Listen to a podcast on The Life and Thought of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (32 mins). Click on the play arrow. To listen later, right click here and click on 'save link as'.

Nietzsche (1844-1900) has proven to be one of the most influential philosophers in history. His ideology -- or rather the ideology he correctly foresaw would win the day -- has affected our society deeply.

 Life of Nietzsche
  • Born, 1844 in Röcken, Prussia.
  • Father and both grandfathers clergymen.
  • Father dies, after suffering mental illness, 1848.
  • Leaves theology school, 1865.
  • Physical and mental collapse, 1879.
  • Writes The Antichrist (vitriolic anti-Christian polemic), 1888.
  • Enters state of vegetative insanity, 1889.
  • Dies, probably of syphilis, 1900.

Nietzsche's better-known writings:

  • The Birth of Tragedy (1872)      
  • Meditations (1873-76)
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra (1878)                                 
  • Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
  • The Antichrist (1888, pub. 1895)
  • The Will to Power (1901, posthumously)

"God is Dead"

  • Nietzsche was brought up with/around a certain degree of faith -- which he rejected.
  • No God, no morality.
  • [Note 1: Classical Buddhism correctly understands that moral distinctions are false: there is no God, and category distinctions are empty.]
  • [Note 2:  Without God, there can be no ultimate meaning, since nothing transcends this life, this world.]    
Beyond Good and Evil (excerpts, unless otherwise noted)
  • Morality:
    • IV.108. "There is no such thing as a moral phenomenon, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.”
    • 291. "The whole of morality is a long, audacious falsification."
  • Insight:
    • 146. "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
    • 156. "Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule."
    • 175. "One loves ultimately one's desires, not the thing desired.”
  • Selfishness: 
    • IX.259. "Exploitation is not immoral; it's the will to power, which is life."
    • 273. "A man who strives after great things, looks upon every one whom he encounters on his way either as a means of advance, or a delay and hindrance—or as a temporary resting-place. His peculiar lofty BOUNTY to his fellow-men is only possible when he attains his elevation and dominates..."
    • 242. “... the democratising of Europe is at the same time an involuntary arrangement for the rearing of TYRANTS..."
    • 287. "The noble soul has reverence for itself."
    • 265. "At the risk of displeasing innocent ears, I submit that egoism belongs to the essence of a noble soul, I mean the unalterable belief that to a being such as "we," other beings must naturally be in subjection, and have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul accepts the fact of his egoism without question..."
  • Christ and his teaching:
    • 269. "It is possible that under the holy fable and travesty of the life of Jesus there is hidden one of the most painful cases of the love of martyrdom: the martyrdom of the most innocent and most craving heart, that never had enough of any human love, that DEMANDED love, that demanded inexorably and frantically to be loved and nothing else, with terrible outbursts against those who refused him their love; a poor soul... who had to invent hell to send it there those who WOULD NOT love him--and that at last had to invent a God who was entirely love... He who has such sentiments... SEEKS FOR death!..."
    • "It is inhuman to bless when one is being cursed.” (See Matt 5:44 and Rom 12:17-21).
    • “Jesus died too soon. He would have repudiated his doctrine if he had lived to my age" (Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1885).
    • “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, and the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, or subterranean and small enough—I call it the one immortal blemish on the human race.” (The Antichrist, 1888)

Nietzsche on women:

  • “Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of man: all else is folly.”
  • “The happiness of man is I will. The happiness of woman is He will.”
  • “Thou goest to women? Do not forget thy whip!”
  • “Woman is by nature a snake…”
  • Advocated active sexual lifestyle, though seems to have lived a more or less chaste life.

Nietzsche's predictions about the coming century: 

  • It will be the bloodiest century yet.
  • A pall of insanity will fall over the human race.
  • His own life seems to embody this second prediction.
    • See Matt 7:20 -- by their fruit we will know them.
    • When considering any philosophy, religion, or viewpoint, ask whether its proponents live by -- or are even able to live by -- its basic tenets.
  • Some tyrants inspired by Nietzsche:
    • Adolf Hitler (Germany): “Nobody can doubt that this world will one day be the scene of dreadful struggles for existence on the part of mankind. In the end the instinct of self-preservation alone will triumph. Before its consuming fire this so-called humanitarianism, which connotes only a mixture of fatuous timidity and self-conceit, will melt away as under the March sunshine. Man has become great through perpetual struggle. In perpetual peace his greatness must decline.” -- Mein Kampf
      • Hitler sought a philosopher to back up his program
      • Preferably a German
      • Nietzsche's "will to power" was a perfect fit with the National Socialist program
    • Benito Mussolini (Italy)
      • The fascist despot longed for a return to power and the glory of ancient Rome
      • Hitler presented Mussolini with a personal copy of one of Nietzsche's books
    • Ho Chi Minh (Viet Nam)
    • Fidel Castro (Cuba)
    • Idi Amin (Uganda)


  • Clarity of thought: No morality if there's no God. Nietzsche may be the most consistent atheist.
  • Christians, fight for the truth! The atheist system doesn't work.
  • Authenticity: “Promise me that when I die only my friends shall stand about my coffin, and no inquisitive crowd. See that no priest or anyone else utter falsehoods at my graveside, when I can no longer protect myself; and let me descend into my tomb as an honest pagan.” (1879).
  • Unfortunately, few pagans have the courage to follow their convictions to their logical conclusions. If they did, Christianity would be even more the obvious and only choice for our world.