By Immanuel Lokwei,
About God we know or so we claim, but about Friedrich Nietzsche – a 19th century philosopher whose unfortunate death was preceded by chronic insanity –his thoughts only gained acclaim they deserve posthumously. Widely known for his quote “God is Dead”, now that he died the joke runs that God on his mighty throne is pointing a vengeful finger at Nietzsche’s grave while exclaiming, “Nietzsche is dead!” If God really is pronouncing the above statement about Nietzsche he (God) must be alive, then what God did Nietzsche kill or proclaim dead?
We are unaccustomed to questioning our very own existence in the manner of Descartes, “Does it follow now that I too do not exist?” and we would still find it weird to broach the hard subject about God’s existence. For instance, what imperative can impel the indifferent or the agnostic individual to belabor oneself with such theistic difficulties? Even to the religious the incentive to take God’s existence and authority as given and self-evident outweighs the endless such for the meaning and certainty about God’s existence.
Christians have declared that no finite beings can understand their God and that any attempt to apply reason to unravel the mysteries of nature and those that invoke the “presence of God” and his existence is futile. In the place of reason, they offer faith as a valid substitute with Christ himself promising blessings to those who have not seen and yet have believed. But does faith have any basis that we should embrace it?
Looking closely, it seems that the basis of faith is yet other several antecedent articles of faith. For instance, before one believes that God exists or does not exist, one must feel compelled that they have to belief – that they ought to believe in something. But must one always give in to the overarching need to believe in something? Many would say yes for from the objects of their faiths they derive the meaning of their lives.
Atheism, even though it is a negation of the theistic faith, is far from irreligious faith and simply a substitution of the name of God with nature or universal design or Big Bang Theory, Science, etc. Most atheistic and religious people, due to lack of evidence presented by the disparate position, take refuge in their favorable opinions and sacralize them as the most reasonable beliefs. Once the mysteries of nature (from the atheistic point of view) or the manifestations of God in nature (as theistic minds would have it) bombard the minds of the religious or the atheist they subjectively confirm their very inclinations. Both inclinations are faiths driven to the extreme and irreconcilable ends of the fanatical spectrum. And the problem with fanaticism as Eric Hoffer argues, is that one becomes absolutely certain only about things one does not understand.
To wrap up, Nietzsche did not kill just any ordinary God. He rather killed a God that demands blind or unquestionable fanaticism from his followers. Unfortunately that fit perfectly the image of the Judeo-Christian God. Nietzsche condemned a religion that is the archenemy of reason; unfortunately, Christian morality inspired unreasonable obedience to all of its doctrines – look at the history of Christianity. Finally, here is another quote from Nietzsche castigating blind faiths, Christianity in particular being on the receiving end. “What is good-heartedness, refinement, and genius to me, when the human being who has these virtues tolerates slack feelings in his faith and judgments… Weariness that wants to reach the ultimate with one leap, with one fatal leap, a poor ignorant weariness that does not want to want any more… Faith, means not wanting to know what is true.” Last of the last, could Nietzsche kill God(s) of Africans?