realities that eventually melded together for him,

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

Nietzsche


References:

“The Consequence of Ideas” by R.C. Sproul
“Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism” by Merold Westphal
“The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Timothy Keller
“101 Key Terms in Philosophy and their Importance for Theology” by Kelly James Clark
“The Real Face of Atheism” by Ravi Zacharias
“The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis
“Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist” by Walter Kaufmann

All Nietzsche’s work referenced above:
“Beyond Good and Evil”
“Genealogy of Morals”
“Twilight of Idols”
“Human, All Too Human”
“Thus Spoke Zarathustra”
“The Gay Science”

Advertisements

One thought on ““Nietzsche is Dead.” – God

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this paper. I hope you don’t mind I use parts of it to comment on a YouTube video. Sargon of Akkad is a channel that does a ‘This Week In Stupid’ series and asked why he even makes the videos as the stuff he complains about is the result of the ‘Death of God’.
    here is the link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww5tVzlsLO4
    I linked this page so he and his viewers could read the full document.
    Here is what I wrote. I will delete it if you don’t approve.

    “GOD IS DEAD.

    I’m not sure what you are complaining for Sargon.  This seems normal for people who have no where to anchor their morals.  I mean, for a society (secular) which basis it’s moral behavior on consensus, feelings, and self benefit, this is what you get.  I’m not sure why you even continue with your ‘This Week In Stupid’ series.  You are the Madman.  These people are simply acting out what Nietzsche described would happen with the death of god.  Progressivism is an outcome of nihilism.  The strong, whether an individual or group will always seek to destroy the weak.  The victimology (slave mentality / weak) is just another symptom of the Strong abusing the Weak. 

    The following quotes are from this paper “Nietzsche is Dead.” – God, 
    Posted on September 21, 2015 by Marc Sims
    https://simsmarc.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/nietzsche-is-dead-god/

    “Whither is God,” he {the madman] cried.
    “I shall tell you. We have killed him-you and I.
    All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this?
    How were we able to drink up the sea?
    Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?…
    God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
    How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?
    What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned
    has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?
    What water is there for us to clean ourselves?
    What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
    Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?
    Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”   
    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Madman

    The volume of his works are sweeping, as well as the list of world-changers he has influenced: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Michael Foucault, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, to name a few**.

    Nietzsche has fallen prey to the same error of his predecessor – he has overlooked the expansiveness of the implications of his epistemology. If, as Nietzsche says, “there are no facts, only interpretations”, does that then mean that very view is only an interpretation? When Nietzsche makes the statement, does he expect us to believe it; does he think it is true? If it isn’t true, then we can dismiss it as wrong, but if it is true, then, in a way, it isn’t “right”. This problem bleeds into his ethics as well: if all moral truth claims are nothing more than power plays to advance one’s own agenda, then isn’t that in itself nothing more than the greatest power play of all, devoid of all credibility? Nietzsche epistemologically paints himself into a corner, where he can no longer make any claims. In his attempts to erase the clearly defined lines that lay behind him, he erases the very ground he is standing on.

    Nietzsche’s attempt to recreate the philosophical landscape as we know it proved Dostoevsky’s short maxim to be true, “If there is no God, everything is permitted”.

    end quotes.

    YOU HAVE NO ETHICAL OR MORAL REASON TO COMPLAIN, if GOD IS DEAD.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s