“We stumble on; the Übermensch plants a foot where there is no certain hold; and in the struggle that follows, the whole of us get dragged up.” –William James
Friedrich Nietzsche is a fascinating philosopher that must be taken with a grain of salt, and possibly the entire salt shaker. But he is an absolute joy to read, for his audacity alone. And his ruthlessness was no joke. Knocking gods off pedestals was second nature to him. With merciless glee, he stormed in where other philosophers feared to tread. Through poetic prose, brutal honesty, and venomous wit, he brought us a way of thinking that still has people’s brains doing backflips in their heads and their hearts doing somersaults in their chest. A God-fearing man probably couldn’t get through a single paragraph of Nietzsche without collapsing into a fit of: “Blasphemy!” this and “Satan incarnate!” that. Not realizing that there is gold gleaming in the darkness of his words and unaware that his surfaced soul is a brilliant diamond shining in the rough texture of his prose. So in honor of that God-fearing man pitifully writhing on the floor, and with a healthy dose of mockery, here are four fascinating ways that Master Nietzsche made God his bitch.
1.) Anti-Christ Superstar
“One must not let oneself be misled: they say ‘Judge not!’ but they send to Hell everything that stands in their way.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche was the original Antichrist. He wrote the book on it, literally. The Anti-Christ was a smash-mouth, no-holds-barred grudge match between Nietzsche and Christianity. And Nietzsche came out of it with nary a scratch, while all of Christianity lay bleeding and bruised at his blasphemous feet. For decades fundamentalist Christians reeled from the merciless body-blows dealt by the tiny book that made the bible look like the Goliath to its David. Of course the Christians were eventually able to incorporate it all into their religion while conveniently ignoring this and expediently hiding that, and so the blind-faith machine rolled on, but they inadvertently spread Nietzsche’s gospel rather than squashed it, and so it is still very much alive today.
2.) God is dead!
“Whither is God? … I will tell you. We killed him –you and I. All of us are his 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 festival 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? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us – for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.” –Nietzsche, Parable of the Madman
With this bold declaration Nietzsche reached skyward, pulled God from his celestial throne, and in one fell swoop declared the now earth-laden body a corpse, bringing down with it the entire apparatus of institutional Christianity. Talk about audacious. It’s especially daring when you consider the religious atmosphere during the time when he lived. The man’s insouciance knew no bounds. He called it like he saw it, peer pressure be damned.
Later in the text of the Parable of the Madman, Nietzsche’s protagonist visits various churches saying nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”
3.) The Übermensch
“Behold, I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?.. 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…” –Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The Übermensch, or overman, is Nietzsche’s cosmopolitan vision of human excellence, his epistemological elite. In many ways he is the replacement for God, the courageously moral substitute for the pitiful decadence of the Christian deity. A self-actualized, fully individuated, enlightened master prepared to take on all comers.
It’s almost as if Nietzsche foresaw the environmental calamity of our time, heralding the call of the overman for a future time when he would be needed to get us back in touch with Mother Nature, and to reconnect the severed umbilicus before it’s too late.
“In so far as the word “knowledge” has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.—Perspectivism.” –Nietzsche, The Will to Power
Perspectivism implies that no way of seeing the world can be taken as absolutely true. But it does NOT necessarily entail that all perspectives are equally valid (and so should not be confused with relativism). With this idea Nietzsche didn’t necessarily make God his bitch, but he did create a good tripwire to trip him up with. For if everybody has a different perception of the concept of God, however minute that difference, then God can never just be one almighty being we can all agree on, it can only ever be a smeared-out energy, at best; an idea or a conceptualization, never a definitive truth.
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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