Even if the God of Christianity existed, would he be worthy of worship?

Friedrich Nietzsche, in his book The Antichrist, says no:

What sets us apart is not that we recognize no God, either in history or in nature or behind nature—but that we find that which has been reverenced as God not ‘godlike’ but pitiable, absurd, harmful, not merely an error but a crime against life. We deny God as God. If this God of the Christians were proved to us to exist, we should know even less how to believe in him.

The above Nietzsche quote comes from Alistair Kee’s Nietzsche against the Crucified, and in commenting on this quote Kee notes that Nietzsche’s atheism is not concerned to refute God’s existence, but God’s worthiness to exist. In other words, many atheists, though rejecting the Christian God’s reality, nevertheless concede that Christianity’s God presides over an admirable moral code. But Nietzsche is not one of those atheists. Here’s Kee on how Nietzsche approached the debate over God’s existence:

[Nietzsche] was alienated from the common assumption which united both sides, namely that this God is worthy of worship. Winner take all. Either this worthy God exists or not. How much more devastating is Nietzsche’s criticism. Even if this same God could be proved to exist—indeed, learned theologians, please do not even take the trouble to prove his existence—his is not worthy of our devotion. On ethical grounds we should resist him: his values are immoral.

Nietzsche thought of the Christian moral code as a form of life-denying decadence, and offered in its place the (pre-Socratic) noble virtues of archaic Greece (courage, the vital exercise of one’s energies, etc.). Nietzsche also advocated the will to power: the setting of your self in the driver’s seat of your contingent existence and sublimating everything else to your values. Thou shalt, as it were, have no gods before you (unless, of course, you choose them, in which case Nietzsche would say of your slavishness, “You want to create the world before which you can kneel”). Nietzsche’s point is that even your gods are the products of your own imaginative creation, and have to be worthy of you. The “is” is the scavenger that follows after your eagle’s “ought”—whether that “is” is God, science, religion, or some other authority. These are in your service (not the other way around). Use them or dispose of them in your “overgoing,” but make no excuses. Put nothing before you—your creative vision—as the justifier of your choices. 

Now what will you do?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Even if the God of Christianity existed, would he be worthy of worship?

  1. Noel Perez says:

    Nietzche: You’ll have an eternity to fine tune your unbelief! So sad.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Noel:

    What of the substance of Nietzsche’s view: what do you make of it? Why do you think it wrong (if you do)? And is there anything potentially redeeming in Nietzsche’s perspective?

    —Santi

  3. Roger Salyer says:

    I am not an end unto myself.

  4. Pingback: Quotes | Marcus Tutt's Blog

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