A letter written by German philosopher and anti-Christian gadfly Friedrich Nietzsche was recently discovered in a home near St. Moritz, Switzerland. The letter is one of a series of letters written to various friends and transcribed in the handwriting of his friend and occasional secretary, Heinrich Köselitz, dated March 27, 1887. Philosophers have called the letter the “most significant philosophical find of the last 500 years.”
“Nietzsche’s diatribes against Christianity have always been quite profound and resistant to easy dismissal by Christian apologists,” said Jonathon Feuerbach, professor of philosophy at New York University. “But this letter really seals the lid on any possible Christian response.”
“It’s true,” admitted Martin Plantinga, professor of Theology and Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School. “In the past, as believing Christians and philosophers, myself and many of my colleagues have watched with amusement the desperate gyrations of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and other ‘New Atheists,’ as they tried to ‘prove’ Christianity and religion in general to be wrong or false. All of us really knew, of course, that Nietzsche offered the most stinging critiques of Christianity, in part because, unlike contemporary atheist critics, he understood Christianity so well. But we had always comforted ourselves in responding that Nietzsche’s philosophy of the Übermensch and the Will to Power were ultimately destructive ideas that would only lead to more suffering. But this letter–it changes everything. Frankly, there is no good response. He’s simply right. God could not possibly exist.”
A translated version of the letter is below:
27 March 1887
Perhaps you were a bit taken aback by my last communication, though I can assure you it was not in jest! I find Richard’s [Wagner] music to be muscular and evocative of personal suffering, yet wallowing in theatricality and drowning in the religious. Indeed, its religiosity is its greatest weakness, not solely in terms of being itself a flaw, but in quite literally making it pathetically weak and timid.
But that is neither here nor there at the moment. At the moment I find my case against religion to be thoroughly vindicated, and that through complete silence! In fact, I shall not say another word on the subject, though I have several manuscripts nearing publication. I shall now consider them to be pathetic postscripts to what I see before me, which I cannot unsee no matter how I wish it in vain. As you know, I have been in Sri Lanka on sabbatical for the last 2 months and this morning I saw a spider the size of my bloody head. My HEAD, Gottfried. The size. of. my. head. Surely such horrors only exist in the devil’s nightmares, and even then he might awake in a cold sweat, screaming, clawing at his eyes, never to sleep again. I consider all my previous assaults on Christendom to be sweet and soothing lullabies of affirmation and encouragement in comparison to this ungodly atrocity. Surely, nature herself has provided all the evidence one needs for a rebuttal of the now absurdly laughable proposition that God is dead because we have killed him. No, if God is dead it is likely because this thing drove him to suicide.”
“The reason the letter is so devastating to the Christian position–indeed to the religious position in general–is because it doesn’t get bogged down in traditional philosophical argumentation,” said professor of philosophy at Boston College Ronald Kripke. “In fact, it doesn’t even really make an argument, but instead observes something about the world so terrifyingly stark and obvious that belief in some kind of benevolent deity couldn’t possibly survive intact, particularly combined with the recent news from Sri Lanka.”
Kripke is referring to the recent discovery of a spider in Sri Lanka with an 8 inch leg span. (Eight inches. Seriously). The discovery of the spider occurred nearly simultaneously with the unearthing of Nietzsche’s letter. The combined effect has been devastating to the Christian scholarly community.
“Free will, suffering for soul-making, the mysterious workings of a transcendent being who’s ways are not our ways–none of that has any purchase anymore,” bemoaned a distraught Peter Swinburne, professor of philosophy of religion at Cambridge University and a minister in the local Anglican Church. “Not even the atheists are celebrating. They’re just as solemn as the Christians. A friend and colleague of mine, an outspoken atheist and scientist, just said to me, ‘There’s nothing to say, Pete. Not with that thing out there.’ I don’t know. The universe is so much more terrifying than even our most depraved authors and film-makers could possibly have envisioned.”
“There is no possible way a loving all-powerful God is the author of a Creation that contains this unspeakable monster,” Swinburne added. “Though that doesn’t necessarily mean we can rule out some kind of Deity, say, a malevolent God of pure evil who has created human beings for the sole intention of sadistically terrorizing and torturing them for unknown reasons.”
A local Sri Lankan man, Kasun Lahiru, responded to the uproar that he didn’t understand why everyone was so upset, noting that he keeps three of the unholy abominations in his house as pets.