God is dead quote
Time issue of April 8, 1966
|| Friedrich Nietzsche
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 quote is set out immediately below:-
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 at in relating the above is that
God is dead in the hearts of modern men - killed by rationalism
and science. This same God however, 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 seems to be suggesting that the acceptance of the
Death of God will also involve the ending of accepted standards
of morality and of purpose. Without the former and accepted faith-based standards society is threatened by a nihilistic situation
where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by
considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.
What are we now to do?
Given 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..."
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?"
Nietzsche Thus spoke Zarathustra
Time issue of Dec. 26, 1969
|| Friedrich Nietzsche
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A DEEP question arises as to why such quotations are so impact-FULL.
Their impact surely has to be down to an Innate Inheritance or an Innate Capacity rather than down to Education or Nurture.