According to Nietzsche, God is dead. How far do you agree with his view?
Answer by Eric George
‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’, so wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th Century German Philosopher whose brilliant Philosophical treatises still remain the subject of relentless observation, interpretation and most of all; controversy. By ‘God is dead’ Nietzsche expresses not that God does not exist per se, nor even that God is dead as an idea but rather Nietzsche argues that since an individual does not need God to be a morally-sound person, therefore God is not needed in society thereby rendering God, whether he exists or not as non opus, or as a flip of Trotsky’s statement would echo ‘As a theological ash heap in the dust bin of history’.
We meet the climactic altitude of irony however, when the argument for morality and God pronounces itself in the ear of Nietzsche as follows: one does not need God to be morally-sound, yes, but that is besides the point. The essential argument here is that if God does not exist, then moral absolutes do not exist – nature, culture and society determine what is morally right and what is morally wrong. This follows that a ‘moral act and an ‘immoral’ act must be treated equivalently since the standard against which such acts must be weighed by is totally subjective. It matters not in the end whether one lives a life according to piety or according to barbarism, both are right and equally valid.
Bertrand Russell personifies this ever so clearly when he stated the following, after being asked in an interview in 1959 as to what he would want the future generations of the world to grasp on to, ‘I should say love is wise, hatred is foolish.’ Russell, like Nietzsche was consistent with his world view. Loving someone is not right or moral, it is merely ‘wise’. In turn, Hating someone is not necessarily wrong or immoral, it is merely ‘foolish’. There is nothing essentially wrong with Hitlers views, it is equal with Teresa’s; such a world that exists to perish can produce only the comfort of despair.
Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz
How far do YOU agree with this view?
Who or what is God?
When you ask questions like this you cannot assume that everyone understands your question without knowing what your presuppositions are.
There may be a million different ideas of ‘God’ bandied around in the world. So which is yours?
But I will offer this hint: Nietzsche is not speaking about ‘God’.
He is speaking about YOU, your beliefs and how you exercise your rationality in the pursuit of a way of life that should enable you to wear the title of a ‘moral agent’.
He is asking you to examine what you think God is.