What philosopher of his time. He often challenged Christianity

What did
Nietzsche mean by ‘the death of God’?  How justifiable are his
suggested solutions to this condition?

When looking throughout history there have been many
welcomed philosophers offering new and exciting theories which can change
society over night. One of these philosophers was Friedrich Nietzsche, from his
commentary on the “Death of God” and his rejection of Christianity as it was
seen as a way of numbing pain, Nietzsche has become one of the most prominent
philosophers of our time. Although this is the case his work is often looked
over or ignored all together due to his break downs and insane actions later on
in his life, including his association with Hitler. It is often thought that
one of the biggest influential figures in Hitler’s life was Nietzsche and his
theories, and by this association has a notion of guilt thrust upon him.

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Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Rocken, Saxony, Prussia in 1844
and lived out his life until 1900 and is recognised as the first existentialist
philosopher of his time. He often challenged Christianity and instead would
present his philosophy instead of it. During world war one German soldiers
often carried a copy of his book, this shows the level of influence that he had
at the time.

 

A large propaganda tool in Germany at the time was
Anti-Semitism and it grasped the German nation and was one of the forces that
Hitler used to gain control of the people and get them to back him. When
Nietzsche was at the height of his philosophical power, anti-Semitism was very
popular with it being practiced by close members of his family like his sister
and brother in law. The people that Nietzsche looked up to and idolized as well
as the majority of people around him were anti Semites, this led to the
conclusion that many of his peers and people who knew him believed that he was
an anti Semite as well. Although this was the case Nietzsche was strongly
against anti Semitism even though he was critical of Judeo-Christian beliefs
and morality.

 

In numerous passages Nietzsche expresses his views on Jews
and the religion of Judaism, in his book “Human, all too Human” he states that “Every
nation, every man has disagreeable, even dangerous characteristics; it is cruel
to demand that the Jew should be an exception”. He implies here that even though
the majority of peoples views on the Jewish religion and race they are not much
different from other races around the world. He then goes on to praise and sympathize
with them stating they have “most sorrowful history of all people” and that
they are responsible for the “most effective moral code in the world”.

 

Towards the end of his life Nietzsche became mentally ill
and was diagnosed with being mentally ill but still continued to address the
issues of anti- Semitism in letters to his sister where he was openly very aggressive
and hostile towards her anti Semitism. Hitler on numerous occasions in Mein
Kampf demonstrates his Anti Semitism “Hence today I believe that I am acting in
accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against
the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”. In opposition to Hitler
Nietzsche was in opposition, in his writings the misinterpretation of Zarathustra
and the people that Nietzsche was around and associated with instantly meant
that people believed that he was with the majority and was an anti Semite. The
strongly worded letters to his sister suggest otherwise and that Nietzsche supported
Jews and praised them openly.

 

One of the main ideology’s in the Nazi party was that the
Aryan race was the most superior and the purest race. Hitler himself proclaimed
the superiority of the race among all the other races of the world. Hitler
coined the term Aryan to whoever he felt was deserved of the title Aryan
despite linguistic and physical similarities of close nations he considered
them to be non-Aryan.

 

In the 1880’s Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is Dead” and is
a persistent theme that he kept up in the coming years. Although this didn’t really
take off for Nietzsche at the time as his books didn’t sell very well and was
often overlooked, this theory was given a new lease of life in the 1960’s by
theologians like Thomas Altizer, Gabriel Vahanian and William Hamilton. The main
passage that talks about the death of God is in Nietzsche’s ‘The Gay Science’ called
“The Madman”, in this passage a man enters a market in a town and cries out
that he “seeks God” while at the time he meets a group of atheists who mock him
until the man proclaims that “God is Dead”. Although it seems the case that
this is a way of his disbelief in God it shouldn’t be seen as Nietzsche’s
proclamation of a grandiose way of expressing his disbelief. Stephen Williams
summed it up rather well by saying “is
not a rhetorical way of saying ‘God does not exist” (Williams 97). An
interpretation from the “ontothelogical thesis”, sees Nietzsche’s claims of the
death of god to be the death of the metaphysical god. A death of the God of
philosophers not a death culturally, historically or sociologically. Amy Sullivan
wrote that the meaning “The death of god” meant we were “entering a post
religious age in which religion was at best irrelevant and at worst irrational”
(Sullivan). Another back up for this claim was Michael Shermer’s views on the
article by Times magazine
suggesting that they were
wrong about Nietzsche’s prediction of secularization thesis as a large majority
of the united states are religious or spiritual and go to church once a week
and pray almost every day.

 

Nietzsche used “the
death of God” as a phrase that brought together the consequences of the
Enlightenment, and what people believed the concept of god to be in the Western
European countries which had strong Christian beliefs since the latter Roman
period. With the rise of science and arts during the Enlightenment a lack of
emphasis was put on sacred revelation with a huge rise in philosophical materialism
and Naturalism around this time which dispensed many people’s belief in a
higher power or a divine entity. The death of God represented a crisis for moral
assumptions in Western Europe at the time, “When one gives up the
Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means
self-evident… By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God,
one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.”(Kaufmann &
Hollingdale) The passage in the “Madman” which addresses atheists especially
has a problem that its an issue to retain a system of values with the demise of
a divine order. Nietzsche goes on to say that the rejection of a belief or
physical order but also the rejection of absolute values themselves to the
rejection of belief in objective and moral law upon all individuals. In this
situation the loss of morality leads to nihilism, which for Nietzsche meant
looking for foundations deeper that Christian views and values.

 

Nietzsche began to see
Christianity as nihilistic, due to the wide spread acknowledgment of the death
of god. Nihilism ran rampant as people felt a deep fear or angst due to this
theory that Nietzsche had prophesized. Many people tried to ignore this idea
and continued to peruse their faith in God

 

Nietzsche
believe that at the end fate trumped faith, with the birth of humanity the
masses leaned towards faith to provide answers to the unexplainable and comfortable
realities that human life had to bring with it. Humans evolved to an age of
postmodernism, although there is a price to pay for this where Humans should take
responsibility for their own existence. Nietzsche expressed this thought when thinking
about faith to fate when he said “In the absence of God… we must redeem
ourselves with the sacred Yes to life expressed through amor fati, the love our
specific fate expressed as joyous affirmation and delight that everything is
exactly as and what it is”

 

 

 

Martin Heidegger
sums it up rather well at is probably one the most notable voices on
ontothelogical thesis. Heidegger argues Nietzsche proclaiming the death of God
ends the supersensory world, in which God is supposed to be the highest entity.
In which the death of God occurs when a value is placed on God therefore de
valuing God by submitting him to philosophies. Heidegger believed that the
death of God called also be described as the end of philosophy itself,
Heidegger understood that Nietzsche believed that philosophy had reached the
end of its potential as metaphysics and the word of Nietzsche spoke if its
demise “If metaphysics is dead,
Heidegger warns, that is because from its inception that was its fate”(Muller-Lauter 2000)

 

Nietzsche
had many new possibilities that would prove that life would be positive and possible
without God. Nietzsche believed that the disbelief in a divine entity like God
would allow humans to open up more and become more creative and allow us to
develop more as individuals. He wrote saying that the human race would stop
turning their heads towards the supernatural realm and to a faith and acknowledge
the value of the world and people around us. The metaphor of the sea which
Nietzsche uses describes it perfectly by saying that the view of an open sea
can be both exhilarating and terrifying, and that the people who decide to
start their lives again and live a refreshed life represent a new and exiting
stage for the existence of human beings. This is where Nietzsche’s idea of the
Ubermensch comes into fruition, this describes an individual who rises above
their circumstances to embrace whatever life throws at them and to become who
we really are. This is one of the reasons the Nietzsche disliked Christianity as
it attempted to stop people from feeling envious of what they couldn’t have or
what they wanted and likened it to slave morality. Nietzsche saw Christianity as
a machine for bitter denial as in the values of Christianity not being able to
take revenge became forgiveness which isn’t being true to ourselves.  

 

Although
Nietzsche disliked Christianity and religion he didn’t much like the idea of
the end of faith. He believed that religious views were very beneficial to
people and helping us deal with the problems that we encounter everyday
throughout our lives. He believed that the gap that had been left by religion
should be filled with culture like philosophy, art, music and literature. It
seems like even today these things have filled the forefront overshadowing
religion slightly even though its mass appeal is still very prominent.
Nietzsche believed that in his day academia was killing philosophy by turning
it into dull exercises instead of using them for guides to life and how to live

 

In conclusion the death of God means life has no
meaning and that fate overcomes faith. An alternative philosophy that Nietzsche
provides attempt to affirm life and give it new meaning about being positive about
ones self and aiming to improve ourselves in everyway possible. By giving us
thoughts on how to improve the way that we live by owning up to our mistakes
and pushing forward and being envious of others it allows us to better understand
ourselves and means we can break out of the shackles of religion to be who we
really are. By replacing religion with arts and literature it allows us to
better progress by enduring life and not ignoring it. “Inasmuch as at all times, as
long as there have been human beings, there have
been
herds of men (clans, communities, tribes, people, states, churches) and
always
a great many people who obeyed, compared with the small number
of
those commanding . . . it may fairly be assumed that the need for
herding together is now innate in the average man. . . .”