Christian responses to Nietzshce: Criticism, Reflections, and Review: Is God Really Dead?
Is God Dead? A Christian Critique of Nietzsche’s Philosophy
Nietzsche points out that the proclamation of atheism, that god is dead results in a meaning vertigo that is absolutely nihilistic in nature:
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?
Nietzsche is a hopeless philosophy. Its not a very good starting point if you want to find meaning or purpose or understand how to live better in the world.
Nietzsche ultimate says its all will to power, but he doesn’t so much prove it as simply assert it. This undermines the values we need to function in the world—to have better relationships and have functionally communities and civilizations (for instance rights, justice, and the US Constitution get tossed out along with everything else).
Bernstein provides a macro-level critique of Nietzsche:
“Nietzsche never attempted a logical refutation of the possibility of God’s existence. He does not appear to have thought it attainable. What he substituted was a genetic reduction of faith, which was clearly intended to have the effect of a refutation by suspicion….Nietzsche’s implication is that the belief in God is traceable to human needs.”
John Andrew Bernstein, Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1987), 165-66.
As a slight aside, its worth noting that Nietzsche does provide some insight into answering the problem of suffering or evil in terms of its value for human beings in their overall development.
I also think the thought experiment or gut check “Would you want your brother, sister, friend, or family member to be a Nietzschean?” This simple self-reflection on will to power is in some sense pretty powerful. (its seems an implicit call to reflect on the nature of ethics in relationship in the context of respect and perhaps the Golden Rule).
Further, I think the historical record of the value of Christian culture and thought for civilization has been incredibly helpful for progress and the dignity of humans. (Its worth noting that Nietzshce critiques this, but I would argue thats precisely the weakness of Nietzshce is his inability to understand the value of love, compassion, kindness, and ultimately human dignity and value). Its also the reason that Nietzsche’s whole edifice would seem to collapse under the weight of its nihlisitic, skeptical, and reductive approach to value, meaning, and truth.
It would also seem that in Nietzshce’s critique of Christian ethics (basically compassion is bad because it ends up treating people as weak, an argument that sounds more like social darwinism than anything or an argument for Aristocracy, by contrast to equality and kindness) is that Christian morality also challenges people to do great things with risk (see Paul, Jesus, and the apostles and early Christians). So, Nietzsche’s approach to Christian morality and Christian culture and practice is in some sense. Not to mention there is an underlying current of “I make all things new.” which is a way that Christianity actually captures a certain cultural critique of the old for the new.
It also seems to be inherently self-contradictory–because following Nietzshce would ultimately undermine itself. Becoming a Nietzschean doesn’t seem to be very Nietzschean. (In the words of the famous philosopher Allanis Morrissette, “isn’t it ironic…don’t ya think!?!?”)
This is a simple straightforward critique of Nietzshce’s argument:
William Lane Craig responds to Nietzsche’s critique of Christian morality:
Finally, Ravi Zacharias also provides a critique of Nietzsche and one which he returns at from slightly different angles in a number of his talks and podcasts. (you can click on the link to listen to Ravi’s critique)