~ God is dead ~ quote
Friedrich Nietzsche is notable for having declared that God is
dead and for having written several of his works in the
presumption that man must find a new mode of being given the
death of God.
Perhaps the most interesting quote on this
theme appears in his The Gay Science ( aka Joyous
A fairly full version of this key ~ Parable of the Madman ~ quote is set out immediately below:-
The Parable of the Madman
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the
bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried
incessantly: "I am looking for God! I am looking for God!"
As many of those who did not believe in God were standing
together there, he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost
him, then? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said
another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a
voyage? or emigrated? Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman
sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances.
"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have
killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we
done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the
sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we
unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now?
Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not
perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all
directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as
through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty
space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night
coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning?
Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who
are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's
decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead.
And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers,
console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of
all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our
knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we
purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games
shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too
great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be
worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever
shall be born after us - for the sake of this deed he shall be
part of a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners;
and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At
last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went
out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time has not come
yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling
- it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder
require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require
time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard.
This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars
- and yet they have done it themselves."
It has been further related that on that same day the madman
entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and
quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: "what are these
churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchres of
What Nietzsche is concerned about in relating the above is that
God is dead in the hearts and minds of his own generation of modern men - killed by an indifference that was itself
directly related to a pronounced cultural shift away from faith and towards rationalism and science.
This same God, before becoming dead in men's hearts and minds, had provided the foundation of a
"Christian-moral" defining and uniting approach to life as a
shared cultural set of beliefs that had defined a social and cutural outlook within which people had lived
Nietzsche had been raised in an intensely devout and pietistic family atmosphere that he saw as having been unduly restrictive
and actually viewed what he had been brought up to recognise as Christian Morality as something
which tended to be harmfully repressive.
As an atheist who saw aspects of the influence of the traditions of christianity within which he grew up
as having been regrettable Friedrich Nietzsche tended to welcome what he saw as The Death of God!
For Nietzsche a recognition that God is Dead to his own generation of men and women ought to come
as a Joyous Wisdom allowing individuals to lead less guilt-ridden lives in a world that was no longer to be
seen as being inherently sinful. He considered that earthly lives could become more joyful, meaningful and "healthy" when not
lived within narrow limits set by faith-related concerns for the state of an individual's eternal soul.
Nietzsche seems to be suggesting that the acceptance that God is dead
will also involve the ending of long-established standards
of morality and of purpose.
Without the former and accepted widely standards society has to face up to the
possible emergence of a nihilistic situation
where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by faith-based
considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.
What are we now to do?
Given what he saw as the "unbelievability" of the "God-hypothesis" Nietzsche
himself seemed to favour the creation of a new set of values
"faithful to the earth." This view perhaps being associable with
the possibility of the "Overman" or "Superman."
"I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be
overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All beings so far
have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be
the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather
than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a
painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the
overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment..."
Friedrich Nietzsche ~ Thus spoke Zarathustra
"Companions, the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and
believers. Fellow creators, the creator seeks -- those who write
new values on new tablets. Companions, the creator seeks, and
fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the
harvest. ... Fellow creators, Zarathustra seeks, fellow
harvesters and fellow celebrants: what are herds and shepherds
and corpses to him?"
Friedrich Nietzsche ~ Thus spoke Zarathustra
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Such eminent authorities as Plato and several World Faiths have ALL
suggested that we Human Beings have a 'Tripartite' metaphysical nature!
It is widely known that Plato, pupil of and close friend to Socrates, accepted that Human
Beings have a " Tripartite Soul " where individual Human Psychology is composed of three aspects -
Wisdom-Rationality, Spirited-Will and Appetite-Desire.
What is less widely appreciated is that such major World Faiths as Christianity, Islam,
Hinduism and Buddhism see "Spirituality" as being relative to "Desire" and to "Wrath".
This "Tripartite Soul" approach to insights
into human nature can even be extended to a "Societal Level" of
speculations about society and human existence.
"In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum
proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every
province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain,
and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of
the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every
object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man
is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and
fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him,
and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish
foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg
presuppose air. He cannot live without a world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson