Christian Living

The Irrationality of Atheism Part 2: Nietzsche & Nihilism Concluded

So far the background and framework for Nietzsche’s ideologies to be birthed have been visited, as well as some of his most famous works and thoughts, so what can be said about all of this from a biblical perspective? This post will attempt to answer exactly that question.

A Biblical Response and Critique

First, it needs to be noted Christianity does not affirm Nietzsche’s view that all morality is useless or non-existent, except the will to power. This cannot be overstated. For the Christian there is an absolute cling to an absolute morality. The prophet Isaiah writes, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for the light and light for the darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20; ESV). It is clear through Scripture there is a definite moral law. The Bible is replete with passages talking about the juxtaposition of right and wrong (Genesis 2:17, Titus 2:21, John 8:44, Colossians 3:21-25, etc.). As Christians, the belief is this moral law does not simply evolve or appear by chance, but rather it is intrinsically placed within us by the transcendent God of the universe (Genesis 1:27). Nietzsche’s view clearly takes a stance which declares man has ultimate meaning, and as such morality has not meaning. He desires for man to murder the idea of God in order to progress. Sproul comments, “It must be shown that what herd morality deems ‘good’ is not real virtue but mere a guise for weakness. Life is will to power and nothing else. Man must be free to exercise his own nature.”[1] This conclusion is not only empty of any hope, but it is also unfounded.

Furthermore, if “God is dead” as Nietzsche remarks, then atheism rings true, but if atheism is true then a frightening conclusion arrives. This conclusion comes in the face of nihilism. Again, the Christian faith ardently opposes the idea of nihilism because God has placed value and worth upon each and every person He creates. The factors like race, socioeconomic status, religious belief, or a person’s stature as strong or weak do not matter in terms of the worth placed on them by God. Mankind was created in the Imago Dei and because of this, mankind has meaning. But if God is not true, then does man have any actual worth? Simply put, no. If God did not create man with intrinsic value and purpose, then there is no real purpose of meaning in life, and yet the purpose of life in Nietzsche’s view is for man to create or find his purpose, then quite a conundrum exists. McFarland continues, “So, nihilism fails as a worldview, but it’s the logical outcome of atheism.”[2] If God does not exist, then, the logical conclusion must be nihilism, but the problem is nobody lives practically like a nihilist. People by and large, even atheists, live their lives with happiness, relationships, families, milestones, etc., and if this is true then nihilism must ring false.

Nietzsche also has a problem on his hands when he speaks of Christianity having some sort of link to wanting people to remain weak, and that only brute power has any worth. One need only look at examples where pity (certainly a weakness for Nietzsche) or compassion display incredible love, value, and strength. A great example of this is Jesus’ encounter with the leper. Mark writes, “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean’” (Mark 1:41; ESV). In essence, religious people are simply to be pitied because they do not understand their purpose, and they are helplessly tied to something making them weaker by the moment and celebrating said weakness. This view, again, is not tenable. If man is the end of himself and all things then no purpose exists anywhere else, but the book of Ecclesiastes speaks volumes against such rhetoric. Sproul again concludes, “Ecclesiastes is, in the end, a scathing critique against nihilism and those who, as we mentioned above, desire to hold on to the moral framework of Christianity while at the same time denying God’s existence.”[3]

Finally, for Nietzsche, he concludes it is Christianity which is largely responsible for violence and terror in the world, and this is because of the crippling tether to God. Horrific things occur, no doubt, but Christianity cannot be blamed as a blanket for such things. In other words, “Nietzsche was wrong in his conviction that Christianity is responsible for atrocities. While some have evoked the name of Christ as they have carried out sinful actions, a careful study of the Bible reveals that righteous living is never responsible for unjust destruction.”[4] In fact, what can be extrapolated from Nietzsche’s point of view as has already been noted, is men like Hitler can take his thoughts to a logical conclusion which lead to appalling acts and atrocities.

In conclusion, while Nietzsche cannot be underscored as major contributor to the world of philosophy, it is clear his revulsion and animosity toward Christianity and God were severely misplaced and led him in a nihilistic direction. It is clear nihilism does not and cannot be a working philosophy, and it seems necessary to close with a parting word of wisdom from Scripture, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:22).

I hope to continue along the lines of analyzing and understanding more philosophers and their philosophies.  If there is one in particular you are interested in knowing more about, please comment who and why.

Be blessed yall.

 

Bibliography

[1] R.C. Sproul, The Consequence of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), 165-166.

[2] Alex McFarland, 10 Answers for Atheists (Venture, CA: Regal, 2012), 47.

[3] R.C. Sproul, Defending Your Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003), 166.

[4] “A Christian Response To Nietzsche’s The Genealogy Of Morals,” Apologetics Press, accessed August 12, 2018, espanol.apologeticspress.org/​articles/​240356.

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