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1.1 What is nihilism?     …      …      …      …      …      …      …      1

1.2   Nietzsche’s conception of nihilism     …      …      …      …      3

1.3 Nietzsche’s conception of Christianity …      …      …      …      6

1.4 Anti-Christ     …      …      …      …      …      …      …      …      13

1.5 The death of God     …      …      …      …      …      …      …      15              





2.1 Nietzsche’s conception of Morality      …      …      …      …      19

2.2 Master slave morality                 …      …      …      …      …          22

2.3 Moral valuation (good and evil)  …      …      …      …      …      28

2.4 Critique of the moral ideals         …      …      …      …      …      …      31     




3.1 The will to power    …      …      …      …      …      …      …      34

3.2 The ubermensch (superman)       …      …      …      …      …      38



4.0 Critical evaluation   …      …      …      …      …      …      …      45

4.0 Conclusion     …      …      …      …      …      …      …      …      55


 BIBLOGRAPHY      …        …        …        …        …        …           58



Statement of problem.              

Down the stages of the history of philosophy, the modern philosophy of consciousness, attention has been directed to the mastery of the natural world. This is a period whose character of rational optimism was diametrically opposed to tradition and authority upon which stood the veracity and logic of primitive religion. It has been a period oriented to the practical. The possession of and ownership of the real. With Kant, the practical reason is already being understood as will. Schopenhauer took up this indication from Kant and conceived reality as will and idea. He opines that the world is a meaningless and purposeless existence or will to live. Nietzsche however, finally accepts the fundamental notion of Schopenhauer that the will is the principle of existence, but he conceives this will not merely as the will to live, but as the will for power.

        Along the way to the will to power, the anthropological subject has become central. This turn towards the subject excludes any supreme value in man. Thus, when Nietzsche proclaimed and declared the death of God, he believed that he was accomplishing the work, which other existentialist philosophers started but were unable to complete. Little did he realize the havoc he had caused to the contemporary man. Consequently he joined other thinkers of his time to sweep off the hold of God on the modern man.

           With “the death of God” man could surpass himself and attain his greatness.

Now it is up to man to give his life meaning by raising himself above the animals. Our so-called human nature is precisely what we should do well to overcome…[1]


It becomes succinctly comprehensible that God, the supreme value was a barrier to man’s attainment of self-fulfillment. However, with the elimination of the idea of God, supposedly a vacuum will be created and thus nothingness could break out in all directions. This at least goes to show the nothingness of religion, which it’s values and morality, find their meaning in God. This is thus the focus of nihilism, which also involves the revaluation of these values. Through nihilism, Nietzsche was able to posit a new value that would replace the old and eliminated` supreme value.


Purpose of study.

This project is necessary in the face of the present-day unscrutinized quest for faith or religion. For this reason, it will follow a thought-pattern that will argue for the credibility of God and religion. Thus the major task of this work is to criticize without reservation this religious and moral demise of Nietzsche and restore the supreme value to its place in the world.

Scope of the Study

This work does not however guarantee to exhaust the rigorous arguments concerning the existence of God. It does not even pretend to expose the whole philosophical thought of Nietzsche. It will evaluate and criticize Nietzsche’s arguments concerning the existence of God.

Method of Study

For the purpose lucidity this work will be largely critical and expository. More so, a brief historical survey of Nietzsche is adopted to bring to limelight, his conception about God.

Division of Work

This work is divided into four chapters. Apart from the introduction, the first chapter will x-ray the meaning of nihilism for Nietzsche, and the religion and its values as attacked and refuted by him. In chapter two, we shall be exposing the nihilistic morality as presented by Nietzsche. Chapter three centers on the remedies offered by Nietzsche as the ideal value after his nihilism of supreme value. Chapter four will evaluate Nietzsche’s philosophy of nihilism.


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844 at Bocken in the province of Saxony. He was the son and grandson of Lutheran ministers. His father died at the tender age of four and he grew up under the care of his mother Fran Nietzsche and his sister, Elizabeth.

At the age of fourteen, he was sent to the famous Pforta School where he studied classics, religion and German literature. In 1864, he went to the University of Bonn and studied theology. But having lost his faith in Christian religion in 1865 he abandoned theological studies, left Bonn and went to Leipzig where he studied philology. Here, also he came upon Schopenhauer’s works, The World as Will and Idea, which had an influence on him and confirmed his atheistic standpoint. He was also influenced by the Wagnerian music he came in contact with.

His outstanding intelligence merited him the appointment as a lecturer at the age of twenty, and later at the age of twenty-four, was yet appointed to the chair of classical philology at the university of Basal. He was at this school until heath forced him to resign his professorship in 1879. It was during this period that he came close to a relationship with Wagner but thy later separated. From 1880 to 1889, he lived life of solitude. He surprisingly became insane in 1889 and remained in that state of mental and physical paralysis until his death on August 25, 1900 at the of fifty-five.

Nietzsche was a prolific writer and wrote extensively even while ill. His major works include: The Birth of Tragedy, which he wrote in 1872. Between the periods of 1873 to 1876, he published the Untimely Meditations and Human, All-to-Human. Then, again between the periods of 1881 to 1887, he wrote these five books: The Dawn, The Gay Science, Thus spoke Zarathusthra, Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals. In 1888, he yet produced these books: The Case of Wagner, Twilight of Idols, Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Nietzsche contra Wagner and completed work, The revaluation of all Values (The Will to Power).








The term “nihilism” comes from the Latin word “Nihil” meaning “Nothingness”. The new Webster dictionary defines nihilism as, “… All attitude rejecting philosophical or ethical principles”[1]. It further describes historical nihilism as, “the doctrine or program of a nineteenth century and twentieth century Russian revolutionary group which rejected all forms of tradition and authoritarianism in politics, religion, morality and art”[2].

The name “nihilism” first appeared in Ivan Turgenerou’s novel, namely, Father and Son. One character in the book says that,

A nihilist is a man who does not bow before any authority; who does not take any principle of faith; whatever reverences that principle of faith may be enshrined in…[3] 

Nihilism consists in the dogmatic tendency to deny not only the existence of God but also the permanence of reality. One can therefore say nothing that is absolutely true of anything since no claim to truth have authentic or objective foundations. A classical exponent of nihilism in its intellectual aspect is Gorgias in Plato’s dialogue of that name, in contrast with the earlier philosopher, Protogoras, who held that “man is the measure of all things.”  That truth is relative to persons and circumstances, Gorgias taught that there could be no truths at all. Mikhail Bakum (1814-1976) taught that societies only hope lies in its destruction. The more radical Dmittrii Pisarev (1984-1876) taught that society is so devilish that its destruction is a good itself. Furthermore, nihilism involves a denial of all higher and objective values. In Western Europe, nihilism meant a denial of objective truth and values. Furthermore, nihilism is a way of thinking and a psychological condition that arises as a direct consequence of the suspicion that there is really no external or internal moral authority. So, Nietzsche became a nihilist when he attacked accepted values. He held the view that the interpretation, which Christianity bequeathed to Europe, was a life-negating pessimism.

Nihilism takes either a passive or an active form. Passive nihilism underscores the absence of values and purposelessness of existence. Active nihilism seeks to destroy that which it no longer believes. This was the form that Nietzsche undertook and prophesied.


What does nihilism mean for Nietzsche? He answers thus: “… that the highest values devaluated themselves”[4] Nihilism is understood as a historical event and he interprets the event as the devaluing of the highest values. It is not in any way simply a phenomenon of decay; rather nihilism, as the fundamental event of western history, is simultaneously and above all the intrinsic law of that history. Nietzsche recognizes that despite the devaluations, the world itself remains and above all becomes valueless and presses inevitably towards a new positing of values.

After the former values have become unsustainable the new positing of value changes, in respect to these former values, into a revaluing of all values[5]


The negation of the values comes out of the affirmation of the new positing of values. This explains Nietzsche’s contention that there is no compromise with the former value; the absolute negation belongs within the affirmation of the positing of new value. In order to provide a foundation for the new positing of value as a countermovement, Nietzsche even designates the new positing of values as Nihilism: “… that nihilism through which the devaluing to a new positing of values that is alone definitive, complete and consummates itself”.[6] This definitive phase of nihilism is called completed, that is, Classical Nihilism. Heidegger, commenting on the meaning of nihilism as Nietzsche had, made us to believe that he understands nihilism thus: “The devaluation of the highest value up to now…”[7] He also takes an affirmative stand towards nihilism in the sense of revaluing of all previous values. Consequently, the name ‘nihilism’ remains ambiguous. Considering it in two of its extreme forms, it always has primarily double meaning. Firstly, it designates the mere devaluing of the highest value up to now, while on the other hand, it also means at the same time the unconditional countermovement to devaluation. 

However, if the highest values have devalued themselves, that is, if God in the sense of the Christian God has disappeared from his authoritative position in the suprasensible world, then his authoritative place itself is still always preserved even though it appears as that which is no more.

 But this empty place demands to be occupied by a new and to have God now vanished from it replaced by something else [8]


New ideals are then set up, this setting up according to Nietzsche happens through doctrines of world happiness, through socialism and Wagnerian music. With this, there is thus the establishment of what Nietzsche calls incomplete nihilism. It comes therefore to prevail. Nietzsche says this about it:

Incomplete nihilism, its forms: we live in the midst of it. Attempts to escape nihilism without revaluing our values so far, they produce the opposite; make the problem more acute.[9]


It is now clear that Nietzsche has presented us with two levels of nihilism, namely, Complete and Incomplete nihilism. From this presentation and according to his own interpretation, nihilism is throughout the history in which it is a question of values- the establishing of values, the devaluing of values, and the revaluing of values differently from the old and eliminated ones

In the final analysis, nihilism means the overthrow of the decadent Christian civilization of Europe. At the same time, it will also clear way for the trans-valuation of values, for the emergence of a higher type of man, Ubermensch.



Religion has debased the concept Man. It has put man into fear and thus man has lost the love of man, reverence for man, and confidence in man, indeed the will to power. This is nihilism. Its consequence is that everything good, great, true is superhuman and is bestowed only through act of grace. Christianity is a religion and Nietzsche conceives it as thus: “… Nihilistic religion that is appropriate to people grown old and tame.”[10]. Christianity is never a historical reality. It represents the misuse of words when some elements of debasement, which is a symbol of manifestation of decay as Christian churches, Christian faith, and Christian life, label themselves the holy name Christianity. In fact, Christ denied everything that is today called Christianity according to Nietzsche. He further gives a new interpretation of Christ’s death on the cross. It has been only a sign of how one ought to behave in relation to the authorities and laws of this world. It is a lesson for us that one should not defend himself even in the face of danger. Nietzsche regards Christianity holistically as a corrupt religion that was built on principles that are themselves deceptive.

I regard Christianity as the most fatal seductive lie that has yet existed, as the great unholy lie: I draw after growth and sprouting of its ideal from beneath of every form of disguise, I reject every compromise position with respect to it. I force war against it.[11]


It is obvious that Nietzsche totally rejects Christianity and everything associated with it. He accused Christianity of destroying all the truth by which men had lived in the pagan classical times. Tragic truth as lived and understood before Socrates was undermined by Christian mythology. This period of antiquity is blamed for preparing the way for the conquest of Christianity. Socrates and Plato are accomplices and at the fulfillment of their work, Christianity counteracted pagan truth with its venom.

… Such myths as a triune God, moral world-order, sin, grace, redemption, immortality, resurrection, hell, heaven thoroughly destroyed the appeal of paganism for the masses…[12]


Christianity developed an effective way of announcing and spreading its doctrines. We can credit Christianity for promoting lies and hypnotizing men even to the extent of believing in it. Christianity reduced reason, science and philosophy. It praised God as its promulgator and demand that this should be accepted with gratitude and humility. Nevertheless, it preached equality of every type of person before God.

                     … Christianity shrewdly nurtured the resentments of the mighty. She attracted outcasts and failures of every sort by persuading them that they were their equals before God and the redeemer of any other man…[13] 

Christianity as a movement makes the weak, the ignorant and the foolish feel on top of the world. Her doctrine is characterized by paradoxes such as life through death, honour through humiliation, mastery through slavery. Christianity is in fact a religion against the noble and the strong.

Christianity is a movement aimed at conquering the strong; discouraging the noble, exploiting the miseries of men, eroding their self-assurance, poisoning their natural instinct, rendering them sick, weak until their will to power is reversed and turned against them[14] 

It has waged war against the highest type of man. It has taken the strong as a type of an outcast. In reverse, it has taken the side of everything weak and made them ideal out of opposition to the preservative instinct of strong life. It has taught men to feel the supreme values of intellectuality as sinful, misleading and temptations.

In Christianity, there is no relationship between religion and morality with nature. In other words, Christianity is anti-natural and full of imaginations or unrealizable ideas.

Nothing but imaginary causes (God, soul, ego, spirit, free will): Nothing but imaginary effects (sin, redemption, grace, punishment, forgiveness of sins)… an imaginary teleology (the kingdom of God, the last judgment, eternal life)[15]


Furthermore, the idea Christians have about God is the worst havoc and corrupt ideas about God today on earth. For example, they regard God as:

…  God of the sick, God as spider, God as spirit, it even represents the low-water mark in the descending development of God’s type.[16] 

God degenerated to the contradiction to life instead of being a transfiguration and eternal. In God there is the declaration of hostility towards life and nature.

… But we find that which has been reverenced as God not godlike but pitiable, absurd, harmful, not merely an error but an error against life.[17]


Moreover, Christianity instead of enhancing and developing the state, society and nature becomes an abolition of them. This is because it forbids oath, wars, courts of justice, self defense as made manifest in Christ’s exemplary life. It presupposes a narrow, remote, completely non-political society. In a Christian state, politics is a piece of imprudence, a lie and treats the ‘God of hosts’ as if he were a chief of staff. The papacy is not capable of carrying Christian politics. So a Christian would be anybody who abides by the above with regard to the state.

Whoever says today: I will not be a soldier, I care nothing for the courts, I shall not claim the services of the Police, I will do nothing that may disturb the peace within me: and if I must suffer on that account; nothing will serve better to maintain my peace than suffering – will be a Christian.[18]


Nietzsche also attacked the priest and theologians since they are Christians. He regarded them as liars. Since lies are part and parcel of the theory of every priesthood, according to him, lies are permitted in their midst as means to a final end. It was in this lie that priests invented a God who rewards and punishes. He therefore regards them as his enemies and developed a kind of pity for them.

I pity these priests, they go against my taste… they seemed to me as marked men and prisoners. He whom they call redeemer has cast them into bondage…[19]


At the end of the whole attack, he pronounced his judgment on Christianity. “I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian church the most terrible charge any prosecutor has ever uttered”[20] He threatened to inscribe this eternal accusation against Christianity everywhere there are walls with letters that will make even the blind see. He perennially condemns Christian.



Nietzsche is anti-Christ because he rejected everything in connection with Christ. He hates Christ because, according to him, he undermined man and has led him astray, even to the point of self-destruction. Indeed, he really was anti-Christ, but did he succeed? He said these of Christ.

I do not like at all anything about that Jesus of Nazareth... He put many ideas into the heads of little people, as if their modest virtues were of any consequence…[21] 

In his attack on Christ, he is found in the paradox of uncertainty. In one place, he conceives Christ as the only Christian that ever existed and on the other, Christ is not the founder of Christian religion since what he has labeled Christianity today is the very opposite of his life: “What did Christ deny? Everything that is today called Christian”[22] He was against Christ because according to him, Christ advocated a type of life that is full of the symptoms of decadence. Jesus did not bring new knowledge or new faith, he only fashioned in himself a new way of life. For Nietzsche, the message of Jesus when he used the words Light or Life referred merely to the inner world, nature and reality. This led him to conclude that Christ was anti-realist.

Nietzsche also criticized Christ’s humility. He wanted Christ to be a man with great power. So when he saw the opposite, he regarded it as weakness. For instance, Jesus should have retaliated, resisted and fought back the injuries- calumny, mockery, bearing of the cross meted on him, but he suffered, entreated and rather loves those who punished him and did evil to him. Thus, Nietzsche could not comprehend how one cannot defend himself, grow angry or even resist the evil one. Jesus therefore paid dearly for it, thus:

… This bringer of glad tidings, died as he lived, as he taught not to redeem mankind but to demonstrate how one ought to live[23].


And the death was even a shameful one “the fate of the evangel was determined by the death, he hung on the cross… a shameful death.”[24]



From Descartes, modern philosophy has emphasized the primacy of the self. The ego is prior to any other existent and this is embedded in consciousness. So all that modern philosophy had to offer man was the total rejection of any other existent prior to man and such eliminated God. Some of the culprits include Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre and Nietzsche.

For Nietzsche, it is the belief in God that hinders the potentialities of man towards this actualization of the subject. The death of God will therefore mean the reassurance of man’s energy and freedom, which will now be geared towards this realization of the subject. God stands in the way of the will to power. He is also antithesis to any thesis. More still, Nietzsche, a philosopher of the future and a prophet of nihilism, based on the decline of the belief on the Christian God, hence proclaimed the death of God, God is dead. In his book, the gay science, a mad man makes this proclamation. The madman lit a lantern and ran to market place, and cried incessantly; “… I seek God, I seek God!”[25] As many of those who do not believe in God were standing there, he provoked laughter. He was cajoled and mocked: Why did he get lost? Is he afraid of us? Or is he hiding? But the madman decided to tell them where God was: “God is dead. God remains dead, and we have killed him. All of us are his murderers.”[26]


He continues: 

We have killed him – you and I. 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. God remains dead.[27]


The madman could not understand the reason behind the killing of God and was bewildered. To show his annoyance, he threw his lantern on the ground and it broke and he went away. To mourn God therefore, he entered diverse churches and intoned his requiem aeternam Deo. When he was called for explanations, he asked: “What are churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”[28]

Nonetheless, he was of the opinion that man killed God to free himself from nihilism-nothingness. Man had to take this noble and head blowing task to murder God and make himself God

… God could not die a natural death. In order that the world, for so long darkened by this vast shadow, might at last emerge into the light, man had to take upon himself the impossible crime…[29]


Supposing we ask this question. Did God ever exist? Nietzsche answers No because He would be one if there was and it is only an illusion proceeding from man’s weakness and inability to transcend himself. A mere fabrication of weak Christians to manipulate men’s mind and turn them towards the beyond: “The concept God was invented as the counter concept to life: everything harmful, poisonous, slanderous, all deadly hostility to life...”[30]

But with death of God, he thought he has been able to deliver humanity from the corruption of God. He has ended the prehistoric period of nihilism and opened a new era. Consequently this liberation from nihilism ushers man to his destiny- auto transcendence. With the death of God, morality and religion have no foundation.

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