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Nietzsche, Religion and God
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Atheist related
The primary emphasis of Nietzsche’s writings is that “belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable”. He wrote, “What is now decisive against Christianity is our taste, no longer our reasons.” He did not make use of the usual atheistic arguments, but regarded it as a matter of fact that God was gradually being eliminated from modern culture. As a matter of observable fact, he suggested that Western culture has ceased to find belief in God plausible. For him, God had ceased to be a presence in Western culture. God had been eliminated, squeezed out. God had been killed by man. He thought that it would take time for the news of God’s death to be accepted. But he believed that the day would come when God would finally be eliminated from the world.
Nietzsche’s observations are perceptive, though he makes a few logical errors. The church, as the mouthpiece and advertisement of God, has failed in many areas. The fact that dead formalism in the church, and an austere orthodoxy caused many to reject the church, is a known fact. But that process has happened more than once in history, the nation of Israel being an example: As God’s people, they lapsed into ‘religion’ without love for God; lapsed into a sinful lifestyle and were exiled from their land by the Assyrians and Babylonians. (Read 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles for an account.) But that didn’t mean that God was dead. Far from it.
The Bible is the only book in the world that testifies about the living God. Its miraculous preservation through centuries prove that it is protected by God. Its contemporary effect in society is as follows: On the one hand thousands and thousands of people’s lives are changed for the better. On the other hand the Book is viciously attacked, which proves that it is not an ordinary book. The day the Bible disappears from this world, that day God can be declared dead. Voltaire (1694-1778) thought that Christianity would be eliminated in a 100 years’ time; Nietzsche (1844-1900) that the day would come when God would be declared dead. That day has not yet come and will never come.
What Nietzsche realized though was that if God was dead, or removed from society, or became a culturally discredited notion, then there would be no absolute values or truths. This we experience today, with the rapid falling away of morality and values because of a general disbelief in God. But God is far from dead. The war against Him is just a symptom of what Bible believers know: He has a supernatural enemy who controls society and does all he can to muster his propaganda machine against God.
Summary: Nietzsche was a brilliant thinker, but mistaken. Individual believers however should remember that the world is watching closely to see if their faith in God is reflected in a joyful lifestyle of dependence on God.
(Alister McGrath, The Twilight of Atheism, Rider, 2004, p 149 - 152).
Related articles: God and Nietzsche: Who is dead?