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One its substance, and the tension and mystery

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One truth that man had known for a long time is God, man believed
in the divine and that life preserved it’s meaning from religion. A believer of
Christian faith lived a moral life with the belief that he would be rewarded in
the after life; in the eyes of Judaism the meaning of life is derived precisely
from the meeting of the finite and infinite. However, when man reflected on
life and tried to find reason behind his believes did this meaning still hold?
Many thinkers and philosophers reflected on the fact that they cannot believe
in an objective truth, that they needed a certain truth. The only certainty is
the life we are given now, at the realization of this the highest values that
we held on to has become meaningless. The consequence of god’s death is loss of
meaning, and when meaning is lost, one can either resort to nihilism or Will to
Power.

            In the early ages religion was integrated
in every aspect of everyday life, the church was in control of everything,
philosophers and scientists were religious, and it was clear that their works
included religion. Many philosophers agree that religion gives meaning to life.
In Judaism for example, the meaning of life is derived precisely from the
meeting of the finite world and the infinite- the mysterious divine. ‘The
Infinity of the Divine, the finitude of the human, and the meeting between
them: these all remain, then, wherever Judaism preserves its substance, and the
tension and mystery of this meeting permeates all else. In the eyes of Judaism
whatever meaning life acquires derives from this encounter’. (Emil Fackenhiem,
Judaism and the Meaning of Life). In addition, Christian teachings also state
that there is an all-powerful God, who loves and cares for us, and he brought
us to this life for a reason. Thus, a person of Christian faith lives a
meaningful life by being an imitator of Christ, living the moral and altruistic
life that Jesus Christ lived. The believer believes that hard work leads to a
satisfying life, and accepts death, illness and tragic events, knowing that God
has a reason behind it. It is believed that humans are sent to this finite
world and given a set of moral laws that they must abide by, subjective
morality in this case makes no sense, because we are put on this earth with a
common moral law and a lawgiver.

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In Christianity, humans are put in this earth to sacrifice, to do
good and be rewarded for it in the afterlife. Christian God gives comfort to
his worshippers, because in him they find meaning; we have an answer, a
“satisfying explanation of the origins and sustenance of the universe.” (Louis
J. Pojman, Religion Gives Meaning to life). We are expected to act morally and
control our impulses, we should not question the bad and trust that good will
triumph over evil in the end. A practicing Christian knows the moral demands
imposed upon him and acts promptly to satisfy it. He does this to show
gratitude for God’s love and knows that he will gain an eternal life of
happiness in heaven. Theists have had an answer to the meaning of life, their
books contained the values and morals they live by. Many philosophers found,
when looking for the answer of the meaning of life, that it originated from a
religious point of view; that mysterious connection between the human and the
divine.

            As the human race evolved, they were
more drawn to science, rational knowledge and proof. To believe in something
one had to see it. Religion seemed like nothing but a superstition. The believe
in God is unsure, it is not an objective truth, if it was certain then one
would not need faith. Passion and commitment are necessary to believe, however
once science and rational knowledge evolved it was harder to maintain this
commitment.

            A natural human extinct is the need
for peace, the need to believe in something, to believe that there is meaning
behind the lives we live. Friedrich Nietzsche was just aged 19 years old when
he started having thoughts about god, that worried his sister and mother who
were conservative believers and unaccepting of his arguments. His sister wrote
him a letter in which she tried to tell him that it is harder to not believe
than believe and have faith. To this he wrote back: “Every true faith is infallible, it accomplishes what the person
holding the faith hopes to find in it, but that does not offer the slightest
support for a proof of its objective truth. Here the ways of men divide: if you
wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be
a disciple of truth, then inquire.” In the letter he wrote he tried
to make her understand that this belief derives from what they were taught at an
early age, and that if they were taught to believe in something/someone else,
prophet Mohammed instead of Jesus for example, then their ‘truth’ would be
different. That truth had to be sought, and one could not rest with and
objective truth, unless one wishes to settle and have a peaceful, and happy
life. But this life is lead by ignorance, the belief in god has an extent of
ignorance, no one is sure if god exists and there is no proof to back it up,
this is where faith comes into play.

One
needed a proof and answer, but to some this belief was fragile. For instance,
in Tolstoy’s book, Confessions, he tells the story of a man named S., who prayed
before bed as he always would do since childhood, while his brother watched.
After he was done, his brother asked: “So you still do that?”. Nothing was said
after this question, but this question was powerful enough, for S. to recognize
that there is no meaning behind the prayers and that his faith was built on a
poor foundation. “It was simply-that the remark his brother had made was like
the nudge of a finger against a wall that was about to fall over from its own
weight.” (Tolstoy, Confessions). In a world full of rational reasoning its hard
to maintain faith, this leads us to Nietzsche’s famous phrase “We killed God”.
The atmosphere is set in the marketplace, where a madman goes and address the
bystanders, telling them that they have committed the murderous of all murders,
the greatest mistake. They have killed God. The madman said it with worry, that
we have wiped God’s existence, and now we are on our own, we lost meaning. The
phrase God is dead, means that we denied his existence, we sought truth at any
cost and that cost was God’s presence. We believed in reason and rational
truths, an answer the existence of God failed to provide. The human race
realized that they cannot gamble on God’s existence and lock themselves up in
the oppressive, life negating lifestyle that the Christian God compels us to
live.

This event happened gradually, and even though the bystanders at
the market laughed and clowned the madman, asking questions such as “Why! is he
lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep
himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he
emigrated?” (Gay Science, Fredrich Nietzsche) they fell silent when he
explained the scene at which we killed god, and it became obvious to all of
them how they were indeed his murders, how they were the ones in charge for his
death by denying his existence. But now that “God is dead” we have lost our
center, we are now without guidance and living in chaos and anarchy. What was
once so valuable to us; why we do what we do is now completely meaningless. We
are on a one-way street to nihilism, to becoming aware that life has no
meaning, the human race is driven to an existential crisis.

Those who have realized that “God is dead” might turn to one of two
options: nihilism and denying the will to live, or self-overcoming and the will
to power. Those who turn to nihilism are scared, scared of the chaos that they
are left with after realizing that the teachings that gave their life meaning
once is of no value now. Their highest values have devalued themselves and they
are not willing or unable to create their own, thus turn to the nihilist
approach that life has no meaning therefore life is not worth living. The
second approach is will to power; this is where a person has received the news
of God’s death as joyful news. The person belonging to the second approach is
now free from all the oppressing, life devaluing moral demands. This is where one
is able to create one’s own self and their desired set of values. In
Nietzsche’s book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, Zarathustra comes across a number of
higher men, these men are still living be the preordained morals that their
religion imposes on them. Zarathustra urges them to laugh: “Learn to laugh at
oneself as man ought to laugh!”. Which conflicts with Jesus, in Luke 6:25, he
warns “Woe to you who laugh now!”. Zarathustra is indifferent of this warning
and continuous to speak in jest referring to himself as ‘Zarathustra, the
laughing prophet’. This sparks more laughter in the atmosphere and here is
where the man realize that they are free. These men are free as in they are not
entitled to follow a preordained set of rules and that they are free to create,
themselves and their values. The realization of freedom is the right approach
to will to power.

when the believe in God is no longer believable, the only truth we
knew was lost. Truths are conventions, as Nietzsche would say: “Truths are
illusions we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become
worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their
embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins” (On Truth and
Lies in Non-Moral Sense, 1). In a world where truth and value is lost, one must
give life truth and value to avoid falling into a blackhole of nihilism. This
was what man always subconsciously did, creating life-devaluing, life negating
values. This is where one must create order, in a world where there is no
order, to master own self and attain self control, the result of these
consequences is the Overman/Ubermensch. The Overman is the person Nietzsche
(and Zarathustra) urges people to become, he hopes that in the future the world
will be full of Ubermensch. An Overman is an individual that has achieved
affirmation of life and self-overcoming and becoming master of oneself. The
Overman is someone who has become conscious that there is no meaning and that
he is expected to give life its meaning, that is aware of internal recurrence
and that is willing and affirmative to live the same life repeatedly. Becoming
the overman is one of the hardest tasks imaginable, because one needs to
continually destroy to create. When you are becoming the Overman you are
destroying what was once a truth you held on to and creating another and after
some time this ‘truth’ has lost its value which calls for another creation. The
Overman can never afford to rest, self over-coming is a continual process.

Humans strive to find meaning behind the life they live. Meaning
can be found through religion, in addition one can create their own meaning.
When one finds that they cannot acquire meaning through religion one must not
resort to nihilism, instead one must have a will to power. The greatest human
achievement is to acknowledge that life has no meaning yet still be willing to
live and give life meaning from your own experience. Truth is an
interpretation, and interpretation means becoming master of something, and it involves
“forcing, adjusting, abbreviating, omitting, padding, inventing, and falsifying.”
(GM, III 24). Therefore, in a godless universe, one must destroy and falsify
previous beliefs that provided no reason and create one’s own values and
morals.

 

 

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