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This article examines the place of religion in Nietzsche’s writings and how it fits with the task of a “new philosopher.” Although Nietzsche opposes all otherworldly, monotheistic religions, it is incorrect to say that Nietzsche proposes atheism as a solution. Religion, he contends, is an essential part of any healthy culture. Nietzsche’s new philosophy would fashion gods consistent with the natural order of rank and the highest aims of man.

Nietzsche conceives of modernity not as progress but an unhealthy and dangerous break with tradition that he seeks to set right. Consequently, he turns to the greatness of antiquity. Nietzsche, for example, follows the ancients in affirming the superiority of philosophy to politics. Nietzsche’s new philosophy is characterized by its ability to use—and indeed govern—religion, science, and politics for the sake of high culture. The death of god is a terrible event, but it makes possible the discovery of the will as a fact of nature and the creation of new gods. Rather than merely opposing modernity or appealing to antiquity, Nietzsche looks past modernity to create something new and greater.


Originally published:

Michels, Steven. "Nietzsche and the Religion of the Future." Animus: A Philosophical Journal for Our Time 9 (2004) Secularity and Religion: 52-72.