Nietzsche: “God is dead. And we have killed him.”

In Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (a.k.a., The Joyful Knowledge), he tells the fictitious story of the madman who enters a village one evening proclaiming that God has died. He says, “You and I have killed him.”

The madman in the story is portrayed as a sort of John the Baptist to herald in the coming Ubermensch, or anti-christ figure. This Ubermensch is also known as the Overman or, the New Man – who is a sort of Christ figure.

Along with the death of God has been the wiping away of the horizon. Now that the horizon has been wiped clear, we can re-orient ourselves to a life and a reality without God and the old religion with its traditions.

The joyful knowledge is the knowledge that God is dead. Nietzsche doesn’t mean God was once alive, but now he is dead. By the death of God, he means that God has never been alive. Since the madman’s arrival and proclamation, we are just now beginning to realize that God has been dead all along. God has been fiction all this time. Nietzsche never argues for the death of God. He assumes God’s death.

Here are four implications that Nietzsche sees following from the “death of God.”

  1. Purpose or meaning has died. Since there is no God who has created or designed us for a purpose, we are not to be held accountable to anyone for any certain purpose at all.
  2. Morality has died. There is no good or evil; there is only strength and weakness. The purpose of the strong is to subdue the weak; and the purpose of the weak is to be dominated by the strong. What is good is only the feeling of being able to put one’s will to power over someone else. Also, there are no moral phenomena. There is only moral interpretation of phenomena.
  3. Rationality has died. Rationality (or, reason) is a whore (as described by Luther, as well), and serves whatever purpose or agenda I want it to serve.
  4. The death of objective Beauty. There is no objective beauty; there is only subjective interpretation of beauty.

Besides the four explicit implications that Nietzsche sees following from the “death of God,” there is also the death of the Author. This means that there is no longer an objective meaning of a text; there is only a subjective interpretation of a text. I may exert my will to power interpretation over the text to say what I want it to say for my purposes and my own agenda. I thus become the Author.

In light of God’s death, Nietzsche counsels us to live as gods ourselves. This means that we should create our own purpose, and make of our life whatever we want it to be. As gods ourselves, we should use reason and argumentation to serve our own purpose and desires. As gods ourselves, we should decide what is beautiful and worthy of our admiration. As gods ourselves, we should will to power over the weak however we wish to live–however we please!

Given the opportunity to speak face to face with Nietzsche, how would you biblically-theologically respond to him in light of these dark implications?

Photo by Yiran Ding on Unsplash