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Nietzsche and the Creationists

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) authored what is arguably the most iconic expression of non-belief ever penned: “God is dead.” This statement, from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is easily misunderstood when taken out of context; essentially, it means that the cultural venues in which conventional religious beliefs can exist are irretrievably diminished as Man evolves socially and intellectually.

But let’s consider a different interpretation—the more literal idea that God was an actual living entity who has died. Religious believers will protest that such a concept is impossible, for God is eternal and immortal, without beginning or end. Some will also argue that God, being perfect, is immutable and unchanging, so there cannot be a change from living to dead. And yet the capacity for change is an intrinsic characteristic of life; that which cannot change is not alive. True Believers deny God this basic characteristic of living beings—change, adjustment, adaptation, evolution.

Yes, evolution. Evolution is not just a biological process of speciation. Society and civilizations evolve as ideas and attitudes change. Individuals evolve as they grow and mature. But what about God? Can God evolve? Can and must; if God exists as a living entity, evolution is not just possible but inevitable. If God is spirit (John 4:24), his evolution would be spiritual.

True Believers who embrace the delusional notion that biological evolution is false (“A lie from the pit of hell!” as some of them proclaim) will surely detest the idea that God spiritually evolves. The irony is immense: In denying God the capacity to evolve, creationists unwittingly support the Nietzschean epigram!

How can True Believers claim that God is real and alive while simultaneously describing God in a way that denies aliveness? Very simply, they are not talking about God at all; they are talking about the character called “God” in the Bible. If the Bible doesn’t change, then Bible-God doesn’t change. (Well, of course not; it’s an old book, and old books are today what they were in past eras; the Greek gods in the Iliad and the Odyssey also don’t change.) it’s the apologists’ job to explain away Bible-God changing chapter-to-chapter and book-to-book within the scriptural canon so that the faithful will not be upset by mutually contradictory passages.

As I discussed in an earlier blog, True Believers cannot abide uncertainty; they need absolute assurance. Evolutionary change implies the uncertainty of not knowing what is to come. Creationism is their response to the frightening fact that life always involves change and adjustment—and therefore uncertainty. It is a truism that fear begets hatred, and their dread of uncertainty begets hatred of change, which means hatred of life. Indeed, some believers proudly take that stance, quoting Luke 14:26. (By the way: If fear begets hatred, what of believers’ claim that it is good to “fear the Lord”? How can they love what they fear? Is it really love, or is it fawning obsequiousness before a tyrant given to fits of genocidal rage? That would be understandable, because they equate God with Bible-God, a character who is unpredictably dangerous.)

So, who to believe? To Nietzsche, God is dead or at least dying. To True Believers, God is alive but lacks the most basic attribute of living things. Poor God—he just can’t get a break.

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