Friedrich Nietzsche's Atheism

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Bertrand Russell's ~'Teapot~' Argument

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Nietzsche
  • 1:08 Atheists & Christians
  • 1:39 Nietzsche's Atheism
  • 2:16 Superman
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson explores the works of Nietzsche. It defines his concept of a superman. It also highlights his views of the Christian God and his four guidelines for attaining freedom.


Quoting the philosopher Nietzsche can start a bit of a fire. To prove my point, just walk into a Catholic Church and read these words:

'I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian Church the most terrible charge any prosecutor has ever uttered. To me it is the extremest thinkable form of corruption; it has had the will to the ultimate corruption conceivably possible. The Christian Church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has made of every value a disvalue, of every truth a lie, of every kind of integrity a vileness of the soul.'

Like I said, Nietzsche can make you swallow your gum. Keeping this in mind, today's lesson on his particular brand of atheism will be an interesting one. First, let's take a look at the man. Actually the son of a German priest, Friedrich Nietzsche is arguably the world's most famous atheist. Ironically, Nietzsche despised this term and what it meant.

Atheists & Christians

To him, common atheists share the same fallacies as Christians. They both follow rules, and they both put their faith in something. Christians put their faith in their religion. Atheists put their faith in the non-existence of God. Either way, they both impose rules of what should and shouldn't be believed. Since Nietzsche espoused existentialism, the idea that men are free from artificially imposed rules, he thought both the atheists and the Christians were fools.

Nietzsche's Atheism

With this in mind, why do so many people brand Nietzsche an atheist? The answer - because he fervently railed against the Christian God. In fact, if you asked Nietzsche if God exists, I bet he might have answered, 'I don't care!' However, if you asked him about the Christian God, who imposed rules like don't envy or hate, he'd give you a mouthful. For instance, in several of his works, including Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Will to Power, Nietzsche postulated that Christianity, its God, and its rules are irrelevant.


Rather than being a slave to religious nonsense, Nietzsche came up with his own guidelines for life. He believed so strongly in them, he said they were the only way to become an Übermensch, or a 'Superman' in the English tongue!

Keeping this rather fantastic name in mind, let's get to a paraphrase of Nietzsche's guidelines.

1. Own up to envy.

Yes, you heard that right. Nietzsche wants you to embrace your envy. To him, the Christian idea that envy is evil is nothing more than a chain keeping you from your full potential. Calling Christians 'herds,' he asserts they're simply too bungling to get what they want, so they label envy as a bad thing. On the contrary, Nietzsche believed envy sparks a fire that pushes us to attain and achieve.

2. - And this one is really blatant - don't be a Christian.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account