God Is Dead and We Have Killed Him

In the 19th century the wake of scientific development paved way for an industrial revolution where capitalism motivated the terms of production. At the end of the enlightenment era and the historical contingency of human beings in relation to the earth and the quest to find the meaning of life Nietzsche sought to disassociate himself with metaphysical or epistemological rational and interpretations of the world in a critique of the enlightenment from Descartes to Kant. This was a move from historical consciousness to human consciousness.

Nietzsche is credited with being the hero of existentialism; the philosophy of existing as we are in the world as it is (being here and now). Nietzsche posits the statement “God is dead… and we have killed him”. To me what Nietzsche means is that human beings no longer need religion to define what is moral or to give meaning to their life. The value of the world is not limited or tied to religious doctrine. In a Nihilistic fashion Nietzsche shows here that religion as a value system will devaluate itself and no longer become necessary when people can think for themselves. “Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” Nietzsche implies that we do not need something beyond this world to give us value of life here. Nietzsche turns to Nihilism in order to establish how much life is meaningless but he also makes the provision that only from nothingness can we transcend into a new level of our existence.

Nietzsche considers religion as negative nihilism because it seeks to find meaning in something different from human experience. He critiques the theory of western metaphysics based on being and its inherent permanence which neglects or avoids the possibility of becoming because of a fixed idea. He considers this an avoidance of life and he seeks to affirm life through nihilism

Religion to Nietzsche escapes from metaphysics by trying to compensate for that which it can’t by using a supernatural entity to give meaning to this world, this meaning to be found is now dependent on a world where there exits an omnipotent being implying that this world cannot exist on its own accord for its own accordance. This outer-world explanation negates the inner world definition. This, then become a negative form of nihilism. “Therefore the death of God is required to escape nihilism”.

Only after the death of God and all values alike; being it religion or any other moral doctrines or all that had to previously affirm knowledge for us, can we come to revaluate how we choose to attribute value and meaning to life and the world. This is a departure from avoidance of life to knowledge and awareness of life through the human conscious and experience instead of the historical conscious and religious explanation. Every value system we held before must be disregarded. We must overcome absolute nothingness to be able to affirm ourselves we must overcome ourselves. Therefore even reason becomes unreasonable and whatever we believed to be true before we must attribute to being gullible because it can never give an adequate account of a meaning and value of the world we are yet to discover. Only human experience is superior whatever is formed from our instinctual drives has meaning.

Nietzsche claims that in every human lives the will to survive and therefore in those who understand the suffering inherent in survival or existence there lives a will to power. This will to power is a will to overcome “acknowledging the nature of existence as becoming” this is another implication of the transcendence theory. Life cannot be affirmed without this understanding. Self transcendence is only possible with active affirmation. We can only become Ubermensch when we accept and affirm our existence repeatedly, so through practice. Ubermensch is an entity or a state of being that is transcendent or overcoming of the “nature” of man a greater understanding. We can only go beyond man when we no longer need a god to serve purposes of moral judgment. “DEAD ARE ALL THE GODS: NOW DO WE DESIRE THE OVERMAN TO LIVE.” —trans. Thomas Common, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part I, Section XXII,3

Nietzsche’s  “God Is Dead” statement was not well received in the time he wrote in. In the Antichrist  Nietzsche acknowledges this by stating that he is aware that he is writing for future generations stating that ; “some are born post-mortem” so he may have written this to provide a future philosophical discourse for consideration. And possibly end nihilism.


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Zolani Nkomo

Commentator, Philosopher-Historian, Provocateur, Student Activist, Son of the Sun.

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