In 1882, Nietzsche declared the following:
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
Walter Kaufmann, a German philosopher, explains Nietzsche’s statement:
"When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident... By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands."
The resulting challenge from the above is the establishment of a value system in the absence of a divine order. This monumental challenge, which Nietzsche has identified 150 years ago, remains unresolved.
- What drives your personal values?
- Do we need a value system at the personal or societal level?
- What’s driving modern society’s values?
- What’s wrong with today’s value system?
- Is it possible to establish a value system in the absence of a divine power?
Despite the challenges the death of God creates, Nietzsche believed there could be positive possibilities for humans without God. Relinquishing the belief in God opens the way for human creative abilities to fully develop. The Christian God, he wrote, would no longer stand in the way, so human beings might stop turning their eyes toward a supernatural realm and begin to acknowledge the value of this world. Nietzsche uses the metaphor of an open sea, which can be both exhilarating and terrifying. The people who eventually learn to create their lives anew will represent a new stage in human existence, the Übermensch — i.e. the personal archetype who, through the conquest of their own nihilism, themselves become a sort of mythical hero.
- Nietzsche believed the solution to the value’s dilemma resides within us, that instead of looking for a deity to guide us, we need to develop the courage to overcome the abyss of nihilism and rise as supermen, for each one of us to become God into himself or herself. Was he right?
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