Posts tagged ‘Nietzsche’

June 16th, 2012

Charles Darwin, Meet Friedrich Nietzsche

by Max Andrews

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE AND NIHILISM

To attribute nihilism to Friedrich Nietzsche’s works would be a complete misunderstanding of his teleology.  Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra is a calling and desire for the übermensch to create a transvaluation of values.  To categorize Nietzsche as a nihilist would be a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his work.

When referring to nihilism there must be an understanding of all that the word entails.  Nihilism refers to nothingness and is a denial of all worldviews.  There are apparent problems with being consistent in rendering a nihilist understanding.  Referring to everything having no meaning renders a meaning of nothingness.  There is no objectivity, knowledge, truth, or virtue.  There is a claim of paradigm independent referents.  For the advancement of understanding Nietzsche’s teleology this self-referential incoherence must be set to the periphery.  To discard Nietzsche so quickly in such a manner would be to misunderstand his teleological claims.

Nietzsche’s paradigm for truth was based on biological development.  This, by all admission, was a relativistic understanding and rendition of truth; it was a social construct.  This was in response to the proclamation that “God is dead.”  In the fifth chapter of Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche deduces the implications of stripping God from Christianity [in reference to morality].  Under the Christian paradigm, morality is a command originating from a transcendent source.  Because it is a transcendent command it cannot be criticized, and it is only contingently true given the existence of God and that God is the source of all truth.  This worries Nietzsche because he believes that there is no reason for God to exist any more being that God is only a social construct that was once useful.  As a result, Nietzsche calls for the übermensch.

May 14th, 2012

Karamazov’s Theorem

by Max Andrews

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1821-1881), a story of four brothers in Russia is a grim description of the reality of what the world would look like if God were not to exist.  One brother, Ivan, an atheist, tells another brother that there are no objective truths, specifically that there are no moral absolutes.  Ivan’s brother then kills his father, an act that obtains no condemnation if God does not exist.

This can be understood as ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ),[1] also known as Karamazov’s Theorem.  It is necessarily true that if God does not exist then any action cannot be wrong.  It may also be true if a conjunct of rightness is inserted into the theorem.  This ultimately leads to moral nihilism—a nonexistence of value.  Without God, everything is permitted.  Nothing can be praised and nothing can be condemned.  This world, as Dostoevsky understands it, is a world of nothingness.

May 14th, 2012

Scientific Nihilism

by Max Andrews

Given the natural order of universe and its cause and effect network, perhaps redemption and reconciliation from absurdity can be found in biology or physics.  For example, consider an adult salmon’s biologically given capacity to swim upstream and mate.  In this case the end at which the adult salmon’s activity aims is not, or anyway need not be, valuable, it is simply the end with which it was endowed by nature.[1]  The same may be true with human life.  The notion may not be too far-gone since many philosophers and scientists find their meaning, value, and purpose in nature.  Friedrich Nietzsche based his teleology and understanding of truth in biology.  If this universe [or multiverse] is all that exists it seems that this scientific driven teleology may not be sufficient.

Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg provided a self-comforting dialogue in The First Three Minutes suggesting that his own research in the field of physics has provided himself with meaning, value, and purpose.  Paradoxically, he believes that the more he learns about the universe, the lesser of an ultimate meaning it has.[2]

March 5th, 2012

How Does God Provide Meaning and Purpose?

by Max Andrews

Midnight Dreary by Carla CarsonMan is alienated from himself, from other persons, and from God, and as a result man has been burdened with absurdity.  Absurdity ought to be understood in a dichotomous manner.  Absurdity is experienced subjectively, such that the individual experiences it in an autonomous manner.  The objective absurdity is the metanarratives of life.  This would include a lack of ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.

Overcoming this alienation and the notion of absurdity, primarily objective absurdity, can only be done so by a divine telos.[1]  It does seem that man lives his life as if he does have an ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  However, if God does not exist, then the absurdity is not only subjective but it really is objectively absurd.  The existence of a divine telos enables man to live a consistent life of meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  There is a reconciliation of man to himself, others, and God by overcoming this absurdity.

Man exists in a state of alienation.  He is alienated from himself, from others, and from God.  Alienation from the self creates a subjective absurdity (this will be explicated later).  Because of his own nature man cannot stand in agreeable terms with himself.  His epistemic warrant is not always at ease.  He doubts.  He questions and is lacks sufficiency in his capacity to function in an ideal manner.

His alienation from others is subjective and experienced by the individual as well.  It too is a result of man’s nature and state of being.  It is at this level of alienation where man often attempts to create his own teleology.  He will construct an artificial and arbitrary teleology based on other alienated persons.  Man’s alienation from God is irreconcilable by man’s initiative.  Man cannot act outside of his closed system; thus, he requires an outside agency to overcome this alienation.

February 21st, 2012

If I Were an Atheist…

by Max Andrews

When it comes to philosophy there are three things I ponder deeply about every day.  I’m not exaggerating when I say these things.  I think about God every hour I’m awake.  He plagues my thought and attention.  I often think about my relation to him, how he is who he is, his providence, his action in the world, etc.  It is so foreign to me when Christians say that they don’t think about God from day-to-day.  The second idea that occupies my thought is death.  I don’t think I’m morbid about this; I think I’m just being honest with myself.  I wonder what it’s like to die, that moment in between life and death. Is it painful? Is it joyful and painless?  What is it like to see the Lord for the first time?  The third thought I think about isn’t as often as the formers but is nonetheless occurent.  It’s the question: “What would it take for me to be an atheist?”

I certainly believe Christianity is falsifiable, that is, to be proven false.  I think there is biblical warrant for this.  Consider 1 Corinthians 15.17 when Paul says that if Christ had not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain.  To show Christianity is false one must demonstrate that the resurrection of Jesus did not happen.  I was speaking with my professor over lunch a month or so back and we struck up a conversation on what it would take for us to be atheists.  Proving the resurrection false doesn’t disprove God, it just disproves Christianity.

February 21st, 2012

Existentialism and the Absurdity of Life (Audio)

by Max Andrews

Lecture Audio

Brief Abstract

The two divisions of absurdity, subjective and objective, by all evidence, binding.  If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If guilt, and angst are not subjectively preferred then the only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdity is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

October 24th, 2011

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Understanding of the Divine Telos

by Max Andrews

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1821-1881), a story of four brothers in Russia is a grim description of the reality of what the world would look like if God were not to exist.  One brother, Ivan, an atheist, tells another brother that there are no objective truths, specifically that there are no moral absolutes.  Ivan’s brother then kills his father, an act that obtains no condemnation if God does not exist.

This can be understood as ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ),[1] also known as Karamazov’s Theorem.  It is necessarily true that if God does not exist then any action cannot be wrong.  It may also be true if a conjunct of rightness is inserted into the theorem.  This ultimately leads to moral nihilism—a nonexistence of value.  Without God, everything is permitted.  Nothing can be praised and nothing can be condemned.  This world, as Dostoevsky understands it, is a world of nothingness.

Dostoevsky, like Camus, Nietzsche, and Sartre, acknowledges the absurdity that arises.  Every man must face the anxiety an absurdity that obtains in a world without God.  Dostoevsky’s response is that every man must face this reality and overcome this absurdity by trusting in and putting his faith in Christ.  Christ is the only one who can overcome the absurdities and relieve man’s anxiety.

Dostoevsky is Christianity’s Nietzsche.  Dostoevsky realizes the despair, guilt, anxiety, and absolute absurdity of a life without God, like Nietzsche; however, he does not self-construct his own teleology.  There is no higher state of being in a world of absurdity.  There would be no incentive to attain any state of being.  There could not be any differentiation between a higher and lower state of being since one would need an objective referent to make such a determination.  The only rational act a man could make in an unreasonable world would be to trust in the reconciling ability of God.  There would be no hope for any reconciliation in a closed system of absurdity—from absurdity only comes absurdity.


            [1] Let Eg represent the existence of God, ϕ for any action, and W for wrong.

October 23rd, 2011

The Reality of Life if There is No God

by Max Andrews

If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better).  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide.  I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God.  I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life.  If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)


            [1] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.

            [2] Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree.  Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide.  Death is the only means by which it can be overcome.  In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity.  The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death.  God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity.  Here we find a paradox.  In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death.  There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.

October 23rd, 2011

Nietzsche’s Paradox–Nihilism and Teleology

by Max Andrews

It would be an appropriate evaluation of Friedrich Nietzsche to state that his mere calling for the übermensch is a teleological claim.  To call for redemption of something and to set a standard model is a purposeful and meaningful proclamation.  The desire appears to be motivated by the very thing Nietzsche is often accused of, nihilism.  Nietzsche was in despair over the implications of Christianity with no God—that was nihilism, which was a catalyst to his philosophizing with a hammer.

Nietzsche never denied there being any meaning or purpose.  His qualm was that if Christianity continues without God, which would be meaningless and purposeless.  He understood that there had to be meaning and purpose.  The teleology, for Nietzsche, was a pursuit to overcome those things, which were life denying.  Christianity, God, idols, and false ideas were all life denying and life prohibiting concepts.  Nietzsche recognized the human nature and need for a teleology, but how?  In his pursuit for meaning and purpose he calls for the übermensch to do just that.

July 29th, 2011

Existential Absurdity in the Sciences

by Max Andrews

Given the natural order of universe and its cause and effect network, perhaps redemption and reconciliation from absurdity can be found in biology or physics.  For example, consider an adult salmon’s biologically given capacity to swim upstream and mate.  In this case the end at which the adult salmon’s activity aims is not, or anyway need not be, valuable, it is simply the end with which it was endowed by nature.[1]  The same may be true with human life.  The notion may not be too far-gone since many philosophers and scientists find their meaning, value, and purpose in nature.  Friedrich Nietzsche based his teleology and understanding of truth in biology.  If this universe [or multiverse] is all that exists it seems that this scientific driven teleology may not be sufficient.

Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg provided a self-comforting dialogue in The First Three Minutes suggesting that his own research in the field of physics has provided himself with meaning, value, and purpose.  Paradoxically, he believes that the more he learns about the universe, the lesser of an ultimate meaning it has.[2]

Physicist Victor Stenger seems to agree with Weinberg’s understanding of the purpose as it relates to reality.  In his book, God the Failed Hypothesis, he displays a rather existential reflection when he ponders the universe and reality.  He believes that if God created matter with humanity in mind, then it was not done so for a purpose.[3]  The universe is so vast and hostile to life and the parameters for existence of humanity are incredibly slim.  Earth is a rarity.  This notion of absurdity is not as introspective as the philosophers may see it; rather, it is an inference based on his observation on the physical realm.  What is similar between the philosopher’s inference and Stenger’s is that they encounter a breakdown of rationality, Camus’ alienation and disappearance of reason. Like Camus, he becomes aware of the sheer absurdity of his existence.

In contrast to Weinberg and Stenger, it should be understood that because the universe is meaningful could any meaning or rationality be derived thereof.  The glory of mathematics and human art manifests a genius.  Just as Albert Einstein pondered the striking fact that the universe is comprehensible, that mathematics illuminates nature by mapping forms of order as small as particles and strings and as broad as universe [or multiverse] itself.  On secularized grounds, why should nature make sense?  Why should there be any connection whatsoever between the highly abstract, formal relationships of numbers and figures and the order of nature?  Why is nature amenable to mathematical analysis?[4]  By all human experience, it would be irrational to infer that, in a continual state of becoming, there is no meaning behind the order observed in nature.

It would serve well for one to be reminded that humanity did not construct the order behind the abstract and the physical.  The order of the universe is prior to and independent of man’s attempts to understand it.  That is why theories must be tested against nature.  Man is not the creator of order, but at best, discerners of order—not only for humanity’s own existence but also for the perfection of understanding.[5]


            [1] Michael Smith, “Is That All There Is?” Journal of Ethics 10 (January 2006):  83.

            [2] Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes (London:  Andre Deutsch, 1977), 154-155.

            [3] Victor Stenger, God the Failed Hypothesis (Amherst, NY:  Prometheus, 2008), 137-164.

            [4] Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt, A Meaningful World (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2006), 27.

            [5] Ibid., 244.