Introduction: Nietzsche and Christianity
Nietzsche's philosophy can be seen as the end of an understanding, or the end of an era. His philosophy raises several questions about Christianity and what it means to be human. Is the only way that humankind can survive, post Nietzsche, to become God ourselves? Can we not survive without becoming Ubermensches? The death of God as announced by Nietzsche was certainly a turning point in Christianity.
In this article, I am going to demonstrate how, through several of Nietzsche's concepts, we are to become earthly Gods ourselves since our heavenly, Christian God no longer exists. I want to emphasize here that these are Nietzsche's views, and not my own.
Nietzsche's four main ideas are: The will to power, the eternal recurrence, the death of God and the Ubermensch. He demonstrates these ideas through several texts, including The Gay Science, Ecce Homo, Thus Spake Zarathrustra and The Genealogy of Morals.
The Death of God
What is this statement that Nietzsche put forward that 'God is Dead'? The idea was first announced in the Gay Science through the persona of the madman. "Where is God?" the madman shout to a crowd of believers. To 'the madman' it is the crowd who are all mad, because God is Dead, and we have killed him.
This is a difficult idea for us to grasp. God is dead in the spiritual sense, not a physical sense. It is not that there was a God and is no longer - it is the idea of God that is dead. What Nietzsche meant was that humankind no longer believes in God. Westerners have destroyed their faith in God through secularization, and therefore have effectively killed him.
Nietzsche's Ethical Concern
Do we Descend into Nihilism?
Nietzsche's next concern is ethical. He recognizes that many morals and rules within society are Christian. He realizes that a society needs morals and values in which to live. If God is dead, so are society's moral values. What would happen next would be the descent into nihilism - the void of blackness in which all values are valueless. If God is dead, then the Saint in Thus Spoke Zarathustra would lead a lonely, decadent life. The traditional moral values will become obselete with their knowledge that their grounds, God, is non-existent.
The Master Morality
So, Nietzsche attempts to provide a new foundation. He provides a re-evaluation of all values. Nietzsche said that we need in its place a morality of strength or power. He distinguished between the slave and master morality. In place of the slave morality of Christianity, he proposed a master morality - one of strength and dominance. Mankind, said Nietzsche, needs the will to power.
Nietzsche's universal view is one of eternal recurrence - your life happens again and again eternally. This is why we must lead our lives the way want want to lead them, not how we 'ought' to. We must overcome everything that is decadent. Through liebensphilosophy (life philosophy), Nietzsche is telling us to lead our lives not with regret, but strive to overcome the eternal recurrence.
He who uses the will power to rise above the eternal recurrence shall be thee Ubermensch. This is the overman, the ultimate human being. There is a sense of the Ubermensch throughout Ecce Homo. He is a powerful man who refuses to submit to the standards and values of others, especially God. He is the man who creates his own values.
This is what Nietzsche wants us to be. Consider a world full of Nietzsche's Ubermensches - no longer human, but super-human. They have their own values - the will to power. It therefore becomes clear that, according to Nietzsche's assertion that God is dead, we now have to become Gods ourselves.