Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher whose thinking remains compelling to this day. Anyone familiar with his writings might find it a tad surprising a Christian like myself would find any value in his work. He was overtly anti-Christianity. I am by no means an expert on the guy, but there are a few of his writings that interest me.
He’s the the guy that said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (actual quote), and “God is dead.” He is arguably the father of Nihilism. As Nietzsche proposes, if we move past the idea of God, then nothing has any inherent importance and lacks meaning and purpose. Nietzsche goes further and says that if mankind can recover and master this crisis, we would inevitably become stronger/better.
Obviously at some point my views and Nietzsche’s differ markedly, but he was absolutely clear and merciless in showing that there can be no inherent meaning to life or objective truth outside of the existence of a Creator god. Morality is then completely arbitrary and based on the whims of man and those with the strength to seize it. Whereas it is often said “history is written by the victor”, Nietzsche may well say that “good and evil is written by the victor”.
“Good” as a concept then becomes meaningless in a general sense. And so does “evil”. As a Christian I find the idea dangerous and frightening. Nietzsche would shake his head and urge me to move past this and chase my own personal happiness with strength. He would urge me to call that happiness “good”.
The words “good”, “evil”, “strength”, and “happiness” have specific definitions to both Nietzsche and myself. The definitions are borne straight out of our respective worldviews and can have completely opposite meanings to each other. Our different worldviews directly effect the people around us.
Take the word “strength”, for example. Is it stronger to chase your own happiness or to willingly prefer someone else’s happiness over your own? Is it “strength” when you get angry and do something about not getting what you think you are entitled to? Or is it strength to be patient? Is it strength to rebel, or be obedient? Are you stronger when you cheat, or do the right thing? Is it strength to be offended, or forgive?
The “Overman” or “Super-man” is an idea presented by Nietzsche. He saw it as the next step for man. You become the superman when you move past morality and become value-creators yourself. With the new Man of Steel movie out now it’s interesting to see the huge difference between the Superman on the big screen and that of Nietzsche’s version. The Man of Steel is a true hero, doing what he can to help at great personal risk. I wonder if Lex Luthor is a fan of Nietzsche and thought he himself was a superman?
Nietzsche seemed to admire Jesus strength as a kind of superman because he seemed to establish his own moral evaluations. But that’s pretty much the only thing he liked about Jesus. I admire Jesus strength because he endured great suffering for a people still cut off from his kingdom. Jesus thought we were worth it. He knew his father gave us inherent objective value. Sometimes I don’t even recognise my own worth. Then I remember what the Son did because the Father thought I was worth it.