Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Nietzsche on Deities.

For the highest images in every religion there is an analogue in a state of the soul. The God of Mohammed--the solitude of the desert, the distant roar of a lion, the vision of a terrible fighter. The God of the Christians--everything that men and women associate with the word "love." The God of the Greeks--a beautiful dream image.

from The Portable Nietzsche (p. 49)

What do you think? Is he right on or way off, or somewhere in between?


  1. Fred,

    Not sure what he means. Does he say that the images come first and then the person chooses the God that matches those images? If so, I say no. There are Muslims who have never seen the desert, but choose to be Muslim anyway. As far as desert images go, a Christian can have images about Jesus in Israel and the surrounding area as stated in the gospels. Same with the dream image: heaven and being in God's presence can be associated with a dream-like image.

  2. N's a bit all over the place when it comes to religion.

    In Human, All Too Human, he argues the the origion of religion is error.

    In Beyond Good and Evil and the Antichrist, he says that religion is a symptom of a sick, diseased will, a weak will.

    And in the Birth of Tragedy, he praises Greek religion as an affirmation of what's best in human nature: our love of agon, etc.

    As for today's quote, there's probably some truth to it, if only because believers respond to religious imagery with their whole heart and soul and mind. Hell, I don't even believe in a personal god, yet I still thrill at parting seas and burning bushes and sermons on the mount. Very powerful.


  3. Cheryl,

    I think he is referring to the creation or first conception of the god in question.

    Mohammed was a desert dweller, as were his followers. The solitude of the desert influenced Mohammed and those who followed him in their conception of Allah. The creation of the images refers to the first followers of the religion.

    At least that's the way I see it.

  4. K,

    Yes, Nietzsche is as diverse as the Bible.

    Religious imagery frequently gets us at the gut level.

    And, of course, his most famous, and I've heard some say his most misunderstood formulation--God is dead.